Recruiting Trail: Top 20 Forwards
After North Dakota claimed the top forward recruits
in the first two years of Inside College Hockey's Recruiting
Rankings (Brady Murray and Travis Zajac), the archrival Minnesota
Golden Gophers have now countered with back-to-back honorees
of their own. Gopher-to-be Kyle Okposo tops the list this
year, a year after Phil Kessel claimed the top spot.
The rundown of the top 20 forwards is dominated
by WCHA rookies (a total of 11, including four from Minnesota)
and USHL alums (seven in all). The U.S. NTDP produced five
of our top 20 forwards.
Inside College Hockey compiled its 2006 Recruiting
Rankings with extensive input from college and junior coaches,
as well as professional scouts. Participants were asked to
evaluate recruits based on their projected impact at the college
level, not on their professional hockey prospects.
Stay tuned in the coming days for our exclusive
ranking of the top goalies, defensemen and incoming classes,
and our annual all-name team.
20 INCOMING FORWARDS
Des Moines (USHL)
The 2006 USHL Rookie of
the Year reminds some observers of Jarome Iginla because
of his goal-scoring skills and the way he relishes
The Huntington Beach,
Calif., native isn't super fast or flashy, but with
his game – he's a "north-south" player
who likes to go to the net – he doesn't need
Thief River Falls
The jump from high school
to college is a big one, but Forney has skills that
are said to be in the same league as T.J. Oshie, a
Sioux teammate who made that leap look easy last year.
Speed is the key to this
U.S. National Inline Team player's game. He joins
his brother, Lee, with the Tigers.
Cedar Rapids (USHL)
Not everyone raves about
Purcell, but those who do expect him to have as big
of an impact as any true freshman forward at Maine
St. Cloud State
Sioux Falls (USHL)
Just because he's from
Austria doesn't mean he's the second coming of Thomas
Vanek. Second in the USHL in goals last season, Nodl
is a game-breaker with sneaky, accurate shot who tends
to shy away from physical play. On second thought
NTDP product earned raves
from scouts for his two-way play, work ethic and decision-making.
He'll become a Mariucci Arena favorite because of
his intensity and willingness to battle for the puck.
BC has a tiny class, with
just four freshmen, but Smith –
a prep school player who has joined Team USA for the
Under-18 and Under-17 championships the last two seasons
– should provide quality regardless of quantity.
Opinions on the grandson
of Hall of Famer Bernie Geoffrion are mixed. At the
high end, he'll be an impact player wth great size,
and he'll certainly have an opportunity to shine after
Wisconsin's losses to graduation and the pros.
Remarkably, the top Canadian
on our list checks in at 10. Greening is one of a
handful of Cornell forwards who should have an impact,
along with Blake Gallagher, Tony Romano and Justin
Knelsen won't turn 18
until January, but heads to Fairbanks with offensive
gifts and his older brother, Brandon, as a classmate
Sioux Falls (USHL)
Barriball would have stayed
in juniors another year had Phil Kessel stayed in
school. Other coaches marvel that a team's consolation
prize can be this good.
Cowichan Valley (BCHL)
A casualty last season
dur to a one-game stint in the QMJHL, the 6-foot,
190-pound wing scored 35 goals and 35 assists in 60
games with the BCHL's Cowichan Valley Capitals in
Auger is the best forward
in an enormous 13-member River Hawk incoming class.
Keep an eye on teammate Jason Bergeron, who could
be a sleeper.