The Rangers made more news behind their bench than on it during draft day in Newark Sunday, as Alain Vigneault’s coaching staff began to round into form.
The Blueshirts will hire two-time Stanley Cup winning defenseman Ulf Samuelsson as an assistant coach, the Daily News has confirmed. Samuelsson, a former Ranger, most recently was head coach of Modo in the Swedish Elite League.
Meanwhile, Newell Brown, an assistant of Vigneault’s the past three seasons in Vancouver, has emerged as the favorite to coach the Rangers’ power play, The News has learned.
Samuelsson, 49, was an assistant coach in 2005-06 with the Rangers’ AHL affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, then moved on to the NHL and coached as an assistant with the Phoenix Coyotes from 2006 through 2011. He joined Modo in his native Sweden in May 2011 but left after one season.
“What Ulfie was (as a player) was a hardnosed, competitive, son-of-a-‘B’. When he’s on your side, you just loved ’em,” said Ray Ferraro, Samuelsson’s Rangers teammate in 1995-96 who now works as a TSN analyst. “As a coach, he is extremely hardworking, and very, very diligent about trying to be better.”
Samuelsson (l.) is a former Rangers defenseman.
Brown, meanwhile, is expected to be asked to improve the Rangers’ power play after leading the Canucks’ man advantage to NHL ranks of first overall, fourth overall and 22nd overall in the past three seasons, respectively.
At the draft, the Rangers, with no picks until the third round due to trades for Rich Nash and Ryan Clowe, took North Dakota center Adam Tambellini (6-2, 180 pounds) at No. 65. He is the son of Steve Tambellini, the former Oilers general manager who played for the Islanders and Devils, and the brother of Jeff Tambellini, another ex-Isle.
“I think I’m an offensive centerman,” Tambellini said. “Hopefully I can help round out the top six in the future.”
At 75, the Rangers took 6-1, 176-pound forward Pavel Buchnevich of the Russian junior league — the 34th-ranked prospect in the entire draft who slipped due to scouting reports citing need for increased strength and intensity. Then at 80, they picked 5-11, 180-pound left wing Anthony Duclair from the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The Rangers began the day by swinging a deal with the Minnesota Wild for defensive depth, acquiring 6-5, 220-pound defenseman Justin Falk for minor-league forward Benn Ferriero and a 2014 sixth-round pick. Sunday night, Sather was shopping the rights to Clowe, an impending unrestricted free agent the Rangers no longer can afford since they are keeping Brad Richards’ $ 6.67 million salary cap hit at least one more season.
Then with their final two picks, the Blueshirts plucked 6-4, 220-pound defenseman Ryan Graves from the QMJHL at 110th overall in the fourth round, before closing with the selection of 6-3, 182-pound goaltender Mackenzie Skapski of the Western hockey League at pick 170 (sixth round).