NCAA Update: January

Brendan Ferry

2023-01-10

We have just witnessed a unique portion of the NCAA hockey season, somewhat akin to years past, when NHL players would leave their teams to compete in the Winter Olympics for their native countries. Some of the top talent in college hockey has been competing in the World Juniors tournament over the course of the past couple of weeks. As in last year’s U20 World Juniors, Canada reigned supreme, with a three to two overtime victory over Czechia. The United States defeated Sweden for Bronze.


The key difference in this scenario, however, is that the NCAA season continues, despite all of the top-end talent bolting campus for a brief time in order to take part in the competition. Various programs throughout the nation have now weathered the storm that was caused by their depleted rosters, and will now look to sharpen
up their games for the second half of their seasons.


Let’s take a look at the names of some undrafted collegiate players who are potentially garnering NHL interest with their strong play this season:


Goalies:


Luke Pavicich, UMass


The 20- year- old New York native has good size, at 6’3” and 190 pounds. In 15 games for the Minutemen this year, the netminder has posted a strong .931 save percentage and a very respectable 2.30 GAA, along with a 7-5-3 record. He has gotten the lion’s share of the starts in net for a UMass team also featuring 21- year- old New Jersey Devils draftee, Cole Brady. Although they still boast a number of NHL draft picks, this represents the weakest squad for the team from Amherst in the last number of years, lending even more credence to the statistics posted by their number one goalie, who also happens to wear that same number on his sweater!

Yaniv Perets, Quinnipiac University


The 22- year- old Perets, a native of Canada, in his third season with the Bobcats, has been impressive, posting a stingy 1.65 GAA and a stellar .923 save percentage in 21 games this year, to go along with a 17-1-3 record. Last year, his stats were even more staggering, with a 1.17 GAA and a .939 save percentage. One would think that an NHL GM somewhere would be inclined to offer up a contract to this young man.

Ian Shane, Cornell

Netminder Ian Shane, 22, a California native, has put up impressive numbers over the course of two seasons for the Big Red. In 14 games played in 2022-2023, Cornell’s backstop has posted a very nice 1.49 GAA and a .927 save percentage, after posting a 1.72 GAA and a .933 save percentage a year ago.

Defensemen:


Jake Livingstone, Minnesota State


Livingstone, a right- handed defenseman from British Columbia with very good size at 6’3” and 205 pounds, is in his third season with the Mavericks, where he has posted 21 points in 22 games played. Last season, he gathered 31 points in 44 games played, and has impressed on the back end for the Mavs. Righty defensemen are always in demand, so expect Livingstone to garner some interest from NHL clubs.

Forwards


Ryan McAllister and Jason Polin, Western Michigan


McAllister, tops in the nation in points with 38, is in his first NCAA season, after spending parts of three seasons in the AJHL. He also appeared in 37 games in the BCHL in 2019-2020, before jumping over to the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, one time home of Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche. The Ontario native, although a bit undersized, has teamed up with Polin, Florida Panthers draft pick Carter Berger, Anaheim Ducks selection Jack Perbix, and a few others, to lead the way for WMU. Polin, the NCAA leader in goals with 19, including five hat tricks, is a well-rounded player with a great work ethic. The Michigan native has steadily built his point- per-game average over the course of his four seasons with the Broncos, and is the team Captain in this, his senior season.

Parker Ford, Providence College


Ford, the diminutive but speedy Rhode Island native, possesses a solid overall game, and has posted 15 points in 21 games played this year for the Friars. He will likely be under consideration by at least a few NHL clubs for an entry level contract this summer.

Collin Graf and Jake Quillan, Quinnipiac

Graf, a 20- year- old Massachusetts native, can play both Center and Right Wing. After a nice introductory season in college hockey during the 2021-2022 campaign with Union College, he transferred to Quinnipiac, where he has scored 30 points in 21 games played. Quillan is a 20- year- old Center iceman, hailing from Nova Scotia. After a meager point output during 2021-2022 with the Bobcats, he has burst onto the scene this year, with 22 points in 21 games played.

Disclaimer: this is, by no means, an exhaustive list. In fact, every year, there are some UDFA signings made by NHL clubs that surprise us, or that catch even the most in-tune fans completely off- guard.

Next, a list of notable unsigned draft picks who can become unrestricted free agents this summer if they don’t come to terms on a contract with the clubs by whom they were drafted. This is the list that fans of these respective teams are nervous to look at, while fans of other organizations can start pondering a player or two that their team might be able to pry away from their draft teams:


Anaheim Ducks: Jackson LaCombe, D


The University of Minnesota standout defenseman, who is a point-per-game player thus far this season, after putting up 30 points in 39 games played last year, will be
free to hit the open market this summer if unable to come to terms with the Ducks at the end of his college season. Of course, the rebuilding Anaheim organization will be
making every attempt to get the 39 th pick from the 2019 draft locked up to his ELC immediately after the Gophers’ season has ended.

