With college starting over the last couple weeks in the States, college hockey is just over a month away from getting cranked back up. Throughout the season, I'll have college hockey articles on DobberProspects just like last year, the first week of each month, keeping you up to date on the happenings en route to the Frozen Four.
We will save team breakdowns for the first post of the season, but I figured with the news of Alex Kerfoot's signing with the Avalanche and Will Butcher still deciding where he'll play his professional hockey (rumored as NJD, BUF & VGK), it was a good time to talk about some of the freshmen who will be beginning their college careers in October after being drafted in 2017.
The First Rounders
Cale Makar – UMass-Amherst
The fourth overall pick in 2017 will take a nearly 4,000 mile trip from Brooks, Alberta to Amherst, Massachusetts this fall, and he will bring with him his dynamic offensive talent. The Minutemen finished dead last in Hockey East in 2016-17, winning just two of 22 games in conference and just five of 36 games overall. Makar is the biggest recruit that the program has had in some time, and he should immediately help improve on their 66 goals for a season ago and their -66 goal differential.
Casey Mittelstadt – Minnesota
Unlike the cross continent trek that Makar will take to play his hockey, Mittelstadt will be playing right in his own backyard. The Eden Prarie native will take the ice 20 minutes away in Minneapolis, as Minnesota's Mr. Hockey and in front of friends and family each game. Along with incoming USNTDP products Nate Knoepke and Scott Reedy, Mittelstadt and the Gophers will look to defend their 2017 Big Ten regular season title and avenge their 2OT loss in the conference tournament semi-finals to Penn State. Mittelstadt should be one of the highest scoring freshmen in college hockey this season.
Josh Norris – Michigan
The San Jose draftee joins the Michigan Wolverines this fall, and he will try and help the maize and blue return to their normal place of prominence among college hockey's elite. Michigan had a down year last season, finishing fifth in the Big Ten with a overall record of 13-19-3. The freshman forward put up 61 points in 61 games for the USNTDP in 2016-17 and was a point-per-game player at the U18's.
Shane Bowers – Boston University
Although BU's recruiting class isn't as star studded as last season, Bowers is another first round pickup for the Terriers. The Nova Scotia native posted 51 points in 60 games for Waterloo in the USHL a season ago, and will join fellow first rounders Dante Fabbro (NSH-'16) and Jake Oettinger (DAL-'17) in Boston. BU should again be among the nations elite with 12 NHL draftees on their roster.
Best of the Rest (in terms of fantasy value)
Dylan Samberg – D – Minnesota-Duluth – '16-'17 Stats (USHS) 43 GP – 15 G, 25 A
Mario Ferraro – D – UMass-Amherst – '16-'17 Stats (Des Moines – USHL) 60 GP – 8 G, 33 A
Ian Mitchell – D – Denver –