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Could Approach Record No. of NCAA-Bound 1st Rounders
As far as USA Hockey is concerned, the 2016 NHL Entry Draft remains its greatest accomplishment. Eleven Americans went in the first 30 picks in 2016, including No. 1 overall Auston Matthews.
For college hockey, it was an equally significant year with 11 players, both American and Canadian hearing their name called in Buffalo that June. This Friday (from Vancouver, 8 p.m. ET) won't result in quite the same number of Americans or college hockey players going in the now first 31 selections. However, as many as five players expected to play college hockey in 2019-2020 should hear their names called in the first dozen picks made from Vancouver with another handful likely to joing them before the first round ends.
Consensus No. 1 prospect Jack Hughes will go to the New Jersey Devils as most have forcasted for the last few years. Hughes, of course, is the brother of former Michigan star and current Vancouver Canuck Quinn Hughes.
Hughes' talents mean he'll bypass college hockey entirely. He is set to become the eighth American taken atop the NHL Draft and the first since Matthews in 2016. To follow, plenty of Hughes' teammates from the U.S. National Development program, as well as a few players from the USHL and BCHL, should result in a great showing for college hockey's 2019 rookie class in the NHL Draft.
On Wednesday, College Hockey News published a look at some of the players likely to go in the lower rounds of this weekend's draft. Below is a look at the players whose names you can expect to hear Friday or early Saturday.
Alex Turcotte, Center, U.S. NTDP
5-foot-11, 186 pounds
College commitment: Wisconsin
Russell Wilson Black Jersey Wilson Jersey Russell Midterm ranking: 5
Final ranking: 4
The Wisconsin-bound center dealt with both injury problems and Hughes shadow in his draft-eligible season. Even still, he emerged as a dominant player for the U.S. NTDP and a clear top-10 talent for Friday's draft. He's a true center with a diverse skill-set, excelling in all three zones from a young age. Turcotte plays the game with speed and confidence. His hockey sense means he can slow the game down just as well.
For Wisconsin, Turcotte should step right in and give the Badgers the kind of presence in the middle of the ice that can help Badger coach Tony Granato get his program back where he wants it after five straight seasons without an NCAA Tournament appearance. UW returns most of it scoring punch from last season. Turcotte — along with a couple other players expected to be drafted this weekend — will be an immediate difference-maker in Madison.
Trevor Zegras, Center, U.S. NTDP
6-foot, 173 pounds
College commitment: Boston University
Midterm ranking: 7
Final ranking: 6
On scoring talent alone, Zegras is good enough to be top-10 pick. There's even more to Zegras game, though, and it'll be a welcomed addition to any NHL team's system and Boston University's lineup next season. Zegras is a relentless force when he wants the puck. He's a dangerous one when he has it.
Like Turcotte, Zegras didn't receive the kind of attention players as skilled as him do because of Hughes. NHL scouts still took immediate notice. Every forward coming out of the NTDP has elite scoring talent. The rest of Zegras' game helped him stand out. BU has attracted as much talent as any program in the country in the last five years. The results have been mixed at times. Zegras is another 18-year-old star for BU coach Albie O'Connell. He brings much more than a promising future, though.
Cole Caufield, Right Wing, U.S. NTDP
5-foot-7, 163 pounds
College commitment: Wisconsin
Midterm ranking: 15
Final ranking: 8
Sure, Cole Caufield got to play next to Hughes for the last couple seasons. But the 5-foot-7 dynamo demostrated he's so much more than a nice complement. One of the most naturally gifted goal-scorers in the dradt, Caufield scored 72 goals in 64 games for the U-18s last season. Like Turcotte, he heads to Wisconsin in the fall to continue his development and will give the Badgers an instant threat.
The only real knock on Caufield's game is his size. It seems, finally, scouts have gotten over their idiotic obsession with size. His presence in the top 10 of the final CSS Rankings is proof enough. His shot is both powerful and precise. He skates with ease and explosion. Expect to see plenty of highlights coming from Wisconsin's Twitter account on Friday and Saturday nights next winter as Caufield enjoys a dominant freshman campaign.
