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Success no guarantee for NHL prospects in college Print
Futures Watch
Written by Steve Wozniak   
Wednesday, 28 December 2011 03:57

Hockey Primetime's annual look at the NHL prospects playing in college finds the usual motley mix of studs and duds.

Steve WozniackCollege hockey players who get drafted by NHL teams play under a weird set of circumstances. Their name gets splashed about the sports pages in the pro team’s city at first, then they might show up at a summertime prospect camp before seemingly vanishing off the radar for a few years.

When Anaheim traded the rights to Jake Gardiner to Toronto last season, most Ducks fans had probably already forgotten that the team drafted the former Wisconsin defenseman a couple years earlier. How many remember that Vancouver made R.J. Umberger a first-round draft choice in 2001 before quietly trading his rights to the Rangers three years later? A lot can happen when prospects head to college. Some late-rounders can develop into stars, while some early-rounders can lose their touch and graduate without ever seeing a pro contract.

Given that, we thought it our public duty to check in on the 200 NHL draftees among Division I rosters this season.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

If college hockey had its own version of the Norris Trophy, Wisconsin junior Justin Schultz would be the runaway favorite. Despite his spot on the blueline, Schultz leads the Badgers in goals, assists, power-play goals and plus/minus. After a couple quiet years in East Lansing, Michigan State senior Brett Perlini is finding consistency; with 15 points in 18 games, he’s on pace for a second straight 30-point season. Colgate sophomore Chris Wagner has already surpassed his freshman-year point totals with 20 points in the season’s first half. St. Cloud State sophomore and 2009 fifth-round pick Radoslav Illo is in the middle of another lackluster season, with just nine points and a disappointing minus-5. Notre Dame sophomore defenseman Kevin Lind has just a goal and an assist, and is at a minus-3. Maine senior blueliner Ryan Hegarty has just three points in 15 games. Hegarty has never had more than one goal or eight points in any of his previous three years at Maine. Hegarty’s teammate, junior Nick Pryor, has tallied just seven assists and no goals in 2½ years with the Black Bears. Northeastern freshman Josh Manson has managed two assists in 15 games, but also a whopping 25 penalty minutes; his plus-7 is just one less than the top defenseman for the Huskies.

BOSTON BRUINS

Cornell freshman Brian Ferlin has made a huge impact with the Big Red. Ferlin is second on the team with five goals and 12 points in just 11 games, and he carries a team-best plus-10 into the second half. Harvard junior and native Swede Alex Fallstrom has tallied three goals and nine points through just eight games. Clarkson senior Nick Tremblay is just six points off his career high. He leads the Golden Knights with nine goals. Tremblay’s teammate, sophomore Ben Sexton, is leading Clarkson with 1.13 points per game, but has been out with a concussion since late October. Lake Superior junior defenseman Zach Trotman has helped pace one of the stoutest back ends in the country with a team-best plus-5; his 14 points are second best among the Lakers. Northern Michigan senior Justin Florek is on pace to break his career high of 14 goals, with nine markers through the first half. Boston College senior defenseman Tommy Cross has 14 points in 18 games, but leads the Eagles with 38 penalty minutes. Cross has avoided the penalty box in just five of those 18 games. After missing his entire sophomore year with a wrist injury, Dartmouth junior Mark Goggin has only played in four games this season, with a lone goal to show for his effort.

BUFFALO SABRES

Miami senior goaltender Connor Knapp has been a picture of consistency for his first three years, posting goals-against averages of less than 2.10, and save percentages ofmore than .904 each season. But Knapp is struggling by his standards this season, posting a 2.70 GAA and .896 save percentage. North Dakota senior goalie Brad Eidsness has regained whatever form he lost in a subpar junior year. Eidsness now has a team-best 2.43 GAA and .918 save percentage. Providence sophomore defenseman Mark Adams missed the first month of the season to a lower-body injury, and has posted just an assist in nine games after returning. Vermont senior Drew MacKenzie may lead his team’s defensemen with four goals and eight points, but is saddled with a team-worst minus-11 in 14 games. Minnesota freshman Christian Isackson has played in just five games and posted no points. Wisconsin frosh Brad Navin has two power-play goals and four points as his Badgers hit the second half of their schedule.

