New York Rangers prospects: Steven Fogarty of Notre Dame learning NHL-style game

In his second year as a collegiate, Steven Fogarty was an important piece for the Fighting Irish.

Steven Fogarty looks the part of a professional hockey player, even if he's still in the amateur ranks. The 6-foot-3, Minnesota native just finished his sophomore season at Notre Dame. As a collegiate thus far, Fogarty has shown he's strong at both ends of the ice, a skill he said he takes pride in.

"I'm a solid, two-way centerman," Fogarty said after his Notre Dame team eliminated top-ranked Boston College in the Hockey East quarterfinals. "This weekend especially, our line did a good job of shutting down the best line in college hockey. They only had one 5-on-5 goal against us."

The unit Fogarty was referring to was that of Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames), Kevin Hayes (Chicago Blackhawks), and Bill Arnold (Calgary Flames), the most potent offensive trio in the country by far. To date, the line has combined for 126 points in 25 games.

"I kind of take pride in that, but when it's time to go offensively, I feel like I have good skills, good vision to make plays, or put the puck in the net, or find someone to score," he said. "Just overall, a good two-way centerman."

Another thing Fogarty does especially well is protect the puck using his frame. At Notre Dame, head coach Jeff Jackson stresses puck possession, a trend that's becoming more and more popular in the NHL, and also more linked to success.

"People like to say we're a defensive team, and I think the exact opposite," said Jackson after a Game 1 win over Boston College. "It's about puck possession; it's about making plays on transition.

"You can't have transition without defense."

It's a system very similar to what Alain Vigneault has installed with the Rangers in his first year as head coach: strong on pucks in the neutral zone, smart decisions with the puck once you have it, and, maintaining possession to serve as a form of defending.

"You look at the guys in the NHL and they're all big and strong," said Fogarty. "I've been blessed to have a bigger body, so it's just a matter of how well I use it.

"When I am using it is when I'm at my best, so that's definitely something that would translate to the next level."

Fogarty may not be scoring in bunches yet (he has eight goals and 13 assists in 84 games for the Fighting Irish), but he's been tasked with a different role so far in Jackson's gameplan. But a senior-heavy Notre Dame team will lose at least five forwards to graduation, while others may jump to the NHL, which could open up more opportunities for the rising junior. Many college players coincidentally also make an offensive jump in year three.

Fogarty was quick to credit much of his hockey development to growing up in Minnesota, while noting the Rangers who have followed a similar path. ("I used to work out where McDonagh worked out, but I never really talked to them or anything like that," he said.)

And like those Blueshirts who have come through the hockey mecca before him, Fogarty hopes to follow in their footsteps.

"It's fun to see guys who kind of had the same background, grew up, played college, and then make it on Broadway," he said. "It's something I dream of, and hopefully one day it will come true."