Rangers Sign Two Draft Picks

The news paled a bit in comparison to the impending start of the Stanley Cup Finals, which the parent New York Rangers and the L.A. Kings will kick off Wednesday in Tinseltown, but the Rangers Monday announced the signings of two drafted prospects, goaltender Mackenzie Skapski and defenseman Calle Andersson, both of whom could very well begin their North American pro careers in Wolf Pack uniforms this fall.

Skapski, a sixth-round Ranger pick in last June’s NHL draft, turns 20 on June 15, so he is eligible to play for the Wolf Pack this season, or could also go back to his Junior team, the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League, for an overage year if that is what the Ranger organization deems best for him.  The 6-3, 191-pound native of Abbotsford, British Columbia, played three full seasons for the Ice, the last two under former Wolf Pack head coach Ryan McGill.  Coincidentally or not, those were two excellent seasons for Skapski, who won 34 games in the Kootenay net in 2012-13 and 28 this season.

Mackenzie Skapski (courtesy of whl.ca)

Mackenzie Skapski (courtesy of whl.ca)

Skapski had the sixth-best save percentage, 91.6, in the WHL this year for an Ice team that finished the regular season nine games over .500, and then pulled a first-round upset of the division-champion Calgary Hitmen before falling in seven games to Medicine Hat in the second round.  The previous season, Skapski saw action in 65 of Kootenay’s 72 games, ranking him second in the league in appearances, and seven of his 34 wins were by shutout, tying him for the WHL lead in that category.

Andersson, meanwhile, is a second-generation member of the Ranger organization, as his father Peter was a 1983 Ranger draftee and spent the 1992-93 season back and forth between the Blueshirts and their Binghamton Ranger AHL affiliate, a club that rolled to a 124-point regular season, the best in the history of the league.  Peter Andersson played 31 NHL games for the Rangers that year, and eight the next season, before being dealt to Florida.  He suited up for eight more games with the Panthers in 1993-94 and then headed back across the pond, eventually logging 11 more European seasons before joining the coaching ranks.  Andersson is currently an assistant coach with the Swiss club Lugano, after having been a head coach for four years in Sweden’s second-tier league, the Allsvenskan, in which son Calle spent most of this past season.

Calle Andersson (courtesy of eliteprospects.com)

Calle Andersson (courtesy of eliteprospects.com)

Calle Andersson, a fourth-round pick by the Rangers in 2012, had to be signed by Sunday, or the Rangers would have lost his rights.  A 20-year-old 6-2, 211-pounder, Andersson had 12 points, two goals and 10 assists, in 43 Allsvenskan games with Malmo this season and logged 34 games in Sweden’s top league last year, with Farjestad.  He won a silver medal with the Swedish entry at the 2013 World Junior Championship, contributing two goals and an assist and a +4 in six games.

According to the team website of the Swiss club Zug, Andersson has signed a contract with that team for the 2014-15 season.  The team announcement says that the deal includes an “NHL out clause” which lasts through June 15.  It remains to be seen whether that agreement prevents Andersson from playing in the AHL if he does not crack the Ranger lineup.

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