September 15, 2005
Recruiting Trail: Top Classes

Inside College Hockey compiled its 2005 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.

We previously released our exclusive rankings of incoming freshmen at each position.

Top 20 Forwards
Top 15 Defensemen & Top 10 Goalies

Stay tuned for our ranking of the best players by junior league or geography and our annual all-name team.






Okay, so you're already tired of hearing about Phil Kessel and the kid has yet to play a game for the Gophers. Get used to it — he's as close to a sure thing as there is. He almost makes one forget Don Lucia welcomes a first-round NHL draft pick (Blake Wheeler), a high second-round NHL draft pick (Ryan Stoa) and the top goaltender at this year's Under-18 World Championships (Jeff Frazee) into the fold.
Impact players: Jeff Frazee, Phil Kessel, Ryan Stoa, Blake Wheeler


North Dakota

Like the Gophers, the Fighting Indigenous People have amassed a collection of freshmen that would make Mack Brown envious. Four of the top 36 picks in this year's NHL draft are North Dakota rookies including defenseman Brian Lee, selected by Ottawa with the ninth overall pick. Jonathan Toews, who's eligible for next year's draft, could end up being the best of the bunch.
Impact players: Taylor Chorney, Brian Lee, T.J. Oshie, Jonathan Toews



The Wolverines bring in a 10-member freshman class (you read right) this season. One of them, defenseman Jack Johnson, was the third overall pick in this year's NHL Draft by Carolina and probably could've made the jump to The Show. Another, forward Andrew Cogliano, was touted as the fastest skater in the draft. The most important newcomer, though, might be goaltender Billy Sauer, the likely heir to the spot vacated by Al Montoya.
Impact players: Andrew Cogliano, Jack Johnson, Mark Mitera, Billy Sauer


Minnesota Duluth

Not to be outdone, the Bulldogs' freshman litter consists of 11 players. It's a deep group led by playmaking defenseman Matt Niskanen, a first-round pick by Dallas in the most recent NHL Draft. While the UMD rookie class lacks a player with top-end talent or a high ceiling a la Kessel, Toews, and Johnson, it might have the best quality across the board. Shattuck product Michael Gergen is a sleeper.
Impact players: Jason Garrison, Matt Niskanen, Mason Raymond, MacGregor Sharp


Boston College

The Eagles, while they didn't need a goalie, got great balance everywhere else. Three defensemen can play right away and Brock Bradford and whirling dervish Nathan Gerbe could stage an all-Heights battle for the Hockey East Rookie of the Year award.
Impact players: Brock Bradford, Tim Filangieri, Nathan Gerbe, Tim Kunes,
Brett Motherwell



The defending champs have become to defensemen what Penn State once was to linebackers. Brett Skinner bolted early for the Vancouver organization, but two highly regarded blueliners (Chris Butler and T.J. Fast) have the skills to fill the void. Up front, the marquee newcomer is Brock Trotter, who scored 58 points for the USHL's Lincoln Stars in 60 games.
Impact players: Chris Butler, T.J. Fast, Brock Trotter


Michigan State

The Spartans' rookie crop has skill —Justin Abdelkader scored 52 points in the USHL last year, while Tim Kennedy had 61. It's got size Abdelkader measures in at a Jim Slater-esque 6-1, 200 pounds and Tim Crowder stands 6-2. And it's got a Smurf — Karl Goehring clone Jeff Lerg was the USHL's top goaltender last season and won the circuit's MVP award.
Impact players: Justin Abdelkader, Tim Kennedy, Jeff Lerg



The Badgers missed out on hometown phenom Phil Kessel, but in the words of Adam Sandler this group is “not too shabby.” Sources say that Bucky's prized catch, Jack Skille, and Kessel weren’t too fond of each other as U.S. NTDP teammates. Now they take their supposed personal rivalry to two of the most storied programs in college hockey.
Impact players: Shane Connelly, Tom Gorowsky, Jack Skille


Colorado College

High-scoring forward Chad Rau headlines this class and he’ll have the chance to make an impact right away — the Tigers were particularly hit hard by graduation and underclassmen signing professional contracts.
Impact players: Drew O'Connell, Chad Rau


Ferris State

It's said that defense wins championships and this recruiting class is built around two players that should help the Bulldogs in their quest to add CCHA trophy number two to the case, to go with 2003’s regular season title. And if that doesn't work, Ferris has also brought in Dan Reidel, the USHL's top scorer last season.
Impact players: Mitch O'Keefe, Chris Zarb, Dan Reidel


New Hampshire

New Hampshire made even more inroads in the talent-rich USHL, currently the best source for college-bound players. The Wildcats, who had 10 league products on their roster last year, add five more in 2005-06 led by first team USHL all-star Trevor Smith.
Impact players: Jerry Pollastrone, Trevor Smith



Enrico Blasi and his staff have brought in another commendable class. It’s their third straight year accomplishing the feat as the RedHawks build a top-notch program while campus builds a top-notch facility. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff headlines the group.
Impact players: Ray Eichenlaub, Alec Martinez, Jeff Zatkoff



The Catamounts join Hockey East this season, but they've put together a crew of newcomers that could compete in any conference. The British Columbia Hockey League is offense-oriented, but Dean Strong's 91 points in 56 regular season games is still impressive. Two USHL prospects, forward Corey Carlson (66 points in 60 games with Omaha) and defenseman Kyle Kuk (25 points with Tri-City) should also contribute immediately.
Impact players: Corey Carlson, Kyle Kuk, Dean Strong



Roll out the barrel! If incoming forward Mike Karwoski (a first team EJHL all-star with New York Apple Core last season) plays on a line with returnee Blair Yaworski, they're bound to be closely monitored by INCH ECACHL scribe Joe Gladziszewski.
Impact players: Mike Karwoski, David Meckler


Bowling Green

Despite the early departure of defenseman Jonathan Sigalet, good things are happening in Falcon country as coach Scott Paluch has assembled his third straight strong freshman class. The key is Jimmy Spratt, a Calgary draft pick and the favorite to fill the enormous void left in goal by the graduation of Jordan Sigalet.
Impact players: Kevin Schmidt, Jimmy Spratt, Brandon Svensen

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