The Rangers followed up the selections of two power forwards (Miller and Fogarty) be selecting two small, but very talented and fast-skating offensive forwards in 4th round draft pick (106th) Michael St. Croix and 5th round pick (134th – first of two) Shane McColgan.

Prior to making the deal with Calgary for Tim Erixon, St. Croix was one of the players I was looking at with the Blueshirts two 2nd round picks. The 5-11/176 center is the son of former NHL goaltender Rick St. Croix and slipped a bit in the draft given his final draft rankings: THN (46th), ISS, (63rd), RLR (64th), and CS (59th NA). RLR’s projection lists him as a “2nd line scorer on a poor team or minor leaguer” with a style comparison to Radim Vrbata.

Interestingly, in their 2010 Draft Preview ISS ranked McColgan as the 15th best prospect and St. Croix as the 20th best prospect – ahead of 2011 1st round selections J.T. Miller (46th), Jonathan Huberdeau (50th) and Ryan Strome (63rd).

The Winnipeg, Manitoba native showed good improvement from his rookie season (66-18-28-46) with Edmonton (WHL) and his second season (27-48-75).

THN: One scout said, “He plays more of an east-west game that a north-south game, so defensemen need to honor that, especially because of his stickhandling. Speed is his biggest asset. He sees the ice well and he distributes the puck well.

RLR: “His hockey intelligence and ability to see plays developing make him a constant threat. His puck skills and pinpoint accurate shot are also high end and he has an uncanny ability to find open space in scoring areas. Major downside is he tends to take his natural abilities for granted and becomes invisible for long stretches….When his compete level is up, his elite offensive instincts and finishing ability will make him a valuable scorer. But any team thinking about drafting him will have to understand he’s a major boom or bust type.”

ISS: “Highly skilled offensive playmaker who, when on, can really amplify the skill sets of his teammates. He is [a] quick and explosive player with the puck and works better in zone play off the rush. Although he has not set the WHL scoring charts on fire, he has been able to showcase good offensive potential for the next level. He is creative and skilled enough to execute in difficult circumstances. He is not strong and that does force him to rely on his skating and stick skills too heavily.”

Much like St. Croix, McColgan was a player of interest back when the Rangers still owned their 2nd round draft picks – even though I would have felt a lot better selecting him in the 3rd round. Getting McColgan in the 5th round is a real draft bonus as far as I am concerned.

Looking back to this time last year, McColgan’s fine rookie season with Kelowna (71-25-44-69) positioned him as a potential first round draft pick entering the 2010/2011 season.

In Ryan Kennedy’s “2011 Sneak peak” article in THN’s 2010 Draft Preview McColgan was ranked as the 9th best prospect. Kennedy writes, “Highly skilled and fearless, reminiscent of Theo Fleury, but with a bit more size.” A scout said, “It’s the second gear – when he gets the puck, he turns it up. Lots of skill, hard to play against; just a hard-nosed kid.”

The 5-9/160 RW suffered from a sophomore slump with the Rockets this season. In 67 games, he scored 21 goals and added 45 assists.

“I feel it was a pretty good year. I had surgery at the start of the year because I had to take out my tonsils. I think the surgery slowed me down a little bit and hindered my play for a couple games, but once I was fully recovered I think I really started to get going,” McColgan explained to Yahoo’s Kelly Freisen in a June 1, 2011 article. It seemed I got better with every game and I had a real strong playoff.”

The Manhattan Beach, California native’s assessment was spot-on because he scored 8 goals and 11 assists in 10 playoff games.

Despite his stellar playoff run, McColgan’s final 2011 rankings did not reflect his 2010 promise: THN (97th), CS (125th NA), ISS (96th – and their 5th best skater), and RLR (57th). RLR wrote that he projects out as a “2nd liner for a poor team, 3rd [liner] for a good club.” They compared his style to that of Nathan Gerbe.

Outside of his size, the main knock on McColgan is that he is a fan of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins – as stated in the Friesen interview. Obviously, the Rangers will have to see that he undergoes an extensive debriefing and reprogramming in that respect .

RLR: “Barely 5-8 but his offensive skills are so dynamic it seems unfair to bill him as just another speedy, undersized forward. One of the best pure skaters in this draft class with an explosive first step, great acceleration, agility, and a top-end separation gear. Can handle the puck and make moves at top end speed. At times the puck looks glued to his stick. Great hands, stick skills, and vision allow him to take control of the PP from the halfboards, where he makes creative cross-ice passes. Improvement in his defensive game this year made him a more reliable player and allowed him to become an on-ice leader for Kelowna down the stretch. Was able to step his game up another notch in the playoffs, too. Uses gamebreaking speed to keep the play hemmed in the opposition’s zone at even strength, even if that means mixing it up down low.”

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