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New York Rangers: 10 Young Prospects They Cannot Afford to Lose

Alex DavidowContributor IIIDecember 23, 2016

New York Rangers: 10 Young Prospects They Cannot Afford to Lose

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    Much of the success the Rangers experienced in 2011-12 was driven by homegrown talent. 

    Ryan Callahan, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and Henrik Lundqvist are just some of the main contributors that the Rangers either drafted or signed to their first NHL contract.

    If the Rangers want to keep competing for Stanley Cups, their current crop of prospects will have to follow in the footsteps of the names above. 

    Glen Sather has shown he knows how to find talent in amateur drafts and here are some of the names Rangers fans will hope to hear Doc Emrick scream some day: 

Chris Kreider

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    Drafted in in the first round in 2009, 19th overall

    Whenever we get a regular NHL season, it will be Chris Kreider's rookie year.

    Kreider has prototypical hockey size (6'2", 201 lbs), but also possesses breakaway speed and a deadly shot. 

    Kreider made a great first impression in the playoffs, and hopes are very high for the Boston College product to become a star.

J.T. Miller

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    Drafted in the first round in 2011, 15th overall

    Miller wasn't drafted 15th overall because of his size (6'1", 198 lbs). He was selected so high because it's tough to find any flaws in his game. 

    He stands out for his work ethic and instincts, but he's above average at faceoffs and plays with composure in all areas. With his tenacity and discipline, Miller could become a second-line center, but that's unlikely to happen until at least 2013, and most likely 2014.

Dylan McIlrath

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    Drafted in the first round in 2010, 10th overall

    This 6'5", 215-pound defenseman plays like his space is not negotiable. McIlrath embraces contact and is at his best clearing space in the crease or delivering a big hit along the boards.

    McIlrath has a decent shot but needs to work on finding more consistency when he tries to join the attack.

    Since he has two years on Brady Skjei, McIlrath is probably the Rangers' top defensive prospect. 

Christian Thomas

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    Drafted in the second round in 2010, 40th overall

    Thomas is a little guy at 5'9" and 165 pounds, but what he lacks in size he makes up for with skill and speed. 

    There aren't that many guys in the NHL standing at 5'9" but Thomas is a very explosive offensive player with great stick skills.

    He's itching for his chance to show that he can handle the speed and physicality of the NHL and he may get a chance within the next two years.

    At best, he's Martin St. Louis. At worst, you won't hear about him again.   

Michael St. Croix

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    Drafted in the fourth round in 2011, 106th overall

    St. Croix is slightly undersized (5'11", 179 lbs) but really impresses when he has the puck. He can create his own shot as well as set up his teammates. 

    He's also a smooth skater and is a good two-way forward. The main knock on St. Croix is he plays small, often conceding space and losing physical battles. 

Steven Fogarty

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    Drafted in the third round in 2011, 72nd overall

    Fogarty has good size to be an NHL center (6'3", 194 lbs) and he works hard on both ends of the ice.

    Like most young forwards, his offensive game is more developed than his defensive game, but he is tenacious and has a good ability to make plays.

    The consensus seems to be that Fogarty needs to improve his skating, especially his first stride. 

Ryan Bourque

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    Drafted in the third round in 2009, 80th overall

    The son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque is pretty slight by modern standards (5'8", 163 lbs), but is a real speedster with soft hands to match. 

    Bourque has a great motor, reads the game well and can finish his chances. 

    His size is the big hurdle. 

Jesper Fast

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    Drafted in the sixth round in 2010, 157th overall

    Born Jesper Fasth, the coolest thing about this guy is he had the confidence in himself to drop the "H" in his last name when he signed his NHL contract. 

    Fast understands what he has set himself up for and he does have the speed to match his Americanized name. 

    Standing at 6'0" and 176 pounds, Fast is a hard-working burner who commits to defense even though his skills are more refined when he is attacking.  

Brady Skjei

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    Drafted in the first round in 2012, 28th overall

    Skjei has great size (6'3", 200 lbs) but even better speed, considering his frame. 

    Skjei also has good offensive skills, making him an intriguing two-way defenseman, but his best trait is definitely his speed, which he uses wisely.

    If Skjei continues his development, he could become a quality NHL defenseman.   

Cristoval Nieves

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    Drafted in the second round in 2012, 59th overall

    The 18-year-old Nieves is a great athlete and skater for his age. He also has a knack for playmaking that should only improve as he begins his freshman year at the University of Michigan.

    At 6'3" and 184 pounds, Nieves has the height but still needs the bulk to be an NHL player. But he still has years to go before he's ready to make the leap.  

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