Phoenix wanted Rangers' second round pick
Rangers head amateur scout Gordie Clark
Slava Malamud, the U.S. correspondent for Sport Express, filed this report from the 2007 NHL Entry Draft:
The Rangers really wanted to take Alexei Cherepanov earlier in the round, by trading up for one of the first five picks. Phoenix was a possibility, but the Coyotes wanted the Rangers' second round pick, which the Rangers couldn't agree to-- they have too old a team to be squandering picks.
Malamud then relayed these comments from the New York Rangers head of amateur scouting, Gordie Clark, responding to reporters minutes after the Rangers selected Cherepanov:
"When we couldn't trade up to a higher spot, we started to examine our other options. This draft was rich with defenseman, but we wanted to take a forward. It's my job to look into the future, in the post-Jagr era, and we need to replace our aging stars.
"I'm not considering that Cherepanov will be able to replace Jagr, just that Jagr and Straka won't last forever, and they will stop playing soon. And, we should be ready for this. Our first two forward lines are based on these players, so we need to find players with the potential to play on the first and second lines, which is precisely what Cherepanov is.
"My point of view was that we weren't afraid of the absence of an agreement with Russia, and that was the point of view of my boss, also. Glen Sather only asked me what I thought of his hockey talents, and wasn't interested in the relationship with Russia. Sooner or later we will have to address this, but this player has special talent. We don't have any forwards on this level in our youth system.
"He played in all of the international tournaments, and scored more decisive goals in the important games than any other player in my memory prior to the draft. The winning goal against Team USA in Switzerland, which saved his team from elimination... again, this is a special player.
"Some of the other NHL teams perhaps made up a different opinion of him based on the pre-draft interviews in Toronto, but we had interviewd him long before that, and always considered him to be a smart player, with a sincere desire to play in the best league in the world.
"We didn't even think about his two-year contract with Avangard. I think he can be in the NHL in a year. He already plays against adults, and not just sitting at the end of the bench picking his teeth-- he broke the rookie scoring record of Pavel Bure! Yes, he doesn't have Pavel's speed, but he is ready to play the game as best he could. It doesn't bother us that he wants to play one more season in Russia-- the Super League is an outstanding league, not a 'beer league'. He will continue to progress there.
"I would compare him to Frolov of Los Angeles. Cherepanov is an exceptional talent, like Ovechkin and Malkin, though certainly not at their level as a sniper and a leader. Nevertheless, I am sure he will play well here.
"My philosophy since the lock-out is to take the natural talents as much as possible. Not all of them will come through, we know this, but now you cannot get by without the technical (skill) and speed players."