Steven Fogarty (Randy Emery)
It is that time of the year as the New York Ranger prospects playing in the NCAA are about to get their seasons underway this week. While the NHL remains locked out; your best bet to watch any hockey this year just might those in the NCAA.
And those who do watch the prospects playing in the NCAAs will be rewarded as the Rangers have 3 talented prospects worth watching. If you know Gordie Clark's history then seeing the number of higher end prospects with college backgrounds is no surprise.
Clark who played college hockey himself at New Hampshire has done quite well with the picks he has made for the Rangers out of the college ranks. Expect the trend to continue with these 3 prospects.
Steven Fogarty (2011 3rd) will be entering his freshman season at Notre Dame as the 6'3 200 lb center from Edina MN is coming off an outstanding season with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL. Fogarty in 61 games was 33-49-82 during the regular season then 4-4-8 during a playoff run that saw Fogarty and the Vees win the RBC Cup (National Junior A Championship).
What is not to like about Fogarty's game? He led Ranger prospects with 10 game winning goals, he was the guy the Vees sent out to take the defensive zone faceoffs late in games and he played on both special team units. You don't just get handed a scholarship to play at Notre Dame; your grades have to also get you in there.
Fogarty also remains on the list of possible players for the 2013 Team USA Under-20 team.
Brady Skjei (Minnesota)
Brady Skjei (2012 1st) gets to start his NCAA career on the preseason's top ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers. Speaking of gold, the 6'3 200 lb defender Skjei will be bringing his gold medal as a member of Team USA's Under-18 team with him.
Skjei gets overlooked at times because of his talented partner from last year Seth Jones but make no mistake, Skjei was a very good pick for the Rangers. A big player who can skate fits in with what the Rangers want to do on defense.
Skjei may not have huge offensive numbers but he does have an offensive game; on defense is where he is going to get most of his notice as Skjei can play the shutdown defender position very well already.
You have a young man who plays with a maturity on the ice that makes you forget he is just 18. Skjei does not play a very physical game but expect that to change as his body matures and the teaching he will receive at Minnesota.
Skjei like Fogarty remains on the list of possible players for the 2013 Team USA Under-20 team.
Cristoval Nieves (NHL Media)
In name value alone Cristoval "Boo" Nieves (2012 2nd) already has a fan base with the Rangers and the Michigan Wolverines. Michigan has already assigned Nieves the #12 that current Ranger Carl Hagelin wore while he was at Michigan.
Hagelin might just be the most popular player to play at Michigan so "Boo" has some pretty big shoes to fill. Like Carl Hagelin, Nieves is a good skater but he is not as fast as Hagelin and honestly is a project who is going to need time to develop.
You can see that there is some skill in his offensive game with his skating and ability to score but when you are 6'3 and only 185 then one needs to add some serious bulk. Nieves is too finesse at this point in his development which won't work when he is playing against adults at the NCAA level.
Nieves will play for Red Berenson at Michigan and the best advice to give him is to listen to what the coach says. Those who have (Carl Hagelin) found NHL success faster than those who did not (Al Montoya).
Unlike Skjei and Fogarty who have better resumes, I have to say temper the expectations on Nieves for his freshman year. Coach Berenson will keep Nieves on 3rd and 4th lines duty until Nieves forces his way up the depth chart.
If you trust Gordie Clark then trust Coach Berenson in how he develops Nieves as Michigan has 22 straight appearances in the NCAA tournament. I am 53 and Berenson made his NHL debut when I was a 3 year old in 1962.
Nieves will be in good hands at Michigan just have patience.