Cam Dineen, who I profiled on Friday, will undoubtedly get drafted later this month at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. The Toms River native will become the latest hockey prospect born in New Jersey to be selected by a NHL team. While hockey in New Jersey is not on the level of Michigan or Minnesota, the state has produced a fair number of players who have performed well enough to get the attention of some organizations. I wanted to see who else from the fine state that I and the New Jersey Devils call home have been picked by a NHL team. Who else will Cam Dineen and maybe some others join later this month? Let's find out.
First and foremost, this is a list of players who were born in New Jersey. For the sake of seeking out where the prospects have come from, I had to use a common data point: their birthplace. I know and recognize that there's a difference between where one was born and where one calls home. Kyle Palmieri is a good example of that. Yet, hometowns aren't always listed. So I had to stick to birthplaces and, therefore, Palmieri isn't here. Second, I basically scoured Elite Prospects' search for whatever city, town, and township is in their system for New Jersey. I'd like to think I got everyone, but I can't rule out the possibility of an omission. Therefore, I am not claiming this as a complete list of every single NHL draft pick to come out of New Jersey. That said, it's definitely a good start to making one (there's 43 players on it) and it is indeed a list of draftees born in New Jersey.
As far as the list itself, I listed the player, when and where they got drafted, who drafted them, listed the highest level of hockey they played at and how many games they played at that level, and whether they're still active. That's how I sorted the list as well. For all intents and purposes, I rated professional leagues over college and juniors; I rated the AHL and IHL ahead of other pro leagues as they were a league behind the NHL; and the NHL (and WHA) over all others. I see games played at the NHL as being a higher mark of success. I'll add commentary where I see fit.
Again, my source is Elite Prospects.
|NJ City||Player||Position||Year||Round||Overall||Team||Hi. League||GP in HL||Latest Team||Active?|
|Ridgewood||Paul Mara||D||1997||1||7||Tampa Bay||NHL||734||Houston (AHL)||No|
|Brick||Jim Dowd||F||1987||8||149||New Jersey||NHL||728||Philadelphia (NHL)||No|
|Cherry Hill||Bobby Ryan||F||2005||1||2||Anaheim||NHL||607||Ottawa (NHL)||Yes|
|Dover||Drew Miller||F||2003||6||186||Anaheim||NHL||516||Detroit (NHL)||Yes|
|New Brunswick||Brian Lawton||F||1983||1||1||Minnesota||NHL||483||Cincinnati (IHL)||No|
|Middletown Township||James van Riemsdyk||F||2007||1||2||Philadelphia||NHL||446||Toronto (NHL)||Yes|
|Plainfield||David Williams||D||1985||12||234||New Jersey||NHL||173||Cincinnati (IHL)||No|
|Salem||John Gaudreau||F||2011||4||104||Calgary||NHL||160||Calgary (NHL)||Yes|
|Hackensack||Matt Herr||C||1994||4||93||Washington||NHL||58||DEG Metro Stars (DEL)||No|
|Moorestown||T.J. Brennan||D||2007||2||31||Buffalo||NHL||53||Toronto (AHL)||Yes|
|Trenton||Bobby Sanguinetti||D||2006||1||21||NY Rangers||NHL||45||Rochester (AHL)||Yes|
|Morristown||Kenny Agostino||F||2010||5||140||Pittsburgh||NHL||10||Stockton (AHL)||Yes|
|Summit||Dave Given||F||1974||6||101||Buffalo||WHA||1||Erie (NAHL)||No|
|Ridgewood||Todd Copeland||D||1986||2||24||New Jersey||AHL||348||Utah (IHL)||No|
|Basking Ridge||David Kolomatis||D||2009||5||126||Los Angeles||AHL||338||Toronto (AHL)||Yes|
|Voorhees||Chris St. Croix||D||1997||4||92||Calgary||AHL||247||Bossier-Shreveport (CHL)||No|
|Summit||Paul Baier||D||2004||3||95||Los Angeles||AHL||200||Orlando (ECHL)||No|
|Medford||Ryan Maki||F||2005||6||176||Nashville||AHL||182||Hannover (DEL)||No|
|Rumson||Ryan Murphy||F||2002||6||185||Los Angeles||AHL||138||Manchester (AHL)||No|
|Hazlet||Jim Henkel||F||1998||8||217||Los Angeles||AHL||102||Trenton (ECHL)||No|
|Livingston||Nick Ebert||D||2012||7||211||Los Angeles||AHL||89||Ontario (AHL)||Yes|
