September 11, 2006
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.




School Last Team


Kyle Okposo

Minnesota 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 physical play.


Rhett Rakhshani

Denver U.S. NTDP

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 to be.


Michael Forney

North Dakota Thief River Falls H.S.

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.


Billy Sweatt

Colorado College U.S. NTDP

Speed is the key to this U.S. National Inline Team player's game. He joins his brother, Lee, with the Tigers.


Ted Purcell

Maine 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 this decade.


Andreas Nodl

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 ...


Michael Carman

Minnesota U.S. NTDP

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.


Ben Smith

Boston College Westminster Prep

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.


Blake Geoffrion

Wisconsin U.S. NTDP

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.


Colin Greening

Cornell Nanaimo (BCHL)

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 Milo.


Tyler Ruegsegger

Denver Omaha (USHL)


Ryan Flynn

Minnesota U.S. NTDP


Matt Butcher Northern Michigan Chilliwack (BCHL)


Jarod Palmer

Miami Tri-City (USHL)


Dion Knelsen

Alaska Drumheller (AJHL)

Knelsen won't turn 18 until January, but heads to Fairbanks with offensive gifts and his older brother, Brandon, as a classmate and teammate.


Jay Barriball

Minnesota 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.


Doug Rogers

Harvard St. Sebastians


Ryan Thang

Notre Dame Omaha (USHL)


Alexandre Gagne

Michigan Tech 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 2004-05.


Chris Auger

UMass Lowell Wellington (OPJHL)

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.