For the first time in many years, the New York Rangers have fewer junior players in their system than almost any other NHL team. There are only four New York prospects skating in the CHL this season, two in the WHL, and one in each of the QMJHL and OHL. Although this is partly the result of the team moving toward drafting players headed to college, it also can be explained by the small number of selections that New York has had in recent drafts. In the last three years, the Rangers have only drafted 16 players, including four in the 2012 NHL Draft. Of the four drafted in 2012, two are playing for NCAA teams and two are continuing their development in Europe.
Shane McColgan, RW/C, Saskatoon Blades
Acquired: 5th Round (134th overall) in 2011
Shane McColgan is getting a new start this season in Saskatoon, after spending the last three years in Kelowna. With the trade to the Blades came more responsibility, and the opportunity to skate with the team's high scorers, as well as on the power play and penalty kill.
An agitating small winger, who works hard in the corners, and never backs away from bigger players challenging him, McColgan is maturing nicely. With only average skating skills, the projected third line forward will have to work hard to make the NHL. To be successful professionally, McColgan will need to make quicker decisions with the puck, a skill he is working on in his final junior season.
Michael St. Croix, C, Edmonton Oil Kings
Acquired: 4th Round (106th overall) in 2011
Just prior to the expiration of the CBA this past September, the Rangers announced that they signed St. Croix to an entry-level deal. The Winnipeg native was a top 10 scorer in the WHL during the 2011-12 season, and led the Oil Kings in total points during that campaign. Although naturally a playmaking center, St. Croix continues to improve his finishing skills (he scored 45 goals in the WHL regular season in 2011-12).
The team's leading scorer once again this season, Edmonton's alternate captain is working hard to improve his strength on the puck. He will need to continue doing this, as well as working on his skating to make a successful transition to the next level, and to achieve his top nine forward potential.
Samuel Noreau, D, Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Acquired: 5th Round (136th overall) in 2011
Sam Noreau is in his fourth season with the Drakkar. Currently enjoying his best offensively productive season, Noreau has a canon of a shot from the point. The 6'5 defensemen was drafted for more than his offensive abilities though. Tough and big, the Rangers have been hoping that he would grow into a strong defensive blueliner. A player with a high hockey IQ, in the past, Noreau struggled with his positioning and mobility. With an increase in ice time this season (there has been a coaching change in Baie-Comeau, which has been to Noreau's benefit), it has helped him develop.
By June, a decision will need to be made by the Rangers about whether to sign Noreau to an entry-level contract. If Noreau continues to improve his mobility and keeps his edge, while showing some offensive upside, he should be signed, but he is expected to spend several years in the system before an NHL debut.
Peter Ceresnak, D, Peterborough Petes
Acquired: 6th round (172nd overall) in 2011
Peter Ceresnak is a no flash defenseman, who, after being drafted out of Slovakia, has toiled for two seasons on the Petes' blue line. He is very mobile and moves the puck well. However, he does not play the kind of physical game that the Rangers have been moving toward since their rebuild in the 2000s.
Currently with the Slovakian World Junior team, Ceresnak will have to work very hard to be offered an entry-level contract before the deadline this June.