|Medford||Mike Posma||D||1986||2||31||St. Louis||AHL||78||Utica (AHL)||No|
|Edison||Anthony Stolarz||G||2012||2||45||Philadelphia||AHL||78||Lehigh Valley (AHL)||Yes|
|Rumson||Joakim Ryan||D||2012||7||198||San Jose||AHL||73||San Jose (AHL)||Yes|
|Sewell||Anthony DeAngelo||D||2014||1||19||Tampa Bay||AHL||69||Syracuse (AHL)||Yes|
|Pennsauken||Tim Fingerhut||F||1990||10||194||Pittsburgh||AHL / IHL||7||Trenton (ECHL)||No|
|New Brunswick||Mark Green||F||1978||10||165||Atlanta||IHL||2||Port Huron (IHL)||No|
|Denville||Mike Heinke||G||1989||5||89||New Jersey||AHL||1||Birmingham (ECHL)||No|
|Hackensack||Ken Blum||F||1989||9||175||Minnesota||AHL||1||Rome (FHL)||No|
|Montclair||Tim Cook||D||2003||5||142||Ottawa||ECHL||98||Belfast (EIHL)||No|
|Toms River||Chris Tschupp||F||1990||6||125||Calgary||ECHL||83||Roanoke (ECHL)||No|
|Denville||Dan Sawyer||D||1989||10||210||Calgary||ECHL||66||Johnstown (ECHL)||No|
|North Caldwell||J.R. Prestifilippo||G||1996||7||165||NY Islanders||ECHL||62||Pee Dee (ECHL)||No|
|Voorhees||Glen Wisser||F||1989||9||180||Philadelphia||ECHL||23||Dayton (ECHL)||No|
|Annandale||Art Femenella||D||2001||6||188||Tampa Bay||ECHL||7||Augusta (ECHL)||No|
|Summit||Peter Hafner||D||2002||8||232||Florida||ECHL||2||Cincinnati (ECHL)||No|
|Matawan||Connor Clifton||D||2013||5||133||Arizona||NCAA||117||Quinnipiac (NCAA)||Yes|
|Livingston||Bryan Lonsinger||D||1990||7||139||NY Rangers||NCAA||110||Harvard (NCAA)||No|
|Red Bank||Doug Sproule||D||1994||7||159||Ottawa||NCAA||107||Harvard (NCAA)||No|
|Paramus||J.J. Piccinich||F||2014||4||103||Toronto||OHL||66||London (OHL)||Yes|
|Lawrenceville||Mark Carlson||F||1987||11||215||Pittsburgh||NCAA||64||Umass-Lowell (NCAA)||No|
|Newark||Anthony Brodeur||G||2013||7||208||New Jersey||QMJHL||62||Penticton (BCHL)||Yes|
|Whitehouse Station||Matthew Beattie||F||2012||7||207||Vancouver||NCAA||53||Yale (NCAA)||Yes|
Most of the 43 are skaters as only 4 goalies have been born in New Jersey and drafted. Here's a fun fact: the Devils and the Kings are tied with the most draft picks for players born in New Jersey with five each. Coincidence? I think so! And they were outside of the first round. All six first rounders born in NJ were picked by different teams, with Tampa Bay being the only team to pick two of them. Anyway, let's go through the players.
The NHL Players that were Drafted and Born in New Jersey
According to the Frivolities section of Hockey-Reference, you can sort out NHL players by province or state. Fifteen players came from the Garden State. Three were undrafted: Buddy Robinson, a right winger who got a taste of the NHL recently with Ottawa; Trevor van Reimsdyk, who's a regular on Chicago's blueline; and Randy Wood, who played quite a bit for the Islanders and enjoyed a ten-year career. The other twelve are largely current or contemporary players.
Paul Mara and Jim Dowd represent the high water mark for NHL draftees from New Jersey from a games played standpoint. Both Mara and Dowd were serviceable players for many years, despite being picked at near opposite points in the NHL draft. Bobby Ryan, the current all-time leading scorer among NJ-born players, will surely top their games played mark as he continues piling up points with Ottawa. Drew Miller, who's been with in Detroit for nearly this entire decade so far, also has a shot for matching the longevity of Mara and Dowd. James van Reimsdyk will also get that shot as well, although his career did not end up as successful as Ryan's. It could be worse, it could have gone the way of Bobby Lawton. The New Brunswick-born Lawton went first overall in 1983 but he never really panned out as expected. He still played for ten years, which isn't too bad on it's own but I understand the hope is higher for a first overall pick. Johnny Gaudreau may end up being the one to watch. The Salem native could be a bona fide star. Or at least the best player to ever come out of New Jersey. In just two seasons, he's got a higher point per game rate than Ryan at 0.89 and he's just pure dynamite on the ice. Insert your comment about New Jersey not picking him in 2011 here.
