2018 NHL Mock Draft

The day is finally here, so I decided to throw out my own Mock Draft. The only two picks we can be certain about are 1 and 2, after that it feels like the wild wild west which should be a fun day. So here we go ...

  1. Buffalo - Rasmus Dahlin
  2. Carolina - Andrei Svechnikov
  3. Montreal - Jesperi Kotkaniemi
  4. Ottawa - Filip Zadina
  5. Arizona - Brady Tkachuk
  6. Detroit - Noah Dobson
  7. Vancouver - Evan Bouchard
  8. Chicago - Oliver Wahlstrom
  9. Rangers - Quinn Hughes
  10. Edmonton - Adam Boqvist
  11. Islanders - Joel Farabee
  12. Islanders (CGY) - Ty Smith
  13. Dallas - Vitali Kravtsov
  14. Philly (STL) - Joe Veleno
  15. Florida - Grigori Denisenko
  16. Colorado - Dominik Bokk
  17. NJ – Bode Wilde
  18. Columbus - Barrett Hayton
  19. Philly - Rasmus Kupari
  20. LA - Rasmus Sandin
  21. SJ - K’andre Miller
  22. Ottawa (PIT) - Isac Lundestrom
  23. Anaheim - Akil Thomas
  24. Minnesota - Ryan McLeod
  25. Toronto - Ryan Merkley
  26. Rangers (BOS) - Martin Kaut
  27. Chicago (NSH) - Serron Noel
  28. Rangers (TB) - Jake Wise
  29. St. Louis (WPG) - Nils Lundkvist
  30. Detroit (VGK) - Jared McIsaac
  31. Washington - David Gustafsson

David Quinn For the Win!

All spring, the New York Rangers have been tight lipped. Very little rumblings have surfaced about who they would target as their head coach. Many have speculated the highly touted Sheldon Keefe, and some even Jim Montgomery who eventually went to the more “ready to win” Dallas Stars. One reporter who seemed to have it nailed was Larry Brooks of the New York Post who early on had David Quinn pegged as a possible candidate in the Rangers coaching search. Fast forward to all the breaking news this week, and here we are. The New York Rangers finally got their man, Boston University’s David Quinn. David Quinn was brought in mostly for three key reasons, player development, communication, and defense.


At the end of the season, much of the chatter surrounding the firing of Alain Vigneault was focused on player development. The Rangers specifically targeted coaches who have had success developing kids into pro NHLers, so they looked towards the NCAA. This is no surprise as 11 of the players on the New York Rangers roster are former NCAA athletes. And it’s also no surprise they went with Quinn, who was the head coach of the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program and recently pegged to coach the USA World Junior team. Over his tenure at BU, Quinn has developed Jack Eichel, Clayton Keller, and Charlie McAvoy as well as coached current Ranger Kevin Shattenkirk. Developing talent has always been a forte for Quinn so this box is clearly checked for the Rangers brass.


According to John Buccigross who was featured on GSN's The Garden Faithful podcast with Woj & Fitz, David Quinn has a Mike Sullivan type of demeanor with a loud booming voice. In his presser yesterday, Quinn was direct and honest with the questions that were asked and said “at the end of the day this is all about relationships” as he prides himself on being a solid communicator with his players. To further reiterate, Quinn was a featured guest on WFAN with Mike Francesa and spoke heavily about how “relationships are pivotal in development.” Quinn stated that “the communication piece is so important” and that “If there’s no connection between the coach and the player, you will have a hard time developing.” This is a critical factor when developing a young roster. The kids don’t just want to be told what to do, but they are constantly asking the “why” component. This here is crucial. A young player who asks why and you as a coach can articulate the logic, the player then in turn is less likely to commit the same mistake again and turn that into a true learned activity to impact his developmental curve and improve the overall game.


