Sunday, June 26, 2011

Give Us 5 Years And We Will Know

So now that the 2011 NHL Entry Draft is said and done with how did the New York Rangers do? We will know the real answer to that question in 2016 whether or not these picks work out.

Right off the bat Ranger fans can not say that the Rangers did not address the center position as their first 3 picks were used on centers. JT Miller, Steven Fogarty and Michael St. Croix are centers.

Miller and Fogarty do play the physical brand of hockey that the fans were asking for. Will they turn out to be great picks or busts is the question that nobody here can honestly answer.

On a day where Evgeny Grachev was traded away, it is a harsh reality about drafting that comes back to haunt you. I am more guilty of touting Grachev than any of your guys as I mean I watched him put up 40 goals and earn the OHL Rookie of the Year,

How in the world could Grachev not make it we all think as we knew he had the skills but see when everything is equal what none us, scout, media or fan can project is desire. Now I am not going to say that Evgeny Grachev does not have the desire to be an NHL player.

In this case both the Rangers and Grachev failed each other and should equally share the blame for his winding up in St. Louis rather than Broadway. He was not ready for pro hockey and the Rangers totally blew it as Grachev's own coach Stan Butler said so.

Butler should know as he is the only coach to ever have 10 of his players drafted in the same year by the NHL. He said it to me that Grachev needed to realize that he has to work hard in practice every day and he said it with Grachev on the phone right there.

Grachev himself told me that North America was nothing like Russia when it came to the game. Yet just like the Rangers I am guilty of not listening to the warning signs that were put up.

I am the one who was telling you guys this was the read deal and well now I truly can say I understand what Gordie Clark means when he says we never remember the ones they get right. We do however remember the ones they get wrong (or in Clark and his staff blamed for a draft pick they never made in Jessiman).

But this does not get Grachev off the hook either as he knew that if he wanted to make the NHL then he had to work harder. He can not play the victim here as he enjoyed the perks of being a star but forgot that even the stars have to bust their butt.

If Grachev has been wanting out of the Rangers for a year then this became a no other option move. Bringing Grachev back would have wasted everyone's time and you risk the danger of a discontented player hurting the progress of your other prospects.

Grachev had to go and Sather owes St. Louis a favor for not making things worse by paying with a lower round draft pick. Nothing is more disappointing than a player you know has a world of talent but in the end did not put the work in.

Which leads me right into the next two of the Ranger picks Michael St. Croix and Shane McColgan. I have no doubt in my mind that either is not a hard worker especially McColgan as he may be 5'8 but he is a true warrior.

St. Croix went from 18-28-46 -21 to 27-48-75 +28 as you do not make that kind of defensive turnaround unless you put the work in. He is part of a young group of hungry kids on the Edmonton Oil Kings who should make some noise in the WHL next season.

McColgan was the leading scorer for the Kelowna Rockets but when you are 5'8 then you tend to root for those your size like McColgan is. In fact McColgan stands out because despite playing just 10 WHL playoff games he still finished 13th in the playoff scoring race at 8-11-19.

And in those 10 playoffs games, McColgan had points in every single one of them including a 4 point night (3-1-4) in game 1 of the WHL second round against Portland. I remember it very well because everyone was expecting Portland to just roll over Kelowna.

Call him Mini-Prust because he is a kid who wears his heart on his sleeve willing to do whatever his team needs to give it a spark. Kelowna gets their spark out of him and if Ranger fans get a chance to see him play they will love him too.

He does not fight often but boy when he does they typically are good to watch like this one (courtesy of Hockeyfightsplus)

And I have to think that Gordie Clark was having some fun here because he takes the 5'8 McColgan at 134 then skip a pick and at 136 takes Samuel Noreau who as we discovered that when you translate "goon" in any language you get "goon".

Sorry but when I saw this pick it was hard to take it seriously as young Mr. Noreau is 6'4 with 141 PIMs on 17 fights that you kind of got the idea what the Rangers are hoping for out of him.

Only problem is that other than in training camp this one it is truly hard to picture as an NHL regular especially for John Tortorella. Noreau this is nothing personal but when you are on a team that wins just 12 games in 2010-2011 then you have to wonder.

