Dartmouth sophomore Drew O’Connor had a wild ride to his first professional contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The formerly 5-foot-8 forward first played one year in the NAHL for the New Jersey Titans. Then one year in the National College Development League for the junior Boston Bruins before he received a scholarship to Dartmouth. In the process, the formerly diminutive O’Connor grew.
And O’Connor kept growing.
Now, the forward stands 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds. He just completed his sophomore year at Dartmouth, though like every other sports league, the Ivy League canceled the remainder of the hockey season due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).
In his freshman year, O’Connor was the second-leading freshman goal scorer in the nation with 17 markers. This season, he had 21 goals in 31 games.
The Penguins signed O’Conner as a college free agent just after the NHL pulled the plug on their current schedule.
“I think that a big part of joining the Penguins was their history with our college free agent and college players in general and kind of success they’ve had with those players and how they developed them,” O’Connor said on Friday via conference call. “So I think that was kind of the main selling point for me, for sure.”
Drew O’Connor Scouting Report
After a video review which consisted of highlights and the complete Jan. 11 Dartmouth vs. Boston University game courtesy of ESPN+, Pittsburgh Hockey Now began to formulate a report. We were happy to hear from a source with direct knowledge of the Penguins scouting reports, too. The source indicated many of the same things PHN saw; O’Connor is still raw. He’s growing as a player and as a human, which means he is inconsistent and often not hard on the puck.
The source indicated Penguins are excited about O’Connor’s potential and will work hard on his development.
As PHN isolated O’Connor’s play against BU, there was a lot of gliding instead of skating, a lot of space between him and his defensive responsibility, and he was not successful on the walls. Those traits specifically led to a pair of BU goals.
As you can see here:
Watch O’Connor’s motor when he saw a chance. He bolted for the loose puck, through a defender, was strong on the puck and created space. These are the attributes the Penguins want to nurture.
Against BU, O’Connor scored a pair of goals 47 seconds apart.
O’Connor knew the play before it happened. He showed good anticipation and acceleration. He bolted past a pair of would be defenders and with his momentum was able to cut away from into open space.
Sure, it was a bit of a soft goal which he won’t get in the professional leagues, but it would be have been a good chance, and likely a rebound at any level.
The final highlight is fitting as it shows the good, but also the things which Drew O’Connor needs improvement. He raced through center ice with speed and determination to enter the zone. He made a slick attempt to allude the defenseman for a Grade A scoring chance. O’Connor kept working throughout the play. And he showed good finish at the end.
The downside of the play is that his chance to finish evolved because he was coasted behind the play rather than skating hard on the backcheck. If he had skated hard, he could have broken up the breakout, but he lagged behind.
It worked out and you can see the Penguins development staff with Director of Player Development Scott Young have their work ahead of them, but they also have the raw materials to work with, too.
“Scott was great about kind of telling me how he will be able to fit in and kind of just be able to fill any role, any role that’s asked of me,” O’Connor said. “I think it was an important thing is just kind of keep developing over the next couple of years and keep improving.”