The New York Rangers have become progressively worse in their own zone over the last 3 years. At 5v5 play they have posted a GA/60 of 1.93 (2015/16) to 2.30 (2016/17) and 2.74 (2017/18) jumping up almost a whole goal per game during that span and it is no surprise to anyone that a major factor in the coaching search was someone who could remedy this systematic issue, and to Quinn’s credit his defensive structure has worked out well. Quinn preaches fundamentally sound defensive concepts, good stick positioning, angling, and gap control. But it doesn’t just end there. Quinn is a coach who believes his forwards are a critical part of a sound defensive structure as well, which is why he addresses being aggressive with forechecking to obtain the puck back. A key part of Quinn’s philosophy is one of “puck possession.” Similarly, to a concept in football well known as ball control, puck possession is critical in driving and maintaining play. Simply put, the more you control the puck, the less your opponent does and the more time your opponent spends in their own zone and or chasing pucks. David Quinn’s rationale is that a successful team is one that possess the puck and when they don’t they will want to pressure the opposition to regain the puck. A solid defensive zone system according to Quinn starts the second you don’t have the puck. Furthermore, Quinn also believes his defense is a major component of an offense. He believes his defense should be able to carry the puck and enter the zone with speed and start to drive play. These ideas are music to the ears of most Rangers fans and it’s up to Quinn now to set these wheels in motion.

The biggest strength of the New York Rangers has always been money, but this time it's different.

So, the New York Rangers are going to rebuild, this is nothing new. But what is the format for the rebuild? The Rangers are not going to bottom out, even if the fan base wanted them to. As currently constructed, the Rangers are a mid-tier team that might hover around the 8th seed, but most likely miss out and be towards the back end of the lottery. The Rangers have a generous number of draft picks in 2018, including 7 in the first 3 rounds, but they are not in an advantageous position if the ping pong balls don’t bounce their way. Yes, the Rangers will still do well in this draft granted the quantity of picks they have acquired (even if none of them become generational players), but in any good rebuild you want to beef up your pipeline as much as possible, and there is one strength the Rangers have and should exploit, their wallet.

The New York Rangers have been notorious for handing out bad contracts. From the days of Wade Redden, Bobby Holik, Scott Gomez, Dan Boyle, and Brad Richards, the franchise is no stranger to throwing money around at players like it’s free candy on Halloween. But, today Jeff Gorton, who is much more fiscally responsible, is at the helm and has done a much better job than days of the Cigar. Even though the Rangers are not tossing around bad contracts anymore, other teams still are. Milan Lucic ($5M/6Y), Brent Seabrook ($6.9M/6Y), and Bobby Ryan ($7.25M/4Y) are all contracts that have handcuffed their respective franchises from constructing their roster as they see fit, and even the aforementioned New York Rangers have Marc Staal ($5.7M/3Y) to deal with. Unlike the Blackhawks and Oilers, who down the road will be in cap space hell, and the Senators who are in financial trouble as is, the Rangers are the most valuable franchise in the NHL at $1.5B and have league’s highest revenue.

This is where the Rangers can really flex their muscle. The ability to absorb bad contracts (The Vision according to HockeyStatMiner & Fitz) , or to trade off players and retain salary is something many franchises simply do not have, and this is a juicy asset that teams will foam at the mouth for. The Rangers have an estimated $30M in cap space next season (using an $80M Salary Cap ceiling average), and $38.5M in 2019, and $49.4M in 2020 and the Rangers have no problem spending as they have in prior years, but this time they might be in a position of strength to use those dollars and parlay that cap space into draft picks, prospects, or young viable assets. Basically, the New York Rangers are the big bank to bail out other franchises from their erroneous decisions. In a hard cap structured NHL, where some teams are not the financial powerhouse that the Rangers are, or have already exhausted most of their cap and still need to make transactions, the Rangers can be the knight in shining armor to save the day by taking on a bad contract in lieu of not wanting to give up any key assets to keep the rebuild moving forward and fortify the pipeline.


Alain Vigneault, a man who never looked in the mirror

After a 5-0 shut out in Philadelphia, the season had finally and painfully come to an end. The New York Rangers found themselves in a position they had not been in for quite some time now, out of the playoffs, and on the way to a rebuild, but there was one lingering issue, who would be the leader of it?

Immediately after the game, Alain Vigneault defended himself in the presser with a long drawn out speech. Vigneault said, “at the end of the day, you know, you have to coach the team that you have in front of you, and you have to try to put a system in place that maximizes their talent level, and you try or mask or hide the weaknesses, and you work on both areas so that your team can improve.” Sure, there were injuries, and a directional change the organization decided to take, but there was very little accountability here. Vigneault, in what looked like a last-minute pitch to save his job said, “at the end of the day, my answer to you is a coach coaches what you have in front of you.”