Of all the fights Noreau had this past season this is the one I picked out because I know that my buddy Eddie Gieck is going to get a laugh from it. (courtesy of Hockeyfightsplus)

The last pick which the Rangers traded their 2012 6th rounder for has my curiosity level going as this is one of those picks where you wonder whether it was one that the European guys fought for or Sather himself saw something.

I say Sather because he has always had a soft spot for those who come from what used to be call Czechoslavikia. Peter Cersnak got a lot of ink during the 2011 World Under-20 as he is huge at 6'3 209 and he was viewed at one time as the top NHL prospect out of Slovakia.

The knock on Cersnak is foot speed as he has some serious size and is not afraid to use it. Found an article with some quotes from Cersnak but it is a bad translation from Slovak and suggest you use Google Chrome to translate it (unless you speak Slovak and in that case I would really appreciate your help.

Even if you do not translate it take a peek as it has a couple of pictures of Cersnak and you will notice he is wearing a "C" which is always nice to see. Article says he wishes to come over but if that is the case then going to wonder if he is picked in the CHL Import Draft.

What gives the hint that Cersnak might be willing to come over sooner than later is another article on the same site which says the team Cersnak is playing for is having some serious money issues. This one is worth watching especially when we are talking serious size and him being a righty defender.

In the End

The Rangers right off the bat were going in turning the 2 second round picks into Tim Erixon which is impossible not to like. People are going to wonder if the Rangers made the right moves here and to be honest the first look says yes and here is why.

While not 100% sold on Miller, Fogarty gets bonus points because he was up for the Mr. Hockey in Minnesota. That is a huge award for HS hockey players in Minnesota there so even being one up for it says something.

Toss in coming from Edina HS which is as traditional a hockey power as you get in HS hockey helps. St. Croix is a prospect who made a huge leap in improvement for his draft year especially in his problem areas.

McColgan is all heart and soul coming from a WHL annual playoff contender. Noreau on the other hand has the handicap of being on the Baie Comeau Drakkar to overcome but you can not teach size.

The last pick of Cersnak offers hope but when it has come to drafting Slovakian players the Rangers have more misses than hits (Baranka, Zaborsky and Dornic). At same time those were Maloney picks so this is different scouting team but it will greatly help his cause if Cernsnak comes over to play in the Juniors.

If you really want a grade then first glance says B as it is going to be hard to dismiss those who wanted others with the 15 spot until Miller himself silences the critics with his play. This draft the Rangers are going to need to work hard to improve this grade.

Going to save the Islanders for tomorrow as I am expecting to see a roster for the Ranger prospect camp which opens on Monday. The one player to watch to see if he shows is going to be Chris Kreider.

Not wanting to get anyone's hopes up but last year it was Ryan McDonagh who said he was not going to turn professional and was going to stay at Wisconsin. The money is still saying no that Kreider is going to return to Boston College but never say never.

(Miller courtesy of the USHL)


Kmp said...

Never cared much for Grachev's play, but saw him in the playoffs vs Portland and thought he was much improved. Played PP and PK and while his skating is a big issue, he seemed better. To me its when he is stationary he is less effective and he was making the effort to always be in motion. He is a strong skater and can skate with speed just takes way to long to get to speed.

Anonymous said...

I think you've got to consider Tim Erixon in grading the draft as the Rangers gave up two second round picks for him. All told, the Rangers had essentially two first round picks as Erixon would probably have gone 6-10 if he had reentered. Not bad at all.

Anonymous said...

without knowing the extent of any attitude issues, i still think grachev can be a pretty good offensive player if he is put in a position to succeed.

Like you said, he was definitely rushed into the ahl (something the rangers have had a bad habit of doing all the way back to the smith era and could argue they made a similar mistake with del zotto).

Also, it certainly couldn't hurt if he gets to play with some more offensive minded players. Won't necessarily have the immediate luxury of playing with someone of the caliber of a duchene, but I don't think putting him out there to be a 3rd line grinder plays to his strength (which was how he was used when he got the brief call up).

I was hoping he would have gotten a chance to play with a stepan/anisimov at training camp, but if he really wanted out that bad, good for both parties that he was moved

Kmp said...


Why do you think Ambroz fell to the 5th round? I remember preseason he was being discussed in the top 3 with number 1 potential.