Fantasy Hockey Coach - Hockey Pool and Keeper Hockey Advice - Head of the Class- NCAA Prospects

  • Head of the Class- NCAA Prospects

    By Geoffrey "Yas" Guthe

    John Gaudreau- Calgary Flames- LW/RW- Boston College

    There is very little that Gaudreau has not been able to do for Boston College this season while maintaining a two-point-per-game pace. After playing a key role as a sophomore last season, the Flames prospect has been simply dominant with 56 points in 28 games in his junior year.

    There is a very good chance that this will be Gaudreauís last collegiate season before turning pro. Calgary is an organization who has not been afraid to invest in collegiate talent over the last few seasons, with Providence College Friar and 2012 first rounder, Mark Jankowski as their most publicized move. However none of the former NCAA players already in Abbotsford (AHL) have the pedigree of Gaudreau like Ben Hanowski (St. Cloud State), Corban Knight (North Dakota), and Ken Agostino (Yale). At the end of his season with Boston College, Gaudreau will most likely join the Flames immediately or go down to Abbotsford instead of returning for his senior season with the Eagles.

    Simply put Gaudreau is a game-breaker with high end skill, speed, and on-ice vision. In addition to speed, whether on his own or with a teammate his ability to manufacture offense is not hindered by his size. At the next level Gaudreau projects to be a top line winger and could be adding another dimension to the Calgary offense quite soon.

    Kevin Hayes- Chicago Blackhawks- RW- Boston College

    As a 2010 first round selection, a lot has been expected of Hayes at Boston College and playing alongside Gaudreau has helped the senior elevate his game. Through 28 games he has tallied 47 points, which is a substantial increase from his 25 points in 27 games as a junior. Hayes has been very engaged and seems better prepared going into each shift with his line consistently posing offensive threats.

    Moving forward for Hayes will be tough since Chicago has a logjam of forward talent, particularly on the wings with Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri, Drew LeBlanc, and others already waiting their turns with the big club. Additionally, Teuvo Teravainen of Finlandís Jokerit club is expected to come over to North America and make the crack the Blackhawks quite quickly.

    Hayes already has resurrected his career in his final college season and while his competition at the pro level presents new challenges Hayes has the skill set to overcome the logjam in time. It is hard to say how long it will take Hayes to become an NHL regular but the Blackhawks have little reason to rush him faster than needed.

    Nicolas Kerdiles- Anaheim Ducks- C/LW- University of Wisconsin

    After posting 33 points in 32 games as a freshman for the University of Wisconsin, Kerdiles had a great World Juniors for Team USA. Soon after he returned to NCAA action Kerdiles was injured which kept him out of most of January before returning against Minnesota in early February.

    Anaheim has a plethora of young talent seemingly at all positions and Kerdiles figures to be a big part of their second wave of prospects among those still developing. Along with 2012 first-rounder and quick riser, Hampus Lindholm, the Ducks are finally at the cusp of reaping the rewards of their strong 2009 and 2010 draft years with the likes of Cam Fowler, Kyle Palmieri, Sami Vatanen, and Emerson Etem getting significant NHL action. Once the headlining veterans are added to the equation, even if a few prospects do not pan out there should be some tough competition for Kerdiles. Europeans Nick Sorensen of the Quebec Remparts and William Karlsson of Swedenís HV71 are both having strong seasons and figure to be ready roughly around the same time Kerdiles projects to be too.

    Even though he still has a year or two left with the Badgers after this season, Kerdiles already oozes solid potential as a likely impact top two line forward. However, the immediate task at hand is for this former US National Development Team standout is to play a key role in propelling Wisconsin as far as possible toward a shot at the Big Ten Conference and NCAA titles. In a year or two, Kerdiles has the potential and could conceivably produce next level totals for college hockey similar to Gaudreauís pace.

    Riley Barber- Washington Capitals- RW- Miami University (Ohio)

    Riley Barberís almost point-per-game pace during his freshman campaign was a pleasant surprise for college hockey. In 12 fewer games playing alongside Austin Czarnik this season, Barber is only two points shy of matching the 39 points he totaled a year ago.

    Blessed with explosive skating, elusiveness, and strong puck possession skills, the 2012 sixth rounder has risen very fast. Barber plays with intensity and is not afraid to go into dangerous areas to generate higher quality chances. One of the most underrated facets of his game could how effective he uses his vision to open up offensive lanes both with and without the puck.

    The Capitals are not very deep with forward prospects of Barberís level with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky as the only other peers with higher value than him. He will likely be back with Miami next year unless the Capitals think he is ready over the possible risks of rushing him. Depending on how well the six-foot Barber can adjust to the rigors of the NHL, he could one day be a superb supporting winger capable of putting up big numbers as a professional. Up to this point the numbers have only reinforced the opinions on his upside but it will be interesting to see if Barber can take his game to even another level next season as a junior.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Ryan Dzingel- Ottawa Senators- F- Ohio State University

    Kevin Roy- Anaheim Ducks- LW- Northeastern University

    Josh Archibald- Pittsburgh Penguins- RW- University of Nebraska-Omaha

    Devin Shore- Dallas Stars- C- University of Maine

    Follow Yas on Twitter: @GGuthe
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