The writing had been on the wall for several weeks that Alain would likely not be returning as head coach, but what transpired hours after the game was truly shocking. Jeff Gorton, who in recent interviews refused to support the man in charge, decided to rip the band aid off and avoid the drawn-out circus that was sure to come. Wasting no time, Jeff was quick to the punch. Perhaps he has a coach in mind already (Sheldon Keefe) and doesn’t want any other teams getting the drop, or perhaps it was Alain Vigneault’s unwillingness to look in the mirror and take some of the blame for what has transpired over the last few seasons. Either way you write the narrative, the call was made, and the organization will move forward with a new voice.

Alain Vigneault, who has brought this team as close to hoisting up Lord Stanley’s prized possession as it’s been since Mark Messier in 1994, has accomplished some great things here. A Cup Finals appearance, an Eastern Conference Championship, a President’s Trophy, and some of the best playoff moments in Rangers history are things to cherish. But all things do come to and end, and all coaches, even the greats have a shelf life. Vigneault’s, for the Rangers at least, has come and gone.  

As Joe Fortunato of Blueshirt Banter eloquently pointed out in his recent article, “Welcome to Jeff Gorton’s team.” Vigneault was hired by the former General Manager Glen Sather, and now Jeff can officially put his stamp on this franchise and this rebuild with his own vision and philosophy. Who is the replacement? That is yet to be seen, but this will clearly be Jeff’s team moving forward.


2018 MLB Over / Unders, Awards, and World Series Predictions

Mets (81) – Mets with a healthy Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, and a motivated Matt Harvey pitching for a contract could be one of the better rotations in the NL. You combine that with a new manager, adding Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, Jason Vargas and Anthony Swarzak along with Yoenis Cespedes not playing golf and focusing on baseball and Michael Conforto once he comes back, that is a decent lineup as well. Mets cruise past 81.

Yankees (94.5) – Even without Greg Bird for 2 months, the Yankees lineup is absolutely loaded, Didi is underrated by most in baseball, then you have Aaron Judge, adding in Giancarlo Stanton, and the best hitter on the team in Gary Sanchez. CC Sabathia is back, Sonny Gray will have a full season with the team, and Jordan Montgomery quietly can be a great back end rotation guy with the best pull pen in baseball. Then you factor in the insane depth of prospects and money they can spend if needed, the Yankees will be in the upper 90-win range. 

White Sox (68) – Chicago will not be a good team in 2018, but 68 wins, yeah, they will be better than that. Winning 67 last year is a good starting point, then throwing in all the kids they have on the team like Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada. They also have Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech in the pipeline plus one of the best farms in baseball. They are on the rise, and if the kids blossom and play quick they should cruise to 70 wins.

Astros (96.5) – World Series hangovers can be real with complacency settling in and knowing that making the playoffs is the only thing that matters because they have proved they can win. That compiled with the Angels, Athletics, and Mariners being good should make it tough to get past 96.5. I’ll take the under on the Astros but with them winning the division and making it to the ALCS. 

Rays (77.5) - Evan Longoria, Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson, Steven Souza, Lucas Duda, Alex Cobb, and Steve Cishek are all gone. Rays are also experimenting with a 4-man rotation which is as bit tricky, then you factor in the division they are playing in with the Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles, that is going to be tough to get to 78 wins, so I will take the under. 

Angels (84.5) – Their ace Shohei Ohtani with his first year in MLB looks to have had a rocky spring and the team is already low on reputable starting pitchers. They are also going to experiment with a 6-man rotation. You combine all those pitching issues with a weak farm system and that can be a recipe for a long season. The only thing this team might have going for them is the great Mike Trout, but I don’t know if he alone can carry the Angels to 85 wins, so I will take the under.

To make things more fun, I have invited my friend Michael DeSorbo to make his O/U picks as well:

Overs: Dodgers (96.5), Nationals (92.5), and Twins (82.5).
Unders: Cardinals (85.5), Giants (81.5), and Mariners (81.5).


AL Cy Young: Chris Sale (BOS)
NL Cy Young: Noah Syndergaard (NYM)
AL MVP: Gary Sanchez (NYY)
NL MVP: Bryce Harper (WAS)
AL ROY: Gleyber Torres (NYY)
NL ROY: Ronald Acuna (ATL)
AL Manager of the Year: Alex Cora (BOS)
NL Manager of the Year: Mickey Callaway (NYM)

AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Cleveland Indians
AL West: Houston Astros
AL WC 1: Boston Red Sox
AL WC 2: Minnesota Twins

NL East: Washington Nationals
NL Central: Chicago Cubs
NL West: Los Angels Dodgers
NL WC 1: New York Mets
NL WC 2: Milwaukee Brewers

ALCS: Yankees over Astros
NLCS: Cubs over Nationals
World Series: Yankees over Cubs

Who will be the New York Yankees 25th man on Opening Day?

