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The top 75 players to watch in the NCAA this season

Ryan Kennedy
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The top 75 players to watch in the NCAA this season

Casey Mittelstadt Author: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

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The top 75 players to watch in the NCAA this season

Ryan Kennedy
By:

The college hockey season is upon us and there are many talented prospects plying their trade there. Here are kids to keep an eye on, according to our expert

The NCAA season is here, folks. And once again, it’s time to get excited about all the prospects that will be playing for a shot at a national championship. This is the third year I’ve put together my top 75 players to watch, so let’s review the rules for everyone. First off, these are the players I am most excited to see – I’m not ranking Hobey Baker finalists. The list leans heavily towards freshman and sophomores, because I am more interested in players with NHL upside. Notably, that means that almost every player on the list is already drafted, or comes up for the draft in 2018.

Also, there is no tokenism here: some schools have five or six players on the list, some have none. I regret nothing. For all I know, the national champion this year will have zero NHL prospects on its roster and I wish them all the best. But this is my list and here’s how it went down:

 

  1. Casey Mittelstadt, C, Minnesota (BUF): The quickness and the dynamic offensive skillset has already been on display in the pre-season. Can’t wait for the real games to start for this kid.
  2. Cale Makar, D, UMass (COL): The Minutemen have struggled of late, so it will be interesting to see how much of a role the supremely skilled freshman defenseman can take on.
  3. Quinn Hughes, D, Michigan (2018): Hughes was a delight at the All-American Prospects Game and the Wolverines could use his dynamic puckmoving game.
  4. Brady Tkachuk, RW, Boston U. (2018): He’s a Tkachuk – so he’s nasty to play against, but also skilled enough to fear what he can do with the puck.
  5. Adam Fox, D, Harvard (CGY): The best player at Team USA’s summer camp, Fox is a blueline general and his Crimson have a chance to do damage.
  6. Jordan Greenway, LW, Boston U. (MIN): It’s really, really looking like Greenway will play for Team USA at the Olympics. And it’s just fun to watch his power game on any occasion.
  7. Henrik Borgstrom, C, Denver (FLA): The defending national champs return a strong squad and the talented Borgstrom will build off his fantastic freshman effort.
  8. Riley Tufte, C, Minn-Duluth (DAL): It took the big Tufte a bit to get going last year, but now that he’s in full swing, he’s going to be deadly for the Dogs.
  9. Adam Gaudette, C, Northeastern (VAN): I’m expecting a lot of points from Gaudette, a two-way force who has turned into a late-round steal for the Canucks.
  10. Dylan Sikura, C, Northeastern (CHI): Like Gaudette, Sikura is gonna pile up offense for the Huskies. Just a lot of shifty skill there.
  11. Joey Anderson, RW, Minn-Duluth (NJ): He burst onto the scene as a freshman and I would expect more of the same power this year.
  12. Grant Mismash, LW, North Dakota (NSH): One of the most prominent freshmen in Grand Forks, Mismash blends skill and aggression. He can make noise on a team that lost some big talent.
  13. Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (MTL): Decent as a freshman, Poehling looked like he was ready to get more offense during summer viewings.
  14. Keith Petruzzelli, G, Quinnipiac (DET): He’s got a big frame and a golden opportunity to nab starts as a freshman with the Bobcats.
  15. Joseph Woll, G, Boston College (TOR): Toronto’s best goalie prospect, Woll should also be one of the top netminders in the NCAA this season.
  16. David Farrance, D, Boston U. (NSH): Absolutely crushed the summer Chowder Cup league. He’s one of the most entertaining D-men out there.
  17. Jake Oettinger, G, Boston U. (DAL): He’s everything you want in an NHL goalie prospect and he’ll have a chance to shoot for a title with the Terriers.
  18. Troy Terry, C, Denver (ANA): At this point, I’m just tickled about the possibilities of how Terry is going to blow our minds next.