CALGARY FLAMES

The Flames scouts can hang their hat on 2010 fourth-rounder Bill Arnold, just named to the USA’s World Juniors squad after posting 11 goals and 20 points in Boston College’s first 18 games. His teammate, Johnny Gaudreau, leads all BC freshmen with seven goals and 14 points. Notre Dame junior Nick Larson is having another uneventful season in South Bend. For his career, Larson has 19 goals and 35 points in 98 games. Wisconsin junior defenseman John Ramage has tallied just four points and is a team-worst minus-11.

CAROLINA HURRICANES

The Hurricanes have just a trio of defensemen worth following. Harvard junior Danny Biega leads his team in assists, points, game-winning goals and plus/minus. Boston College junior Brian Dumoulin’s 12 assists and plus-9 are both second-best on a deep Eagles squad. Minnesota sophomore Mark Alt has generated a solid first half with four goals, 13 points and a plus-12, but gets lost amid a herd of talent in the Twin Cities.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Chicago seems to be hoarding college blueliners. The Blackhawks hold the rights to eight NCAA D-men, including Team USA World Junior selections Stephen Johns of Notre Dame and Adam Clendening of Boston University. Johns doesn’t have many offensive stats to boast, but has become one of the better shut-down blueliners in Division I. Clendening can cover his own end as well, but has become an assist machine with 38 helpers in 55 career games with the Terriers. North Dakota freshman Nick Mattson leads all Sioux backenders with nine points and a plus-2. Other defensemen in the Blackhawks’ stable are Minnesota sophomore Justin Holl (seven points, plus-11) Cornell junior Braden Birch (no points), Denver junior Paul Phillips (four points, minus-1), North Dakota junior Joe Gleason (three points, minus-5) and Vermont freshman Michael Paliotti (five points, minus-11). Boston College sophomore forward Kevin Hayes has already surpassed his first-year totals with 15 points, while junior Dan DeLisle has done little in limited playing time at Minnesota-Duluth.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

One of Colorado’s most pressing needs since Patrick Roy left town has been a steady goaltender. The Avalanche have two seniors in Division I already impressing. Minnesota’s Kent Patterson leads the NCAA with six shutouts, while Boston University’s Kieran Millan has gone 69-33-12 and posted a career GAA of 2.58 in Beantown. Minnesota sophomore forward Nate Condon has tallied 14 points while working on both the power play and penalty kill for the Gophers. Boston College senior Paul Carey has five goals and 11 points, which puts him on pace for another decent if not outstanding season. Luke Moffatt, a 2010 seventh-rounder, continues to underwhelm in his second year at Michigan with just seven points to follow his 13-point freshman effort. Yale sophomore blueliner Gus Young is finally seeing playing time after being absent much of his first year; he has a goal and four points.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Last year’s Rookie of the Year, Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan, continues to show his first season wasn’t a fluke. Tynan sits just two points off the national scoring lead with a team-best 27 points, and was just named to the U.S. World Juniors team. Minnesota senior Jake Hansen is finally starting to realize his potential, putting up a solid first half with eight goals and 19 points in 20 games. His teammate, freshman Seth Ambroz, has tallied three goals and five points. Miami senior forward Trent Vogelhuber is having yet another disappointing year, with just seven points and more than twice as many penalty minutes as shots on goal. His teammate, senior defenseman Will Webber, is also having a down year with just three assists, 20 penalty minutes and a minus-8. Cornell senior Sean Collins has been steady if not offensively magnificent on a team that lives and dies by its defense. Collins has three goals in just 11 games. Michigan junior and 2009 second-rounder Kevin Lynch continues to struggle. Lynch’s five points are the second-least among all Wolverine regulars. Colgate junior Thomas Larkin has been a solid point man on the Raiders power play with two extra-man tallies. His plus-9 leads all blueliners at Colgate. Minnesota-Duluth junior defenseman Drew Olson is known more for his bruising physical play than any offensive fireworks, but he may be playing a little too fast and loose with the body. His 35 penalty minutes lead the Bulldogs. Maine sophomore goalie Martin Ouellette is 1-3-0 with a 3.31 GAA and .873 save percentage – numbers that aren’t too far off his freshman-year totals.