As Spring Training comes to an end let’s try and guess the opening day roster and who will be given the final spot. Some decisions have already been made by Manager Aaron Boone, like confirming Tyler Wade has made the roster and that Tyler Austin has been optioned to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. We all know of the locks on this team in the outfield with Judge, Stanton, Gardy, and Hicks now with Ellsbury on the DL. And the infield is shaping up with Bird, Didi, Walker, Wade, Drury, and the lovable Toe. The Yankees starting rotation includes Sevy, Tanaka, Gray, CC, and Gumby. Moving on to the bullpen with Chapman, Green, DRob, Betances, Kahnle, and Warren are the givens which leaves 2 roster spots open. The Yankees in theory could have went with 1 infielder in Austin and 1 man in the pen, but with the recent news that Austin has been sent down that leads one to think the last 2 spots will be in the pen until Ellsbury returns. Chasen Shreve is out of options, so we can assume he will be on the opening day roster, and the other one should go to Domingo German who has earned it.

Just over 3 years ago, Domingo underwent Tommy John Surgery and the road back has been a bit rocky as it is with anyone undergoing this procedure. After missing the entire 2015 season and a portion of 2016 he finally returned to the mound to showcase his ability and he hasn’t regressed. German has 4 pitches to his arsenal: a high 90’s four-seam fastball, a solid breaking ball, a high 90’s sinker, and a changeup. German is also a pitcher that can come out of the pen for a batter when needed or be stretched out in long relief. Domingo has been lights out this spring with 15 strike outs in 12 innings pitched with a 2.84 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. This year his command of his pitches is noticeably better, specifically with his changeup and breaking ball. Boone can option to bring German out in a plethora of scenarios due to his versatility and depth of pitching, which may give him the nod over Jonathan Holder.



Aaron Judge
Giancarlo Stanton
Aaron Hicks
Brett Gardner

Greg Bird
Didi Gregorius
Neil Walker
Brandon Drury
Tyler Wade
Ronald Torreyes

Gary Sanchez
Austin Romine

Luis Severino (R)
Mashahiro Tanaka (R)
Sonny Gray (R)
CC Sabathia (L)
Jordan Montgomery (L)

Aroldis Chapman (L)
Chad Green (R)
David Robertson (R)
Dellin Betances (R)
Tommy Kahnle (R)
Adam Warren (R)
Chasen Shreve (L)
Domingo German (R)

Gary Sanchez will have the best season of any Yankee in 2018

As all the hype has been focused around the 2017 ROY and AL MVP runner up Aaron Judge, and new acquired slugger and 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton, there is one forgotten Yankee that everyone should keep their eye on and that’s Gary Sanchez. Gary broke on to the scene in 2016 with a remarkable audition by raking 20 home runs and driving in 42 runs over 53 games. In 2017 Gary suffered an early season injury to his bicep that caused him to miss most of the month of April, and yet he still had a sensational season by hitting 33 homers, (which is now a single season Yankee record by a catcher) and knocked in 90 runs. Early on scouts knew what they had in Sanchez as he displayed a great combination of bat speed and raw strength which can translate into big time power numbers.

Now we enter the 2018 season and the New York Yankees are one of the favorites to win the World Series and the spotlight has been shined on the two outfield sluggers putting Gary under the radar. This could very well be a nice bonus to Gary as he can continue to grow in the shadows of Stanton and Judge. As spring training has unfolded, long tenured Yankee veteran and anchor to the rotation, CC Sabathia was asked about the Yankee lineup with Mike Mazzeo of the NY Daily News. Sabathia said Sanchez is “probably the best hitter in the lineup.” Sabathia went further to compare the Yankee catcher to a “young Manny Ramirez” because of his power to all fields. Sabathia who will be entering his 18th season in MLB has seen and faced a plethora of power hitting sluggers, like David Ortiz, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, Manny Machado, and specifically the aforementioned Manny Ramirez and thus, his comparison should not be taken lightly.

