The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

The independent student newspaper of Northeastern University

The Huntington News

Incoming freshman Joe Connor earns a spot in 2024 NHL Draft

Joe+Connor+on+the+ice+for+the+USHL+Muskegon+Lumberjacks.+Drafted+to+the+Tampa+Bay+Lightning+in+the+final+round+of+the+NHL+draft%2C+the+incoming+freshman+will+play+for+Northeastern+come+fall.+Photo+courtesy+Muskegon+Lumberjacks.
Joe Connor on the ice for the USHL Muskegon Lumberjacks. Drafted to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final round of the NHL draft, the incoming freshman will play for Northeastern come fall. Photo courtesy Muskegon Lumberjacks.

Northeastern University incoming freshman Joe Connor was selected 195th by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2024 NHL Draft Saturday night. 

After re-entering the draft following a shortfall in his first year of eligibility, the 19-year-old was the Huskies’ sole selection in the draft, picked second in the seventh and final round in the league’s 62nd annual entry draft. 

The Amherst, N.H. native attended high school at Avon Old Farms School, an all-boys prep school, in Avon, Conn. where he grew into his identity as a sniper with a heavy shot. After posting three points in just two appearances as a freshman, Connor became a scoring leader on the team, with 27 points in 26 games as a sophomore ballooned to 44 points in 28 games his junior season. 

That year, he also began a two-year stint with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League, or USHL, after being drafted late in the 2021 USHL Entry Draft. Splitting his time between high school and junior hockey only allowed him 12 games (six points) with the Lumberjacks, but he devoted his full time to them for the 2023-24 season. 

In his pre-draft year, Connor put up 60 points (31 goals, 29 assists) in 50 games with a team-high 19.4 shot percentage. He was second on the team in points per game (1.20) and led the team in game-winning goals (8). On top of that, he was +25 on the ice, a powerful two-way forward and a big offensive asset on special teams with nine goals and seven assists on the power play and one goal and three assists short-handed.

Connor carried this momentum into the USHL playoffs, where he notched five points, including three goals, in eight games. 

His impressive run in juniors also earned him spots on the USA U18 and U19 teams, where he continued to turn heads, tallying three points in four games of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in 2022 and 10 points in six games of the World Junior A Championship in 2023. 

Following his NHL draft selection, Connor was one of 32 players invited to the Lightning’s 2024 Development Camp that began July 2.

Connor will enter Northeastern University this fall, where his two-way play should come in handy to a team which seeks to rediscover its identity following an up-and-down 2023-24 season.

While at first glance one late re-entry draft pick may seem less than ideal for the Huskies, Connor’s USHL draft selection and ensuing performance shows he’s been underestimated before. At 5-foot-10, 174 lbs, what Connor lacks in stature, he makes up for in speed and power, and he promises to be an asset at the collegiate level come fall.

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About the Contributor
Amelia Ballingall
Amelia Ballingall, Sports Editor
Amelia Ballingall is a third-year speech language pathology and audiology major. She is sports editor for The News and previously served as deputy sports editor and deputy design editor. She is also vice president of membership development for Delta Phi Epsilon, the social media manager for Speech and Hearing Club and a Student Success Guide on campus. Amelia is looking forward to another great semester with The News!