Chase Priskie, Quinn Hughes, & More: 5 NCAA-To-NHL Defensemen

The secret is out on the path that leads from the NCAA to the NHL, as every year it becomes wider and more well-beaten from players traveling it on their way to prosperous professional careers.

This year, the path belongs to defensemen. As the NHL transitions to increased speed, skill, and scoring, teams have created a trend of smaller, offensively inclined defensemen. Across the NCAA, a number of defensemen are leading their teams in scoring and turning heads as NHL prospects. 

As a result, the market of undrafted college free agents thins and with the NHL’s changing style, it’s clear why the top scoring college defensemen are already spoken for.

1. Chase Priskie | SR | Quinnipiac University

3rd Round, 77th overall in 2016 | Washington Capitals

2018-19 Season: 17 GP, 12 G, 9 A, 21 pts.

Leading all defensemen with 12 goals and 21 points, Priskie’s campaign to date should see him a spot in the race for the Hobey Baker Award come season’s end. Priskie has been the definition of a team captain for the Bobcats after earning the honor as a junior.

“I know [Priskie] gets a lot of accolades for his offense, which he should,” coach Rand Pecknold told College Hockey News’ Nathan Pullen. “But he’s really worked at rounding out his game and becoming a 200-foot player.”

Priskie’s five game-winning goals leads the NCAA and he’s been a major part of Quinnipiac’s 14-3 record. His entry-level contract is on the horizon for the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

2. Adam Fox | JR | Harvard University

3rd Round, 66th overall in 2016 | Calgary Flames

2018-19 Season: 11 GP, 5 G, 15 A, 20 pts.

After two strong seasons with the Crimson, Fox has taken his game a step further and leads all college players with 1.82 points-per-game, registering a point on half of Harvard’s 40 goals this season.

Fox was a part of one of the biggest NHL trades over the summer. To some, he was a throw-in sent to the Carolina Hurricanes along with Dougie Hamilton and Michael Ferland in exchange for Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin. To others, he could prove to be the key piece for the Hurricanes as he continues to display his young talent for a rising team.

Hughes has been an absolute star for the Wolverines.

3. Quinn Hughes | SO | University of Michigan

1st Round, 7th overall in 2018 | Vancouver Canucks

2018-19 Season: 17 GP, 3 G, 17 A, 20 pts.

Hughes played a large part in the resurgence of Michigan hockey last season with his high game IQ, smooth skating and defensive presence. After being selected seventh overall by the Canucks, Hughes stated his intention to return to college and grow his game.

He’s done just that. Hughes does everything from the backend, but part of his maturation process will be to notice and execute the simple plays instead of feeling that he has to shoulder an entire team.

As he continues to add muscle and confidence, Hughes will have a long NHL career ahead of him. Expect him to join the thrilling rebuilding Canucks at the end of the season and have an immediate impact.

4. Cale Makar | SO | University of Massachusetts Amherst

1st Round, 4th overall in 2017 | Colorado Avalanche

2018-19 Season: 16 GP, 6 G, 13 A, 19 pts.

Everything went wrong for the Colorado Avalanche in 2016-17, including dropping the maximum of three spots in the draft lottery as their staggering odds of drafting first wound up as the fourth pick.

But with that pick they took Makar, whom many believed to be the best defensemen in the draft, even after watching Miro Heiskanen go third overall. Makar has stayed true to the hype.



He’s been touted as the full package defenseman and there’s no coincidence he was a member of the first Minutemen team to ever earn a No. 1 ranking.

5. Scott Perunovich | SO | Minnesota Duluth

2nd Round, 45th overall in 2018 | St. Louis Blues

2018-19 Season: 16 GP, 2 G, 14 A, 16 pts.

After a team-leading, 36-point freshman campaign last season for NCAA champion Minnesota Duluth in which he was named NCAA Rookie of the Year, Perunovich has remained potent for the young defensive core.

His surprising season saw him finally get drafted after two consecutive years of being passed over as he watched a total of 417 players get selected. But hard work pays off as they say, and Perunovich’s unyielding growth has made him the proverbial tortoise in a hare race.

His offensive instincts have covered up his defensive deficiencies, and he has steadily improved in his own zone and is priming himself for a future in St. Louis.

Honorable Mentions

Two New Jersey Devils prospects—Jeremy Davies and Reilly Walsh—wrap up the top seven in NCAA defensive scoring. Davies was drafted 192nd overall in 2016 and is in his junior year with Northeastern University. Walsh was selected 81st overall in 2017 and is a sophomore at Harvard University.

Don’t miss out on your chance to watch these NCAA stalwarts play. Check out FloHockey’s live-stream lineup, right here, to see when each player is in action.


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

RinkRap: Minnesota State's WCHA Win Worthy Of Masterpiece Theater

null

The further you travel into college sports playoffs, the greater the emotional stakes. It is why we watch, for the unscripted human drama playing before us. 

Wisconsin Shuts Out Minnesota In NCAA Women's Championship

HAMDEN, Connecticut — The soup got hot at just the right time for the Wisconsin Badgers.

Northeastern Wins Second Hockey East Trophy In Last 4 Years

BOSTON – For the second time in the last four seasons, the Lamoriello Trophy is headed to Matthews Arena.

No. 7 Seed Boston College Makes Hockey East History With Win

BOSTON – With this being the first UMass appearance in the Hockey East Championship semifinals since 2007, it was, perhaps, their first true test on the big stage in quite some time.

Northeastern Punches Ticket To Hockey East Finals With Victory Over Boston

BOSTON – The Boston University Terriers gave the Northeastern Huskies all they could handle in the opening semifinal game of the Hockey East Championship tournament on Friday night.

What To Watch: Hockey East & WCHA Title Games

The College Hockey postseason is in full swing and we have you covered for both the Hockey East Championship & WCHA Championship. Keep up with the latest schedules, news, and updates on your team before puck drop right here on FloHockey.tv

RinkRap: Providence Is Stuck In NCAA Netherworld

College hockey’s conference championships are the de facto round-of-64 and round-of-32 stages of the NCAA Tournament, whittling the field down to 16 teams. But there are notable exceptions that are often forgotten during this week prior to the conference championship game, teams floating in temporary NCAA purgatory. Consider the case of current No. 11 Providence. 

Karl El-Mir, David Cotton, & Hockey East's 5 Most Improved Players Of 2019

Prior to this season, Boston College’s David Cotton, UConn's Karl El-Mir and UMass’ Jacob Pritchard and Mitchell Chaffee had not finished among Hockey East’s top 10 in any offensive category or earned year-end league honors.

Frederic Letourneau An Unxpected Star For Bowling Green

Some readers might recall the term “90-pound weakling.” That was little Frederic as a 14-year-old hockey wannabe at the St-Louis Academie in Quebec, Canada. Classmate Louis-Philippe De Courcy sets the record straight. “He came in and was 5-2, 120 pounds,” said De Courcy, “could barely bench [press] the bar, kinda funny.”

Led By Cale Makar, 2019 Hobey Baker Award Field Narrows To 10

The list of Hobey Baker candidates is officially down to the top 10 and fans will have another chance to vote for their favorite player through March 31.