Mike Hoeffel is a 19-year-old left winger selected 57th overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He is a sophomore with the University of Minnesota, where he recorded nine goals and ten assists in 45 games last season, leading all rookies in scoring.
Hoeffel is a solid prospect in New Jersey’s system — a strong skater with terrific work ethic and above average foot speed. While he is more known for his defensive game, he is an adept forechecker and has decent enough hands to chip in offensively. What he lacks in skill he makes up for with heart and energy, as he is among the most hard-working and dedicated members of the Gopher squad this year. At 6’2 and 190 lbs, he has the size to work the corners well, allowing him to cycle the puck and create scoring chances.
Hockey’s Future caught up with the young forward after an exciting Gopher-Badger game last weekend.
HF: As a sophomore now, do you feel you’re more comfortable with a year of college hockey under your belt?
MH: Yeah definitely. You know, the experience of having played one year – coming in and having a full summer to train, I got a lot stronger and quicker and feel like I understand the game a lot better this year. So it’s been helpful.
HF: What kind of training did you do over the summer?
MH: Just a lot of leg training, you know, specifying on the legs, and just total body workout trying to become a better athlete.
HF: Was it a more serious regimen than last summer? Did you kick it up a notch?
MH: Yeah definitely, I mean I worked out at school (the U of M) the whole summer so being on the same program all summer was really helpful.
HF: Has the New Jersey organization been in contact with you to give you any comments about your game or what they would like to see from you?
MH: Not really, I don’t really talk to them. They just kind of respect the privacy I have here (at the U) and let me develop and let me have this time to have fun.
HF: Is there a part of your game that you think needs work?
MH: I could always get stronger and quicker. Being able to handle the puck and convert in tight in close quarters around the net or in the corner.
HF: Do you have any specific goals for this season?
MH: Just take it one day at a time and work hard every day in practice and hopefully that converts to success on the ice.
HF: How has the U of M helped you with your development?
MH: They’ve helped me tremendously. It’s a slow process and you just try and take it every day at a time and get better. After a whole year of that concept you get better.
HF: What’s the biggest difference between you as a player now and as a player last year?
MH: I’m stronger. I’ve had the whole summer to work out and my legs and my quickness are overall better.
HF: Finally, do you feel the new rules in the NCAA have affected your game at all?
MH: It’s just made everything tighter, it’s not necessarily my game but I feel like the whole league, all the guys are getting used to the new rules and trying to adapt.