The New York Rangers have had a banner offseason thanks to the acquisition of All-Star Rick Nash but they haven’t stopped just yet. On Friday, the team signed prospect Michael St. Croix to a three-year entry level contract.
St. Croix is a fourth-round pick for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft but he’s developed into quite the scorer. He tallied 45 goals and 60 assists in just 72 games last season with the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. He also chipped in 19 points in 20 playoff games as well.
Although many pundits still feel St. Croix is a ways away from competing for a roster spot with the Rangers, don’t underestimate the situation. It’s well-documented that the Rangers were short on scoring last season and while Nash will provide a big boost at the top end, secondary scoring could still be a concern.
The team is counting on continued growth from Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider, which would alleviate the problem, but nothing is for sure yet. The Rangers also thought Brandon Dubinsky would be a consistent scoring contributor and that never came to fruition.
St. Croix faces an uphill battle because the Rangers are stocked at the center position. Brad Richards, Stepan and Brian Boyle will man the top three spots while Jeff Halpern was signed to center the fourth line. Look for him to spend a couple more seasons in the juniors but if he continues to dominate the WHL – or does even better than he did last season – it wouldn’t be a shock if he got an audition.
With or without St. Croix, people making their NHL picks are taking the Rangers far more seriously this season as far as a Stanley Cup run is concerned because they’ve finally addressed their last glaring weakness.