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Scouting Report: Michael St. Croix

Michael St. Croix (Via ThePipelineShow.Blogspot.com)

Michael St. Croix (Via ThePipelineShow.Blogspot.com)

*Post updated 11/15/11

Which other prospects could one day join Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh and the rest of the young Rangers on Broadway?

Blueshirt Bulletin will be tracking the progress of the next wave of youngsters as they compete and develop this season in the Canadian junior leagues, college and abroad.

Below is a compilation of scouting reports, buzz and analysis by scouts and hockey experts on Michael St. Croix. 

We’ll update this as the season unfolds with the latest news at the very bottom of this post.


Michael St. Croix

Drafted: 2011 – 4th round (106th overall)

HT: 5-11

WT: 179

Pos: RW

Shoots: R

Birthday: 4/10/93

Team: Edmonton, WHL

2009-2010 stats: 18g, 28a, 66gp, 30PIM, -21

2010-2011 stats: 27g, 48a, 68gp, 48PIM, +28

2010-2011 playoffs: 1g, 0a, 4gp, 9PIM

2011-2012 stats: 7g, 15a, 21gp, 19PIM, -1

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Scouting report entering the season from Blueshirt Bulletin staff writer and author of The Prospect Park, Jess Rubenstein:

“If you are a New York Ranger fan and you are trying to get a good read on 2011 4th round pick Michael St. Croix then good luck to you. We say that because when it comes to St. Croix the scouts are very much divided as to his potential.  You will not find any grey areas when it comes to what the scouts think of St. Croix as they are going to either like what they see or they won't. Ask 10 scouts and 5 will say NHL future while the other 5 say not a chance.  Our own notes from 2010 said that he needed a lot of work with his skating which is not really a big deal as these days it is harder to find prospects who don't need help with their skating. St. Croix suffers from being a "generic" player which means between his size (5'11 180) and his game that he does not stand out enough that he has to find a way to stand out.  St. Croix was originally seen as a late 2nd, early 3rd in the 2011 NHL draft but we hope that St. Croix does what many of those who fall into the 4th and 5th fail to do and use this drop to motivate him to get better.  In his 2011 season debut for his Edmonton Oil Kings, St. Croix got off to the right start with a power play goal as Edmonton jumped out to a 3-0 lead before holding off the Medicine Hat Tigers 3-2.  St. Croix scored in the 2nd period to give the Oil Kings at the time but this is what he has to do all year if he wants that contract.  At the junior level 9 power play goals will not help you stand out so we want to see this number doubled this year.” (9/6/11)



What They’re Saying:

Elite Prospects – “A forward with very good offensive skills. A good passer and finisher. A quick skater who could still develop his movement.” 

Hockey’s Future – “A speedster with soft hands and exceptional puck skills, St. Croix has turned in a determined effort of late. Perhaps considered under-sized in some quarters, the 5'11, 180 pound center brings an offensive flair to the rink that is very similar to what hockey fans in St. Croix's backyard are seeing from the current group of rookie forwards skating with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers.” (12/27/2010)

The Hockey News Draft Preview – [Ranked 46th among 2011 NHL draft prospects] “Hope in Edmonton has been in short supply in recent years and that’s not limited to the NHL.  But the expansion Oil Kings are starting to produce top-end talent and Michael St. Croix is the latest to come out of the program.  His father, Rick St. Croix, tended net for the Flyers and Maple Leafs, so there is a pro pedigree in the family.  Ironically, St. Croix is a terror for netminders and came into the WHL as a highly touted prospect who scored more than two points a game in midget.  Defensive play and overall strength are weaknesses right now, though St. Croix has an elusiveness that helps him avoid getting caught by big hits.  Those moves also help him stymie opposing blueliners.  ‘He plays more of an east-west game than a north-south game, so defensemen need to honor that, especially because of his stickhandling,’ one scout said.  ‘Speed is his biggest asset.  He sees the ice well and he distributes the puck well.’” (Spring 2011)

