New York Rangers Choose Four in NHL Draft, Will Seek Free Agents

The New York Rangers chose four of the 211 players selected before the seven rounds of the 2012 National Hockey League draft ended yesterday.

The Rangers selected two forwards and two defensemen, two from U.S. hockey leagues and two from European hockey leagues. The average height of the 2012 New York draft class was 6-foot-2 (188 centimeters).

General Manager Glen Sather said the Rangers, who picked 28th, didn’t have a “great shot” at the top players available in the early part of the first round and would seek to sign players who are free agents.

“If you don’t have low draft picks in the draft, your other option is to be aggressive in the trade market or free agency,” Sather told the New York Times.

Players selected in the NHL draft came from 12 countries: Canada (99), the U.S. (56), Sweden (22), Russia (11), Finland (9), the Czech Republic (6), Denmark (2), Latvia (2), Belarus (1), Germany (1), Switzerland (1) and the U.K. (1).

The Rangers’ first selection was defenseman Brady Skjei, 18, who skated in 60 games with the U.S. National Under-18 Team last season, registering four goals and 19 assists for 23 points, along with 36 penalty minutes.

Skjei was the third American-born first-round selection by the Rangers in the past four years.

Rangers Next Three

The Rangers began the second day of the draft by selecting Kent School forward Cristoval Nieves with their second-round pick (59th overall). Nieves, of Syracuse, New York, led the team with a career-high 32 assists and ranked first with 39 points. He has committed to play at the University of Michigan when the 2012 school year begins.

Swedish defenseman Calle Andersson of Farjestad’s junior team of the SuperElit league was taken with their fourth-round pick (119th overall). Andersson, of Malmo, Sweden, established SuperElit career highs in games played (49), goals (12), assists (24), points (36), and penalty minutes (56).

The Rangers closed out their draft with Danish forward Thomas Spelling in the fifth round (142nd overall). Spelling, of the Herning Blue Fox in Denmark’s AL-Bank Ligaen, ranked sixth in the league with a career-high 21 goals and tied for second on Herning with a career-high 37 points in 33 games.

The Rangers traded a third-round pick (89th overall) to the Nashville Predators for a third-round selection in 2013, while Nashville gave up its fifth-round (142nd overall) pick to the Rangers for a fifth-round pick in 2013.

Sather said he was reluctant to trade any of the Rangers’ players who make up the core of the team. Therefore, he said he would opt for the free-agency market that begins July 1.

“I think we’re going to be fairly aggressive in the free-agent market,” Sather said. “What we really don’t want to do is dismantle the core of our organization. We’ve got a lot of good young kids, and we want to let them grow and develop.”

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