In order to open up SB Nation United in a united way (see what we did there?) all the hockey sites are doing a post within the same mold (we have four options to choose from).
I selected the Rangers top prospect story, although we're going to play it a little differently and not select Chris Kreider as a prospect. Before you all go into the whole "he hasn't even played in a regular season game yet" let me explain myself.
Kreider had a hell of a playoffs last year, and easily secured his place on the Rangers's roster next year. If the season would have started on time, we wouldn't have been talking about whether or not Kreider was going to make the team out of camp. His presence was assured. And that, in my book, was enough to vault him to "graduated" status when it comes to Rangers prospects.
Here's the top three in no particular order:
J.T. Miller: The New York Rangers first round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Miller was a surprise pick when the Rangers selected him 15th overall. Many fans were concerned that Miller didn't have enough offense in his skill set to make an impact at the NHL level. And while it's always great to have a third line winger who can kill penalties and grind the puck, you can pick those up in the free agent market for cheap rather than spending a first round pick on them.
But Miller silenced his critics with a spectacular rookie year in the OHL. Aside from bringing all the intangibles to the Plymouth Whale, Miller showed the world the offensive talent the Rangers saw when they drafted him; to the tune of more than a point per game in the OHL.
For a rookie, that's not to shabby. This year will be the real test for Miller, however. Especially since he said after he was drafted that he wanted to go pro after one year in the juniors. Of course, we need hockey for that.
Michael St. Croix: St. Croix might have been the biggest surprise of the Rangers draft selections last year. St. Croix had 105 points in 72 WHL games, and then posted 19 points in 20 playoff games. It was a significant year for St. Croix (his previous highest point total in the WHL was 75) and really put him on the radar in terms of NHL prospects.
St. Croix is off to a hot start this year as well, posting three goals and an assist for four points in two games. St. Croix was signed to a professional contract this summer, and has a chance to open up even more eyes with another great year this season.
Dylan McIlrath: The Rangers first round pick in 2010, McIlrath had a great growth season last year for Moose Jaw, improving nearly every part of his game on the ice. The Rangers brass was thrilled to get McIlrath paired up with Jeff Beukeboom this year with the Connecticut Whale. That marriage will have to wait, though, as McIlrath continues to recover from a dislocated kneecap he suffered at the hands of Kyle Jean in the team's prospects camp over the summer.
McIlrath is pegged to be the next Beukeboom, ironically, and does have some work to do before he can see his name in the NHL programs. With some AHL seasoning, however, it wouldn't be insane to say you could see McIlrath next year -- provided there is space for him -- but you also wouldn't be crazy to peg him to take a little longer, either.