DALLAS STARS

Dallas may not have much in the way of defensive prospects in its system at the NCAA level, but the Stars sure have a lot of firepower to look forward to, including Colgate senior Austin Smith, who currently leads Division I with 18 goals in 17 games. Boston University junior Alex Chiasson has 14 points in 15 games, and leads the Terriers with a plus-8. Junior Reilly Smith leads the Miami RedHawks with 12 goals and 17 points in 18 games; teammate and classmate Curtis McKenzie is fourth on the team in scoring with four goals and nine points. Michigan freshman Alex Guptill leads the Wolverines with nine goals. Junior Scott Winkler ranks third in scoring for a high-flying Colorado College offense with 16 points, and leads the team in plus/minus. Physical RPI senior blueliner Mike Bergin leads the team in penalty minutes, but has contributed just two assists. Minnesota freshman Nico Sacchetti is still looking for his first collegiate point in limited action for the Gophers.

DETROIT RED WINGS

Notre Dame junior and 2010 first-rounder Riley Sheahan is finally rounding into form. After posting just 39 points in his first two seasons in South Bend, Sheahan has 18 in 18 games for the offensively prolific Irish. Sophomore defenseman Nick Jensen has already piled up 14 points for St. Cloud State, and leads that team’s defensemen in plus/minus. Clarkson senior Julien Cayer may be on pace for the best year of his collegiate career with just four goals and seven points at the midpoint. Boston University junior defenseman Max Nicastro has a goal and four points. Minnesota freshman defenseman Ben Marshall is off to a nice start to his NCAA career with six points and a plus-10.

EDMONTON OILERS

Quinnipiac sophomore Kellen Jones hasn’t played the last month because of an undisclosed injury, but before missing the last four games of the first half, he was trucking along nicely with five goals and 14 points in 16 games. In his two and a half years at Merrimack, junior defenseman Kyle Bigos has tallied just seven goals and 26 points. Bigos, though, has amassed 274 penalty minutes in that same span, which is still quite short of the NCAA-record 617 that Jim Mandich compiled at Ohio State from 1978-82. North Dakota sophomore defenseman Dillon Simpson is at the other end of that spectrum, sitting in the box for just four minutes this season but notching seven assists in the meantime.

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Florida GM Dale Tallon may have helped lead an earlier-than-expected turnaround with the young Panthers, but there is also a boatload of talent on the way. Heck, there’s enough good players in Florida’s system to compile an abridged NCAA All-Star squad. Three draft picks are representing the U.S. at the World Juniors – Vermont sophomore Connor Brickley (eight goals in 15 games), Minnesota sophomore Nick Bjugstad (16 goals, 27 points) and Minnesota freshman Kyle Rau (12 goals, 22 points). The rest aren’t too shabby, either. Denver junior Drew Shore, who had to leave the national team at last year’s World Championships due to injury, now has 24 points in 18 games. North Dakota junior Corban Knight has 21 points in 17 games. Knight’s teammate, freshman forward and preacher-in-training Rocco Grimaldi, has played in only four games due to a knee injury. He managed a goal and an assist, but a minus-5 in those two weekends of games. Boston University junior Wade Megan has tallied seven goals, but has the worst plus/minus on his team. Michigan freshman Zach Hyman has two goals and seven points. Freshman defenseman Ben Gallacher has seven points in limited ice time for Ohio State. Denver senior defenseman John Lee has been steady if not spectacular – outside of his five points and point-work on the power play, he’s not very noticeable, which is good for some defensemen. Lee and the Pioneers are still awaiting the return of sophomore goalie Sam Brittain as he recovers from offseason knee surgery. Brittain was one of the best goalies in the nation last season. Minnesota-Duluth sophomore Joe Basaraba has already surpassed the totals from his freshman year with the national champions. The 2010 third-rounder has seven points in the season’s first half.

