New York Rangers Prospect Rankings: 34-30

Lots of prospects

It’s pretty unfortunate, but here we are in the dog days of the hockey off season. Luckily for us though we have 34 prospects as of right now that have their rights owned by the Rangers to talk about. So today we will be looking at some of the guys on the lower end of the group and what may possibly arise from them. This is going to be a weekly post, so stay tuned for more rankings.

34 Michael Kantor– Kantor is a hustling bustling 23 year old American right winger in the Rangers system that has some intrigue around him. The former Sudbury Wolves captain signed with the Rangers in the summer of 2013 then made his pro debut the following season. While he impressed in the ECHL, getting 3 assists in 3 games, he has yet to record his first point in the AHL. Twenty-seven games in his first season with the Wolfpack with 113 PIMS and no points isn’t something to be super excited about. Last season wasn’t great either as he once again did well in a small showing in the ECHL but only played 1 game in the AHL recording no points. His injury and low point production history do not really bode well for him in terms of an NHL future, as a matter of fact I don’t really think he has one. However, everyone has a chance and you never know. If anything Kantor is most likely a 12th or 13th forward that hustles and forechecks every shift should he make the NHL, which is something I don’t believe is likely.

33 Josh Nicholls-  Nicholls was a player originally drafted in the 7th round by the Toronto Maple Leafs and is a player that I fully support the Rangers taking a chance on. He produced points in the WHL and the NYR hoped that it would translate to the minor leagues. While the offense doesn’t seem like it will translate the 6’2 right handed center/wing does have the potential to end up being a versatile two way forward, but the numbers are against him. He NEEDS to make the Wolf Pack next year full time after 2 fair seasons in the ECHL. However, even if he does make it he will need to show the Rangers massive improvement, as with prospects like Oscar Lindberg, Ryan Bourque and Marek Hrivik in the system it’ll be difficult for him to even break into the Rangers’ bottom 6, which is where the best case scenario is looking for him. Chances are, when his contract expires next season he will not be back due to the 50 contract limit rule.

32 Michael St.Croix – The only reason I have him ahead of Nicholls is because he is a year younger, but the once offensive dynamo in the WHL is in the same position as Nicholls. Two fair seasons in the ECHL showing offensive capabilities but nothing of substance in the AHL yet, he NEEDS to reach that level. St.Croix is a good passer and quick skater but still needs to work on his overall game. That just hasn’t happened yet and he is running out of time. His offensive skill is something that will give him a chance to take that next step into the AHL, but it is looking less and less likely every time the NYR add another prospect to the system that he has a future with the Rangers or the NHL.

31 Troy Donnay- Troy Donnay is the definition of a project prospect. the 6’7 205 lbs defenseman has actually been improving every year in the OHL playing for the Erie Otters, which is extremely important being that he was 21 this season. Donnay is obviously a big man and uses that reach when he plays defense. He seems like the kind of player that the NYR are willing to take their time with hoping he becomes the big tower on defense that provides a steady responsible game. He still has a lot to work on, including his skating and breakouts, but he will be given a chance in the AHL next season. If he doesn’t make the team there he will most likely be given some quality ice time in the ECHL with Greenville.

30 Samuel Noreau- Sammy “The Bull” Noreau is a big 6’5 227 lbs mean defenseman who just finished his 2nd season in the ECHL. He plays a hard nosed game and is tough in the corners for the opposition, but his skating and positioning continue to be concerns. Some fans in Greenville are excited for him as his kind of game definitely excites fans who like to watch old time hockey, but his NHL hopes are looking bleak unless he can be a better skater as that is the new NHL. However, he does remind me of players like John Erskine, Steve Oleksy and Matt Carkner as that mean 7th or 8th defenseman that some team will eventually take a flyer on.

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  • Pretty wild how a guy like St. Croix, for instance, can put up so many points (point leader) for such a dominant team (EDM Oil Kings) and still can be ineffective at the NHL level.

    In 2012 and 2013 he led the oil kings with 105 and 95 points. The oil kings represented the WHL in the Memorial Cup. Each of those 2 years, they won over 50 games, so it’s not like he racked up points for team District 5. He put up points like Adam Banks on a team like the Ducks.

