As the trade deadline continues to draw near, Glen Sather will need to start sorting through his shelf to see what he is willing and what he isn't willing to make available. For today, we're going to stick with picks and prospects and then move onto actual players on the team later in the week. For now, however, here are the three prospects I wouldn't touch (in no particular order):
1) Chris Kreider: I'll make this simple: the New York Rangers haven't had a prospect like Kreider in their farm system since Alexi Cheraponov. And, if that wasn't enough, when the Rangers drafted Cheraponov they hadn't had a prospect like him in their system for a long time. Simply put, in Kreider the Rangers have a prospect who boasts size, speed and, most importantly, an NHL-ready shot. I'm also not the only one who feels this way. More than a few prospects are drooling over Kreider's ability to find space and snipe goals from anywhere on the ice. Those of you who are disappointed in his numbers (33 points -- 18 goals -- in 29 games for Boston College) need to look past the numbers. Remember, NCAA stats are very hard to read. On Boston College, a team who rolls three offensive lines and doesn't focus on any one offensive player, Kreider's numbers are superb. He steps up in the clutch (Beanpot MVP in 2011, lead the USA World Junior team in goals last year and a goal in Monday's Beanpot victory) and his ability to find space and score no matter who is defending him easily makes him the most exciting prospect the Rangers have boasted in a long, long time.
Join me after the jump for more.
2) Tim Erixon: This past offseason Glen Sather pulled off a brilliant trade with the Calgary Flames. He shipped off two second round picks and Roman Horak for a young defenseman who the Rangers' brass was actually going to take if they didn't go with Kreider. If you don't believe me look back at my interview with Gordie Clark on Kreider. So, in the case of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers got their cake and ate it too. And what a cake it is. I went over Kreider above, but Erixon is doing just as well, and at a higher level. In 32 games he has 25 points (23 assists) and has been a big force on the power play. Erixon was putting up a point-per-game but needed a few games to get back to himself after a mid-season injury. Either way, he's been more than impressive with the Whale this season.
3) Michael St. Croix: Back on August 26th I wrote this about St. Croix in regard to him being ranked 7th on the Hockey News' Top 10 Prospects for the Rangers:
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.
I bolded the part I want to focus on. After the Rangers drafted St. Croix I wanted to get a little more information on him. I was shocked he fell to the fourth round with the numbers he put up in the WHL. So I reached out to a couple people in the know to get their opinions, and both said the same thing "if this kid puts his game together he could be a special player." So after my conversation, I was confident enough to write the bolded comment above way back in August. Now he's proving me right. St. Croix is putting up career numbers in every category, and the season isn't even over yet. He has 36 goals, 51 assists and 87 points in 56 games. His playoff performance last year (just one goal in four games) was one of the reasons he might have fallen in the draft. We have to wait and see in that category, but as of right now this kid has put his game together. I'm excited to see what's next for St. Croix, but for now, he's one of the top prospects in the Rangers' farm system.
Those are the three I would keep my hands on if I was Glen Sather. How about you?