Currently this spring Gary is batting 400 with a 1.205 OPS and showing his power display with 2 booming home runs. Although it is early and there’s a few more weeks of spring left before opening day, Gary looks locked in and finding his swing which should be a nightmare for opposing pitchers come April. If Gary stays healthy we should expect a big season from him, but I believe we are in for an even bigger treat. I’ve been very high on the Sanchez train for a few years now and I think this might be his break out year as I fully expect Gary to have a bigger year than his two amigos in Judge and Stanton. A 40 home run, 100+ RBI season could be well within his grasp. And just to put things in perspective, that would be on par with the season Mike Piazza had in 1997 where he finished second in the NL MVP.


Sheldon Keefe is the ideal hire for the New York Rangers rebuild.

As the season is winding down it is becoming abundantly clear that Alain Vigneault and his days as Head Coach of the New York Rangers are probably over. In recent interviews, General Manager Jeff Gorton would not comment on the job security of the coach leading to even more speculating among fans and the media. Usually when a coach’s job is secure, the front office will stand by him and squash any rumors to kill the fire; well Jeff Gorton did not do that so now our antennas are up. It’s no surprise to many that AV is on the hot seat as the locker room has become toxic. He’s had two brutal post season defeats in a row where the team either didn’t show up in some games or had complete melt downs in the waning minutes. Alain’s favoritism of veteran play over youth and his bizarre deployment of lines are just the tip of the iceberg. He’s also showed an unwillingness to adapt to the evolution of the game along with a preference for old time hockey grinders over highly talented and skilled players, which have made this Rangers team a nightmare to watch. Take your pick, but one thing has become apparent, the culture needs to change.

The franchise will be going through a rebuild; this is clear, and it might even be one that requires a little bit of patience and strong-minded individuals to see the forest through the trees. But if the franchise is truly looking to rebuild the core then it starts behind the bench. The one thing that this organization should avoid is another re-tread of a coach. This is a major concern I have moving forward because history tells us that the Rangers will make some sort of fancy splash with a well-known coach simply to bring eyes to Broadway. This is a mistake. If you’re going with a youth movement, it only makes sense to bring on a young, energetic coach with a fresh voice who can identify with the players and help groom them as they develop.

One name that has been on a lot of team’s radar is 37-year-old Sheldon Keefe. Sheldon is the Head Coach of the Toronto Marlies and has been a huge part of their player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Over 6 years of coaching Keefe has accumulated a record of 275 wins, 100 losses, and 17 OT losses or ties (41-10-4 in the CJHL, 98-29-9 in the OHL, and 136-61-13 in the AHL), which is a 0.72 winning percentage. Keefe’s coaching style is one that is polarizing to Vigneault’s as he’s more of a modern-day coach. Keefe is a possession-oriented coach who emphasizes spending time in the offensive zone and likes to have his defensemen be part of the offense. He’s also a coach who is heavy into advanced analytics where metrics like speed, skill, skating, and possession of the puck are paramount. And if you need any reassurance that this is a good direction, look no further than President of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brendan Shanahan. Brendan Shanahan believes highly in analytics which is why he hired a team of them to reshape the franchise. The Maple Leaf organization highly value Sheldon Keefe as he’s developed many of their young budding stars like William Nylander, Connor Brown, and Mitchell Marner. He’s also been a big part of the development of the highly touted Timothy Liljegren who is progressing very well. Sheldon is a players’ coach whose biggest asset is building trust and confidence in his young players which has skyrocketed their development. He understands the evolution of the game and would be a fantastic hire for this rebuild.

What should the NYR Draft Board look like.

Since GM Jeff Gorton started the process for this rebuild a few things have become clear. The New York Rangers will be drafting in the first-round multiple times (with a possibility to trade up), and they will most likely not be in the playoffs, giving them a lottery pick. Now, before we review the draft board let’s take a look at how the NHL lottery works. The lottery is not as simple as one may believe. Before the changes made in 2013, only five teams were able to participate in the NHL lottery to land the number one overall pick, which are the five with the fewest points at the end of the regular season; now the lottery is wide open to any team who does not qualify for the playoffs. At the end of the regular season, each team that did not make the playoffs are assigned odds to win the pick via randomly selected ping pong balls. The team with the worst record will have a 20% chance whereas the best team who did not qualify will receive a 1% chance. Sounds simple right? But wait, there’s more as the NHL uses these same odds to select draft slots 1 through 3, so essentially there are 2 lotteries in one night. After the first 3 picks have been randomly selected draft slots 4 through 15 are assigned based on their regular season point total from lowest to highest respectively. These rules were put in place to prevent a team from tanking hard enough to have a lopsided chance at landing the first overall pick. Now that we know how the draft works, let's peek at what the New York Rangers board should look like.