LOS ANGELES KINGS

If the Kings are going to build their identity around young star defensemen such as Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, then they may have two more talented blueliners to add to that mix. North Dakota sophomore Derek Forbort and St. Cloud State sophomore Kevin Gravel are both suiting up for the Red, White and Blue at the World Junior Championships. Forbort may not put up big numbers – just a goal and three assists in the season’s first half – but the 6-foot-5, 207-pounder is prized more for his physical play and bruising checks. The same goes for Gravel, who can play a very disciplined, positionally sound game. Gravel’s Huskies teammate, sophomore forward Nic Dowd, has five goals and five assists in 20 games. Cornell freshman forward Joel Lowry is already among the team’s leading scorer with six points in 11 games. After tallying 21 points in his freshman year, Wisconsin sophomore Michael Mersch is on pace for a 30-plus-point season.

 

MINNESOTA WILD

The Wild now have only five prospects playing in Division I after Boston University sophomore Charlie Coyle left school in early December to join the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL. Coyle had been averaging close to a point per game during his year-and-half in Boston. Denver sophomore Jason Zucker is back for a second straight year to play with the U.S. in World Juniors. Zucker is leading his Pioneers team with 11 goals and 24 points in 18 games. Minnesota sophomore Erik Haula looked like he was going to run away with the scoring title early in the season, but has cooled of late. Still, Haula has nine goals and 25 points for the high-octane Gophers. Notre Dame senior Sean Lorenz has two goals and eight points this season, but more importantly has developed into one of the NCAA’s more disciplined stay-at-home blueliners. Harvard freshman goalie Steve Michalek – no relation to Milan and Zbynek – has compiled a 4-2-2 record, though his 3.10 GAA and .898 save percentage seem mediocre.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

After missing a large chunk of last season with frostbite on his foot, North Dakota junior Danny Kristo has returned without missing a step. Kristo has piled up nine goals and 20 points in 18 games; for his career, Kristo has 32 goals and 84 points in 93 games. Kristo’s freshman teammate Mark MacMillan, a 2010 fourth-rounder, has tallied six points but has looked a little slow and lost in his own end at times. MacMillan has a team-worst minus-8 as a result. Junior Steve Quailer leads Northeastern in scoring with six goals and 16 points, and has been the top producer for the power play unit. Dartmouth junior Dustin Walsh has been out since mid-November with an unspecified lower-body injury, but had rolled up two goals and seven points in seven games beforehand. Junior Mike Cichy has been sitting out at Western Michigan after transferring from North Dakota in the offseason. In his first three seasons at Minnesota-Duluth, senior defenseman Scott Kishel amassed a total of 11 points. But so far this season, Kishel has tallied 14 points and is at an impressive plus-12 for the defending champions. Sophomore Mac Bennett and senior Greg Pateryn have become good puck-moving defensemen for Michigan with cannons from the blue line. Bennett has 13 points and a plus-7 in the first half, Pateryn 11 points and a plus-6. Freshman defenseman Josiah Didier has one assist in limited ice time for Denver.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Just a few years ago, Nashville had a wealth of talent at the NCAA level. Most of those prospects are now plying their trade with Milwaukee of the AHL. That doesn’t mean the collegiate well is dry for the Predators, though – quite the contrary, in fact. Sophomore Chase Balisy has become the chief playmaker for Western Michigan. After putting up a 30-point freshman campaign, Balisy is averaging nearly a point per game this year. Minnesota forward Zach Budish, a 2009 second-rounder, has put up 18 points in 20 games after missing all of last season from an injury incurred in a moped accident. St. Cloud State sophomore Cam Reid has put up 15 points in the first half, but his aggressive physical play has led to a ton of time in the penalty box. Reid’s teammate, frosh Nick Oliver, has tallied just two goals for the Huskies. Garrett Noonan, a sophomore defenseman at BU, has five goals, seven points and a team-best plus-8 in the first half. Sophomore Anthony Bitetto leads all Northeastern defensemen in goals, points and plus/minus.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

New Jersey’s prized prospect may be Michigan sophomore defenseman Jon Merill, whose steady physical play earned him a roster spot with the American team at World Juniors. But there’s more talent to look forward to coming from the college pipeline. Merrill’s Wolverine teammate, senior forward David Wohlberg, should pass the 100-point mark for his career after adding seven goals and eight assists to that total in the first semester. Miami freshman Blake Coleman ranks third among the RedHawks with six goals. Frosh Blake Pietila ranks fourth on a resurgent Michigan Tech team with 11 points. North Dakota sophomore Derek Rodwell has just two points in a limited role for the Sioux. Despite a lack of scoring, Colgate senior D-man Corbin McPherson has become the shut-down blueliner for the Raiders. At 6-5 and 220 pounds, there’s no doubt that the role of Minnesota junior defenseman Seth Helgeson is to snuff out anyone who comes within a zip code of his team’s net. In that regard, Helgeson has been impressive; he’s even added three goals with a rifle shot. Wisconsin freshman defenseman Patrick Daly is still looking for his first collegiate points while playing limited minutes. His teammate, Badger sophomore Joe Faust, has also been nearly invisible, with just four points and 10 shots this season.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