Matthew Boldy, Left Wing, U.S. NTDP
6-foot-2, 196 pounds
College commitment: Boston College
Midterm ranking: 6
Final ranking: 9
Boldy heads to Boston College in the fall. He'll be part of one of the nation's deepest recruting classes. (You'll hear about a couple of his classmates in a moment.) The big winger has soft hands and the kind of vision expected from a prized-BC recruit. His biggest area of improvement in the last few years has come from his skating, transforming a choppy stride into a longer, smoother one to take advantahe of his size and make him harder to defend in tight space and more dangerous when he has open ice.
Boldy will get a first-hand at what a modern power forward looks like in his future BC teammate David Cotton. The senior and all-American arrived at BC as a raw but clearly gifted forward. Last year, he was one of the nation's best players despite a largely unsuccessful season for BC overall. Boldy and his classmates will be charged with helping BC — once the class of college hockey — re-emerge as a national contender after three straight years outside the NCAA Tournament and its first losing season since 1996-97.
Spencer Knight, Goalie, U.S. NTDP
6-foot-4, 193 pounds
College Commitment: Boston College
Midterm ranking: 1
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If there were a separate draft just for goaltenders, Knight would as clear a No. 1 pick as Hughes. He will step right into the net for BC next fall with Joe Woll forgoing his senior season to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He'll also immediately become the No. 1 goaltending prospect in any NHL system when he hears his name called on Friday.
There has only been one goaltender selected in the first rounds of the last three drafts combined. But Knight's promise and his impressive resume as an amateur have plenty of teams considering a selection earlier than we've seen in recent years. The last goaltender drafted in the top 10 was Carey Price went No. 5 in 2005. A goalie hasn't gone in the top 15 since the Dallas Stars selected Jack Campbell at No. 11 in 2010. Knight seems different, however, and he could be another first-rounder on the ice at the Heights next winter.
Cam York, Defenseman, U.S. NTDP
5-foot-11, 172 pounds
College commitment: Michigan
Midterm ranking: 12
Final ranking: 12
York is the latest in a long line of dominant two-way defensemen to come from the NTDP in recent years. Originally a BC commit, York will head to Ann Arbor in the fall to play for Mel Pearson's Wolverines. While he's not quite the prospect Quinn Hughes was in his time at Yost Ice Arena, York will give Michigan a lot of the same traits at the college level without the blazing speed and flash.
While a few of his NTDP teammates will go in the top 10, York is more likely for the middle of the first round. His passing and vision are his greatest strengths offensively. Defensively, his offensive slant has never posed much of an issue. He plays the positon the way modern blue-liners have to, relying on his feet and his head to defend. A few years in college hockey will help him add strength as well.
Alex Newhook, Center, Victoria (BCHL)
5-foot-10, 192 pounds
College commitment: Boston College
Midterm ranking: 16
Final ranking: 13
The only Canadian among the likely college hockey first-rounders, Newhook led the BCHL in scoring last season with the Victoria Grizzlies. His 38 goals were third in the league. His 64 assists were 18 more than any other player in the league. Like most dominant amateur centers, Newhook controls games with his skill, speeding up and slowing down as his vision dictates.
The Newfoundlander will slot in well on BC's depth chart, giving the Eagles a much-needed top six center. His dominance of the BCHL saw him jump on the CSS Rankings. However, some remain a bit dubious of his true potential, so falling to the bottom third of the first round isn't out of the question.
Bobby Brink, Forward, Sioux City (USHL)
5-foot-8, 165 pounds
College commitment: Denver
Midterm ranking: 29
Final ranking: 19
One of the players that's inched up rankings and draft boards in the last few months, Brink has gone from a likely second-round pick to a lock for the first round after a dominant season in the USHL with Sioux City. His 35 goals and 33 assists turned plenty of heads and helped him overcome the distaste some still have for smaller forwards. Brink skates with ease and changes direction with comical grace. He is a dominant offensive player in every sense, scoring and creating as well as almost anyone in the draft.
He'll fit in well with David Carle's Denver team and provide some badly needed scoring punch. The Pioneers were a shot away from their second national championship game in three years, so it's difficult to say they badly need anything. However, scoring was a problem at times. Brink — along with 2018 draft pick Ryan O'Reilly (not the 2019 Conn Smythe winner) — highlight a freshman class that will help DU continue as one of the nation's top programs. Brink graduated from high school in just three years and will be one of the youngest players in college hockey next fall. He was initially slated to arrive at DU in 2020-21.
After this initial group of eight, there are a handful of players who could figure into the bottom of the first round into the second round. Below are the remaining players with college commitments listed on the final CSS Rankings for North American skaters and goaltenders along with their position and the team they played for in 2018-19.