1. Rasmus Dahlin, D

2. Andrei Svechnikov, RW

3. Filip Zadina, RW

4. Quinn Hughes, D

5. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW

6. Adam Boqvist, D

7. Noah Dobson, D

8. Brady Tkachuk, C

9. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C

10. Ty Smith, D

11. Vitali Kravtsov, RW

11. Joel Farabee, LW

12. Evan Bouchard, D

13. Joe Veleno, C

14. Dominik Bokk, RW

15. Rasmus Kupari, C



Estevan Florial, get to know him before he's an ALL-STAR

The New York Yankees have one of the deepest farms in all of baseball. We are talking absurdly deep, even as you get past the top 100 ranked prospects. We have all heard and seen the emergence of Aaron Judge (RF), and Gary Sanchez (C). We have also seen the glimpses of Clint Frazier (CF), a top prospect acquired in the Andrew Miller trade from Cleveland Indians, and Miguel Andujar. And a good portion of Yankee fans have heard the whispers of Gleyber Torres (2B) who was acquired from the Chicago Cubs for Aroldis Chapman, will be on full display this spring. But one name that has went under the radar is Estevan Florial. 

The Yankee outfield is a crowded one, to say the least. With the recent acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, the emergence of rookie sensation Aaron Judge, blossoming unknown in Aaron Hicks, old reliable Brett Gardner, and several years of financial commitment ($84M/4Y) to Jacoby Ellsbury, there is already a log jam of space and that's not even factoring in Clint Frazier, who could easily be on this roster if there was room. Stanton is signed for the next decade, Judge is just starting out his career, Hicks is young and still developing, and unfortunately there is no way to move on from the Ellsbury contract. And then there's Clint Frazier, who is desperately trying to force the Yankees hand to find a place for him to play and rightfully so. Then we come to Estevan Florial who will be giving the Yankees a very good problem to have, a surplus of talented outfielders.

Estevan Florial, is the most accurate version of the prototypical "5 tool player" every organization loves to drool over. He checks all the boxes you want. Florial can hit for average and with power, has double plus speed on the base paths,  has a plus throwing arm, and should pan out to be an above average defender in the field.  Although all scouts rave about his raw power at the plate, the other tools of his game can often be forgotten. In 2017, Florial was rated the best athlete, best base runner, best defensive outfielder, and best outfield arm in the New York Yankees system. 

Several months ago, the Yankees made a trade for Sonny Gray, and Florial was on Oakland's radar. The architect of this rebuild, Brian Cashman, stood his ground that Florial was a hard no, and with that, the deal eventually was made with other pieces and Florial was kept in the system. In 2017 at 19 years old, Florial was at least 2Y younger than his A ball counterparts and ahead in professional development. During the 2017 season he continued to grow and this would highlight the genius baseball mind of Mr. Cashman. At the beginning of 2017 in Low-A, Florial batted .297 / .373 / .483 with 26 XBH, 11 HR, 43 RBI's, and 17 SB's in only 91 games played before being graduated to High-A where he continued to rake. The most impressive part of Florial's 2017 season was his .400+ BABIP which clearly illustrates the quality of his hits being put in play. Like with every prospect, there are some areas that can be improved upon with growth. If Florial can shorten up his swing, put more balls in the air, and bring down the strike outs, the sky is the limit with his ability. Florial's potential can be a .300 / 20 HR / 20 SB hitter or dare I say even better with an above average glove and arm. If I was a betting man, I'd throw some chips down on Florial. He is the complete package for the making of an All-Star. What an amazing problem for Brian Cashman and the Yankee brass to have.


If you rebuild it, they will come.

It was less than a year ago that the New York Rangers and GM Jeff Gorton started the rebuilding process. At this time they decided to move on from Derek Stepan and his "No Trade Clause," which was about to kick in. Jeff dubbed that summer the 'rebuild on the fly,' which was his way of explaining the direction the organization was headed in: rebuilding while still trying to be competitive enough to win. On the surface, the trade seemed like a loss: moving your number one center and back up goalie in Antti Raanta for a defensive prospect and a draft pick, but fast forward to the draft, and the Rangers selected Lias Andersson. 