According to a wonderful piece by B.D. Gallof for CBS News in New York, the Islanders are in wait-and-see mode with Corey Trivino, who was leading Boston University and all of Hockey East in scoring before being kicked out of school for an arrest on sexual assault charges. But Trivino isn’t the only star in the Islanders stable. Sophomore Brock Nelson, a first-rounder in 2010, is leading powerhouse North Dakota with 14 goals and 22 points in 18 games. Sophomore forward Anders Lee is putting together another monster season at Notre Dame, where he has 12 goals and 20 points. His teammate, frosh blueliner Robbie Russo, is leading all Irish defensemen with three goals and nine points. Freshman defenseman Scott Mayfield has a goal and assist for Denver, but the physically aggressive rookie leads the Pioneers in penalty minutes. Clarkson junior goalie Cody Rosen has been relegated to backup duties and hasn’t yet seen a shot this season. After sitting out the first six games of the season, Wisconsin freshman Jason Clark has seen limited ice time, and is still without a collegiate point. Dartmouth senior Troy Matilla, a 2006 seventh-rounder, is fading into irrelevance, suiting up for just two scoreless games after missing more than half of each of the previous two seasons.

NEW YORK RANGERS

Junior Chris Kreider is leading Boston College – and with the departure of Corey Trivino, the Hockey East conference as well – with 23 points. Massachusetts senior Daniel Hobbs is on pace for his best season with nine points through 13 games.

OTTAWA SENATORS

With five goals – three power-play markers – 15 points, a plus-3 and a 15-percent shooting percentage, Ohio State’s Ryan Dzingel is looking nothing like a freshman trying to adjust to the most competitive conference in Division I. His classmate and teammate, Max McCormick – taken a round before Dzingel in last summer’s draft – is experiencing more of the rookie growing pains with two goals and six points in limited playing time. Miami senior defenseman Chris Wideman continues to develop into a great puck-moving defenseman and point man for the power play. Wideman leads all RedHawks defensemen with nine points. He has 71 assists in 142 career games at Miami. Notre Dame sophomore Jeff Costello has seven points in the first half, but also a team-worst plus/minus of minus-5. After missing all of last season with an assortment of injuries and ailments, Yale sophomore Brad Peltz is still looking for his first collegiate point after suiting up for just three games this season. An elevated offensive game has led to five goals and nine points in 14 games for Princeton junior blueliner Michael Sdao; an aggressive physical game has also led to team-leading 17 penalties and 45 penalty minutes. Bryce Aneloski, a junior defenseman at Nebraska-Omaha, continues to be a bit of an enigma – not a great offensive puck-mover (29 points in 75 career games), and not a physically imposing shut-down guy. Aneloski is just a steady back-end presence and may need more seasoning to round out his game. With nine points in the first half, North Dakota senior blueliner Ben Blood is on pace for career highs in every offensive category.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

The Flyers have not historically been big fans of drafting college players, instead opting to snag undrafted free agents who have proved themselves through long collegiate careers (see most recently former Brown player Harry Zolnierczyk). Philadelphia does, though, have a rooting interest in three NCAA freshmen taken in the last two drafts. Harvard forward Petr Placek is still looking for his point after seven nondescript games. North Dakota forward Michael Parks has two goals and an assist in limited shifts for the Sioux, and Vermont defenseman Nick Luukko has tallied three assists while struggling along with the worst team in Hockey East.

