Prospect Ramblings: College Hockey is on the Rise

by Josh Tessler on February 9, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This past Monday night, I attended the Beanpot semi-finals at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The atmosphere and the hockey on display kept everyone in the Garden hungry for more. The third period of play in the Boston College/Boston University matchup was thrilling. There is no better word to use. Regardless if you were watching at TD Garden or on your couch at home, the energy and the pace of the game truly showed why college hockey is continuing to pick up steam.

 

In the last couple of years, the NCAA has benefitted from high-end recruitment. Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche defenseman), Dylan Holloway (2020 NHL Draft Eligible prospect), Michael Benning (2020 NHL Draft Eligible prospect), Carter Savoie (2020 NHL Draft Eligible prospect), Cole Caufield (Montreal Canadiens prospect), Spencer Knight (Florida Panthers prospect), Alex Turcotte (Los Angeles Kings prospect), K’Andre Miller (New York Rangers prospect), Matthew Boldy (Minnesota Wild prospect), Alex Newhook (Colorado Avalanche prospect), Trevor Zegras (Anaheim Ducks prospect), John Beecher (Boston Bruins prospect) and others have opted to play collegiate hockey instead of playing CHL hockey in Canada.

 

In the table below, I have compared nine prospects who were selected in the first round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. Five of the nine prospects are playing collegiate hockey and four of the nine are playing in the CHL. 

 

Prospect

League

Team

PNHLe

Trevor Zegras

NCAA

Boston University

66.2

Alex Turcotte

NCAA

University of Wisconsin

45.3

Cole Caufield

NCAA

University of Wisconsin

57.1

John Beecher

NCAA

University of Michigan

32.4

Alex Newhook

NCAA

Boston College

50.1

Samuel Poulin

QMJHL

Sherbrooke Phoenix

78.1

Dylan Cozens

WHL

Lethbridge Hurricanes

73.1

Philip Tomasino

OHL

Niagara Ice Dogs

102

Jakob Pelletier

QMJHL

Moncton Wildcats

69.4

 

From the table, you can see that there still is a major discrepancy when it comes to the talent level in the CHL versus the NCAA. But, there is a huge improvement from just a couple of years ago. 

 

In the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, there were a few prospects that ended up playing collegiate hockey including Shane Bowers (Colorado Avalanche prospect), Ryan Poehling (Montreal Canadiens prospect), Josh Norris (Ottawa Senators prospect) and Makar. In addition, there were several prospects that ended up playing collegiate hockey who were drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft such as Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes), Tyson Jost (Colorado Avalanche), Dante Fabbro (Nashville Predators), Dennis Cholowski (Detroit Red Wings), Tage Thompson (Buffalo Sabres) and Trent Frederic (Boston Bruins prospect). In the table, you will see the pNHLe values from their first collegiate seasons.

 

Prospect

League

Team

PNHLe

Shane Bowers

NCAA

Boston University

49.5

Ryan Poehling

NCAA

St. Cloud State University

51.1

Josh Norris

NCAA

University of Michigan

35.7

Cale Makar

NCAA

UMass Amherst

46.6

Dante Fabbro

NCAA

Boston University

41

Dennis Cholowski

NCAA

St. Cloud State University

27

Tage Thompson

NCAA

University of Connecticut

57.3

Trent Frederic

NCAA

University of Wisconsin

61.1

 

If you average the pNHLe of the 2016 and 2017 draft prospects (NCAA) and compare them to the NCAA prospects from the 2019 draft class, you will see the average pNHLe is on the rise. The average pNHLe for the 2016 and 2017 prospects was 46.16 and the average pNHLe for the 2020 prospects is 50.22.

 

In addition to the average pNHLe of NCAA prospects on the rise, we are seeing more talent committing to the NCAA. For example, the Wisconsin Badgers and Boston College Eagles did an excellent job recruiting prior to this season. If you look at EliteProspects, you can see who has committed to which school for the next few years. The University of Michigan and Harvard University have done an excellent job of luring talented prospects to their schools. Sean Farrell (2020 Draft Eligible prospect), Matthew Beniers (2021 Draft Eligible prospect) and Alex Gaffney (2020 Draft Eligible prospect) are committed to Harvard. Erik Portillo (Buffalo Sabres prospect), Thomas Bordeleau (2020 Draft Eligible prospect), Brendan Brisson (2020 Draft Eligible prospect), Kent Johnson (2021 Draft Eligible prospect) and Mackie Samoskevich (2021 Draft Eligible prospect) are committed to playing in Ann Arbor, Michigan next season.

 

With the amount of talent heading to schools like Harvard and Michigan, there is a good chance that we will see the average pNHLe for collegiate hockey players continue to rise.