The Hockey News Magazine released their top-10 New York Rangers prospects a few days ago, and I thought some of the selections would be interesting to talk about here.
The top selection might surprise you however. The Hockey News chose Tim Erixon as the best player within the Rangers' system right now, although the organization is hopeful he won't be a prospect much longer.
While it might be surprising to see his name above Chris Kreider and Christian Thomas, it does make some sense. Erixon was the top defensive prospect in the Calgary Flames system before he was traded, and is largely considered to be NHL-ready thanks to his extensive SEL experience.
Many expect Erixon to make the team out of camp, especially since the organization is so high on him. Erixon played big minutes in the SEL this year, and thrived in both the regular season and the playoffs. Consitering Erixon was a 19-year-old kid playing amongst men last year, that's a tremendous accomplishment.
But is it enough to make Erixon the best prospect in the Rangers' system? Join me after the jump for the others.
Coming in second is Kreider, which shouldn't be much of a surprise. There is a level of disappointment surrounding Kreider when the former first-round pick choosing to spend a third year at Boston College. But Gordie Clark, Director of Player Personnel for the New York Rangers, told Blueshirt Banter in an exclusive interview that Kreirder's developmental path is still going as planned.
"The measuring stick we talked about earlier with the World Juniors, which has been played for the last few years up in Buffalo in front of NHL-sized crowds in an NHL-sized rink is that it's the next group of guys who are coming into the NHL for all NHL teams," he said. "And that, technically, is more of a measuring stick, and Chris went in and he impacted two World Juniors in a row. He played in five major tournaments that year, four in college, and he added a medal in Buffalo with the US team and the Beanpot and then played more of a role on the men's team as a 19-year-old kid."
Third on the list is Dylan McIlrath, which might surprise those of you who are only looking at his offense numbers as a gauge to how his development is going. The magazine previewed him by saying:
Physical player with a good point shot. Skating needs work.
The skating concerns were also addressed by Clark in the interview.
"He's a very mobile player," he said. "I have been reading articles questioning his mobility and I can't understand why. He's always been a very good skater for a big man, he's a very natural skater and he's very mobile. I don't understand why people are only saying 'oh, now he is a better skater,' because he always was. That's one of the things we loved about him."
Thomas comes in at number four, which shouldn't surprise anyone. The quick forward with a "wow" shot truly opened eyes with a 54-goal performance in the OHL last season. Thomas is going to get a long, hard look in camp, but is still expected to be a dark-horse to make the team this year.
This year's first-round pick, J.T. Miller, comes in at number five. Miller had an absolutely fantastic showing at the USA Developmental Camp this summer. Both Miller and Thomas are expected to make their respective World Junior team's for this upcoming tournament.
Steven Fogarty, this year's third-round selection, is the first real surprise of the list coming in at number six. Fogarty, who was taken with the draft pick received from the Evgeny Grachev trade, was a player who fell enough for the Rangers to take him in the third round; something the organization was very excited about. although he hasn't proven himself at the next level yet, he's committed to playing for the University of Notre Dame next season.
Michael St. Croix is the seventh prospect on the list. St. Croix represents a high risk, high reward pick better than anyone else within the Rangers farm system. St. Croix put up good offensive numbers in the OHL (75 points in 68 OHL games) but only scored a goal in four playoff appearances. If St. Croix puts his game together (his defensive game needs work and everyone agrees last year was only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his offensive game) he might be the steal of the draft.
And finally to round everything out: Dale Weise comes in at number eight, Jesper Fasth come in at number nine and Ryan Bourque finishes the top-10.
Of the three, Fasth has shown the most improvement, opening eyes with his fantastic second-half play last season. Bourque has always been tabbed as an offensive player, but some scouts worry if his game will translate to the NHL.
Regardless, thoughts on this list guys?