28. Shane Pinto, Forward, North Dakota, Lincoln (USHL)
33. Ryan Johnson, Defenseman, Minnesota, Sioux Falls (USHL)
35. John Farinacci, Center, Harvard, Dexter (Massachusetts)
36. Jackson Lacombe, Defenseman, Minnesota, Shattuck St. Mary's (Minnesota)
38. Alex Vlasic, Defenseman, Boston University, U.S. NTDP
39. Henry Thrun, Defenseman, Harvard, U.S. NTDP
40. Braden Doyle, Defenseman, Boston University, Lawrence Academy (Massachusetts)
43. Alexander Campbell, Forward, Clarkson, Victoria (BCHL)
46. Drew Helleson, Defenseman, Boston College, U.S. NTDP
48. Jayden Struble, Defenseman, Northeastern, St. Sebastian's (Massachusetts)
49. John Beecher, Forward, Michigan, U.S. NTDP
52. Anthony Romano, Forward, Clarkson, Sioux Falls (USHL)
53. Robert Mastrosimone, Forward, Boston University, Chicago (USHL)
60. Grant Silanoff, Forward, Notre Dame, Cedar Rapids (USHL)
61. Marshall Warren, Defenseman, Boston College, U.S. NTDP
62. Layton Ahac, Defenseman, Ohio State, Prince George (BCHL)
67. Judd Caulfield, Forward, North Dakota, U.S. NTDP
68. Domenick Fensore, Defenseman, Boston University, U.S. NTDP
69. Michael Koster, Defenseman, Minnesota, Chaska (Minnesota)
70. Zachary Jones, Defenseman, Massachusetts, Tri-City (USHL)
73. Patrick Moynihan, Forward, Providence, U.S. NTDP
75. William Francis, Defenseman, Minnesota-Duluth, Cedar Rapids (USHL)
76. Ronnie Attard, Defenseman, Western Michigan, Tri-City (USHL)
77. Case McCarthy, Defenseman, Boston University, U.S. NTDP
78. Ethan Phillips, Center, Boston College, Sioux Falls (USHL)
80. Harrison Blaisdell, Forward, North Dakota, Chilliwack (BCHL)
82. Jack Malone, Forward, Cornell, Youngstown (USHL)
83. Tyce Thompson, Forward, Providence, Providence (Hockey East)
84. Massimo Rizzo, Forward, North Dakota, Penticton (USHL)
85. Maxwell Crozier, Defenseman, Providence, Penticton (USHL)
86. Joshua Nodler, Forward, Michigan State, Fargo (USHL)
87. Cade Webber, Defenseman, Boston University, Rivers Academy (Massachusetts)
88. Cooper Moore, Defenseman, North Dakota, Brunswick Prep (Connecticut)
89. Bryce Brodzinski, Forward, Minnesota, Blaine (Minnesota)
90. Aaron Huglen, Forward, Minnesota, Roseau (Minnesota)
93. Owen Lindmark, Forward, Wisconsin, U.S. NTDP
97. Ryder Donovan, Forward, Wisconsin, Duluth East (Minnesota)
98. Rhett Pitlick, Forward, Minnesota, Chaska (Minnesota)
105. Quinn Olson, Forward, Minnesota-Duluth, Okotoks (AJHL)
106. Garrett Pinoniemi, Forward, Minnesota, Holy Family (Minnesota)
108. Eric Ciccolini, Forward, Michigan, Toronto (OJHL)
109. Austen Swankler, Forward, Michigan, Sioux Falls (USHL)
110. Michael Gildon, Forward, Ohio State, U.S. NTDP
111. Jackson Millar, Defenseman, Colorado College, Cedar Rapids (USHL)
112. Sam Stange, Forward, Wisconsin, Eau Claire North (Wisconsin)
114. Jeremie Bucheler, Defenseman, Northeastern, Victoria (BCHL)
115. Benjamin Brinkman, Defenseman, Minnesota, Minnesota (Big Ten)
116. Ryan Siedem, Defenseman, Harvard, Central Illinois (USHL)
119. Trevor Janicke, Forward, Notre Dame, Central Illinois (USHL)
120. Hunter Skinner, Defenseman, Western Michigan, Lincoln (USHL)
121. Nikita Nesterenko, Forward, Brown, Lawrenceville High (New Jersey)