Bruins 2011 Draft Watch – “Like McNeill, St. Croix is to be commended for picking up his game and making a statement to scouts as the season went on. Coming into it, the season, the Winnipeg native had high offensive expectations given the flashes he showed as a rookie with the Oil Kings last year. He got off to a slow start, and compounded with some indifferent defensive play, was headed down in some NHL teams' eyes until he turned things around at mid-season and finished the year strong. A very good skater who can dangle with the best of them, he's got a lightning release and just seems to have that sixth sense around the net when it comes to scoring goals or setting them up. He tallied 27 markers and 75 points in 68 games, finishing just three points off the scoring lead to Dylan Wruck. His willingness to get his nose dirty and play more responsible in all zones is precisely why his stock is up these days. Will it be enough to get him into the first round? That remains to be seen, but even if he doesn't crack the Friday night lineup, he won't be around long on Saturday, as he has some of the best natural upside of any in this class. His average size (5-11, 165) hurts him- he needs to get a lot stronger, but that should come in time.” (3/21/2011)

THN.com – “His statistics and achievements speak for themselves, but the essence to St. Croix’s unique game is his style of play. A playmaker and goal-scorer, he believes a big part of his game involves his vision, which contributes to his impressive offensive abilities.   St. Croix is able to set up plays and get passes through the narrowest of lanes, but most importantly he positions himself perfectly to finish the play. At the same time, his vision grants him the confidence to get fancy with the puck and put on a show.” (4/28/2011)

The Pipeline Show – Compilation of opinions from 10 NHL scouts:

“The Good: ‘He’s got very good hockey sense... he shoots the puck better than most people think, he can really wire it, and he’s pretty smart.’… ‘He’s not a big center but he still goes to the right places and he has pretty good hands. He thinks the game well and his effort is usually there.’… ‘Average skating but he’s quick. Fast feet, bad stride.’… ‘He has crazy skills around the net. His work ethic is good on most nights. He sometimes plays too much on the perimeter but when he does go to the net, he drives there with speed.’…. ‘He sure knows what to do with the puck when he’s got it and that’s an ingredient that all teams look for; great hands and a good finisher.’… ‘Very smart player, he’s a guy that has good hockey sense and works hard most nights. It’s tough when you are 17 to be the guy expected to carry the offence for the entire team."… ‘He’s intelligent and a very good play-making center.’… ‘I’m a fan. I like his game; he has good instincts, good sense, I like his compete level and I like the way he plays the game. I wish he was a little bigger and I wish he got around the ice a little better but I like the way he plays and think that he’s got a lot of upside’…

“The Bad: ‘I think with Michael there are concerns about his compete; he’s not a physical player. I have some concerns with him.’… ‘I think the biggest knock on St. Croix is always going to be his skating.’… ‘What’s going to hurt him is his foot speed and his ability to get into the tough zones and fight for a puck.’… ‘He has trouble beating someone one-on-one or winning a race to a loose puck.’… ‘He needs space to play and he can’t create it for himself. When he gets hit, he’s hit, he doesn’t have the ability to roll off a hit and use the momentum for himself.’… ‘I’m not a fan. I keep trying to figure out what it is that I don’t like... I see a lack of defence and neutral zone play, I never see him with the puck, it’s just a touch pass off his stick. I think he’s an average skater.’

“The Bottom Line:  The scouts seemed to be split into two categories; those who wonder where he will fit into a professional roster and those who are taken by his skill set and willing to overlook his deficiencies because of it. ‘If he can’t play a top 6 role then he can’t play in the NHL because he’s not a checker.’… ‘His game will have to evolve so he’s not bringing just offence to his game.’… ‘He’ll have to be a top 6 guy because he doesn’t have a physical element in his game. But he’s not consistent enough, yet, to be a top 6 guy.’… ‘If he’s going to make it at the next level it’s going to have to be as a point producer because he’s not a checker. I like his effort but all through his hockey career he’s always been the point guy.’” (5/3/2011)

