With college students flooding campuses across the United States over the next few weeks it means college hockey is right around the corner. The majority of NHL prospects play in the Canadian Hockey League (Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League) so here in the United States, unless you have Hockeystreams.com, you do not have access to watch those players.
But there’s still plenty of future NHLers playing right here in America. 30% of NHL players in 2015 played NCAA hockey. Players such as, Jonathan Toews (North Dakota), Ryan Kessler (Ohio State), Joe Pavelski (Wisconsin), Johnny Gaudreau (Boston College), Zach Parise (North Dakota), Phil Kessel (Minnesota), and Blake Wheeler (Minnesota) all played NCAA college hockey. The Bruins have had some success with college players in the past few years as well. They signed Torey Krug out of Michigan State, and Kevan Miller out of the University of Vermont. The Bruins drafted Zach Trotman out of Lake Superior State and Zane MacIntyre out of North Dakota. This summer they acquired Jimmy Hayes (Boston College) and Matt Irwin (Massachusetts).
The Bruins have 9 prospects that will be playing NCAA College Hockey this season. Here is a break down of who they are.
Ryan Fitzgerald, Boston College
Fitzgerald, North Reading, MA, is entering his Junior year at Boston College. In his first two years to BC he has scored 30 goals and 24 assists for 54 points in 78 games. With a good season at BC this season the 5’10”, 177 lbs Fitzgerald could sign with the Bruins once the season is over, but he will need a year or two of AHL seasoning.
Danton Heinen, Denver
Heinen could end up being the steal of the 2014 draft. Heinen, drafted in the 4th round, as a Freshman at Denver last year scored 16 goals, and 29 assists for 45 points in 40 games. Heinen lead Denver in scoring and was the third highest scoring Freshman in the country behind Jack Eichel (71 points) and Dylan Larkin (47 points). Eichel and maybe Larkin will be playing in the NHL this season. Heinen is 6’1” and 185 lbs. Bostonpucks.com predicts that he signs with the Bruins after this season with an NHL debut during 2016-2017 season.
Local Boston fans can see Heinen play on Halloween weekend when Denver plays at Boston College on October 30th and at Boston University on October 31st.
Sean Kuraly, Miami (Ohio)
Kuraly was acquired from San Jose, with a 2016 1st round pick, and goalie Martin Jones (who was acquired from LA for Milan Lucic). The 6’2” and 205lbs Kuraly will be a Senior at Miami. Kuraly put up decent numbers last year with 19 goals and 10 assists in 40 games.
Cameron Hughes, Wisconson
The Bruins acquired Hughes in the 2015 NHL draft in the 6th round. Hughes is not the biggest guy. He is listed at 5’11” and 161 lbs. In 34 games for the Badgers last year he scored 3 goals and 10 assists.
Wisconson plays at Boston College on October 16th and October 17th.
Ryan Donato, Harvard
Donato bleeds black and gold. Ryan’s father, Ted, played 9 of is 13 NHL seasons with the Bruins. The Bruins acquired Ryan Donato in the 2nd round of the 2014 NHL Draft. The Scituate, MA native will be a Freshman, playing for his father, at Harvard this year.
Matt Grzelcyk, Boston University
Grzelcyk is a “Townie.” He grew up in Charlestown, MA. The offensive defenseman was acquired in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. Grzelcyk is on the small side coming in at 5’9” and 171 lbs. He will be a Senior for the Terriers this year. He helped BU to the National Championship game this past season, but the team fell short to Providence. Last year in 41 games he had 10 goals and 28 assists for 38 points.
Rob O’Gara, Yale
The big, 6’3” 218 lbs, two way defenseman will be a senior at Yale this year. In his Freshman season he helped the Bulldogs win the National Championship. During his Junior season he had 6 goals and 15 assist for 21 points in 33 games. One of his goals came on the power play. O’Gara will need AHL seasoning before making it to the NHL.
Matt Benning, Northeastern
Benning is the nephew of former Bruins Assistant GM and current Canucks GM Jim Benning. The 6’0” and 218 lbs native of St. Albert, AB will be a Junior at Northeastern. Last season the rugged defenseman had 24 assists in 36 games.
Wiley Sherman, Harvard
Sherman is a 6’6” stay at home defenseman who was drafted by the Bruins in the 5th round of the 2013 NHL draft. He is a long term project and will most likely play out his entire NCAA eligibility. As a Freshman Sherman played in all of Harvard’s games (37) and registered 3 assists.
As you can see there are a lot NCAA prospects in the pipeline for Boston. Not all of these players will eventually play for the Bruins. Some of them might not ever make it to the NHL, but they are all talented players and it’d be well worth it to go catch them live this season in the Boston area. You just might be able to say you saw them “way back when”, before the select few became NHL stars with the Black n’ Gold.