  19. Josh Norris, C, Michigan (SJ): The sub-plot that both his parents went to Michigan State is great. Smart, consistent and hard-working.
  20. Dylan Gambrell, C, Denver (SJ): I expect Gambrell to be one of the higher scorers in the country and this is likely his final campaign with the Pios.
  21. Mikey Anderson, D, Minn-Duluth (LA): Smooth, modern defenseman gets to play with older brother Joey in Duluth.
  22. Will Lockwood, RW, Michigan (VAN): Last season ended poorly with a shoulder injury, but Lockwood is back and his driving game will help the Wolverines.
  23. Ben Finkelstein, D, St. Lawrence (FLA): He’s coming off one of the best freshman seasons by a Saints defenseman ever. So yeah, this year will be fun.
  24. Patrick Harper, C, Boston U. (NSH): Last season’s big surprise, Harper is so dynamic and so hard to pin down due to his small frame and elusiveness.
  25. Mario Ferraro, D, UMass (SJ): The Minutemen’s other talented freshman defenseman, Ferraro is athletic and tenacious.
  26. Wade Allison, RW, Western Michigan (PHI): The big power forward returns to Kalamazoo, where the Broncos will need his scoring punch.
  27. Dante Fabbro, D, Boston U. (NSH): So smooth, so controlled. Fabbro’s two-way game will help the Terriers once again as they charge for glory.
  28. Ryan Lindgren, D, Minnesota (BOS): Another defenseman that simply does his job with excellence, Lindgren is coming back from a late-season broken leg.
  29. Max Gildon, D, New Hampshire (FLA): Big, athletic and filled with potential, Gildon will be a fun weapon for the Wildcats to deploy.
  30. Collin Adams, LW, North Dakota (NYI): He’s been a high scorer in the USHL the past two years; now it’s time to see what he can do for the Fighting Hawks.
  31. Dylan Samberg, D, Minn-Duluth (WPG): Fast-tracked to Duluth when Neal Pionk left, Samberg brings size, offense and physicality.
  32. Reilly Walsh, D, Harvard (NJ): A developing offensive defenseman, Walsh brings a lot of potential to the solid Crimson.
  33. Denis Smirnov, RW, Penn State (COL): The diminutive but deadly winger had a ton of points last year; how much higher can he go as a sophomore?
  34. Todd Burgess, C, RPI (OTT): Last year was a write-off due to a knee injury, so let’s get to some action to see what the Engineers’ new sniper can do.
  35. J.D. Greenway, D, Wisconsin (TOR): Took big strides as a freshman in Madison; now he returns with that imposing frame and a summer of development.
  36. Christopher Brown, C, Boston College (BUF): More than doubled his offensive production year-over-year for the Eagles. Can we see a point-per-game as a junior?
  37. Tyler Wall, G, UMass-Lowell (NYR): The best-named goalie around, Wall is already one of the most solid starters in the country (and he’s only a sophomore).
  38. Cameron Clarke, D, Ferris State (BOS): His freshman year was a success, but his rap sheet tells us there’s more offense waiting to be unlocked in Big Rapids.
  39. Ryan Donato, C, Harvard (BOS): The gifted coach’s son has the chance to put up some truly outstanding offensive numbers in his junior campaign.
  40. Brett Murray, LW, Penn State (BUF): Got a taste of NCAA life when he came in mid-season last year; now the towering Murray can show off his skills full-time.
  41. Shane Bowers, C, Boston U. (OTT): He’s already a polished player with two-way skills, so expect a solid season from the freshman.
  42. Mike Robinson, G, New Hampshire (SJ): Raw goalie with big upside finally making his NCAA debut after getting drafted back in 2015.
  43. Tanner Laczynski, C, Ohio State (PHI): It’s really not fun to play against Laczynski, but the Buckeyes will also get big offense from him, too.
  44. Trent Frederic, C, Wisconsin (BOS): Looked good in the summer and on a growing Badgers team, his two-way game will be important.
  45. Evan Barratt, C, Penn State (CHI): Smart, talented and competitive, the freshman gives the Nittany Lions another offensive weapon.
  46. John Marino, D, Harvard (EDM): His puckmoving game is tailor-made for today’s game and his freshman campaign was a success.
  47. Parker Foo, LW, Union (CHI): Ended his Jr. A career in Alberta strong and now he brings the family name back to the Dutchmen lineup.
