Following a second-round exit in the 2013 postseason, the New York Rangers looked ahead to the 2013 NHL Draft.
Ahead of the 2013 NHL Draft
The Blueshirts expected to compete for the Cup and had traded their first-round pick as part of the trade that brought Rick Nash to New York. They had also traded their second-round pick to acquire Ryane Clowe just before the trade deadline. The team entered the draft with five picks, including three in the third round.
Despite not having early draft picks, the Rangers did an excellent job of finding talented players who slipped into the later rounds.
Adam Tambellini (65th-Overall Pick)
The Rangers selected Adam Tambellini, whose father and brother both played in the NHL. He had committed to play for the University of North Dakota but struggled during his first season, producing just two goals and two assists in 16 games. He decided to leave the school in the middle of the season and play for the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL instead. He had a successful 2014-15 season with the Hitmen and scored 47 goals.
After the season, Tambellini signed a professional contract and played for the Hartford Wolf Pack. He never stood out in Hartford and failed to produce more than 35 points in any of his three seasons there. He is now playing in Sweden.
Tambellini is the only player the Rangers drafted in 2013 who never made it to the NHL.
Pavel Buchnevich (75th-Overall Pick)
The Rangers picked the Russian winger with the expectation that he would help the team down the road, even though he would spend his first few seasons after being drafted playing in Russia. He has done just that.
After four seasons in the KHL, Buchnevich made his NHL debut with the Blueshirts early in the 2016-17 season. He initially struggled to stay in the lineup, competing for the postseason, but still finished with 8 goals and 12 assists in 41 games. The following season he earned a more significant role and finished with 14 goals and 29 assists in 74 games, including a few highlight-reel plays.
Buchnevich has improved in each of his four seasons with the Rangers. He has gotten stronger and improved his defensive positioning and has been rewarded by playing on a line with top center Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider this season. He has a career-high 46 points in 68 games this season.
He is signed through the 2020-21 season. He will be 26 when his contract expires and is a candidate for a long-term extension with the Rangers.
Anthony Duclair (80th-Overall Pick)
Duclair looked more like a first-round pick than a third-round pick when the winger scored 50 goals in 59 games for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL in the 2013-14 season. By the following season, he made his debut with the Rangers at 19 years old. He scored one goal and had six assists in 18 games, but failed to stay in the lineup with the team chasing the Stanley Cup.
The young winger was traded as part of a deal to acquire defenseman Keith Yandle from the Arizona Coyotes. The Rangers came up short in their quest for the Cup and failed to re-sign Yandle when his contract ended after the 2015-16 season.
Duclair had 20 goals and 24 assists in his first season with the Coyotes but has been hampered by injuries, including multiple concussions since then. Over his next two seasons, he played for four teams. This season he has managed to stay healthy and has played very well, scoring 23 goals and adding 17 assists in 66 games with the Ottawa Senators.
Ryan Graves (110th-Overall Pick)
The Rangers drafted yet another talented player late in the draft when they took the 6-foot-5 defenseman in the fourth round. Unfortunately, they failed to realize what they had in Graves.
After playing alongside Duclair for the Remparts in 2014-15, Graves signed a professional contract. He would spend the next three seasons with the Wolf Pack. He was known for having one of the hardest shots in the AHL but he struggled with his skating and defensive positioning. He never got called up to play for the Rangers in those three seasons.
In 2018, the Blueshirts traded Graves to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Chris Bigras. Bigras spent two seasons with Hartford but failed to stand out and was released in 2019.
Graves continued to develop and improved his defensive play. He made his debut for the Avalanche last season. This season he has 9 goals and 17 assists in 69 games. He is also plus-40, the best in the NHL. He has become a key member of a Colorado team that expects to compete for the Cup.
While the Rangers have an excellent young group of defensemen, not getting more back for Graves in the trade still stings.
Mackenzie Skapski (170th-Overall Pick)
When the Rangers drafted the goaltender in the sixth round, they hoped Skapski could help them in a few years and signed him to an entry-level contract after a strong 2013-14 season in the WHL.
After another strong start with Hartford in the AHL in 2014-15, he was called up to the NHL because Henrik Lundqvist was injured. Skapski made two starts with the Rangers, winning both, including a shutout. After Lundqvist returned, Skapski was sent back to the AHL. He had hip surgery after the season.
Unfortunately, he failed to maintain his success and was sent down from the AHL to the ECHL. Skapski played one season in Slovakia but decided to retire after the 2017-18 season, as his hip never fully recovered from his surgery after the 2014-15 season.
The Rangers drafted really well in 2013 despite not having any picks in the first two rounds. Three of the five players they selected are in the midst of strong seasons and Skapski could have had a successful NHL career if not for his injury.
Buchnevich is the only player the team selected in 2013 that is still a Ranger and his future looks bright, as he has steadily improved since his rookie season. Duclair helped the Blueshirts acquire a player they thought could help them win the Cup in 2015.
The most disappointing part of the draft class was trading Graves for Bigras and it serves as a reminder that some young players, especially defensemen, can take a long time to develop. Still, that blow is softened by the team’s talented young defensemen, as well as defense prospects with the potential to develop into great players.
This draft was a success because the team found talented players despite having no picks until the third round. If Buchnevich can continue to improve, it will make the draft an even better one for the Rangers.
I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, rooting for the Rangers, Yankees, Giants, and Knicks. When my dream of playing shortstop for the Yankees fell short, I started writing about sports instead. I’m a proud graduate of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.