The New York Rangers not only have one of the top teams in the NHL this season, but they also have a very good prospect pool with several players knocking on the NHL door in the next few seasons - highlighted by Boston College star Chris Kreider.
Other prospect writeups can be found here:
New York Rangers
1. Chris Kreider – NCAA: 28gp 16g 14a 30p 48 PIM Even
Kreider has some of the best physical gifts of any prospect in the world. If he had the hockey sense and awareness of Derek Stepan you could be talking about the next Marian Gaborik. As such, he is still an excellent prospect having a good year for Boston College.
Fantasy: Career high in points and PIM, on pace for highs in the rest – Kreider is bringing it all together. As I said earlier, his hockey sense needs some work as well as his awareness but his improvement over the past year is phenomenal. If he can harness the power of his natural gifts (6’2" frame, blinding speed, laser shot) he could be a serious force to be reckoned with in a few seasons.
Upside: 40g 30a 1st line winger (could pair well with Stepan)
2. Christian Thomas – OHL: 39gp 23g 25a 48p 12PIM +4
Listed at a generous 5’9", Thomas is already behind the 8 ball on size alone. After destroying the OHL for 54g 45a for 99p last season, he only has 25 this season (though he has been hot as of late). His goals per game pace this year is at .58 – far off his .81 pace of last season. Thomas is a small player but he is a by no means intimidated by his competition. A relentless player, Thomas makes up for his size with tenacity and an NHL shot. His PIMs are down this year by a lot which is interesting as well.
Fantasy: He’s having a disappointing year. He will likely spend most of next season in the AHL and it remains to be seen if he can transfer his scoring touch to the pro ranks. If he can do it, keep an eye on him. All he does is score goals. His size is a red flag but if anyone his size will make it, it will be him.
Upside: 35g 25a or AHL superstar
3. Tim Erixon – AHL: 28gp 2g 19a 21p 20 PIM -1
Originally drafted out of Sweden by Calgary, Erixon refused to sign with the Flames and was subsequently traded to New York. He is quickly adapting to the North American ice surface and playing very well for the AHL squad of the Rangers. 2011-2012 is a year for him to get acclimated to North America. Next year, expect him to seize control of one of the defensive spots in the NHL.
Fantasy: He is not really a puck mover but Erixon could provide some fantasy value as another great 2 way defenseman like Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, and Ryan McDonagh. He can play on the power play but he is not a PPQB.
Upside: 5g 35a
4. J.T. Miller OHL: 44gp 19g 31a 50p 39 PIM +14
Pittsburgh native Miller is a big bruising forward with quire a bit of offensive skill. He needs to bring the effort every game but the USNDT product is having a good first season in the OHL. He was probably drafted a bit high by New York (not just saying that because I wanted him in a Penguin uniform). He fits the bill as a Tortorella forward – hits everything, hard working, skilled offensively.
Fantasy: His upside is not as high as some but he is a sure bet to make the NHL in some capacity. He could look great creating space for Richards, Gaborik, or Stepan in a few years.
Upside: 25g 30a 80 PIM 200 hits
5. Carl Hagelin NHL: 32gp 8g 11a 19p 10 PIM +15
Hagelin has had a great start to his NHL career as a tireless worker and speedster. He has an average shot but his quick release with his speed makes him quite a weapon. He was the fastest skater at the NHL All Star Game (of those that participated).
Fantasy: His upside is limited to a 3rd line winger but he’s probably good for 20g and a high number of shots. Think Tyler Kennedy.
Upside: 20g 20a excellent 3rd liner
Dylan McIlrath: Overdrafted by the Rangers, the bruising defenseman will give hits and PIMs but little offense.
Michael St. Croix: He is having an absurd season in the WHL and I almost snuck him into #5 but word has it his game still needs some work. He has risen very quickly into prominence from an unknown 4th round pick just last spring.
Ryan Bourque: Size limits his upside but he is another tireless worker that fits well with the Ranger philosophy.
Zach Boslett can be seen tweeting about fantasy hockey, Penguin hockey, and life as a college student here. Feel free to give a follow, say hi, or complain about how dumb I am. I'm open to it all!
He also writes for Faceoff-Factor.com, a Pittsburgh Penguin hockey website if that sort of thing is to your liking.