2011 NHL Draft: New York Rangers find great value in first round but miss with later picks

By Mike Farkas
JT Miller - New York Rangers

Photo: New York Rangers forward J.T. Miller has been one of the best value picks in the 2011 NHL Draft and has evolved into an effective offensive option. (courtesy David Hahn/Icon Sportswire)

 

 

The New York Rangers returned to the postseason in the 2010-11 season, but it was not an overly auspicious year in general for the club. As a result, the fringe playoff team did not make a lot of deadline moves – as they would in the coming years – that would diminish their draft ammunition substantially. They did bring in veteran Bryan McCabe in exchange for Tim Kennedy and a third round selection, but did really nothing further during the season.

It was actually during the Stanley Cup Playoffs that the Rangers – in hindsight – shot themselves in the skate a bit. The Rangers exchanged Roman Horak, their own second round pick (45) and Washington’s second round pick (57) – the latter having been generously donated in the Bobby Sanguinetti trade in the previous summer – for disgruntled prospect Tim Erixon and a fifth round pick. Erixon played just a handful of games for New York before being moved in the next offseason as part of the Rick Nash trade.

With no second round pick, the 2011 NHL Draft marked the first time the Rangers did not pick in round two since 1986. The Rangers added the extra fifth in the aforementioned Erixon deal. The only other swap that affected this draft came in 2010, when they brought in journeyman Anders Eriksson for Miikka Wiikman and a seventh round choice.

It looks as if the Rangers are going to come out of this draft without a lot of help outside of J.T. Miller. Steven Fogarty, drafted out of Edina High School in the third round, seems to be the only other pick that may have some unrealized NHL potential.

J.T. Miller, F, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 1st round, 15th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games: 196

No question the bell cow of the group now and, presumably, the future for this draft class, J.T. Miller represents all 196 NHL games played to date by these six selections. Something of a late riser thanks to his standout performance at the 2011 U18 World Championship, Miller was thought of as a player without a very high scoring upside. The quick American forward who worked himself onto the radar in his draft year is now doing a good job shaking the label of just being a “safe” pick as well.

Not short on size or goal-scoring ability, Miller potted 22 goals and 43 points in a breakout season for the 23 year old. A tenacious forechecker who can convert chances generated off turnovers with a good shot selection and willingness to go to the net, Miller is still rounding out the details of his game. He exceeded most expectations in 2015-16 and the versatile forward has been a good find even looking draft-wide; of the 14 players that have more NHL games than him, nine of them were drafted ahead of Miller. A gold medal winner in U17, U18 and U20 international competition, the Ohio native has been named to the World Cup U23 amalgamation team.

Steven Fogarty, C, Edina High School (MN-HS)
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games: 0

It has been long road on the development trail for Steven Fogarty. Drafted out of Edina High School in Minnesota, Fogarty has not yet played his first professional season five years after being selected. A stint in the BCHL with Penticton followed by four years at the University of Notre Dame eventually landed Fogarty an entry-level contract.

A big right-handed center, Fogarty does not appear to possess a great deal of offensive prowess, but nor does he possess hands of stone. A two-year captain of the Fighting Irish, Fogarty has become a strong defensive presence. Already possessing a pro frame and a strong knowledge of proper body positioning, Fogarty’s transition into the pro game should be fairly seamless. Though a stint in the AHL is likely, the Rangers may have use for the right-handed, depth pivot before too long.

Michael St. Croix, C, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 0

Once a highly touted prospect and the fourth overall pick in the WHL Bantam Draft, Michael St. Croix hit the ground running in the WHL and by his second season was already exceeding point-per-game figures. The sharp-shooting right-handed shooter became a junior star – amassing 45 goals and 105 points in the 2011-12 season with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Statistically, it seemed like the Rangers had dusted off a gem in the fourth round.

But there were some obvious deficiencies in his game. St. Croix is not a big player and not a great skater, so he was at a natural disadvantage from the start. While he does have the requisite skills to be useful, St. Croix was not a fan of going into high-traffic areas and was fairly soft overall. As a result of those factors and more, St. Croix has only played in 13 scoreless AHL games during the course of what will almost certainly be his only NHL contract.  

Shane McColgan, C, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 0

Another highly-touted WHL selection, fifth round pick Shane McColgan, was a miss for the Rangers. About 12 months before the 2011 NHL Draft, the small-but-very-game American winger was thought to be a top-15 draft pick in some circles. His 69 points in 71 games as a rookie nearly swiped Rookie of the Year honors away from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

McColgan’s 17-year-old season ended up being his best to date. After that, the wheels that didn’t fall off were certainly treading water. He did not have ideal size, but he had a fair amount of playmaking, skating and two-way skills to be an interesting player. Plus, he did not back down from the rough stuff for a player of his size. He quickly fell out of favor in the pre-draft rankings and ended up being the 134th pick in 2011.

He did get five scoreless AHL games on a tryout in 2012, but ultimately he would return to Canadian University after going unsigned by New York. The California native just never improved as a player from his rookie WHL season, and his inconsistency on the ice produced an undesirable result.

Samuel Noreau, D, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 0

Two picks after selecting an undersized forward, the Rangers selected an oversized defenseman in Samuel Noreau. A brute of a defenseman, Noreau has a big shot, mostly on torque, but otherwise his puck skills are not noteworthy. He has done the most damage over his career while glove-less, as he is a willing combatant. Even with that, he was sometimes a bit of sloppy fighter in his junior days and allowed himself to take a lot of unnecessary punches – perhaps a bit of an over-reliance on his hulking size.

The Rangers signed the big right-handed shot, but outside of nine scattered games, he has spent his entry-level contract in the ECHL and is unlikely to be retained.

Peter Ceresnak, D, HK Orange 20 (Slovakia)
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games: 0

Essentially drafted out of the Slovakia international junior squad, Peter Ceresnak was lightly touted as one of Slovakia’s next young shutdown defenders. The long and lean right-handed shot did show some defensive prowess but was low on technical skills, while his skating was well below par.

After being drafted, he played two seasons as an import in the OHL with Peterborough to little acclaim. He left unsigned by the Rangers and now plays in the top Czech league. He has dabbled in international competition for the Slovaks and is routinely a player on their country’s watch list come tournament time.

Hockey’s Future looks back at the 2011 NHL Draft of the New York Rangers in the video below, which includes 2011 NHL combine footage of top pick J.T. Miller, as well as draft footage of second pick Steven Fogarty.

Prospect of the Month

Ryan Mantha - New York RangersWith the Rangers early dismissal and Hartford’s failure to clinch a playoff berth, not many prospects saw playoff action in the pipeline. Perhaps most meaningfully, Ryan Mantha of the Niagara IceDogs helped guide his club to the OHL Final before being swept by London. Niagara, a fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, lost just one game on the Eastern side of the bracket (Game 3 of their first round series against the Ottawa 67s) before dropping four straight to the Knights.

The big American defenseman matched his point total from last year during the regular season at 25 points, but provided a respectable 10 points in 17 playoff games. At 6-foot-5 and right-handed, it seems like he would garner a contract on the vitals alone. However, Mantha still needs to improve his skating and find a niche that makes him a useful pro player.

Despite this, Mantha was not offered a contract by the Rangers and is now a free agent.

Follow Mike Farkas on Twitter via @MichaelFarkasHF