After drafting forwards with their first four selections, the New York Rangers put forth a case for the defense by drafting two blueliners with their final two picks of the 2011 NHL Draft – even going go so far to deal a 2012 6th round draft pick to Nashville for their 2011 6th round draft pick (#172).

The Rangers second 5th round pick (#136) was their own pick and they used it to select Samuel Noreau from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL). At 6-5/205, Noreau cuts an imposing figure on defense – especially to his opponents. In 67 games, he scored 5 goals and 5 assists with 141 PIM. The rugged defenseman was ranked 136th by ISS and 183rd NA by THN.

It seems that Kyle Woodlief and his staff at RLR report have been keeping tabs on Noreau even though his team finished 17th in the 18-team league.

In February 2011, Woodlief talked about Noreau in one of his USA Today columns.

“One Quebec League player who is quietly generating some interest is Samuel Noreau. He’s a huge defenseman at 6-5, 215 pounds, and one of the top fighters in the league. He has OK mobility and decent skill, but doesn’t get many viewings on a bad Baie-Comeau club without any skilled players to watch,” Woodlief wrote. “But Noreau could develop into a tough-as-nails #5-6 blue-liner. He hasn’t broken into our top 100 yet, but we’d venture a guess that some team might grab him as high as the third round based on need and team philosophy.”

In their 2011 Draft Preview, RLR listed Noreau as the 13th “Mid-round Sleepers Worth a Look” and wrote, “Huge, mean, raw enforcer type also plays solid defence and makes safe plays with the puck. Nobody in the Q will even make eye contact with him – and wisely so.”

On their official web site, the Rangers had the following write-up, “A hulking defenseman who showed ability to protect teammates in finishing second on his team in penalty minutes. He also managed to contribute offense with five goals and nearly a shot on goal per game.

Noreau may or may not make the NHL, but it could be a fun time, down the road, during exhibition games watching Noreau and Dylan McIlrath run roughshod over some opponents much like the Bash Brothers from The Mighty Ducks movies.

In the past, I would have called Peter Ceresnak a “Christer Rockstrom special” because under Neil Smith the Rangers always managed to a way to draft a European or two in the later rounds. However with Rockstrom working for Montreal, we might have to refer to him as a “Jan Gajdosik special.”

Like St. Croix and McColgan, Ceresnak was on the 2011 draft radar back in 2010 as ISS ranked him the 71st best prospect. Entering his draft year, CS ranked him as the 35th best European skater, ISS ranked him 114th, and RLR ranked him at #188.

Ceresnak is no stranger to international play having represented Slovakia at the WJC this year as a 17-year-old and captained Slovakia at the U-18 tournament. In 23 games with Dukla Trencin’s Junior team, he scored 1 goal and 3 assists with 16 PIM. Ceresnak was drafted by Peterborough with the 4th overall pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft,

Here is what the Rangers official web site said about Ceresnak, “Great NHL upside as two-say defenseman who has great size and understands positional play in his own zone very well. Very good at shutting down opponents and not afraid to pinch into the offensive zone.”

ISS: “Ceresnak has been a very interesting prospect over the past couple of seasons. He has teased good two-way ability, but hasn’t necessarily been able to back it up consistently. Ceresnak first caught the eyes of ISS scouts with his size and lane control, using a strong gap and an active stick to deny space and angle opposing players into more difficult situations. He has a good technical skill package and can get bold at times and aggressively pinch into the offensive zone. His instincts are good and there is potential for offense but he needs proper guidance.”

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