Andersson is a player who always finds himself in the right place at the right time, has a nose for the net, and is not afraid of contact. He was considered a safe pick by most experts, however after watching his play at the WJC this winter, one thing has become abundantly clear: the kid is full of passion and heart. In a heartbreaking loss to Canada, Lias was involved in a controversial moment by tossing his silver medal away. Some might view this as childish, but there are others that see this as a strong mentality for one thing ... that is to WIN. Anything less for Lias is failure. And that is exactly what Jeff targeted, not just the skill set on the ice but the right mental makeup and work ethic.

Now we come to the present, where the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline was one of the most pivotal points for the Rangers brass. On February 8th, 2018, Jeff Gorton and Glen Sather released a statement letting the fanbase know that a full rebuild was in the plans. We all saw the writing on the wall last summer with the Stepan trade, but coming out with full transparency is something that not many teams do and for this they should be applauded. It's their duty as an organization to field the best team possible when there is a window to win the Stanley Cup, and that window was apparently closed.

Their record on New Years was 21-13-5, and their record was not a good indicator of how bad they really were. According to NaturalStatTrick on this day, they had a 3rd worst High Danger Chance Against (HDCA) of 511 with a league leading High Danger SV % (HDSV) of 88.65%. Even during one of the Rangers hottest streaks earlier in the season, it was clear that they were not a very good team. Why were they winning then? The answer was the same as it's been for over a decade: the man between the pipes who will eventually hang his number from the rafters in Rangers glory. Henrik Lundqvist was simply covering up for how awful this team was defensively, and that would not last, as there's only so much he can possibly do. As of today the NY Rangers have league leading low CF% of 46.35. Clearly, the Rangers have done a putrid job of creating scoring chances, as well as stopping high danger chances, and the data backs it up. But it's more than just the fancy hockey stats; anyone with an objective view could see this team was just not going anywhere fast and it was time to pull off the proverbial band-aid. 

The trade deadline was fast approaching and Jeff knew what must be done. It wasn't a popular move, and it wasn't one that would look good, with the flashy back page splashes that we are all accustomed to with this team. It was a philosophy on hitting the reset button with draft picks and prospects. On an interview today on WFAN with Boomer Esiason, Jeff Gorton addressed some questions about the moves he made and the direction they were headed in. One key factor that came up was one of character. Now we can all come to our own conclusions on that vague term, but it seemed to indicate one of a culture change from the ground up. Perhaps the message from head coach Alain Vigneault is becoming stale, perhaps some of the players are not holding themselves accountable, or it could simply mean everything needs a fresh start, but the message was clear: change is coming and this is just the beginning. 

So where does that leave us? The old guard is either moved on, or will be moving on. Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, Rick Nash, Nick Holden, and Michael Grabner have all been moved for assets to restock this farm. What are the pieces that came back? Ryan Spooner, who is a terrific passer and play maker, Ryan Lindgren, your prototypical shutdown defenseman who's strong on his skates and does all the little things right, Yegor Rykov, who should be a solid cerebral blueliner, Vladislav Namestnikov, who essentially replaces JT Miller as a good young forward, but with more offensive upside who's excellent at controlling the puck in transition. Also Brett Howden, a strong power forward who scores goals by getting in front of the net and causing havoc while also being an outstanding forechecker, and Libor Hajek, who has poise with the puck and shutdown play ability. As we can see from the players that were brought back, the common theme here was strong skating ability, high hockey IQ, and a strong work ethic. There is a realistic chance none of these players become your Erik Karlsson's or Nikita Kucherov's of the world, but they provide a much needed replenishing of the system with depth and flexibility.

The other big component is the slew of picks that came back, in 2018 - two 1st Rounders, a 2nd Rounder, a 3rd Rounder: a conditional 2nd in 2019 that may become a 1st if Tampa Bay wins the Cup, and a 7th Rounder in 2019. This is the big key to this second phase of the rebuild. What can Jeff and the scouts do with this draft? Where do the Rangers land on draft day? Will they move up if they are not where they want to be? This is an exciting time to be a Rangers fan and watch the front office build something that can be amazing, and if you rebuild it, they will come.