Hockey East's Next 5 NHL Stars: Makar, Fabbro, & More

Last month, FloHockey announced a new streaming partnership with the NCAA’s Hockey East, set to kick off during the 2018-19 conference tournament and as the playoffs draw closer we take a look at the future NHL stars set to compete.

The chronicles of Hockey East alumni turned NHL stars is well documented and seemingly grows each year. The 2018-19 season is no different, as five players continue their development toward the next level.

1. Cale Makar

SO | UMass (Amherst)

D | 25 GP, 9 G, 21 A, 30 Pts.

Drafted: Round 1, 4th overall in 2017 by the Colorado Avalanche

Following a deflating 2015-16 season, the Colorado Avalanche entered the NHL Draft Lottery with the substantially highest odds of landing the No. 1 overall pick until they dropped the maximum four spots; landing with the fourth overall choice.

That choice was a consensus pick in defenseman Cale Makar, who was highlighted as an all-around player capable of providing offense and protecting his own zone once earning an NHL job. The downtrodden Avalanche accepted Makar’s choice to join UMass and round out his game in the NCAA.

Now a sophomore, Makar has become a dominant force at the collegiate level. He was named team captain of an annually dangerous squad and has become the pivot of two-way play projected of such a draft pick. Makar has looked like a man amongst boys during his second season of collegiate hockey and is set to be the Avalanche’s No. 1 defenseman for years to come.

Makar, 20, is third in NCAA defensive scoring with 30 points for the Minutemen. At the end of the season, he’s projected to join the Avalanche and add to a formidable defense and top tier offense alongside Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog.

2. Dante Fabbro

JR | Boston University

D | 25 GP, 5 G, 17 A, 22 Pts.

Drafted: Round 1, 17th overall in 2016 by the Nashville Predators

Fabbro, 20, is yet another golden defensive prospect for the Predators, a team that has produced Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Suter, Seth Jones, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis. 

At the end of his sophomore season with the Eagles last year, he expressed a desire to stay with BU due to the Predators’ enviable top-four and his expected (and projected) placement within the NHL. As a two-way defender, Fabbro plays with poise and regularly makes the high-percentage play, even when an opponent doesn’t see it coming.

As mentioned, he’s locked behind a solid top-four unit in Nashville, which could make him a highly tradable asset come the 2019 NHL trade deadline given the Predators’ high expectations of a Stanley Cup.

With offense being the team’s focus (and overall necessity) during the 2019 NHL Playoffs, Fabbro could find himself on the move for either a high-end rental or top-six forward with solid term left on his current contract.

3. Joel Farabee

FR | Boston University

LW | 25 GP, 10 G, 14 A, 24 Pts.

Drafted: Round 1, 14th overall in 2018 by the Philadelphia Flyers

Last May, FloHockey projected Farabee to be selected 14th overall to the Philadelphia Flyers, which is exactly where the left wing found himself last June. Farabee has been touted for his leadership quality and at 18 years old, has been one of the top-performing freshmen in the NCAA. 

The Cicero, New York, native led all freshmen in scoring, sitting a single point below the PPG mark. He holds the stature of a future NHL player, standing at 6-foot-1, and an albeit lanky 170-pounds.

Farabee and the aforementioned Fabbro have discovered a solid chemistry, but that is to be expected when you have two high-IQ players working together, helping show each other the types of give-and-goes and passing plays established in the NHL.

Farabee already understands the next level and is working toward a sure-fire roster spot in 2019-20 with a budding Philadelphia Flyers team. He brings consistent two-way play and unmatched offensive creativity.

4. Joseph Woll

JR | Boston College

G | 9-11-3, .923 SV%, 2.26 GAA, 2 SO

Drafted: Round 3, 62nd overall in 2016 by the Toronto Maple Leafs

Woll’s numbers have only gotten better over his three years at Boston College, where the Eagles have had their share of overturn from their past days of consistent NCAA contention.

Fittingly, as non-Maple Leafs fans are sick of hearing about the team’s days of old, the current team is finally past its history with a group of Auston Matthews, John Tavares Mitch Marner and Frederik Andersen.

Woll, 20, appears to be the next in line to the strong talent in Toronto and while he remains a few years off, he could be the answer to salary cap purgatory down the line. Woll has built on his NCAA stats in each of his three seasons and has maintained the 2019-20 database, before potentially becoming the missing link behind Andersen.

But projecting a goalie to reach the next level is among the hardest decisions to make. Woll still has a year of NCAA eligibility left, as well as some time in the AHL before getting a crack at the NHL and overtaking Andersen for the starter’s role.

5. Oliver Wahlstrom

FR | Boston University

RW | 22 GP, 7 G, 6 A, 13 Pts.

Drafted: Round 1, 11th overall in 2018 by the New York Islanders

Wahlstrom was an obvious selection at No. 11 in June after a monstrous year with the U.S. National Team Development Under-18 Program. He scored 48 goals and 94 points in 62 games. He also added 45 points (22 G, 23 A) in 26 games with the USNTDP Juniors team.

The 6-foot-2 forward has a proverbial nose for the net and a disposition to get it there, be it his powerful shot or offensive creativity leaving him on the goalie’s doorstep; however, he experienced a slow start, or a wake-up call, at the beginning of his college career with just four goals and a single assist through 15 games.

He’s found another gear over his last eight games, with eight points (3 G, 5 A) in that span. A strong finish for Wahlstrom and even stronger summer could earn him a spot in the NHL next season, but even through the absence of John Tavares the team remains a threat capable of waiting on its top prospects’ NHL readiness.

Don’t miss these players in action when the Hockey East conference tournament starts March 15. Watch the best-of-five series live, right here on FloHockey.

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

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