Northeastern has received its first verbal commitment of the renewed recruiting period, securing the pledge of Joe Connor late Friday night. Connor, a 2005 birth year from New Hampshire, announced his decision on his Instagram.
Considered by the New England Hockey Journal as a top uncommitted ’05, Connor is a 5’10”, 170 pound left shot centerman who played last season for Avon Old Farms, a top prep school in Connecticut where he had 27 points (13 goals) in 26 games as a 16 year old, fourth-best on his team and keeping pace with players a year or two older than him. In fact, Kirk Luedeke, a respected scout and current director of player development for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, called Connor the best player on Avon all season, even as a sophomore. Connor was taken late in the 2021 USHL Entry Draft by Muskegon and was a first round pick in the QMJHL American Draft.
Most recently Connor has made a name for himself USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp, where he led the camp in scoring with 13 points (4 goals) in seven games, and was named to the United States U18 Men’s Select Team that competed at this year’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. Connor had 2 points in 3 Cup games, and multiple outlets have talked about his professional and collegiate stock soaring after the impressive showing in the last month. He also made the All Star Game for the USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp.
As a player, Connor appears to be a coach’s dream. Called by one evaluator a “complete player,” he has a combination of speed, skill, compete level, and grit that can play up and down the lineup. He can play a possession-style game where he wins battles along the boards and fights for loose pucks. His coach at AOF made multiple comments in New England Hockey Journal articles about his work ethic and how he was able to move him around the ice. Multiple evaluators commented on how he makes his teammates better. On his young forward, head coach John Gardner said: “The thing I like about him is he plays hard all the time. He’ll take the hit, he’ll do whatever it takes. He’s not a big guy yet, I don’t know if he’s going to be, but his upside is really his skill and the way he plays. He plays with enthusiasm and he’s got a little ‘F-U’ in his game.”
When discussing his own game, Connor states “I think I have a good goal-scoring ability and whenever I’m on the ice I’m always trying to make the people around me better. Just trying to make plays, get pucks out of the zone and generate offense as much as I can.”
NEHJ notes that Connor had always been on the Division 1 radar but after his last month, multiple top level Hockey East schools joined in the fray to try and lock in his services. So Northeastern won out against local and conference competition to secure a player who looks exactly like the kind of addition that teams cannot win championships without.
We project Connor to enroll in 2024 at this time, which would be after his senior year of high school. As usual with hockey players they could always push to future years for a multitude of reasons, and we will adjust as needed for Connor. At this time we expect that he would return to Avon Old Farms for at least one more season before likely playing a year in the USHL before enrolling at Northeastern. We look forward to watching his development over the next couple of seasons.
Congratulations to Joe on his commitment to Northeastern! Stay tuned the rest of the offseason as we cover any other commitments and as we start to look ahead to the college hockey season, less than 2 months away!
As always, go Huskies!
Feature image via New England Hockey Journal and photographer Dave Arnold