The others on the list were players that got to NHL but never really stuck around. Plainfield's David Williams was picked by the Devils but he got into the NHL through San Jose and Anaheim during the first few years of their existence. Even then, he was bouncing between the NHL and the International Hockey League (IHL), a league similar to the AHL at the time. T.J. Brennan has a similar career with the exceptions of playing for some bad teams as opposed to expansion teams and that he's still playing hockey, so he could still get an opportunity to play again. Matt Herr did end up getting into games with the team that picked him, Washington, but he was largely a call-up from the AHL. He was good in the AHL, but not enough to stick at the next level. Bobby Sanguinetti is on a similar path now to Herr. He was getting call ups earlier in his career, but now he's firmly at the AHL level. Sanguinetti is still playing and he's not even 30 yet, so like Brennan, he could feasibly get another shot in the future. Kenny Agostino, who's much younger, is hoping to break into the NHL soon. While he's been producing for Adirondack, he's received ten NHL appearances over the last two seasons. A good camp and some luck may get him more in 2016-17.
While he was never in the NHL itself, a special mention should be given to Dave Given. He made one appearance in the World Hockey Association, a competitor to the NHL throughout the 1970s, with the Vancouver Blades. That one game came after three years at Brown University. That one game never really led to much. Given spent time with the Southern Hockey League and the North American Hockey League over the 1975-76 and 1976-77 seasons. That 76-77 season appeared to be it for his professional career. Still, Given can say he reached one of the highest levels available at the time. Something that most of the following players cannot say.
The Non-NHL Professional Players that were Drafted and Born in New Jersey
While every draft pick comes with the hope that a player will be able to perform and contribute at the NHL, the harsh reality is that the majority of prospects don't get to that level. 23 players on my list of 43 can claim to have played the game of hockey for money, but did not play in the NHL (or have yet to do so in a few cases).
Let's run down these players who have still have a shot at playing in the NHL. Anthony DeAngelo is the only first round draft pick out of the six NJ-born first rounders who has yet to play in the NHL. He will eventually get there, the defenseman just turned professional last season. Edison's Anthony Stolarz was called up to the Philadelphia Flyers over the past two seasons as to fill in a back-up position. Stolarz made the AHL All Star game last season and was essentially Lehigh Valley's #1 goalie. Opportunity is important for any player to make it to the NHL and it's more crucial for a goaltender. I think he'll get some NHL minutes soon. Nick Ebert and Joakim Ryan, both late picks for L.A. and San Jose, respectively, have entered the AHL and appear to have settled in. Both are still on their entry level contracts, so they could be called up.
Now let's go over those that won't or didn't make it to that next level. David Kolomatis of the Toronto Marlies has been in the AHL for nearly his entire professional career. The exceptions are spending the 2014-15 in Finland and starting last season with Manchester in the ECHL. Kolomatis moved up to the Marlies, but without a NHL contract, that's as far as he'll go. He'll undoubtedly surpass Todd Copeland for having played the most AHL games among New Jersey born draftees that never made it to the NHL. Copeland, like Kolomatis, was good enough to play at the minor league level but never to get that shot at the next level. Whereas Kolomatis was a mid-to-late pick in his draft year, Copeland was 24th overall in the second round in 1986. I think the expectations were a little higher.
Moving on, Chris St. Croix and Paul Baier made their marks at the AHL level, although it was only for a couple of years. Tim Fingerhut, Ken Blum, Mike Heinke, and Mark Green ended up at the lower end - both got a cup of coffee at the AHL/ / IHL level but never stuck around there. Those four had different careers. Fingerhut played for several seasons with the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and the Colonial Hockey League. Blum also played a lot in the ECHL and Colonial Hockey League, but his career tailed off with stops in the Western Professional Hockey League (before the ECHL merge, I think), United Hockey League, and a late one-game appearance in the Federal Hockey League. Heinke had one season of pro hockey after four seasons in college where he tended net for Albany (AHL), Birmingham (ECHL), and Madison (Colonial). I'm guessing he was an emergency goalie for the minor pros and that lasted only for 1995-96. Green played two games for Port Huron in 1980-81 and that was it after four seasons with Sherbrooke in the QMJHL and two seasons of no recorded hockey. I wonder if there was an injury, a lack of interest, or something. It just looked odd. All the same, these four maybe didn't make more than a handful or even one appearance at the AHL level, but their careers varied.
