The New York Rangers made their now third selection in the 2011 NHL Draft by selecting 18 year old center Michael St. Croix of the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL. St. Croix finished his second full season in the WHL with 75 points in 68 games. He also led all forward on the Oil Kings with a +28 rating, significantly better than all but one other forward.
Hockey Prospectus ranks St. Croix as their 26th best prospect, just below popular target and 1st round pick, Nicklas Jensen, and above 14th overall pick Jamieson Oleksiak Here's what Corey Pronman has to say on him:
Michael St. Croix came into the season expecting to dominate offensively, and while he did well, he didn't show the complete upside he's capable of. He's a solid skater, with a very fluid and effective stride who has the agility and edge control to be extremely elusive. St. Croix has plus puck skills and can make defenders miss left and right, but also can make very good distributions if they back off him. He's a well above-average power play weapon and can make a ton of things happen from the left side of the offensive zone. He has a solid shot and is able to score his mid-distances. His physical game is well below-average right now, and it likely will top out at most as a fringe tool. St. Croix does go into the physical areas and drives to the net, but he is relatively ineffective and physically overwhelmed easily to the point it makes more sense for him to stay on the perimeter. His hockey sense is solid to above-average, and offensively his awareness is impressive. He makes lightning-quick decisions—sometimes it even looks like he's rushing it by how quickly he moves the puck. St. Croix's defensive game was bad in the first half, but made some progression in the second half, although I'm not 100% he can stay at the center position.
More after the jump.
Here's Kirk Luedeke on St. Croix:
A very good skater who can dangle with the best of them, he's got a lightning release and just seems to have that sixth sense around the net when it comes to scoring goals or setting them up. He tallied 27 markers and 75 points in 68 games, finishing just three points off the scoring lead to Dylan Wruck. His willingness to get his nose dirty and play more responsible in all zones is precisely why his stock is up these days. Will it be enough to get him into the first round? That remains to be seen, but even if he doesn't crack the Friday night lineup, he won't be around long on Saturday, as he has some of the best natural upside of any in this class. His average size (5-11, 165) hurts him- he needs to get a lot stronger, but that should come in time.
Finally, thescoutingreport.org's midterm report:
Michael St. Croix is really starting to become a complete player with the Edmonton Oil Kings; something evidenced by his +/- stat going from -21 to being a +22 at the time of this article. St. Croix has also really started to pick up his offensive play, netting 7 goals and 20 points in 11 December games, and is once again starting to show flashes of the player everyone thought he would be. St. Croix might be the second most talented center the WHL has to offer this year, and though he’s not overly big or strong, his playmaking ability is solid, and you would have to wonder what kind of numbers he could put up on a stronger team.
For the fans who wanted Joel Armia, or more generally, a guy with large offensive upside, Gordie Clark just found it in round 4, while also meeting the strong two-way requirement that is seemingly demanded of every pick Clark makes. It is hard to call this anything but an excellent value pick for the draft.
Tell us your thoughts on the selection.