The Scouting Report – [Ranked 51st among 2011 NHL draft prospects] “Michael St. Croix had a solid, though not spectacular season in the WHL this year. The skilled center built on his rookie campaign by becoming a leader with the young Oil Kings, scoring 75 points and improving his plus/minus rating by an impressive 49 points in his second year. St. Croix is a competitive player who likes to set up his teammates, but can also finish when he gets the chance. Next season will go a long way in determining what kind of player St. Croix will be. If he can produce at the level he’s capable of, he could quickly establish himself as one of the potential steals in the 2011 draft.” (5/30/2011)

Corey Pronman – [Ranked 26th among 2011 NHL draft prospects] “Michael St. Croix came into the season expecting to dominate offensively, and while he did well, he didn't show the complete upside he's capable of. He's a solid skater, with a very fluid and effective stride who has the agility and edge control to be extremely elusive. St. Croix has plus puck skills and can make defenders miss left and right, but also can make very good distributions if they back off him. He's a well above-average power play weapon and can make a ton of things happen from the left side of the offensive zone. He has a solid shot and is able to score his mid-distances. His physical game is well below-average right now, and it likely will top out at most as a fringe tool. St. Croix does go into the physical areas and drives to the net, but he is relatively ineffective and physically overwhelmed easily to the point it makes more sense for him to stay on the perimeter. His hockey sense is solid to above-average, and offensively his awareness is impressive. He makes lightning-quick decisions—sometimes it even looks like he's rushing it by how quickly he moves the puck. St. Croix's defensive game was bad in the first half, but made some progression in the second half, although I'm not 100% he can stay at the center position.” (6/3/2011)

ESPN - “‘His play fell way off after a concussion in January,’ said one scout based in Western Canada. ‘Right before that he was playing his best hockey of the season. He'd been solid in the first half of the season. If you project him off the first half rather than the end, you can see him the 30s. The final Central ranking [59] isn't really fair. He has a knock on his skating. He's average to just above average on skating. With his skating and his size, he has to be the type of player who'll go into heavy traffic, in the tough areas on the ice. If you look at Martin St. Louis, one of the real strengths of his game, an under-rated part of his success, is his toughness. If St. Croix isn't shy after his concussion, if you've seen him go in traffic and think that's he'll be willing to do that, then the 30s aren't out of the question.’ And as stated before, if you might be in the 30s in this draft, you have a shot at the 20s.  Stockwatch: The better the scouts' memory, the higher his stock rises.” (6/14/2011)

ESPN NHL Draft Blog – “Small center produced for EDM of the WHL. Needs to improve speed/quickness for size, but pays a price to score.” (6/25/11)

Hockey’s Future – “Crafty forward, offensive skills. Diminutive forward whose game is built on creating havoc for opponents in the attacking zone. Hampered by a mid-season injury after a very productive offensive push through November and December, but was inconsistent upon his return.” (6/29/2011)

Hockey’s Future – “Ranked 59th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, St. Croix's stock has dropped over the past season. Somewhat undersized and at times less physical and sure with the puck than others selected ahead of him in the draft, if he develops, St. Croix could be a steal in the draft for the Rangers. He has excellent vision, good skating and shifty moves, and was an excellent playmaker for the Oil Kings this past season. St. Croix played in 68 regular season games, posting 27 goals and 48 assists, including nine power play goals, 48 penalty minutes, and plus/minus rating of plus-28. He led the Oil Kings in assists, ranked second in points and power play goals, and third in goals and plus/minus rating. St. Croix is expected to play two more seasons in the WHL prior to becoming a professional.” (7/14/2011)

Corey Pronman – [Ranks St. Croix 4th among NYR prospects] “The Good: Michael St. Croix's a solid skater with a very fluid and effective stride who has the agility and edge control to be extremely elusive. St. Croix has plus puck skills and can make defenders miss left and right, but can also make very good distributions if they back off of him. He's a well above-average power play weapon and can make a ton of things happen from the left side of the offensive zone. He has a solid shot and is able to score his mid-distances. His hockey sense is solid to above-average, and offensively his awareness is impressive. He makes lightning-quick decisions—sometimes it even looks like he's rushing it by how quickly he moves the puck. St. Croix's defensive game was bad in the first half, but made some progression in the second half, although I'm not 100% he can stay at the center position.  The Bad: His physical game is well below-average right now and it likely will top out at most as a fringe tool. St. Croix does go into the physical areas and drives to the net, but he is relatively ineffective and physically overwhelmed easily to the point that it makes more sense for him to stay on the perimeter. His top speed is a tad underwhelming too.  Projection: An average second line forward who safely projects as a below-average second to above-average third line forward.” (8/9/2011)

