Cornell junior goaltender David LeNeveu has agreed to a multi-year contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, thus forfeiting his remaining two years of eligibility.
LeNeveu, a 2003 Hobey Baker Award finalist, was selected in the second round, 46th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. In his sophomore season with the Big Red, LeNeveu was named the ECAC Co-Player of the Year, the Ken Dryden Award winner (top goalie) and was a first-team All-ECAC pick. He was named the ECAC tournament MVP and earned first-team All-America honors as Cornell made the Frozen Four for the first time in 23 years.
“We are very proud of David and all that he has accomplished at Cornell,” Cornell coach Mike Schafer said. “It’s bittersweet for us. Losing David to Phoenix is obviously a big loss for our program, but the entire team is excited that David is getting a chance to live out his dream — a dream they all have. We believe he will work hard and be extremely successful with Phoenix and wish him all the best as he takes this step in his career.”
Earlier in the offseason, Phoenix wasn’t sure it would negotiate with LeNeveu, but the talks picked up in earnest over the last couple of weeks.
“David is one of the top young goaltending prospects in the world,” said Phoenix Coyotes general manager Mike Barnett. “He has enjoyed an outstanding two years in a top program like Cornell and we are confident that he has the skills to develop into an NHL goaltender.”
The Fernie, B.C., native led the nation in 2002-03 with a 1.20 goals against average, which set a new all-time NCAA record. LeNeveu also recorded the seventh-best save percentage of all-time at .940. For the season, he posted a mark of 28-3-1, including a school and ECAC record nine shutouts, one shy of the NCAA record.
LeNeveu was also a member of the Canadian Junior National team, which won a silver medal at the world championships in January 2003. He was the only NCAA player on the Canadian squad.
Over his career, David posted a G.A.A. of 1.29 and a save percentage of .938 over 46 games with a record of 39-5-2.
The Big Red returns two goaltenders for the 2003-04 season, senior Todd Marr and sophomore Louis Chabot.
“One door closes for the program with David moving on, but another has quickly opened for our two returning goalies,” Schafer said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for these two young men to step up and continue the tradition of goaltending excellence at Cornell.”