St. Croix ready to stay put

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

Michael St. Croix has been working his whole life for this moment.

All 16 years of it.

Yesterday the Edmonton Oil Kings' top pick -- fourth overall -- in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft, took his first step towards becoming a major-junior player.

Yesterday, the Winnipeg native attended the Oil Kings rookie camp fitness testing.

Today he'll be on the ice for the first day of rookie camp.

"I think I did pretty well," St. Croix said. "You workout hard in the off-season and it feels pretty good when you feel you did pretty well in the fitness testing.

"I tried to put myself around other professional players and WHL players this summer who helped push me to become a better player off the ice. That's going to translate to what I do on the ice. It's a big step and I just wanted to put myself and give myself the best opportunity to make the team."

NO GUARANTEES

While no 16-year-old is ever guaranteed a spot on a major-junior roster, St. Croix would have to bomb at training camp in order not to be with the Oil Kings this season.

Last year, with his Midget AAA club in Winnipeg, St. Croix led the league in scoring with 103 points in 41 regular-season games. He added 20 points in nine playoff games as his Winnipeg Wild went on to win the league title.

"He's got a spot to lose, would be the best way to put it," said Oil Kings general manager Bob Green. "We think he should be here and we think he's going to be here, but he can't take that for granted.

"He's not the kind of kid that is going to do that. He won the scoring title in the Manitoba Midget AAA league last year, so there is not much more he can accomplish there. He also played at the Under-17 championships as an under-aged player, so this is where we expect him to be."

PLAYED TWO GAMES

Suiting up for the Oil Kings is not entirely foreign to St. Croix who played a pair of games last year, picking up a goal and an assist.

This year, however, is his first year of full eligibility.

"I really just want to make the team, that's my biggest goal, obviously," St. Croix said. "From there I want to establish myself in the league as a 16-year-old and not wait until next year. I want to develop a good reputation from the coaches and the players and just work as hard as I can and do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do."

Judging by his fitness test results, St. Croix is ready to put in the effort. It'll take more than talent to transfer his scoring traits to the next level.

"He looks like he's done a lot of work over the summer," Green said. "He's a little bit bigger and stronger and he's in good shape. It's a good start for him and I'm sure now he's looking forward to getting on the ice and get into some scrimmages."


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