September 27, 2007
Recruiting Trail: Top 20 Defensemen

We're not ones to gloat, but we'd like to take this opportunity to point out that the players who've topped our list of incoming defensemen in each of the previous four years have done pretty well. Ryan Suter, who sat atop the 2003 rankings, had a fairly productive year at Wisconsin prior to turning pro at the end of the season. Alex Goligoski, who put up 98 points in 118 career games for Minnesota, was our top-ranked freshman rearguard in 2004. In 2005, Michigan's Jack Johnson was the consensus choice as the No. 1 backliner, and the honor went to Minnesota's Erik Johnson last year — both will play in the National Hockey League this season.

This year's top incoming defenseman is Wisconsin's Ryan McDonagh, the 12th overall selection in June's NHL Draft. The rundown of the top 20 defensemen is dominated by the WCHA and the CCHA — each conference boasts seven representatives. The USHL (seven alums) and the U.S. NTDP (five) take up the majority of the spots on our list.

Inside College Hockey compiled its 2007 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.




School Last Team


Ryan McDonagh

Wisconsin Cretin-Derham Hall (Minn.) H.S.

"Physically, he's a horse," Montreal director of player recruitment and development Trevor Timmons said shortly after the Habs took McDonagh in the first round of June's NHL Draft. "He brings everything to the fold. I don't expect him to stay too long at Wisconsin before he dons one of our jersies."


Kevin Shattenkirk

Boston University U.S. NTDP

His coach with the U.S. NTDP, Ron Rolston, says his instincts and ability to change the course of a game offensively from the blue line are what set him apart from other defenders. He's also extremely mobile.


Jeff Petry

Michigan State Des Moines (USHL)

The son of former major league pitcher Dan Petry, Jeff was named the USHL's top defenseman in 2006-07. He scored 18-27—45 in 55 games for the Buccaneers.


Ian Cole

Notre Dame U.S. NTDP

Had a breakout season with the NTDP in 2006-07 after approaching his play on the blue line with the K.I.S.S. method: Keep It Simple, Son.


Nick Petrecki

Boston College Omaha (USHL)

A highly touted prospect two years ago, there are those who wonder if his development has plateaued. We know this — you can't teach size, and at 6-3, 215 pounds, Petrecki's a monster.


Colby Cohen

Boston University Lincoln (USHL)

He'll be an instant upgrade for the Terriers' power play. He's still a work in progress in his own end, however, and his well-publicized divorce from the U.S. NTDP last season raised questions about his character.


Kevin Quick

Michigan Salisbury Prep

Rare are the players from Eastern prep schools who venture west. Wolverine fans will be thrilled that Quick, a two-way defenseman, opted to make the trek.


Shane Sims

Ohio State Des Moines (USHL)

Sims' resume includes being named Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League West Division Best Defenseman in 2005 and earning USHL All-Rookie honors in 2006 while helping Des Moines to the league playoff title.


Cade Fairchild

Minnesota U.S. NTDP

Fairchild can carry the puck and be creative offensively, which would fill a huge void for a Gopher team looking to replace Alex Goligoski, Erik Johnson, and Mike Vannelli.


Brendan Smith

Wisconsin St. Michael's (OPJHL)

Smith, who hasn't been a defenseman all that long, should give the Badgers some offensive punch. He's still raw in his own end, however.


Bryan Brutlag

Rensselaer Academy of Holy Angels (Minn.) H.S.


Ted Ruth

Notre Dame U.S. NTDP


Cody Goloubef Wisconsin Oakville (OPJHL)

The 2006 OPJHL Rookie of the Year would have likely been ranked higher had he not missed most of last season due to a hip injury that required surgery.


Brian Rufenach

Clarkson Lindsay (OPJHL)


Derrick LaPoint

North Dakota Green Bay (USHL)

No player generated more varied opinions than LaPoint, a 2007 All-USHL first-team selection who scored 49 points in 59 games for the Gamblers. Some thought he should be in the top five on the list, while others felt he didn't belong in the top 20.


Joe Lavin

Providence U.S. NTDP


Alain Goulet

Nebraska-Omaha Aurora (OPJHL)


Ben Youds

Minnesota State Shattuck St. Mary's (Minn.)

The Brooklyn Park, Minn. native scored 42 points in 61 games for Shattuck last season. As a member of the U.S. Under-18 Select Team that played in the 2005 Junior World Cup, he led all defensemen in scoring.


Vince Lo Verde

Miami Waterloo (USHL)


Kevin Wehrs

Minnesota Cedar Rapids (USHL)