The Montreal Canadiens selected Ryan McDonagh 12th overall at the 2007 Entry Draft, the Minnesota native was just recently fresh out of high school where he lettered in both hockey and football, coming off winning the Mr. Hockey award as the stateís top hockey player, the second year in a row that the Canadiens would select a Mr. Hockey winner in the first round after picking David Fischer at 20th overall in í06.
Last year McDonagh made the jump from the USHS to the WCHA as a true freshman in what most experts will admit is the toughest conference in the NCAA with some of the top programs in the nation. Things may not gone as planned for him as he had his ups and downs but still ended up having a very solid overall that saw him pick up five goals and twelve points while also being a plus player and a regular on the PK. In addition for his efforts he was named to the WCHA All Rookie Team on Defense.
This season Ryan McDonagh has returned to Wisconsin for his sophmore year but heís playing like he doesnít want to go back as he has been one of Wisconsinís top players in two games at least, putting points on the board with five points in six games and playing a much more physical game for a player that was already known for playing the body. In the Denver series last weekend, McDonagh looked like someone from Denver stole his lunch money as he was hitting everything in site, even pushing down a player that tried to get up off the ice after McDonagh had just seconds before sent him there. In addition to playing an aggressive physical game, he also looked solid as usual in his own end and appeared to have more confidence in his offensive game, jumping up on the play when he saw fit and never got burned.
This past weekend featured a matchup of first round picks as McDonagh and his Wisconsin Badgers took on David Fischerís Minnesota Gophers. McDonagh didnít have as much of a spur in his side but he still took the body, played smart defensive hockey and even had a nice rush up ice that saw him deke one player out of his shorts and ended up with him getting a shot on net from down low. David Fischer played his usual solid brand of defensive hockey and you could usually find one or the other on just about every PK as the two are on the top PK units on their respective clubs.
For McDonagh, if he keeps up this pace, he should be a lock for Team USAís U-20 World Junior Championships squad where he should play a large role in the teamís success. In addition if McDonagh does in fact keep up this pace all season, if his team continues to struggle and he feels itís time to turn pro, he could opt to join Hamilton in the AHL at the end of the season, although at this point thatís still a long ways away and itís unknown if he or management would want to go that route, as this point it doesnít seem overly farfetched.
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