PHOENIX COYOTES

Michigan junior Chris Brown has become the Wolverines’ big playmaker, leading the Wolverines with 18 points in 18 games. He also leads the team in penalties. St. Cloud State junior goalie Mike Lee is struggling a bit in his third season with a 2-2-1 record, 3.31 GAA and .896 save percentage. Those are off a tad from his career numbers of 2.82 and .912. Freshman forward Zac Larraza has tallied four assists in limited playing time for Denver.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

The injury bug has now spread beyond Pittsburgh and into the system. Denver sophomore Beau Bennett, the 2010 first-rounder, was in the midst of a breakout season with four goals and 13 points in 10 games before he suffered a wrist injury that will ultimately sideline him for six weeks. Nebraska-Omaha freshman Josh Archibald joined the U.S. World Junior team after tallying seven goals and 11 points in his first 20 collegiate games. Yale sophomore Kenny Agostino got a lot of attention from USA Hockey last summer, but missed out on joining Archibald with the national squad this time. After an early slump, he has 10 points in his last six games. Nick D’Agostino is making a big impact at Cornell, where the junior defenseman is co-leading the NCAA with five game-winning goals. His seven goals and 13 points in 11 games also lead the defensive-minded Big Red. Notre Dame sophomore Bryan Rust is possibly one of the more underrated two-way players in college. With five goals, he’s only two more tallies away from surpassing his freshman-year total. After two non-noteworthy seasons, St. Cloud State junior Ben Hanowski is finally busting out, leading the Huskies with 12 goals and 22 points in the first 20 games. Providence junior Alex Velischek is sloughing along for a third straight pedestrian season with just four assists to show for his efforts. For his career, Velischek has two goals and 18 points in 56 games. Massachusetts-Lowell freshman Scott Wilson, last summer’s seventh-rounder, has tallied six goals and 13 points in 14 games for one of the most surprising teams of the season.

SAN JOSE SHARKS

In 2008, the Sharks chose Northeastern junior Justin Daniels in the third round of the NHL draft, then grabbed his twin brother Drew Daniels later in the seventh round. Obviously, there’s going to be a competition between the two. This season, Justin has rolled up six goals and 10 points, while Drew has just two assists. For their careers, Justin is outscoring Drew 31-19. Their teammate, sophomore Cody Ferriero, has five goals and nine points after missing the first five games of the year. Boston University sophomore forward Matt Nieto has eight goals and 16 points in 14 games. Sophomore Chris Crane is leading No. 4 Ohio State with 18 points and five power-play goals. With 14 points, including a career-high 12 assists, Michigan junior defenseman Lee Moffie is just three off the total of his best campaign. Boston College sophomore blueliner Isaac MacLeod plays a steady game in his own end, but is still looking for his first collegiate goal in 40 games. Harvard freshman forward Colin Blackwell has three goals and three assists in his brief 10-game career.

ST. LOUIS BLUES

Former first-round pick Jaden Schwartz will lead the Canadian team at World Juniors after a start to another prolific season at Colorado College. The Tigers sophomore has 18 points in 13 games, trailing only his brother Rylan in team scoring. Senion Clarkson goalie Paul Karpowich is turning in his best collegiate season yet. After coming into the season with a career GAA north of 3.00, Karpowich has limited opponents to 1.93 goals per game, and posted four shutouts along with a save percentage of .938. Sophomore center Max Tardy has just five points after a freshman year when he registered just three. Michigan State senior Trevor Nill may be playing his way out of a pro contract with another lackluster year. Nill has just two goals this season, and just 17 points in 107 career games in East Lansing.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Alex Killorn is making the most of his senior year at Harvard. The 2007 third-round pick has racked up six goals and 12 points in the Crimson’s first 10 games. That includes a team-high four power-play tallies. Miami freshman Jimmy Mullin has four goals and eight points. Quinnipiac freshman Matthew Peca has had an even better start, tallying four goals and 15 points in his first half season of NCAA hockey. North Dakota freshman Brendan O’Donnell missed six games midway through the first half, but has tallied three goals since returning. Boston University junior Justin Courtnall has just two points this season, and a total of eight during his two-plus years with the Terriers. Vermont senior Matt Marshall is looking like the fifth-round flyer that didn’t pay off. Marshall has suited up for just two games this season and hasn’t registered a point. For his career, he has just five goals and 14 points. Western Michigan junior Luke Witkowski is expected to take shots on opposing players, not opposing goals. So four assists and a plus-7 is a nice, solid start to the season for the blueliner. Sophomore defenseman Kirill Gotovets has only two points, but that’s more than is usually expected of D-men at Cornell.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

