Former Griff Conacher tops ESPN’s NHL rookie rankings
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • February 05, 2013 @ 4:47pm
Expectations have been high for Cory Conacher, the pride of the Canisius Griffins’ men’s hockey program. Still, few anticipated his rise to the NHL—and ensuing success at the sport’s highest level.
According to ESPN Insider’s NHL rookie rankings compiled by Grant Sonier, Conacher leapfrogged Oilers defender Justin Schulz and held off Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko to capture the top spot for the first time.
Sonier’s compliments are effusive, but his praise stems from more than just point totals (five goals, seven assists in eight games) that have Conacher tied with NHL stars Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Zetterberg and Joe Pavelski.
As Ben Kirst noted in this feature story for USCHO.com on Conacher in March 2010, obstacles have never truly fazed Conacher, whether it’s doubters questioning his lack of size (he’s 5’8), his management of Type I diabetes or Conacher’s rise from a rather obscure school—from a national standpoint, at least—to the NHL ranks.
The sky is truly the limit for Conacher, and Sonier’s comment on his “true grit” will not surprise ardent Griffs hockey fans. The Burlington, Ont. product set records at Canisius and breezed through the American Hockey League—earning Rookie of the Year honors and garnering a second-team All-AHL selection—and now the underdog fits in snugly with the NHL’s giants.
With Tampa Bay sitting in second place in the Eastern Conference and Conacher, Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier all sitting in the NHL’s top 15 in points, get accustomed to hearing Conacher’s name in the national limelight.