The fantasy hockey season has many seasons within a season. The off season with the draft and free agency, the post season to name a few. The month of March brings the college hockey free agent season.
There are two ways college players can become NHL free agents. The most common way is they simply were never drafted and have completed their collegiate careers. Some players of prominence who entered the NHL recently via this route include Danny DeKeyser, Tyler Bozak and Trevor van Riemsdyk. The other way is if they were drafted, but have not signed an NHL contract after four years, and their collegiate career is completed. This route is less common, but produces a higher caliber of player. Previous players who followed this pate include Blake Wheeler, Justin Schultz and Mike Reilly.
Signing a player out of college to a NHL contract is a low risk, and usually low reward strategy and one that applies to fantasy hockey as well. The rules vary from league-to-league of course, but some leagues allow waiver claims, first come first serve free agents and some require they enter the entry draft. While their offensive or fantasy ceiling may not be that high, acquiring college free agents is attractive as they are riper than players coming from junior and can make an impact on your team sooner. They require little to no time developing in the minors burning up a roster spot, and it is widely an untapped resource that produces players.
This year’s harvest does not seem to have a blue-chip prospect that will trigger a free agent frenzy of NHL suitors wooing, wineing and dining anyone. That is unless Nashville prospect Jimmy Vesey remains unsigned before July first. Vesey is Nashvilles top prospect and recently ranked 14th overall by the Hockey News in the Future Watch edition. Another potential player could be Calgary Flames former first round pick, Mark Jankowski who also remains unsigned. Matt Grzelcyk is a third potential unrestricted free agent as he has yet to sign with the Boston Bruins who drafted him in the second round of the 2012 draft. The lesser known of the three potential UFA’s Grzelcyk is a small, 5’9” 174 pound offensive defenceman who scored 10 goals and 22 points in 26 games in his final season. However, most of these players are already owned in deep keeper leagues.
One of the more prominent players was signed right out of the gate by GM Ron Francis of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Andrew Poturalski, a 22 year old centre had previously attended Buffalo Sabres training camp and this year produced 22 goals and 51 points in 35 games played to finish second overall in NCAA scoring for the University of New Hampshire. The 5’10, 190 pound sophomore has only completed his second season , but because he is 22 he is too old for the draft and became a free agent. He will start his pro career playing out this season in the AHL with Charlotte under an amateur tryout basis.
Drake Caggiula (Pronounced Ka-jewel-uh) is a 21 year old 5’10, 185 pound left wing from North Dakota. Caggiula chose to return for his senior year at UND but had undoubtedly received contract offers last summer, and was an invitee to the Buffalo Sabres camp. In his final year he finished with 19 goals and 42 points in onl