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Prospect Update: Steven Ruggiero
By Thomas Harrington
Steven Ruggiero has had an up and down development cycle, but he settled in with Lake Superior State University last season and will be with them again this coming year.
In the 2016-2017 season, Ruggiero started out in the NCAA playing for Providence College. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out and after playing in only six games, he switched leagues and played the rest of the season in the USHL for the Youngstown Phantoms. Thankfully, after a season of turmoil, Ruggiero found a home at Lake Superior State University this past season. Surprisingly enough, Lake Superior’s website lists Ruggiero as a freshman this past year, despite the fact that he has played previously in the NCAA over the previous two years. Overall, he played in 17 games for Lake Superior State and recorded one assist. While those aren’t great numbers, no defensemen on Lake Superior had good offensive numbers last season, as the leader only scored seven points.
Last year, my only goal for Ruggiero was to play as much as possible, especially after the turbulent nature of the prior season. In two years prior to this past season, Ruggiero had played in a total of 16 NCAA games, so playing in 17 total was a good step for him. However, he only played in about half of his team’s games. So from a personal standpoint, his 17 games were a great step, but missing half of his team’s games was a bit of a disappointment.
This coming season, Ruggiero will be back at Lake Superior State for a second season. Similar to last season, my first goal for him is to just play as much hockey as possible. After playing in 17 games last year, I’d like to see him approach the 30 game mark this coming season. Second, I’d like to see his offensive game start to come around a little more. While he’s a stay at home defenseman who will never put up a ton of points, if he can put up a few more points and be one of the offensive leaders from his team’s blueline, that would be a good step in his development process. If he can play in more games than he’ll likely produce more offense.
Ruggiero is not signed to a contract yet, and won’t be until he turns pro and leaves the college ranks behind. Given how few NCAA games he’s played over the last few years, he clearly hasn’t developed as much as the Ducks would have liked him to do. However, if he can play a lot of hockey over the next couple of years, hopefully, his development can get back on track. If he’s able to do that, the Ducks could decide to sign him. If not, they’ll probably hold his rights until the end of his NCAA career, and then let him go as a free agent. If the Ducks do decide to sign him, it won’t be for a number of years, and he’ll spend some time in the AHL before getting a chance at the NHL. So we won’t see Ruggiero in an Anaheim uniform for several more years, if at all.
The next prospect update will be on Jack Badini.
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August 20th, 2018