Top 7 NCAA prospects for the 2009 NHL Draft

By DJ Powers

The NHL draft class of 2009 coming out of the collegiate ranks this year is not a deep one. University of Minnesota freshman Jordan Schroeder is by far the top player in this draft class and the only one that will likely go before the third round. However, there are some outstanding players that could be selected in the later rounds. All stats listed below are as of Dec. 22 unless otherwise noted.

Jordan Schroeder, C

Freshman, University of Minnesota
5’9, 175
Sept. 29, 1990

Schroeder currently leads the nation in rookie scoring with 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) playing in all 16 games with the Golden Gophers. His 1.31 points per game also leads the nation among rookies.

HF feature on Schroeder

Joe Cannata, G
Freshman, Merrimack College
6’1, 200
Jan. 2, 1990

Cannata is a holdover from the 2008 draft who looks to be making a strong case again for the 2009 draft. He has been splitting time with junior Andrew Braithwaite in goal for the Warriors this season. The Marshfield, MA native has played in eight games, posting a 2-2-3 record that includes. His 2.27 GAA and .922 save percentage currently rank 26th in the nation. He was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Week back on Oct. 20 and Hockey East Defensive Player of the Week on Dec. 1.

Cannata has good size, is positionally sound, and doesn’t get rattled easily. While areas of his game such as puck handling need to improve, Cannata possess a tremendous upside that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Kevin Connauton, D
Freshman, Western Michigan University
6’1, 185
Feb. 23, 1990

Connauton may be one of the best young defensemen that no one is talking about. But the rookie rearguard has certainly been one of the bright spots for the Broncos thus far. In 16 games, the Edmonton native has posted eight points (two goals, six assists). His eight points is tied for the team lead in defensive scoring. Connauton also leads Western Michigan with a plus-3 and averages roughly 25 minutes of ice time per game.

Connauton is an offensive defenseman with great poise and patience with the puck. He is also an outstanding skater who transitions quite well, adding a more mobile dimension to the Broncos blueline.

Jared Festler, LW

Freshman, St. Cloud State University
5’9, 175
Oct. 14, 1989

Festler came to St. Cloud State with a lot of hype and hasn’t disappointed. While the Little Falls, MN native is listed at left wing, he has actually played both wing positions this season. Festler currently leads the Huskies in rookie scoring with 16 points (six goals, ten assists) playing in 17 games. His most memorable game came on Oct. 25 versus Bemidji State when he posted a pair of power-play goals, which also included the game winner, to propel St. Cloud State to a 5-3 victory.

Festler is a very quick and shifty winger blessed with superb playmaking skills. He has very good vision and can make some really nice tape-to-tape passes. In addition to setting up his teammates, Festler can also finish plays as well.

Connor Knapp, G
Freshman, Miami University
6’5, 215
May 1, 1990

At 6’5, Knapp certainly stands out. But his size isn’t the only impressive thing about the RedHawks rookie netminder. His athleticism is really quite remarkable for such a big man. He is also very focused and does an outstanding job of following plays and staying square to shooters.

Knapp has been splitting time with fellow freshman Cody Reichard, continuing a growing trend of superb goaltenders manning the nets for the RedHawks. The York, NY native has appeared in nine games thus far, posting a 7-1-1 record that includes one shutout. His 1.77 GAA ranks 11th in the nation, while his .924 save percentage ranks 22nd. He earned his lone CCHA Rookie of the Week honor back on Nov. 17.

Sam Lofquist, D
Freshman, University of Minnesota
6’1, 190
Mar. 15, 1990

On a Minnesota roster loaded with NHL prospects, Lofquist is making a strong case to join the group when the 2009 draft comes around. 

The Faribault, MN native came to Minnesota from the US National Team Development Program and has become a force to be reckoned with on the Golden Gophers blueline. He has appeared in 14 games thus far, posting one goal. That goal came back on Oct. 24 versus Wisconsin. It was also the game-tying goal in the contest that ended in a 2-2 tie.

Lofquist is an excellent skating defensive defenseman who brings some grit and toughness to the table. He is very competitive, works hard, and loves the physical side of the game. Lofquist possesses a hard shot and can get shots to the net. He makes solid outlet passes and is sound defensively.

Jordy Murray, LW

Freshman, University of Wisconsin
5’8.5, 162
Jan. 8, 1990

Murray is quick, tenacious and brings a lot of energy to his game — a real spark plug. What the Faribault, MN native lacks in size, he makes up for with his speed, intelligence and superb defensive play. Murray, the son of St. Louis Blues head coach Andy Murray, is an excellent skater with speed and great acceleration. His speed coupled with his low center of gravity allows him to move quite well through traffic. Despite being just under 5’9, Murray thrives in the physical game. He can often be found throwing remarkably solid checks at bigger players.

The rookie winger has been outstanding this season on the Badgers penalty kill. He is defensively responsible, follows plays quite well and has shown a willingness to block shots.

Murray has played in all 18 games thus far, posting eight points (four goals, four assists). His plus-4 is tied for third on the team. Murray’s most memorable game came in the season opener versus Boston College back on Oct. 10. In that contest, he posted his (and thus far only) multiple-point game, notching a goal and an assist.

Others on the radar: Matt Berglund, LW, Providence College; Mike Connolly, C, University of Minnesota-Duluth; Ryan Grimshaw, D, Harvard; Drew Leblanc, C, St. Cloud State University; Seth Soley, C, Michigan Tech; Sean Whitney, D, Cornell University, Chris Wideman, D, Miami.