J.T. Miller

2011 Draft Recap

The draft is out of the way, and all six of the 2011 Ranger draft picks are attending the Rangers prospect camp which got under way today – More here from the official site.

While the team did add six additional prospects, they did part with one – Evgeny Grachev – along with a sixth round pick in the 2012 draft. For Grachev, the Rangers acquired a third round pick from the Blues, the same return the Blue Jackets got in exchange for former first round pick Nikita Filatov. Both players were drafted in 2008, Filatov 6th overall, Grachev 75th.

For his part, Grachev was reportedly disappointed with the Rangers and had asked for a trade. The 21 year old winger made his NHL debut last year, and failed to record a point in eight appearances playing on the fourth line.

As for the draft itself, the Blueshirts used the 1st (JT Miller), 3rd (Steve Fogarty) and one of their 5th round picks (Shane McColgan) to select American born forwards. They added a Canadian born forward (Michael St Croix) in the fourth round, and added two sizable defenders in the 5th (Samuel Noreau – 6’5″) and 6th rounds (Peter Ceresnak – 6’3″).

Going into the draft, the general consensus was that it was weak on talent, and so it probably comes as no surprise that the Rangers have a collection of potential players, but all with some questions over them.

In Miller they have a forward who can play an up-tempo physical game, but needs to be more consistent in delivering it. He has talent, but not necessarily top-end talent and is probably more likely topping out at a second liner, rather than a first liner.

He considers himself a power forward, but it remains to be seen if he can really keep the compete level high, and whether he can translate that to the bigger bodies he’ll find in college.

The Rangers’ Gordie Clark thought Fogarty was underrated, but he may spend another year in the USHL and then head to South Bend to play with the Fighting Irish. Not one of the handful of premier college hockey programs, but a competitive one in the always interesting CCHA. Fogarty appears several seasons away from joining the NHL at this point.

For their third pick, the Rangers took another player with potential upside, though his stock has dropped. Michael St Croix is the son of a former NHL netminder – who played for the Leafs and Flyers – and has shown some serious offensive potential, but may never have the strength to compete at the NHL level. In selecting St Croix, the Rangers have picked a player who is more European in style, than North American, and one who has above average stickhandling.

Dominating at the lower levels, followed by playing on an expansion WHL team haven’t necessarily helped his development, and this season could be a real test for him.

In the fifth round, the Rangers selected undersized forward California native Shane McColgan, and 6-5 Quebec born defender Samuel Noreau. McColgan was projected to be a high first round pick a year ago, but wasn’t able to improve in his second full year in the WHL. At 5-8 he is undersized, but it hasn’t stopped him mixing it up and playing in the tough areas. Perhaps the biggest question is whether he’ll be effective playing that size in the much tighter pro ranks. Those questions, and the lack of improvement in his second year saw his stock drop dramatically.

By contrast Noreau has the size and strength, but lacks the offensive ability and quickness. Noreau looks to be a long shot for the NHL at this stage, but late in the draft he’s an appealing option for a team looking to add some size.

With the final pick, the Rangers exchanged 6th round picks with the Predators and selected another stay at home defender in Peter Ceresnak. The 6-3 Slovak must have caught someone’s eyes in the Rangers organization as a potential late round flyer, but it looks like there’s little chance of seeing him in Rangers blue at this stage of his career.

Overall the Rangers had little to work with in this draft, both from a picks and a talent perspective. We’ll give them a C+ for trying to find a diamond, but there’s not much to get too excited about in this group.

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