Although a lot of the Bruins top prospects have now graduated to professional hockey they still have some well regarded prospects grinding away in their amateur careers.

And it seems outside of Jack Studnicka (2nd round, 2017) and Urho Vaakanainen (1st round, 2017) the Bruins top prospects are playing in the NCAA. This summer however, the Bruins only grabbed one NCAA player in the draft to add to their collegiate pool. That was UMaine goalie Jeremy Swayman.

The first games for NCAA teams will be be starting up this weekend, most of them exhibition games against Canadian College teams. This seems like a good time to take a look at what Bruins prospects will be competing at the NCAA level.

Ryan Donato, Harvard – Junior

What he did last year:

Ryan Donato had a fantastic sophomore season. He was Ivy League Player of the Year, First-Team Ivy League, and First-Team ECAC. Donato played in 36 games, scoring 21 goals and registering 19 assists for 40 points.

What to expect this year:

Donato has earned ECAC Preseason First Team and will continue to play center this year for the Harvard Crimson. I expect another terrific season from Donato. He will be looked upon as a leader and a Hobey Baker contender. Anything less than the 40 points he put up last season will be a disappointment. Ivy League schools do play less games than other NCAA schools so the opportunity might not be there for a huge stats improvement but you should still see one. I do expect this to be Donato’s last year at Harvard.


Cameron Hughes, Wisconsin – Senior

What he did last year:

Hughes led Wisconsin with 25 assists last season. He popped off for just 7 goals as well for a total of 32 points. However, one of Hughes’ goals might have been one of the prettiest of the season, where he went between the legs against Boston College:

What to expect this year:

Hughes has been named team captain, which is always a huge honor and great for development. It shows the Bruins that he has leadership qualities they’ve seen in him. He’s has also been named to the Big Ten 2017-18 Players to Watch list. Hughes has improved his stats every season while at Wisconsin so it wouldn’t surprise me to see an improvement for the 2015 6th round pick. Being a senior it is a forgone conclusion that Hughes will turn pro at the end of the season.


Trent Frederic, Wisconsin – Sophomore

What he did last year:

Frederic was Big Ten Freshman of the year, 2nd team Big Ten, and Big Ten All-Freshman team. Frederic came on the scene without much fan fair. He was the guy everyone said the Bruins “reached” on by taking him with the 29th overall pick in the 2016 draft. Frederic, possibly extra motivated after hearing all the hate, exceeded expectations by scoring 15 goals, 18 assists for 33 points in 30 games.

What to expect this year

Trent Frederic was named unanimously to the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list. Frederic has been named an assistant captain for this upcoming season as a sophomore. Due to injury last season he only played in 30 games, so an increase in point production should be there. He will most likely miss some games because of playing for Team USA at the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo. I expect that Trent Frederic should be in the running for Big Ten Player of the Year. Like Ryan Donato, I expect Frederic to turn pro after this season.


Defense

Ryan Lindgren, Minnesota – Sophomore

What he did last year:

Lindgren earned Big Ten All-Freshman team last season. He also ran into some bad luck last season. While representing USA at the World Junior Championships in Montreal/Toronto Lindgren missed the Gold Medal Game due to illness and then he missed the Big Ten Tournament and the NCAA Tournament due to a broken leg. The stay at home defenseman scored 1 goal and dished out 6 assists for 7 points in 32 games.

What to expect this year:

Lindgren was also named to the Big Ten Preseason Players to Watch list. He is never going to put up huge points because that just isn’t the type of player he is. But he will represent Team USA at the World Junior Championships again with fellow Big Ten player Trent Frederic. Lindgren has also been named an assistant caption for the upcoming season at Minnesota. He should be in no hurry to turn pro as there are plenty of defensemen in the Bruins system. He may be better served to wait until after his junior season to let all the chips fall into place.


Cam Clarke, Ferris State – Sophomore

What he did last year:

Clarke a 6’2″ 190 pound defenseman played in 35 games for Ferris State last season recording 11 points (1 goal and 10 assists).

What to expect this year:

Clarke is a work in progress. He put up monster numbers in the NAHL prior to going to Ferris State. Now the adjustment period should be over and we should see some growth from the experience he gained his freshman season. Look for Clarke’s stats and opportunities to improve as a sophomore. He should be getting power play time now, and that will help pump the numbers a bit.


Wiley Sherman, Harvard – Senior

What he did last year:

Sherman played a big role on the Harvard Crimson defense last season that made it all the way to the Frozen Four. He was an anchor on the blue line, playing in all 36 games for Harvard while recording 13 assists.

What to expect this year:

Wiley Sherman was selected way back in the 2013 draft as a long term project. The monstrous 6’7″ defenseman was always going to stay at Harvard all four years. And Harvard is going to be a loaded team again. They have been picked to finish first in the ECAC in both the Coaches Poll and the Media Poll. Sherman again will be a big part of the defense shutting down the opponents and allowing the studs up front like Ryan Donato to do their thing.


Goalie

Jeremy Swayman, Maine – Freshman

What he did last year:

Swayman is the only new addition to the Bruins prospect list of NCAA players. He will be attending the goalie factory that is the University of Maine. The Anchorage, Alaska native played for the Sioux Falls Stampede in the USHL last season where he finished with a 2.90 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 32 games.

What to expect this year:

Maine is not a very good team so I expect Swayman to get some time between the pipes and face a decent amount of rubber. Swayman will be competing against a sophomore and a junior for playing time. It will be interesting to see how he transitions to Hockey East level of play.


College hockey is one of the hidden gems of NCAA sports. It is not a big money sport, it doesn’t have corporate bowl games, and you don’t have to worry about huge scandals rocking the sport like men’s basketball. Sorry, I had to take a shot at basketball.

Yet people should realize that 30% of players in the NHL played NCAA hockey. And that number is continually growing. Just take a quick look at the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins for proof. They had fifteen, yes fifteen, NCAA players dress for them in the Cup Final back in June. And where did all their goals come from? Right here:

Just think, last year you could have seen future NHL stars Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Clayton Keller, Donte Fabbro, and Jake Oettinger all playing on the same team college hockey team at Boston University.

I cannot wait to see more of these types of players play in person again.

Hockey fans, get out to your local college rink. Enjoy the show. The Bruins aren’t the only team tapping the NCAA talent pool. And make sure next year you brag that you saw future NHL stars play in college.

Follow us on Twitter @BostonPucks and let’s talk hockey.