10 NCAA Players To Watch In 2017-18

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By Jacob Messing

The wait is almost over for hockey fans.

Social media is teeming with #IsItOctoberYet, NHL training camps have started, and teams are beginning to take shape. But mid-September doesn’t just mean a new professional season; the puck is set to drop October 1 for college hockey.

To that end, we take a look at ten players -- some new, some returning -- who carry serious hype for the 2017-2018 season.

Henrik Borgström | C

University of Denver | Sophomore

2016 Round 1 | No. 23 overall by Florida Panthers

The first of three Denver players highlighted, Borgström finished tied for first on the team with 22 goals and second with 43 points. The 6-foot-3 Finn displayed a strong two-way game his freshman year, going plus-23 over 37 games with the Pioneers.

The 20-year-old center stabilized the team’s second line, which was comprised of three freshmen entering the 2017 NCAA tournament. Another big season is on the horizon for Borgström as the ninth-leading scorer returning to Division 1 hockey. Denver will rely heavily on the Finn in search to repeat as NCAA Champions.

Dante Fabbro | D

Boston University | Sophomore

2016 Round 1 | No. 17 overall by Nashville Predators

In his freshman season, Fabbro didn’t quite live up to the expectations that come with being a defenseman drafted by the Nashville Predators. In 36 games, he scored six goals and 18 points for the Terriers, but still finished second on the team in defensive scoring behind Charlie McAvoy.

With McAvoy joining the Boston Bruins, the 19-year-old Fabbro will see more ice time for the annually competitive Terriers. He’s a reliable two-way defenseman who has shown the ability to command all three zones and push play in the right direction.

Adam Fox | D

Harvard University | Sophomore

2016 Round 3 | No. 66 overall by Calgary Flames

Fox has the potential to be a steal for the Flames for his draft position in 2016. The 19-year-old led all NCAA defensemen with 40 points in 35 games last season and was the only defenseman to finish top 50 in scoring.

He was impressive in all aspects of the game last year, and it’s worth noting his hockey IQ and understanding of the game saw him have a plus-19 defensive rating and take just six penalty minutes. The undersized blue liner be relied will be Harvard’s go-to on the top pair moving forward.

Tanner Jaillet | G

University of Denver | Senior

Undrafted

Jaillet returns as the Pioneers’ No. 1 netminder after improving his win total, GAA, and save percentage in each of his first three seasons. As the 2017 Mike Richter Award winner for the top NCAA goaltender and coming off an NCAA championship, he’ll be a highly coveted NHL free agent following the 2017-18 season.

The 24-year-old will be the key to Denver’s potential repeat, even without top defenseman Will Butcher, who signed with the New Jersey Devils last month. The offense’s ability to score, coupled with his continued development, puts the Pioneers as the odds-on favorites.

Mason Jobst | C

Ohio State University | Junior

Undrafted

Listed at 5-7, Jobst is among the smallest in college hockey, but his offensive numbers are impressive. The 23-year-old improved his output across the board as a sophomore and finished second to all Division I players returning in 2017-18, behind only senior Dylan Sikura.

The speedy forward has let his production do the talking -- 19 goals and 55 points in 39 games -- and pending another solid campaign, Jobst could find himself as one of the few players of his size and frame in the NHL one day.

Cale Makar | D

University of Massachusetts-Amherst | Freshman

2017 Round 1 | No. 4 overall by Colorado Avalanche

Known for his pure talent, Makar has the makings of a franchise defenseman. After a breakout year in the AJHL that saw him score 24 goals and 75 points in 54 games, many considered the Calgary native to be the best defender in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Although he’s undersized at 5-11, his ability to direct play and make the players around him better will see the Minutemen take a step forward this year after posting double-digit wins just twice over the past eight seasons.

Casey Mittelstadt | C or LW

University of Minnesota | Freshman

2017 Round 1 | No. 8 overall by Buffalo Sabres

Mittelstadt made regrettable headlines at the NHL combine this past June for failing to do a single pull-up. However, Connor McDavid was in the same boat in 2015 and look how that panned out. The 6-0 18-year-old flies up and down the ice, overmatching any opponent with his smarts and sense. He’s a high-risk, all-reward player.

He scored 21 goals and 64 points in 24 games with Eden Prairie High and then seamlessly transitioned to the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers, adding another 13 goals and 30 points in 25 games.

Josh Norris | C

University of Michigan | Freshman

2017 Round 1 | No. 19 overall by San Jose Sharks

The 18-year-old was a slight under-the-radar selection at 19th overall, but increased his stock with 27 goals and 61 points in 61 games with the U.S. national U18 team this year. In 2016-17, he eclipsed his goal totals from the previous two season combined.

He’s a pass-first player -- similar to Joe Thornton -- with whom the Sharks are widely familiar. He’ll be a big piece for U of M, which is changing under the helm of new coach Mel Pearson; the Wolverines will be hungry to get back to their fine history.

Keith Petruzzelli | G

Quinnipiac University | Freshman

2017 Round 3 | No. 88 overall by Detroit Red Wings

Anticipated to go earlier than his No. 88 draft spot, Petruzzelli shined in his first development camp and looks ready to fight for Quinnipiac’s starting role this season. He had a learning season with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks; his numbers dropped a bit, but he’s destined to take the next step.

At 6-6, the 18-year-old already has the frame of the modern-era NHL goaltender. Given the access to top-line training equipment and regiments, he’ll continue to fill out and hammer out any kinks in his game this year.

Troy Terry | C

University of Denver | Junior

2015 Round 5 | No. 148 overall by Anaheim Ducks

The star of the 2017 World Juniors Championships, Terry played a large role in Team USA’s gold medal-winning performance. Prior to the tournament, the sophomore was already on pace to outscore his freshman numbers, but his newfound confidence from the international stage accelerated the growth.

The now-20-year-old scored nine goals and 21 points in 18 games before joining Team USA. After the tournament he recorded 13 goals and 24 points with nine multi-point games in the Pioneers’ final 17. Should he duplicate his success and carry his confidence into his upperclassman years, he’ll be among the league leaders in scoring and points.


Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.

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