This very talented player currently skates for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL yet he doesn’t seem to get a lot of press in the states. His father, Rick (former Flyers and Leafs goaltender), worked with Ed Belfour as the goaltender coach for Dallas in 1999 when they won the Stanley Cup. Some are saying he could be the next goalie coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Although Michael isn’t a goalie his dad certainly taught him how to score on them.
Back in 2011 the Winnipeg native was ranked 183rd by CSS at the start of that season and by the end he was ranked as the 36th ranked North American skater. I certainly noticed the jump the same way his point totals jumped from 46 in 2010 to 79 to 105 last year (8th in the league in scoring). He popped in 45 goals and he had 19 points in 20 playoff games as he helped his team win a WHL championship.
At 6-0, 179, he has solid offensive instincts, won’t back down from a fight, and he’s terrific on the power play (18 PPG last season) plus he’s a right-handed shot. He can turn the corner on defenseman with his speed to close in on the goalie and score. He will also get in front of the net at times.
He’s had international game experience and this could be his last season in juniors. At 19, he has little else to prove and will soon be ready to make the jump into the professional ranks.
St. Croix plays a good two-way game and his tenacity sets him apart and should never get him compared to some Ranger prospects of the past who put up big numbers in junior hockey but could never produce at the pro level. He does need to work on face-offs to be a center at the pro level.
His hair trigger release in the slot is deadly (7th in the WHL in GWG last year). This 4th round pick will play in the NHL but his role is what I’m not sure about. I currently have him projected as a third liner but hey that can change over time. The fact that he doesn’t spend a lot of time in the penalty box shows he knows how to maximize his ice time.
St. Croix had a goal and an assist in his first game of the 2012-13 season so he’s off to a good start and Blueshirt fans are certainly keeping an eye on him.
Photo courtesy of http://www.oilkings.ca/.
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