  48. Morgan Barron, C, Cornell (NYR): Big, two-way freshman will get a stiff challenge from the older competition in the ECAC.
  49. Will Borgen, D, St. Cloud State (BUF): Slick puckmover needs a big junior season with the Huskies.
  50. Croix Evingson, D, UMass-Lowell (WPG): Towering freshman coming out of the NAHL plays with an edge and doesn’t mind shooting the puck.
  51. David Cotton, C, Boston College (CAR): Big-bodied producer had a nice freshman season; now it’s time to take it to the next level.
  52. Adam Huska, G, UConn (NYR): Has the ability to steal games, and based on the Huskies’ competition, he’ll have to be at his best again this year.
  53. Ross Colton, LW, Vermont (TB): Finished second in Catamounts scoring as a freshman; he’ll have to lead them this year.
  54. Ian Mitchell, D, Denver (CHI): Puckmover from the Alberta Jr. A circuit can pick up some of the slack from Will Butcher’s departure.
  55. Shane Gersich, C, North Dakota (WSH): Had a breakout offensive campaign last year and must continue his rise as a junior with NoDak.
  56. Jack Adams, RW, Union (DET): Sniper with a huge frame joins a Dutchmen team that has really been sharp in recent years.
  57. Michael Karow, D, Boston College (ARI): Incoming freshman is a strong defender with a pro-sized frame and can also chip in some offense.
  58. Luke Martin, D, Michigan (CAR): Defensive defenseman was put in a tough spot last year, but now Wolverines have more depth, which should help his growth.
  59. Colton Point, G, Colgate (DAL): Big goalie had best numbers on team as a freshman, but gets chance to be starter with Charlie Finn now graduated.
  60. Beau Starrett, C, Cornell (CHI): Towering power forward made huge leap as a sophomore, so let’s see what he can do as a junior.
  61. Rem Pitlick, C, Minnesota (NSH): Deft producer can dish and score. Freshman year was a success, but expect even more in his second year.
  62. Erik Foley, LW, Providence College (WPG): Physical and talented winger broke out as a sophomore. This year should be even better.
  63. Casey Fitzgerald, D, Boston College (BUF): Tenacious and talented blueliner saw his points drop as a sophomore. Rebound time?
  64. Mikey Eyssimont, C, St. Cloud State (LA): The Huskies’ leading scorer returns, where his hockey sense and smarts help him produce.
  65. Brian Pinho, C, Providence College (WSH): Look for the playmaking pivot to once again be atop the Friars’ leaderboard in points.
  66. Joey Daccord, G, Arizona State (OTT): Size and positioning are key to Daccord’s game and he’ll have to battle to get more wins for the Sun Devils.
  67. Jake Ryczek, D, Providence College (CHI): Undersized but cerebral puckmover comes into a great situation with the Friars.
  68. Bryce Misley, C, Vermont (MIN): Strong kid with a good frame and nice playmaking attributes will be a freshman in Burlington.
  69. Austin Poganski, RW, North Dakota (STL): Talented power forward enters his final season at ‘The Ralph.’
  70. Chad Krys, D, Boston U. (CHI): Athletic, puckmoving defenseman is coming off a nice freshman campaign with the Terriers.
  71. Chase Pearson, C, Maine (DET): Only Blaine Byron had more goals for the Black Bears last year and he’s gone, so Pearson will be key in Orono.
  72. Jonathan Kovacevic, D, Merrimack (WPG): Big-bodied defenseman was the Warriors’ top offensive threat from the blueline as a freshman.
  73. Matt Filipe, LW, Northeastern (CAR): Rugged and talented winger is coming off a very solid freshman campaign with the Huskies.
  74. Ryan Bednard, G, Bowling Green (FLA): Towering netminder will get a lot more duty as a sophomore since Chris Nell turned pro in the spring.
  75. Andrew Peeke, D, Notre Dame (CBJ): Big, two-way defenseman had a nice showing with Team USA this summer. Should improve his solid freshman numbers.
  76. (Bonus) Sean Dhooghe, RW, Wisconsin (undrafted): The kid is 5-foot-3 and 139 pounds, but plays fearless. How could I not include him?

 

(Update) I messed up with Notre Dame because of the Irish switching conferences this season. So Peeke is added on and Cam Morrison (COL) should have made the cut too. My apologies.

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The top 75 players to watch in the NCAA this season