Michael St. Croix Season Preview
In the 2011 NHL draft, the New York Rangers had six selections that year and aside from their 1st round selection of J.T Miller, the Rangers draft received a B- grade by many hockey analysts. One prospect who was particularly overlooked during the 2011 NHL draft was Michael St. Croix, who was rated #25 among the top prospects before the draft. The 5’11/ 176 pound Winnipeg native slipped to the 4th round until the Rangers drafted him with the #106th selection. St. Croix was known for his high scoring ability, but never considered a complete package; which may have caused him to slip to the 4th round.
Since being drafted, St Croix has done nothing but impress the Rangers organization with a solid season for the Edmonton Oil Kings compiling career numbers and leading all Ranger prospects in goals (45), assists (60), and points (105); including 18 PP goals. The Rangers signing of Michael St. Croix to a three year entry level contract (two–way deal) most recently indicates the Rangers commitment to the speedy center as St. Croix will start the 2012 season in Edmonton and if he continues to develop, we could see the young center playing in the AHL sometime this season.
Strengths: St. Croix is a crafty forward with solid two-way skills. More of a playmaker than a scorer, St. Croix has exceptional speed and excellent hockey sense. His hockey intelligence and ability to see play’s developing makes him a constant threat. His puck skills and pinpoint accurate shot are also high end and he has an uncanny ability to find open space in scoring areas.
Weaknesses:St. Croix tends to take his natural abilities for granted and becomes invisible for long stretches and his lack of size could hinder his effectiveness moving forward in the AHL and NHL, especially along the boards.
Future Analysis:St. Croix is expected to spend at least two more seasons in parts of Junior and AHL before having the opportunity to compete for a roster spot with the Rangers. He’s projected to be a second or third line player in the NHL. St. Croix needs to increase his strength level in order to play in the NHL. He needs to play better in traffic areas and be willing to play more physical. If he’s successful, he can be another Carl Hagelin with more offense in his game. Perhaps one day, we will see the reincarnation of the smurf line with Hagelin/St.Croix/Thomas.