The Hockey News Yearbook – [Ranks St. Croix 7th among NYR prospects] “Can score, but defensive play and strength are issues” (Summer 2011)

The Prospect Park – “Laxdal is looking at St Croix to be one of his leading scorers as we have heard from others that St. Croix has never looked better.  It is one thing when your own coach hypes you but when scouts are saying St. Croix should be one of the leading scorers in the WHL that gets your attention fast.  40 goals, 90 points appears to be everyone's projection coming off a 27-48-75 season.” (8/29/11)

The Prospect Park – “Michael St. Croix played for the most part like he was afraid to make a mistake so he hurt his own cause because of that fear. His defense was a lot better than we thought it would  be but we never saw his offense.  St. Croix goes back to Edmonton where his offense will return but he can not allow opportunities like this go by as a goal or two would have raised his stock. Not one point means he better do something this weekend or risk falling behind other prospects.” (9/17/11)

The Province – “The Oil Kings are picked by some to have a playoff run in them this year, and the 18-year-old, Winnipeg-born son of former Flyers goalie Rick St. Croix is a major reason why. The 5-foot-11, 179-pound right-handed shot uses his vision and his opportunistic scoring skills to produce and saw big bump in his numbers last season (68-27-48-75, plus-28, 48 PIMs). He was the fourth pick of the 2008 bantam draft.” (9/22/11)

Hockey’s Future – [Ranked 17th among NYR prospects] “Drafted out of the WHL, Michael St. Croix is a Winnipeg native, who is currently the revived Edmonton Oil Kings franchise leader in career points. A playmaking center, with solid two-way skills, St. Croix is somewhat undersized, but with very good speed and excellent hockey sense. St. Croix, who was recently reassigned from the Rangers' training camp, is expected to spend two more seasons in junior hockey. St. Croix projects to be a top-nine forward in the NHL, but reaching that level will require increased strength and physical development, more consistency in tactical play, and a greater willingness to play in traffic areas.” (9/27/11)

The Prospect Park – “Michael St. Croix (2011 4th) is struggling a bit trying to find his offense after 5 games but that is not what concerns us. His Edmonton Oil Kings were able to earn a 2-1 shootout win over the defending WHL champion the Kootenay Ice but where was St. Croix?  When your offense is struggling as is the case with St. Croix is then you have to make sure your defense is there and that you are not taking penalties. It is early but other than 1 good game we see St. Croix fighting himself to establish his identity.  The penalties that will always get you in trouble with your coaches are tripping and holding calls. Both are clear signs that you are (a) not moving your feet on defense and (b) were about to be beaten on a play.  We know St. Croix can play better than he has and for Edmonton who is wanting to make a run this year; they are going to need St. Croix to play well at both ends of the ice.” (10/6/11)

The Pipeline Show – “St. Croix, a Rangers 2011 draft pick had a break out season last year with 75 points in 68 games. He's just below a point per game pace this season with 15 in 16. I'll be honest I've never heard his name come up in conversation when it comes to the WJC, but sometimes it only takes getting hot at the right time, and the Winnipeg product can certainly do that. He's currently riding a 9 game point streak with 13 points during the span. Last season he put up 24 points during an 11 game streak.” (11/3/11)

The Prospect Park – “It was exactly one month ago (October 8th) that Michael St. Croix (2011 4th) played what we called a truly horrible hockey game. No points, bad turnovers and a -2 as St. Croix had gone 5 games without either a goal or a point.  That was the last game that St. Croix did not score in as 11 games later, Michael St. Croix is now the hottest Ranger prospect with an 11 game scoring streak after a season high 2-2-4 performance against the Royals.  The game's first star has this thing about 3 points as St. Croix was involved in the first 3 goals scored by the Oil Kings tonight.” (11/8/11)



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