2009 NHL Draft: Toronto Maple Leafs Select Eric Knodel 128th Overall

Staff photo by Tom Kelly IV: Former West Chester Rustin star Eric Knodel was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the 128th pick of the NHL Draft on Saturday. Knodel is the first player in the West Chester school district ever to be drafted into the NHL.

Editor's Note: I still have some NHL Draft stuff to work through including the nights out with the travelling support, meeting Alyn McCauley, and chatting with Damien Cox. Since we are in the dog days of summer there's really no need to hurry so it'll come out as I motivate myself to put fingers to keyboard. Here's some information about the Leafs' 128th overall selection Eric Knodel.

I didn't get to speak to Eric Knodel at the draft because he wasn't there. A player that was hoping to get selected in the 6th or 7th round rarely shows up because no one wants to be Christian Hanson who was followed by television cameras and never selected. Mere seconds after the selection I got a text from Chemmy: "Kid's got a blog." Sure enough, he had one detailing his hockey career which has subsequently been deleted likely because it also had his phone number listed. His profile was as follows:

Philadelphia Jr. Flyers Midget Major AAA - 6'6" 225# - Defense- Left Shot - NCAA Clearinghouse- #0810631814 NHL Central Scouting 2009 Final Ranking Flyers Cup Finalist- 2008 - Flyers Cup- 2008 First Team All Tournament Team- Defense - 2007-2008- All Southeast Pa.- Breakaway Magazine - 2007-2008-First Team All-Area- Defense - 2007-2008-First Team All League-ICHSL - 2007-First Team All League Ches-Mont Baseball - 2007 All Area Baseball - 2007- All Southeast Pa. - 2009 Flyers Cup Champion 2009 Flyers Cup All Tournament Team 2009 Pennsylvania State Champion 2006- Bronze Medalist- 16U USA Hockey National Tournament - 2005- Participant 14U USA Hockey National Tournament

The Daily Local News (obviously they believe in truth in advertising) had a good interview with the rangy defender about his surprise at getting drafted and his plans for the future. Some highlights:

About 'the call':

"They told me they were excited they had the chance to take me," Knodel said, recalling the life-changing conversation. "They told me they were happy and wanted to see me grow and keep getting better."

On his future mentor:

"They are a great organization," said Knodel, who couldn't hide his excitement. "They have a lot of good defensive talent in their system with guys like (Luke) Schenn. I couldn't be more excited to be a part of it."

About his immediate plans:

"We had talked a number of times," he said. "I made it clear that college was something I really wanted to do and they were fine with that."

Eric Knodel is at the very minimum two years away from making his debut. As noted in the Daily Local News article, this coming season Knodel will be patrolling the blueline for the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL East Division. The Bucs are coming off of two horrible seasons that saw them rack up just 12 and 14 wins. Despite the recent futility it does seem that Des Moines has a strong history of getting players to some of the top NCAA Division 1 programs including seven that have gone on to play for the Boston University Terriers (Boston College Sucks)

McKeen's Hockey produced the following blurb on Knodel for Rivals.com which notes that he's been making marked improvements in the weaker areas of his game:

Eric Knodel is a 1990 DOB with great size (6-6, 220). After viewing him in early fall, Knodel looked to be a raw project, but his solid weekend showing at the recent Beantown Spring Classic proved that he is starting to come together nicely and making great strides in his game. His biggest improvement has been his skating along with making strong, quick passes up the ice. He showed the ability to make the stretch pass and has good vision. Knodel has a quick shot from the point with decent accuracy. He uses his long reach to his advantage but also is willing to be physical along the boards.

What else can Knodel do? Well, coming from a team called the Jr. Flyers you know that there is one aspect of his game that is already well developed and it's not playing with a concussion:

Eric is the kid that is at least a head taller than everyone else and is working on punching all of the blood out of his poor misguided opponent. Knodel will be interesting to follow this year to see how he copes with the jump in competition as well as whether his offensive skills translate to the better league. As the calendar turns we'll hopefully get a better idea of what college program he is leaning towards joining. At this point we might be as many as five years away from seeing him suit up in the blue and white for an NHL game but that leaves us plenty of time to discuss his potential, equivalencies, and role for the club before we have to crash down to earth!

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