The remainder of the minor or non-NHL pros didn't get beyond the ECHL. The late round picks that comprise most of that group between Tim Cook and Peter Hafner ended up like most late round picks. They got into pro hockey but didn't get particularly far. A bit of a shame that we didn't see Toms River native Chris Tschupp and North Caldwell born J.R. Prestifilippo get their fun-to-say nameplates at a higher level.
I do want to highlight the path Mike Posma took in hockey. The 1986 second rounder from Medford never made into the St. Louis organization after four years at Western Michigan. He played one season with the Utica Devils before moving onto Switzerland. We can agree to disagree on whether the AHL is a higher league the National League of Switzerland. I won't do that for the 'B' league, where Posma spent most of his career with HC Thurgau. He only appeared in the 'A' league for one season, he split time that season for eight games in the DEL (the top German league), and ended his career with EHC Chur in the NLB in a championship season. Posma may be seen as a bust of a second round pick from a NHL perspective, but he had his number retired by HC Thurgau. They certainly didn't see him as a bust.
The Non-Professional Players that were Drafted and Born in New Jersey
There are seven players in this particular subset. Three are inactive. Bryan Lonsinger and Doug Sproule were drafted in different years, but both did not continue playing after going to Harvard. Mark Carlson, an eleventh-round selection out of Lawrenceville, had a similar path only he went to the University of Massachusetts-Lowell. All three didn't do much at the NCAA level. The other four are technically active. According to this article at the Yale Daily News, Matthew Beattie missed part of his junior season and his entire senior season with injury. I don't know what the future holds for the Bulldog from Whitehouse Station; we'll find out soon enough. Anthony Brodeur is easily the most recognizable seventh round pick by the Devils in recent history. His future in pro hockey remains up in the air. After two seasons in the Q, Brodeur played in the British Columbia Hockey League, a Junior A league, with Pencticton. According to Elite Prospects, he's apparently going to the University of Ottawa for Canadian Inter-Scholastic hockey. He's still quite young at 20 years old (he'll be 21 next week) so I wouldn't rule out minor pro hockey just yet. There's higher hopes for J.J. Piccinich and Connor Clifton. Piccinich made the jump from Boston College to London of the OHL for this season. With 66 points in 60 games for the Memorial Cup winners, he'll likely go pro soon. Clifton is not taking that path. The Matawan-born defender just finished his junior season with Quinnipiac. He'll likely go to the AHL after captaining the Bobcats and finishing up college next season.
So What's Next?
Again, Cam Dineen will join this list of New Jersey born prospects. I'm admittedly not sure who else from the Garden State is up to be drafted this year. There's one other fact I do want to highlight: there is growth in the picks. We're justpast halfway through this decade and there have been ten NJ-born players drafted already. That's as many than the 1980s and just two behind the 2000s. Dineen will undoubtedly bridge that gap. I'd like to think more NJ-born players are on the way before the 2020 NHL Draft, which will be evidence of the talent coming out of this state is being more and more recognized. Could there be more done to help? Sure. More can play the game. Outreach groups should continue to reach out. Gaudreau becoming a legitimate offensive star - assuming he isn't now - would also be a big plus by way of being a star. A D-1 college hockey program that awarded scholarships is a pipe dream now but it would only add more incentive for kids here to pick up the game and aim high in the future. All the same, the Garden State has provided young players of interest and the majority have made it to professional hockey at some level. I'd like to think this will continue for the future. With two New Jersey-born players being announced to the USNTDP U-17 program for next season - Voorhees' Mattias Samuelsson and Madison's Jack DeBoer - I feel good about thinking that.
Let me know what you think about New Jersey-born drafted players. Who was the best in your opinion? Who were you surprised to learn made this list? Do you think NJ will continue to supply more drafted players in the future? Most of all: Did I miss anyone? If so, please let me know so I can add them. Please leave your answers and other thoughts about these sorts of players in the comments. Thank you for reading.