Rutger McGroarty is a 2022 NHL draft-eligible prospect who hails from Lincoln, Nebraska. Before making his way to the United States National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan, he played U15 AAA and U16 AAA hockey for the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies.
During his time with the Grizzlies, he captained the U15 AAA club and led the team with 82 goals and 160 points in 63 games. He played with 2023 draft-eligible prospect Hunter Brzustewicz and 2022 draft-eligible prospect Nathan Lewis, who both tallied over 100 points during the 2019-20 season.
In his first year at the USNTDP, McGroarty primarily played with the U17 team, accumulating 17 goals and 35 points in just 34 games. He was elevated to the U18 squad for 19 games, scoring three goals and three assists. In USHL play, he added 12 goals and 19 points in 30 games.
This past season, he enjoyed a breakout campaign with the U18 club, scoring 35 goals and 34 assists for 69 points in 54 games. In USHL play, McGroarty added 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points in 25 games.
He also captained Team USA at the U18 World Junior Championships, exploding for eight goals and nine points in just six games. McGroarty is committed to the University of Michigan in the fall.
D.O.B – March 30, 2004
Nationality – USA/Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Height – 6-foot-1
Weight –205 lbs
Position – LW/C
Handedness – Left
- Ranked #22 by CONSOLIDATED RANKING
- Ranked #40 by ELITEPROSPECTS.COM
- Ranked #12 by FCHOCKEY
- Ranked #26 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
- Ranked #36 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
- Ranked #29 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
- Ranked #22 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
- Ranked #27 by SPORTSNET
- Ranked #23 by ISS HOCKEY
- Ranked #17 by RECRUIT SCOUTING
- Ranked #26 by DOBBERPROSPECTS
- Ranked #14 by DRAFT PROSPECTS HOCKEY
- Ranked #20 by SMAHT SCOUTING
- Ranked #25 by THE PUCK AUTHORITY
McGroarty’s Style of Play
If you asked me to describe Rutger McGroarty’s offensive game in two words, it would be “gritty anticipation.” Throughout my viewings, I couldn’t help but notice how well he anticipates the play. McGroarty has a high Hockey IQ and uses that to put himself in great positions for scoring chances.
He has a nastiness to his game that will translate well to the National Hockey League. Not only is McGroarty a physical power forward, but he does a great job of reading the play and makes it easy for his teammates to send a cross-ice pass to him for a one-timer in the low slot or a backdoor tap-in.
With the puck on his stick, he has terrific speed to blow by defenders and displays excellent stick-handling in tight areas. I’ve noticed on his scoring chances where he takes the puck to the net, that McGroarty uses his quick hands to deke the goaltender before burying the puck. He also does well using his body to shield defenders from reaching the puck as he continues to drive toward the net.
If the shot isn’t there in the offensive zone, he’ll carry the puck around the back of the net with the defender chasing him, only to find an open teammate in front of the net.
Without the puck on his stick, McGroarty is tenacious. Puck retrievals are no problem for him. Dump it in, and he fearlessly goes after it. A defender retreats into his own zone, and McGroarty will go after him to take the puck away to create an odd-man scoring chance. You’ll notice in this sequence how aggressive he is as he steals the puck in his own zone. Continue to watch him after he dishes the puck off to a teammate, and McGroarty puts himself in a good spot for a one-timer on the right side of the net.
From a positional standpoint, McGroarty checks all the boxes. As noted, he does a great job of reading and anticipating the play. He seems to always be in the right spot to create scoring chances for himself or to create scoring chances for his teammates. What really stands out to me on film is that his stick is always on the ice.
As far as his shot selection, McGroarty’s excellent net presence usually gives him chances in the low slot or immediately in front of the crease. He’s not afraid to shoot it from mid-range or the blue line but mostly does it when he can feel the play breaking down or a defender closes in on him quickly.
McGroarty’s defensive positioning is rock solid. His ability to anticipate the play stands out in his own zone as well. On the penalty kill, he’ll align himself between his man in the slot, waiting for a pass down low and breaking up the play.
Puck battles in his own corner jump out on his film. Because he’s so physical, McGroarty has no problem delivering a big hit to knock the opposition off the puck. However, he has to be careful at the next level because several of his hits were called for cross-checking. With the NHL cracking down on this penalty, McGroarty will have to play smarter.
If there’s an area where he needs to improve, I’ve noticed that he will rush a pass after winning a puck battle in his own end and give it right back to the other team.
As far as shot-blocking, McGroarty will put himself in harm’s way. On one particular sequence against Czechia at the U18s, he mishandled a pass from his goaltender from behind the net. With a wide-open net and the puck on a Czechia player’s stick, McGroarty made up his for blunder with a terrific shot block.
Under normal circumstances, he utilizes his speed to provide quick coverage and his long reach to prevent the opposition from getting the desired shot on goal.
Throughout the course of my viewings, McGroarty had so many breakaway chances. It’s mostly because he reads the play so well to intercept passes and takes them the other way. Defenders have no chance against the faster McGroarty, who, more often than not, beats the goaltender.
Without the puck on his stick, he shows the ability to join the rush up-ice and through the neutral zone, and into the attacking zone. McGroarty can lead the breakout from his own zone, sending a pass to a teammate up-ice, but then he skates ahead of the play to get in position for a possible scoring chance.
I’ve noticed how he doesn’t panic with defenders closing in on him once he enters the attacking zone. Often, he will pull up and wait for help before sending a smart pass across ice. He also does this in the neutral zone to keep the play moving up-ice.
In his own zone, he exhibits the ability to stop on a dime and utilizes solid edge work and body control. When the play isn’t there in the attacking zone, he has no problem creating more time for something to develop. If there’s anywhere that he can improve here, his first few steps are somewhat slow. However, in open space, McGroarty can flat-out fly.
(All videos courtesy of InStat)