2022 NHL Draft Tracker: Rutger McGroarty
Rutger McGroarty is one of the top American-born forwards heading into the 2022 NHL Draft.
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, McGroarty is set to become the state of Nebraska’s second-ever drafted player. With a lot of weight on his shoulders, he has continued to exceed expectations. He currently plays on the U.S. National U18 Team, as part of the United States National Development Program (USNDP) where he has recorded 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) in 21 games.
“Every time I watch him I come away impressed, few players have the strength he has and the all-around offensive capability,” said FCHockey regional scout Austin Broad. “I think he’s a top-six player who can play in all situations, including the top power-play unit. His ability to put the puck in the net will always help his draft stock, and while some have soured on him a bit, I still think he’s a top-10 prospect in this class.”
WHO IS RUTGER MCGROARTY?
McGroarty is an extremely skilled forward who despite hailing from Nebraska — a non-conventional hockey state, has managed to excel in all departments. He became the first-ever Nebraska native to play for the US National Team, and he even dawned the “C” on his jersey.
McGroarty’s life has actually always revolved around hockey. His father Jim McGroarty played in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL), among many other leagues in the late 80’s and 90’s. Since retiring from pro hockey, McGroarty went on to coach the Omaha Lancers, and Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL). Including coaching his son, Rutger.
McGroarty has committed to the University of Michigan for the 2022-23 NCAA season.
It was evident at a young age that McGroarty possesses elite hockey traits.
He grew up in the Detroit Honeybaked program, a dominant Michigan youth hockey program. He began playing in the 2017-18 season with the Honeybaked U13-AAA team, where he registered 47 points (40 goals, seven assists) in 17 games. One year later, he played for the U14 team, putting up 54 points (25 goals, 29 assists).
That following season, McGroarty would bounce between the U15, and U16 Oakland Jr. Grizzlies team. While playing for the U15 squad, he registered an astonishing 160 points (82 goals, 78 assists) in 63 games. That season, helped put his name on scouts’ radars.
In 2020-21, he committed to the U.S. National U17 team and recorded 35 points (17 goals, 18 assists) in 34 games, during that season, he was added to the U18 team and had six points in 19 games. McGroarty would later represent the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) in the USHL. He managed to play 30 games and picked up 19 points (12 goals, seven assists).
He captained the United States at the IIHF under-18 World Junior Championships this past April, and despite going pointless, he looked comfortable on the international stage.
McGroarty has been on scouts’ radars for the past few years, and this year has managed to find himself in top-10 rankings. He possesses elite hockey IQ which allows for him to flourish as a playmaker or prolific goal scorer. He shines in the offensive zone and displays a unique toolkit that has allowed for him to be the successful prospect he is.
“McGroarty is an all-around offensive player with the ability to be a playmaker or a finisher. His shot is one of the best in the class and is easily the best on the NTDP in my opinion,” Broad said.
“With the release, the laser accuracy and the power to beat goalies from anywhere in the offensive zone, opponents cannot give him any space otherwise he’s going to make you pay. With his size and strength, he is awesome in 1-on-1 puck battles and knows exactly how to use his body to shield the puck and outmuscle opposing players to win position and come away with the puck. Unlike other goalscoring prospects, McGroaty isn’t a one-dimensional offensive player. He has great playmaking instincts and has the ability to create prime scoring chances for teammates with his passes.”
MCGROARTY’S AREAS OF IMPROVEMENTS
As with almost any prospect, there are a few concerns when it comes to his play, but as Austin explains below, this is something he can overcome with the right coaching.
“There are a few red flags with McGroarty, but there’s not anything he can’t overcome,” Broad said. “The first thing I see when I see him play is a player that predominantly works off the puck, relying on his ability to get open to allow him to succeed, I think it’s what makes him a better winger than a center in my opinion. Secondly, his skating is a bit of a question mark. He’s so good at everything else, the skating shouldn’t hinder his upside, but he could benefit from working on his first few strides to become more explosive.”
McGroarty has the full potential to become a top-six elite goal-scoring forward in the NHL. He’s one of the most dynamic players in his draft class and you shouldn’t be surprised to see a club take a chance on him in the top-10 at the upcoming 2022 NHL Draft. He will attend the University of Michigan next year.