Six Dallas Stars prospects are finishing up their seasons in NCAA hockey, including three freshmen drafted in 2004. The first of these players is freshman forward, Matt McKnight.
One of the final selections of the 2004 draft at 280th overall, Matt McKnight has made an excellent start to his college career with Minnesota-Duluth. McKnight is an outstanding playmaker with sound defensive skills, making him a valuable contributor in many situations. He can be found quarterbacking the power play as well as killing penalties, and is not afraid to use his body to make a punishing body check or block a shot.
McKnight has played 26 games this season and leads all Bulldogs freshmen in scoring with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists). All of McKnight’s goals have come on special teams, scoring twice on the power play, and twice short-handed. McKnight notched his first game winner on February 25, scoring on the power play and adding an assist in a 4-1 victory over Bemidji State, and followed that up with two assists the next night against the same team in another Bulldogs victory, 5-2. He has 195 pounds on his 6’1 frame, but could stand to bulk up and add more strength.
The son of former NHLer Craig Ludwig, Trevor Ludwig has been an outstanding addition to the defensive corps for Providence this season and is the only freshman defenseman to find a regular spot in the lineup. His tenacious attitude means he is excellent in one-on-one situations, but has difficulty in being able to consistently eliminate opposing players. He has above average skating with good acceleration, allowing him to transition well. For much of the season he has been paired with junior James Pemberton (FLA), and together they have proven effective offensively, sitting second and third overall in scoring amongst team defensemen. In 28 games, Ludwig has compiled seven points (one goal, six assists) including a three-point effort against Maine on November 21.
Having his best year of his college career is Boston College senior Ned Havern. An excellent two-way forward, Havern’s experience has seen him used on all four lines and see extensive time on the power play. In fact his power play form has been outstanding, scoring his eighth with the man advantage on February 26 against the University of New Hampshire. Those eight power play goals tie him for the team lead that he shares with high profile first round picks Patrick Eaves (OTT) and Brian Boyle (LA).
Havern improved his strength for this season and it has shown, posting a career high 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) through 32 games, placing him fourth overall in team scoring.
The Stars third pick in the 2004 draft at 52nd overall, Raymond Sawada has shown the toughness that team scouts hoped he would be able to bring to the table in his freshman season with Cornell. He possesses excellent size (6’2, 195) and uses it to his advantage while battling down low and crashing the net. Sawada can wreak havoc in front of the net and has the knack of scoring those ‘garbage’ goals that make some players so successful in the NHL.
He currently sits fourth amongst team freshmen in scoring with seven points (four goals, three assists), playing in all 29 games for the Big Red. Sawada is also second in the team in penalty minutes with 40.
Playing an important role in his junior year is Northern Michigan defenseman Geoff Waugh. Waugh has again spent this season as part of the Wildcats top defensive pairing with team captain Nathan Oystrick (ATL), and the two compliment each other extremely well. Waugh uses his outstanding size (6’4, 215) well in playing more of a defensive defenseman role. He also plays with a lot of intensity, never shying away from the physical aspects of his position.
Even with his defensive role, Waugh finds himself second in team scoring amongst defensemen with 10 points (two goals, eight assists) and is one minor penalty behind the team lead with 81 penalty minutes.
The final Stars prospect playing in the NCAA is having the best season offensively, Gino Guyer of the University of Minnesota. The junior center is well known for his work ethic and tendency to never give up on a play, especially when a potential scoring chance exists. He is blessed with outstanding passing ability and excellent skills on the draw, and combines that with a strong defensive game.
After struggling offensively early in the season, Guyer has picked up the pace and has now racked up double-digit goals for the third season in a Golden Gophers uniform. Since October 29th, Guyer has never gone more than two games without scoring at least a point, and now has 11 goals to go with 15 assists, placing him fourth on the team in scoring. Most recently on February 26, Guyer posted a goal and two assists in a 4-1 win over St Cloud State.
DJ Powers contributed to this article. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.