With the 2019-20 NCAA season at the halfway mark, individual seasons are taking shape and several undrafted players are making a case for NHL scouts this spring.
Over the past few seasons, undrafted college players have earned NHL deals following breakout seasons with their DI programs. Among those players have been Taro Hirose, Joseph Duszak, Zach Aston-Reese, and Spencer Foo.
While each player has had differing success at the professional level, the annual wave of breakout performances will only further the link between the NCAA and NHL as several names will look to build on impressive starts this winter.
1. Marc Michaelis
SR | Minnesota State
F | 18 GP, 10 G, 12 A, 22 Pts.
Michaelis is already familiar with all eyes on him as he and the Mavericks face a lot of expectations entering the spring as a national title favorite. The Germany-born forward has been a go-to guy for coach Mike Hastings, and his reliable offense has seen him record 140 points (61 G, 79 A) in 135 NCAA games.
There’s not much coincidence between the Mavericks’ national rank at No. 1 and Michaelis on pace for is best per-game rate of his career. At 15-2-1, they’re riding a 10-game win streak, during which Michaelis has posted five goals and eight assists.
The 24-year-old was a surprise omission from an NHL development camp this summer, instead spending the offseason back in Germany, but his current production won’t keep NHL scouts away for long.
2. Devin Brosseau
SR | Clarkson
F | 15 GP, 7 G, 16 A, 23 Pts.
Another forward with NHL size at 6-foot-1, 203 pounds, Brosseau is on pace for a career year offensively and his 1.53 points per game are third nationally. As a second-year captain, Brosseau is more than offensive firepower and has been an important factor in Clarkson’s string of successful seasons with consecutive tournament berths.
Brosseau reached the 100-point mark for his career earlier this season and now has 106 points (39 G, 67 A) in 131 games with the Golden Knights. With 17 games remaining — ahead of postseason action — Brosseau is on pace for 15 goals, 34 assists, and 49 points.
Week 3️⃣ #ECACHockey Player of the Week: Devin Brosseau.— ECAC Hockey (@ecachockey) October 28, 2019
The @ClarksonMHockey captain registered 4️⃣ points this weekend, including three goals to help the Golden Knights earn a split at No. 6 Wisconsin. pic.twitter.com/VoSZqkgtBH
It would make for career highs in each category and for a likely top-five finish in league scoring. It’s often the highest scorers who garner the most hype when it comes to NHL interest; teams are always looking for depth scoring.
3. Alec Rauhauser
SR | Bowling Green
D | 19 GP, 6 G, 13 A, 19 Pts.
There’s always room in the NHL for stable defensemen, and Rauhauser would do any club a lot of good. He’s been a rock on the Falcons’ backend since his freshman season in 2016-17.
Rauhauser had a dip in offensive production last season, but it was a trade-off with a heavier dedication to his own zone. Now his two-way game is shining as he sits tied for the team scoring lead and has an outlying plus-10 on a team whose next highest defensive rating comes in at plus-five.
With a 6-3, 216-pound frame, he has the size to immediately slot in on an NHL blue line without much of the physical learning curve other undrafted, often undersized players experience. His transition into a 200-foot defenseman has been strong enough to warrant interest from every NHL team.
4. Mike Lee
SR | Sacred Heart
D | 17 GP, 2 G, 19 A, 21 Pts.
Another defenseman and the current highest point-per-game defenseman in the NCAA without NHL rights, Lee’s impressive season could see him become the first Sacred Heart alumni to ever play in the NHL. Granted such a scenario is a way off and of no guarantee, it is a safe bet to assume he’s already caught the eyes of at least one NHL club.
Lee is currently pacing the Pioneers with 21 points as they sit two points behind Army in Atlantic Hockey with two games in hand. The 23-year-old has recorded 40 points (6 G, 34 A) in 52 games with the Pioneers since the start of the 2018-19 season.
He transferred from Vermont following the 2016-17 season and was ineligible during the 2017-18 campaign. That transfer has allowed him to take on a bigger role and grow his offense in time to garner some attention in his senior year.
5. Mitchell Chaffee
JR | Massachusetts
F | 17 GP, 12 G, 10 A, 22 Pts.
The Minutemen’s coming-out party of 2018-19 has carried over into a promising 12-4-1 start, and Chaffee has led the way. After finishing third in team scoring last year, the loss of Cale Makar and Jacob Pritchard left Chaffee as the go-to returner and he has not let his team down.
UMass still good. They beat Union 5-0 tonight to go to 3-1. Undrafted Junior Mitchell Chaffee gets better every season. 2 goals tonight. 6 points in the first 3 games. pic.twitter.com/bWbqIZ3ocz— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) October 20, 2019
Still a junior, there’s a possibility the 21-year-old is continuing to only scratch the surface of his ability. He’s proven to be good at the toughest thing to do at any level: score goals. Now, he’s on pace for 24 tallies and 44 points for the regular season.
He’s yet another sizable body at 6-1, 206 pounds and the captain is likely to have a big choice come spring about taking the next step or returning for his senior season for one more go at UMass.
6. Johnny Walker
JR | Arizona State
F | 16 GP, 10 G, 8 A, 18 Pts.
Another junior, Walker has also shown a knack for goal-scoring after leading the league in goals per game in 2018-19, finishing second in total goals with 23. Now at the halfway mark, he’s scored 10 more, looking like he’s ready for another 20-goal campaign.
The Arizona native has recorded 50 goals in 80 games (76 total points) with the Sun Devils and has been an integral piece in the team’s adaptation to DI hockey the past few years.
Going toe to toe with adversity isn’t easy for any athlete and Walker has taken it in stride, simultaneously displaying his ability and ASU’s dedication to their growth with every goal. Interest is likely, but Walker will be faced with a choice: go pro, or go again in 2020-21.
With half of the season to go, names are bound to rise and fall on NHL scouting lists. With a couple of juniors appearing above, there is still a strong possibility a senior season is in their plans, which would drag them out to 2021.
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.