Buffalo Sabres: Ryan Johnson, D


Johnson, the last pick of the first round of the 2019 draft, a pick that was acquired in the Ryan O’Reilly trade, is another University of Minnesota defenseman who is a potential UFA this summer. Like LaCombe, he is a veteran of the US World Junior team, competing at both the U19 and U20 levels (LaCombe participated only in U20). Although plenty talented on the back end with former first overall picks Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power, the still-building Sabres organization is surely doing whatever they can to get the talented blueliner signed.

Carolina Hurricanes: Dominick Fensore, D

Fensore was the Hurricanes’ 90 th pick of the 2019 draft, and is a standout defenseman for Boston University. The left-shot defender is having a very nice season for the Terriers, with 16 points in 18 games played. Last season, he posted 31 points in 35 games for BU. Fensore is another former National team player, appearing for the United States at the U17 and U18 levels.

Chicago Blackhawks: Jake Wise, C


Wise, a 3 rd round pick at the 2018 draft, plays for Ohio State University after transferring from Boston U. The center iceman was a member of the Terriers from the 2018-2019 season to the 2020-2021 season, before deciding to head West to Buckeye country. This season, he is a point-per-game player with 21 points in 21 games played, after he posted 28 points in 35 games for OSU last season. Does the Massachusetts native wish to wait out his signing window and sign with a more competitive team, perhaps closer to home, or will he embrace the opportunity to suit up for the rebuilding Hawks?

Detroit Red Wings: Robert Mastrosimone, LW


Arizona State’s Mastrosimone, formerly with Boston University for three seasons, was the 54 th pick of the 2019 NHL entry draft. The diminutive left-shot winger is yet another USA alumnus, having appeared in various tournaments during the 2016- 2017, 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 seasons. The well-traveled Long Island, New York native is facing a big decision this summer, after relocating to the desert to play for the Sun Devils this season. He has registered 24 points in 22 games for ASU thus far this season.

Ottawa Senators: Johnny Tychonick, D


The left-shot Alberta native was Ottawa’s 48 th pick in the 2018 draft. After playing for the University of North Dakota for two seasons, he transferred to the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he has finally busted through offensively this season after some modest point totals the last few seasons, posting 17 points in 20 games played thus far for the Mavericks. One would assume that the building Senators organization will assuredly try to get him to sign on the dotted line this summer before his rights expire.

Philadelphia Flyers: Jay O’Brien, C


O’Brien, the 19 th overall pick for the Flyers in 2018, has played the last three seasons with Boston University, after stints with Providence College and then the BCHL’s Penticon Vees, a pretty uncommon post-draft path. After posting 22 points in 24 games played during 2021-2022 with the Terriers, his points-per-game average has actually dipped a bit this year, with 12 points in 17 games, including only two goals.

San Jose Sharks: Magnus Chrona, G


A fifth round pick in 2018, Sharks prospect Chrona plays for the University of Denver. In four years at the school, the big Swede has posted a sub- 2.50 GAA, with his best being last year’s impressive 2.11 GAA. In 17 games played for the Pioneers this season, he has a 2.29 GAA with a .909 save percentage. As San Jose has been a bit shaky between the pipes for the last few seasons, you can be sure that they are going to go all out to get him under contract before he is able to walk away.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Max Crozier, D


Tampa Bay’s fourth round pick in 2019, a right-shot defenseman, plays for Providence College and is nearly a point-per-game player this year, posting 18 points in 21 games played for the Friars. It is a bit of a crowded blueline in Tampa, with some good looking young players signed to contracts with some term, as well as emerging prospect Eamon Powell in the pipeline. Perhaps Crozier will see a different NHL city offer him a better shot at cracking an NHL lineup as he moves on from the college ranks.

Vancouver Canucks: Aidan McDonough, C


McDonough, a seventh round pick for Vancouver in the 2019 draft, has certainly outperformed his draft status. The Massachusetts native, who captains Northeastern University this season, has posted better than a point-per-game this season and last, after nearly accomplishing the feat in both his Freshman and Sophomore seasons for the Huskies. This season, he has 25 points in 19 games played, including 12 goals, after posting an impressive 25 goals and 39 points in 38 games last season. If the Canucks fail to sign the big lefty, a bidding war for his services is likely to ensue.

*Note: All statistics accurate as of Saturday evening, Jan 7 th . For the purposes of this list, although every NHL team has former draft picks whose signing rights will expire in the summer of 2023, not every team has a player that necessarily qualifies as “notable.”

Other headlines


After hosting the NHL Winter Classic, UConn and Northeastern suited up at Fenway Park for an outdoor game. In the other game of the men’s doubleheader, Boston College defeated UMass by a score of four to two.

UConn also used social media to hype their new arena!


Until next month, thank you for reading!

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