The 2012-13 roster for the New York Rangers is currently stacked with a good mixture of star players and role players of all ages, from wily old veterans to future franchise stars, for years to come.
Last year, the Rangers saw great contributions from their young core of players, who all started off as Rangers prospects. Players like Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider all had great first and second years with the Rangers.
With great young talent like that, many Ranger fans are excited for the future.
If/when hockey returns and if injuries or slumps occur with certain players, the Rangers will look to their prospects once again to fill the void.
Here are five New York Rangers’ prospects who will/would get a shot in the 2012-13 season.
Last year, Rangers such as Brandon Prust, Mike Rupp and Stu Bickel showed no lack of toughness. The Rangers lost Prust to the Montreal Canadiens in the offseason and Stu Bickel was very inconsistent throughout the season.
Insert Dylan McIlrath.
McIlrath, also known as “The Undertaker," since he doesn’t back down from anyone, was the 10th selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Many Rangers fans were perplexed by the pick at the time, considering someone like Cam Fowler was still available.
Considering how offensively potent the Rangers currently are with Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Rick Nash, this pick might have been one of the smartest made by the Rangers since selecting Callahan.
As Gordie Clark once said about McIlrath, “He's a special kind of player...when this kid is 22 you will see a helluva NHL hockey player”.
I truly believe that statement, which is why McIlrath could see pro ice time as soon as this year.
Right after McIlrath was drafted, the Rangers selected Christian Thomas in the second round of the 2010 NHL Entry Level Draft with the 40th pick.
Thomas continued to play for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals after he was drafted, scoring 54 goals and 99 points in 66 games. The next year production slipped. but he was still able to score 34 goals and 67 points in 55 games.
On May 19th, 2011, the 18-year-old Thomas signed his first NHL contract with the Rangers and played five games with the Connecticut Whale.
Thomas has the ability to be an elite scorer in the NHL.
He has great speed and tremendous hands, the only problem is he's a bit undersized both in height and weight.
Still, try telling players like Tyler Ennis and Martin St. Louis they are too small to play NHL hockey. Bet they would have a chuckle, and so would Christian Thomas.
Bourque is a familiar name around the hockey universe. Ryan Bourque is the son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque and brother of fellow prospect Chris Bourque of the Boston Bruins.
Last year, after a very impressive training camp, Bourque made the European trip with the New York Rangers' main roster but was later assigned to Connecticut.
In 69 games with the Whale, Bourque had six goals and eight assists.
Much like Thomas, he’s not the biggest guy in the world as he is listed a 5’9”. However, compared to Thomas, Bourque is a more adequate two-way player.
He has speed and is very versatile and can play strong on both the offensive and defensive end of the puck.
Bourque was drafted in 2009 and can be considered the “old man” out of all the current prospects listed, despite being only 21. He has plenty of skills and can be a valuable second- or third-line player for the Rangers.
Plus, you can’t ignore the hockey pedigree Ryan Bourque comes from.
Ranked as the third-best Rangers prospect according to Hockey Prospectus, I personally think J.T. Miller will have the best career out of all the prospects listed here.
Drafted 15th overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Level draft, Miller has the size to play in the NHL (6’1” 190 pounds), and is only 19-years-old.
In 61 games with OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, Miller had 62 points, including 25 goals. He joined the Whale for the playoffs where he played in eight games and had one assist.
According to Hockey’s Future, “Miller is an excellent two-way player, with some offensive upside. A good face-off man, he plays well along the boards and in tight areas.”
Last year, with the exception of Brad Richards and Brian Boyle, the Rangers struggled on faceoffs. J.T. Miller can help on faceoffs and be a tremendous playmaker for the second line.
Besides Chris Kreider, who is currently playing for the Connecticut Whale, there is one other player garnering a lot of attention. That player is the fourth-round selection in the 2011 draft, Michael St. Croix.
Last year, St. Croix was one of the top scorers in the Western Hockey League, scoring 45 goals and 105 points in 72 games for the Edmonton Oil Kings.
He has been on a tear this year. Through 13 games he has 18 points. You can follow his stats here.
St. Croix can clearly do it all on the offensive end. He can score and pass the puck very well. All of these accomplishments and he is only 19 years old. Looking at his stats, it is hard to imagine this guy fell to the fourth round.
If this season is salvaged, or if a deal is made for next year and St. Croix can continue his hot offensive streak, expect him to be the first man called to the Rangers' main roster.