122. Nick Abruzzese, Forward, Harvard, Des Moines (USHL)
124. Kevin Wall, Forward, Penn State, Chilliwack (BCHL)
129. Keighan Gerrie, Forward, Bowling Green, Thunder Bay (SIJHL)
130. Zach Uens, Defenseman, Merrimack, Wellington (OJHL)
131. Tomas Mazura, Forward, Providence, Kimball Union (New Hampshire)
133. Matthew Stienburg, Forward, Cornell, St. Andrew's College (Ontario)
134. Marc Del Gaizo, Defenseman, Massachusetts, Massachusetts (Hockey East)
Russell Wilson Black Jersey Wilson Jersey Russell 137. Luke Bast, Defenseman, North Dakota, Brooks (AJHL)
139. Ben Meehan, Defenseman, UMass-Lowell, Dexter (Massachusetts)
143. Jami Krannila, Forward, St. Cloud State, Sioux Falls (USHL)
144. Arlo Merritt, Forward, Ohio State, Kimball Union (New Hampshire)
147. Joshua Luedtke, Defenseman, Denver, Minnetonka (Minnesota)
150. Matej Blumel, Forward, Connecticut, Waterloo (USHL)
154. Christopher Giroday, Defenseman, Western Michigan, Green Bay (USHL)
155. Brendan Budy, Forward, North Dakota, Tri-City (USHL)
157. Carter Berger, Defenseman, Connecticut, Victoria (BCHL)
163. Malik Alishalov, Defenseman, Connecticut, Westminster (Connecticut)
167. Ethan Leyth, Forward, Quinnipiac, Langley (BCHL)
173. Cade Alami, Defenseman, Providence, Berkshire (Massachusetts)
176. Nate Warner, Forward, Minnesota, St. Cloud Cathedral (Minnesota)
177. John Beaton, Forward, Rensselaer, Kemptville (CCHL)
178. Spencer Meier, Defenseman, St. Cloud State, St. Cloud State (NCHC)
180. Jackson Jutting, Forward, Colorado College, Prior Lake (Minnesota)
183. Lynden Breen, Forward, Maine, Central Illinois (USHL)
184. Tyler Spott, Defenseman, Northeastern, Green Bay (USHL)
185. Tyler Young, Forward, Providence, Lawrence Academy (Massachusetts)
191. Kyle Bettens, Forward, Bemidji State, Steinbach (MJHL)
193. Simon Mack, Defenseman, Penn State, Brockville (CCHL)
195. Jack Jensen, Forward, Minnesota, Eden Prairie (Minnesota)
196. Kade Bohlsen, Forward, Nebraska-Omaha, Fargo (USHL)
197. Kirby Proctor, Defenseman, Nebraska-Omaha, Des Moines (USHL)
201. Zachary Okabe, Forward, St. Cloud State, Grande Praire (AJHL)
203. Michael Vorlicky, Defenseman, Wisconsin, Edina (Minnesota)
205. Jonthan Sorenson, Forward, Minnesota, Fairbanks (NAHL)
207. Jack Ring, Forward, New Hampshire, Boston Advantage (USMAAAE)
210. Parker Ford, Forward, Providence, Sioux City (USHL)
211. Alex Steeves, Forward, Notre Dame, Notre Dame (Big Ten)
212. Mason Snell, Defenseman, Penn State, Penticton (BCHL)
215. Ty Glover, Forward, Western Michigan, Buffalo (OJHL)
1. Spencer Knight, Boston College, U.S. NTDP
4. Cameron Rowe, North Dakota, U.S. NTDP
9. Cole Brady, Arizona State, Janesville (NAHL)
11. Ethan Haider, Clarkson, Minnesota (NHAL)
12. Carter Gylander, Colgate, Sherwood Park (AJHL)
13. Isaiah Saville, Nebraska-Omaha, Tri-City (USHL)
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15. Gabriel Carriere, Vermont, Kanata (CCHL)
19. Jonathan Williams, Michigan State, Springfield (NAHL)
24. Matthew Davis, Denver, Spruce Grove (AJHL)
26. Alexandros Aslanidis, Providence, Avon Old Farms (Connecticut)
29. Derek Mullahy, Harvard, Dexter (Massachusetts)
31. Ben Kraws, Miami, Sioux City (USHL)