In recent years, the Maple Leafs may have hit the jackpot with college players such as Jake Gardiner or Tyler Bozak. But now, the stable of draftees in the NCAA is a bit thin. Recent first-rounder Tyler Biggs has tallied just three goals and eight points in his first collegiate action at Miami. With 11 points, Michigan senior defenseman Greg Pateryn is on pace to break his previous career highs in goals and points set last year. Brown sophomore Dennis Robertson has just five assists and 10 penalties for 31 minutes in the brief first half. Harvard freshman blueliner Max Everson is still looking for his first NCAA point. After sitting out his freshman year, New Hampshire sophomore defenseman Eric Knodel has a goal and five points to complement steady play in his own end. North Dakota junior Andrew MacWilliam has but one assist, and in his third year is still looking for his first college goal. Boston University goaltender Grant Rollheiser has been relegated to backup behind Kieran Millan, but has put together a 2-0-0 record, 3.34 GAA and .900 save percentage in four appearances this season.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Surprising Merrimack has one of the best defenses in the country, and senior goalie Joe Cannata is the main reason why. Cannata has an otherwordly 1.77 GAA and .937 save percentage for the Warriors this year; for his career, he’s compiled a 51 -37-11 record with a 2.48 GAA and .914 save percentage. Junior defenseman Jeremy Price is becoming an offensive weapon for Colgate with two power play goals and 11 points in his first 14 games. Minnesota senior Taylor Matson has 13 points after scoring just 19 in his first three seasons combined. Freshman Joseph LaBate already has 12 points for a rising Wisconsin squad. Harvard freshman defenseman Patrick McNally is starting even stronger, with three power-play goals and 12 points in his first 10 NCAA games.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

If Washington GM George McPhee has developed a pattern with the Capitals, it’s that his early-round draft picks have been home runs, but those in the later rounds have rarely panned out. The Capitals have eight draftees playing in Division I this season, all of them being taken in the fourth round or later. Minnesota-Duluth freshman forward Caleb Herbert is having a big impact for the defending champs, posting seven goals and 16 points in the first semester. Minnesota senior Nick Larson is wrapping up another uneventful season in an uneventful career in the Twin Cities. His three points raise his career total to 24 points in three-plus seasons. Teammate Travis Boyd has tallied twice as many – six assists – to kick off a promising freshman year. New Hampshire junior forward Greg Burke has just seven points to go with his 11 penalties and minus-2 for the first half. Vermont junior forward Brett Bruneteau has just two goals and eight points, and is a minus-5 for the season. With just three goals and seven points, Nebraska-Omaha junior Brent Gwidt has already tied and set, respectively, career highs in a subpar tenure in Omaha. Boston College junior blueliner Patrick Wey hasn’t played since Oct. 22 because of a severed tendon. He had one assist before being sidelined. Rensselaer sophomore defenseman Pat Koudys has just one power-play goal for the Engineers and is a minus-6 in the first half. Western Michigan freshman Garrett Haar has a short-handed goal and six points in his first 18 college games.

WINNIPEG JETS

Michigan freshman D-man Brennan Serville is still looking for his first goal, but has contributed seven assists and played with enough discipline to incur just one minor penalty this year. Maine senior defenseman Will O’Neill continues to be a playmaker from the point, racking up 12 points in the first 15 games. Former first-rounder Daultan Leveille is wrapping up a lackluster career at Michigan State with three goals and seven points in the season’s first half. Quinnipiac junior Jordan Samuels-Thomas is sitting out the year after transferring from Bowling Green. Freshman Yasin Cisse has just one goal in limited playing time for Boston University. Northeastern junior Vinny Saponari has just one short-handed goal on his ledger, but a team-high 10 assists. After scoring 20 goals in his first two seasons, the low output seems flukish for the 2008 fourth-rounder. Colorado College freshmen blueliners Aaron Harstad and Peter Stoykewych have combined for only five assists between them, but have provided solid defense for a team that hasn’t been very good at keeping pucks out of its net this year. Both are on the positive side of the plus/minus stat.

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Last Updated on Thursday, 29 December 2011 17:18