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Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: #19 - Chase Yoder

Yoder heads into his senior season at Providence looking to make an offensive impression

COLLEGE HOCKEY: MAR 17 Hockey East Semifinals - Providence v Boston University Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The 2023 version of our Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 list rolls into the teens as we countdown the top young players in the organization.

2023 Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25: Graduates and Departed
#25: Daniel Laatsch
#24: Cooper Foster
#23: Thimo Nickl
#22: Dillon Hamaliuk
#21: Mikhail Ilyin
#20: Ty Glover

#19 Chase Yoder, center

2022 Ranking: n/a

Age: 21 (May 28, 2002)

Acquired Via: 2020 NHL Draft (Round 6 - No. 170 overall)

Height/Weight: 5’11”, 185 pounds

Elite Prospects resume:

It’s a brave new world out there, and Texas native Chase Yoder is showing that high-level hockey players are starting to pop up more and more regularly from places that in the past were hard to believe.

The youngster got in the Dallas Stars’ youth system, flourished and was selected to go to the US National Development team as a 17 and 18 year old. From there, Yoder chose to go to Providence and has been working on his game there for the past three years.

The Friars’ website summarized his season as such:

Appeared in all 37 games … boasted career-highs in goals (8), assists (7) and points (15) … landed 70 shots on goal and blocked 22 … +3 rating … career-high three assists in season-opening against Sacred Heart (10/7) … scored goals at UNH (10/28), UMass (11/4), UConn (11/11), Vermont (11/18-19), Northeastern (2/10) and Boston University (3/3) … scored game-winning overtime goal against UMass Lowell (2/17) … led the team with two shorthanded goals … 307 wins at the faceoff dot (54.5%).

You can learn a lot from that writeup and website in general. Yoder is a steady player: he hasn’t missed a game for Providence in all three seasons he’s been there. He wins faceoffs. He scores short-handed goals. Lots of little things to help a team. He’s smart on and off the ice, being named to Hockey East’s All-Academic team last season.

But he doesn’t produce a ton of points at the NCAA level, and even his highlight reel goals have a blue collar nature. Take this “Mario goal” straight off a faceoff from last March. Not the smoothest play you’ve ever seen as Yoder gets his feet tangled with an opponent and snaps a shot away as he’s falling to the ice. But it’s effective just the same.

Scoring more often is going to be necessary. Yoder doesn’t impress there, the Top Down Hockey model gives him a 0% chance, based off scoring rates compared to those that historically make it, for becoming a “full time NHLer” (that is, 200+ career games with a positive WAR%).

A hard-working, 5’11 180ish pound defensive forward from Providence puts Yoder in similar company with Brandon Tanev, who profiled similarly about a decade ago. Tanev had 23 points in his junior season (10G+13A), Yoder 15.

Pens development coach Tom Kostopolous talked about Yoder after July’s prospect camp:

“He is a very reliable centerman. Defensively, you can put him out there in any situation. He’s so trustworthy. He’s always on the defensive side of the puck, penalty killing, faceoffs. The next step for him is adding more an offensive element. He’s a natural leader. Just challenging to bring him out of that a little bit more every day and do it with a louder voice. This year, going back to Providence, just stepping up the offensive side without cheating defensively, I think he can do it.”

As Yoder told the Trib, he knows what happens next:

“I just think I stuck to my game,” Yoder said of his steady progression. “Obviously, confidence is a huge thing. I was an older guy last year so I felt more confident in my role. My coaches really allowed me to flourish, too. Gave me more ice time and gave me bigger minutes and trusted me a lot more. That allowed me to really have confidence and who I was as a player.”

“I take pride in the little things,” Yoder said. “I like to say I’m pretty good at faceoffs. Trustworthy in the (defensive) zone. I’m trying to work on my offensive game, obviously. That’s how I’ll be able to take the next step here.”

Tanev popped up to 15 goals and 28 points in his final season of NCAA, figures that Yoder would have to be ecstatic to end up with to earn an NHL contract next year.

The Penguins have to sign Yoder by next August 2024, or release his rights, so the decision is coming soon. Kyle Dubas inherited Yoder at a prospect but it remains to be seen after this NCAA season is over in March for what the next steps will be. If Yoder can keep finding the net like he did in last month’s prospect camp, it will make it an easy decision for the Pens to see what he can do as a pro.