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  • Top Ten College Players Who Signed 2014 NHL Contracts


    This summer as you prepare for your fantasy hockey prospect draft and you are deciding how to rank players like Sam Reinhart and Sam Bennett, or Josh Ho-Sang and Nikolai Goldobin, don’t forget to give serious consideration to the NCAA College players who signed NHL contracts this spring once their season ended.

    The junior players are very attractive, there is plenty of hype and buzz surrounding players like Aaron Ekblad, but the reality is, very few players from the draft each year have an impact in the NHL, and a very select few have any impact within a year. After the top ten players in the NHL draft, you should be prepared to have to wait two to three years for any drafted player to graduate to your fantasy roster, if ever!

    The undrafted players playing college hockey who sign NHL contracts may be much less known and have less upside than the top ten players in the NHL draft, but they are much older and further developed. Many are perhaps one year of AHL seasoning away, while some are ready to join the NHL right away.

    Once you get passed the top ten picks in your prospect draft, I would turn your attention to college players and try to find the next player who can step into your roster right away and have value the way Danny DeKeyser did last year with Detroit.

    1. Greg Carey, Arizona Coyotes - LW
    The most sought after free agent in this years class is Greg Carey. He is a Hobey Baker finalist and had a fantastic career scoring 185 points in 152 career games. He is on the small side at 5’11” 195 Lbs and could stand to add some size and muscle to be effective at the NHL level to be sure. He scored an impressive 57 points this season good for second overall . At 23 years old he is ready to produce at the NHL but could see some time in the AHL to adjust to the pro game playing against men. Carey projects to have a fantasy impact similar to Tyler Johnson, rookie of the year nominee.

    2. Christian Folin, Minnesota Wild - Defense
    If you want to impress your friends at the draft, select Christian Folin. You will be sure to hear one or two “who the hell is that”, but at the end of the year when those same fools say “Christian Folin, who saw that coming?” You can remind them you did. He is 23 years old, 6’3” and 210 Lbs. He is a two way defender with a heavy shot and good mobility. Scouts like his game because he is calm and cool and never panics. He will play big minutes in all situations and in his NHL debut he played 19:26 minutes scoring one assist and was a plus -3. In his final season he scored 20 points in 41 games. He has a good opportunity to make the Wild full time next season as their blue line needs upgrades and top prospects Matt Dumba and Gustav Olofsson can continue to develop in the AHL.

    3. Trevor van Riemsdyk, Chicago Blackhawks – Defense
    TVR broke his ankle in January which ended his season. Because of this he is relatively unknown despite being the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs and American Olympian James van Riemsdyk. If Trevor had played a full season however, he would be very well known. TVR continues to develop each season and his projection keeps rising with it. In 26 games before the injury he scored four goals and 19 assists for almost a point a game. He is 6’2” and 185 Lbs so he has good size but needs to continue to add some bulk. Like his brother he has silky smooth hands and good mobility. A real hidden gem, he projects to be a solid NHL offensive defenceman.

    4. Matt Carey, Chicago Blackhawks – Centre
    Matt is the younger brother of Greg Carey, and another solid fantasy prospect. Matt missed a year of hockey due to academic ineligibility and that missed year hurt his development. Despite that, he is still 22 years old and could earn a NHL roster spot in training camp since the cap conscious Hawks need affordable players and depth at centre. Matt made his NHL debut at the end of the season playing in two games where he had a goal and was a minus -1. He has the size to compete in the NHL at 6 feet and 195 Lbs. In his final college season he scored 37 points in 38 games including 18 goals.

    5. Kevin Czuczman, New York Islanders – Defense
    If you are in a roto league, you may want to bump Czuczman up a few spots. At 6’3”, 204 Lbs and 23 years old he has already played 13 NHL games where he produced a healthy stat line of two assists, 14 PIMs, 24 shots, 15 hits, and 13 blocked shots. He is big, mobile, mature and NHL ready now. The one concern here is the Islanders have plenty of youth coming in Griffin Reinhart, Andrey Pedan, Ryan Pulock, and Adam Pelech to name a few. Expect Czuczman to play most of next season in the NHL as he may turn out to be the next Andre Sustr.

    6. Matt Bodie, New York Rangers – Defence
    Bodie is an offensive defenseman with excellent fantasy upside. He was the Captain of the Frozen Four Championship team from Union this season. Most of the attention was focused on his teammate Shane Gostisbehere who has been drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers and is a very well known prospect. This has allowed Bodie to be a great hidden gem and a boom or bust pick for you. Bodie is a small player, he is six feet tall, but rail thin at only 165 Lbs. He desperately needs to add some bulk but the offense is there. In his four year college career he played in 154 games and produced 124 points, a very impressive total for a defender. He is an excellent skater with a hard and accurate shot. He is reliable defensively and reads plays well at both ends of the ice. Bodie projects to be a potential top four pairing puck moving defenceman with offensive upside similar to Torey Krug.

    7. Cody Kunyk, Tampa Bay Lightning – Centre
    Tampa GM Steve Yzerman has a great track record of finding College gems. Tyler Johnson, Andre Sustr, Cory Conacher, and J.T. Brown are some of his recent success signings and Kunyk may be the next. Kunyk is fast, smart and strong on the puck with a great two-way game. But like Conacher, Johnson and Brown he is small, 5’11” and 194 Lbs. Another important fact here is that because he is already 24, he could only sign a one year contract and has already played in one NHL game. Because of this, he is already eligible for a new contract as a RFA meaning two things. Yzerman is obviously convinced Kunyuk can play in the NHL now, and, he may not be as cheap an option as any other player on this list as he is not capped to an entry level contract. In his career year last season he scored 22 goals and 43 points for Alaska. He has a good chance to make the team out of training camp next season.

    8. Daniel O’Donoghue, Arizona Coyotes – centre
    The Coyotes have had a lot of success in signing college players and O’Donoghue is another solid addition to their depth chart. He has a nice blend of size and skill at 6’5” and 200 Lbs he scored an impressive 15 goals and 43 points in 38 games. Even more important is the fact that his production has continued to improve each season and his potential continues to rise as a result. He has a year of AHL seasoning coming but his fantasy value could be tremendous as he can score and play physical.

    9. Bryce van Brabant, Calgary Flames – LW
    Brian Burke has been no stranger to signing college players with mixed results, from hits like Tyler Bozak to misses like Christian Hansen in Toronto. Burke also like his players to be big, and van Brabant fills that description. He is 6’3” and 205 Lbs and scored 15 goals including 10 powerplay goals in his final season for Quinnipiac including 113 penalty minutes. Van Brabant has already had an audition in the NHL playing six games on the fourth line. His only significant stat was 17 hits as he played an average of only nine minutes a game. Van Brabant projects to be a fourth liner who may rack up decent totals in the truculent stats such as hits and penalty minutes.

    10. Daniel Carr, Montreal Canadiens – LW
    Another star player for Union during their Championship season, Carr scored 50 points in 39 games. He has good size at six feet and 195 Lbs and has good mobility. Carr has good offensive and defensive instincts but it remains to be seen if he can be an offensive player in the NHL. A more realistic projection is a bottom six forward with some offensive upside. At 22 years old, expect him to play next season in the AHL before he makes the jump to the NHL.

    Honourable mention:
    Jordan Osterle D Edmonton Oilers
    Garrett Thompson LW Ottawa Senators
    Chris McCarthy C New York Rangers
    Matt Bailey C Anaheim Ducks
    Ryan Carpenter C San Jose Sharks

    Follow Peter on Twitter: @pharling
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