In what seems like a year filled with much more parody then past NCAA seasons, St. Cloud State take over the spot at the top of the USCHO Top 20 for this edition of the College Hockey Roundup.
USCHO Top 20 – As of Dec. 12th
1. St. Cloud State (35) – 12-2-1
2. Denver (8) – 9-3-4
3. Notre Dame (6) – 16-3-1
4. Clarkson (1) – 15-3-1
5. Cornell – 10-2-0
6. North Dakota – 10-5-5
7. Minnesota State – 11-5-0
8. Northeastern – 10-5-1
9. Ohio State – 10-4-4
10. Minnesota – 10-9-1
11. Providence – 10-7-1
12. Western Michigan – 10-8-1
13. Wisconsin – 10-9-2
14. Boston College – 9-7-2
15. Penn State – 11-7-2
16. New Hampshire – 9-7-1
17. Minnesota Duluth – 8-9-2
18. Colgate – 8-6-4
19. Union – 10-8-1
20. Canisius – 10-5-1
Read more: http://www.uscho.com/rankings/d-i-mens-poll/
NCHC – Cream of the Crop
Of the eight teams in the NCHC, five are currently ranked among the top 17 teams in the country. St. Cloud State continues to hold down the top spot with a record of 12-2-1, including a 7-2-1 mark in conference. Both of those losses came to the number two team in the country in Denver in November, but the Huskies will get a chance to host the Pioneers in February as the NCHC season comes to a close. Their goal differential of plus-33 is among the best in all of college hockey, and St. Cloud have seven players with five or more goals on the season. Rounding out the NCHC teams in the top 20 are North Dakota (6), Western Michigan (12) and Minnesota Duluth (17).
Top Points-Per-Game Players littered with NHL Draft picks
Of the eight players who have posted point-per-game rates of over 1.40 this season, seven are NHL property. At the top of that list? Canisius junior forward Dylan McLaughlin. The only free agent of the bunch, and potentially a name to watch as his college career unfolds, leads college hockey players with 1.67 points-per-game.
The others are more well-known names, especially for avid prospect followers. Dylan Sikura (CHI), Henrik Borgstrom (FLA), Ryan Donato (BOS), Cooper Marody (PHI), Adam Gaudette (VAN), Troy Terry (ANA) and Jake Evans (MTL) round out the top eight. Borgstrom, Gaudette and Terry have the highest prospect ceilings for fantasy purposes, but it will be exciting to watch how the rest of this group develops following their college careers.
Checking In on 2016-17 Free Agent Signings
Zach Aston-Reese (PIT) – Northeastern’s top player from a year ago signed a contract with the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and started quickly with the Pens AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. At the end of last season, Aston-Reese’s trial in the AHL included eight points in 10 games. He hasn’t been as prolific this season for the Baby Pens, with nine points in 21 games but he has shown a sandpaper side with 38 penalty minutes, ranking third on the team.
Gavin Bayreuther (DAL) – Bayreuther was one of my favorite prospects a year ago coming out of the NCAA ranks, and he has continued to impress in nearly a half season of AHL play spanning the end of the 2016-17 season and the beginning of 2017-18. In 38 AHL games for the Stars minor league affiliate, Bayreuther has scored three times and added nine assists. The New Hampshire native ranks in the top 20 of AHL rookies in both assists (6) and points (7).
Alex Iafallo (LA) – Iafallo’s rise from NCAA Champion with Minnesota-Duluth to Los Angeles Kings training camp standout has led him to play 31 games in his rookie season in the NHL. The 23-year-old has posted 10 points, while averaging over 16 minutes per night playing mostly alongside Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar.
Alex Kerfoot (COL) – On pace for nearly a 60-point season, Kerfoot has been a key player on a Colorado team that has shown marked improvement from a year ago. The former Harvard captain is one of just five Avalanche players who is averaging over three power play minutes per game, and is currently tied for third on the team with 21 points.
Will Butcher (NJD) – Last year’s Hobey Baker winner spurned the aforementioned Avalanche for the New Jersey Devils this offseason, and has been a huge part of their early season success this year. Butcher leads all Devils defensemen with 19 points in 29 games, and ranks second among rookie blueliners in the NHL. The former fifth rounder leads all NHL rookie defensemen in both assists (17) and power play points (10).
Check back in with the College Hockey Roundup later in the season to get my picks for impact NCAA players who will be joining the NHL ranks next year.
Give Kevin a follow @kleblanchockey for prospect talk and happenings.