    That said, my time watching him was limited to the 2012 memorial cup, and I take no stock in his overall game. Most likely is a small one dimensional player who no longer has the time or space to make hockey plays. It’s just wild how at one level you can dominate and the next struggle mightily.

    I don’t envy the jobs of professional sports scouts.

    • Yeah, we sometimes forget how great the competition is at the next level in any sport. You’re an all-county athlete in HS? Great, now you can go compete against only all-county athletes in college. You’re a D1 all-American? Great, here’s a pro league full of all-Americans and the best players from around the world to boot.

      Scouts do have an almost impossible job.

      If I remember correctly, the knock on St. Croix, like you said, was that he was extremely one dimensional. I think I remember watching him on MSG during one of the Traverse City prospect tournaments and being somewhat impressed with his skill level. Again, that just goes to show you how stinking great you have to be to play in the NHL.

      • Exactly. Point totals are nice, but they aren’t the be-all-end-all, especially as kids get older in the CHL.

        That’s why the draft potato exercise I did used 17 year old CHL stats, not 19/20 year old stats.

        • I feel like I read that same analysis somewhere else (SI?) focusing on age 16 and 17 CHL stats as a better indicator for future NHL success.

          It seems like a pretty reliable indicator and it makes perfect sense. A future NHL player should be able to hold his own as a 17 year old in Junior. The kids who come on out of nowhere at 18-19 are the ones that need to really be scrutinized. They could be getting by on physical maturity alone and simply overpowering the competition which won’t work at all in the NHL.

          Also, Ryan Gropp had pretty good numbers as a 17 year old, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

    • He was mostly one-dimensional, and he was a bigger kid playing against kids. As these kids get to ages 19 and 20, you expect them to dominate.

      I was concerned his skills wouldn’t translate to the pro game a while ago, looks like that appears to be true.

  • This is great stuff. Couldn’t agree more that there can be no more difficult task in pro sports than being a scout and projecting ahead what a player may be.

    Most of us I would venture to guess have either played sports, coached sports or had kids in sports. I’ve been involved in all three, and I’ve seen countless examples of really outstanding players on one level take another step or two and then hit a wall that they simply may not be capable of overcoming. Even guys who make it to he AHL level. Ken Gernander was the perfect example. He was good enough to make it to the pro level, and good enough to excel on the AHL level. But he was not good enough to be anything more than a cup of coffee NHL player. That’s why I don’t get to fired up about prospects like McIlrath until they prove what they can do on the NHL level. He may, or may not, be capable of performing on the NHL level. Just like any other non-elite prospect.

    Some call them prospects. I prefer to think of them as “suspects” until they prove otherwise. Which is why I don’t get too caught up in whether the Rangers include high draft picks for a player they think can help them win now. Obviously, you know intellectually you need picks. But you also realize that there’s a good chance that most picks won’t pan out.

    • I prefer lottery ticket to suspect.

      The thinking being that if you ignore them completely, you can’t be successful. You need to get lucky on a few of them to have any chance at success and the more you stockpile the better chance you have of hitting on a few.

  • There are lots of guys like St. Croix who put up big numbers in Junior but couldn’t cut it in the pros. Character & work ethic are factors often overlooked because there is so much emphasis on skill. We drafted a guy named Pavel Brendl who epitomized this. He had all the skill in the world but ate hot dogs & junk food and didn’t train. He was grossly out of shape when he got to Rangers training camp & turned out to be a colossal bust. Kyle Wellwood was another. I remember talking to his billet who told me that he never trained but just relied on his elite skill. He had a cup of coffee in the NHL when he did get in shape but what could have been a great career was undone by character issues. We’ll see about McIlrath but when I hear Gernander call him the ultimate team guy & a heart & soul player, THAT really gets my attention. Guys like that always succeed one way or another.

    • Agree. Meaningful. But remember, the same was said about Gernander, and he couldn’t succeed beyond the AHL level. Every player is different though so we will see.

      Heart and soul is great IF it is combined with NHL caliber talent.

    • Wellwood and Brendl were absolute beasts in their age 17 seasons. I guess that pokes two seriously huge holes in what we were talking about earlier in this thread.

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