Despite the lack of live action due to the precautionary measures for COVID-19, the business side of hockey continues as organizations have plucked notable NCAA talent in the past couple of weeks.
The disappointing end to the collegiate season and various NCAA careers has at least sparked some NHL news, where teams have collected assets for the future through undrafted players as well as prospects.
Flyers Add In Philly
The Philadelphia Flyers have been one of the best stories this season and were storming through the league prior to the current hiatus. They continued to add to the system with official signings of Wade Allison and Tanner Laczynski.
Allison, the 52nd overall pick in 2016, wrapped up his third 20-point season in four years at Western Michigan, where he picked up 45 goals and 97 points in 106 NCAA games. An injury-riddled collegiate career has hindered Allison from typical development, but with a 6-foot-2 frame, he has the size and skill to compete at the next level, likely the AHL in 2020-21.
Tanner Laczynski has blossomed from a sixth-round pick in 2016 to a four-time 30-point player with Ohio State, including a 47-point season in 2017-18. Another sizable forward a 6-foot-1, the natural playmaking ability of Laczynski could see him and Allison become compatible linemates next season in Lehigh Valley.
There were 26 NCAA FWDS (NHL Drafted+FA) who scored at least 10 goals this season and had at least 20 assists.— Ted (@ThatGuy11920) April 2, 2020
**Freshman, Sophomores, Juniors, & Seniors included**
Target statistic: % of Primary Points that were Primary Assists
Tanner Laczynski=one of NCAA's best playmakers pic.twitter.com/MacT2Es9oz
Hurricanes Made Of Cotton
Another young, strong team, the Hurricanes inked 2015 sixth-round pick David Cotton, who worked his way up a strong Boston College team with three-straight seasons of improved point totals. Cotton captained the Eagles to 24-8-2 campaign and posted a personal-best 39 points (15 G, 24 A) in 32 games.
The Hurricanes then added his brother, Jason Cotton, out of Sacred Heart. Jason also posted a personal-best season as team captain, with 20 goals and 37 points in 34 games for a massive season at Sacred Heart.
The brothers, separated in age by two years, will likely be playing together in Charlotte next season to transition to the professional level in the AHL.
Sharks Take Bite
The San Jose Sharks have had a forgettable 2019-20 season, sitting among the bottom of the league. They have traded draft picks and prospects in recent years to sustain their Stanley cup contention, albeit to no avail.
So dipping into the NCAA is a cost-effective way to restock the cupboards. Defenseman Brinson Pasichnuk has been the rock on the blue line for the growing Arizona State program. With 107 points in 136 career games (39 G, 68 A) he’s shown a natural offensive ability, but retains defensive strategy.
The Sharks also added John Leonard out of UMass, a sixth-round draft pick from 2018. Leonard improved his goals totals in each of his three seasons with the Minutemen, leading to a 27-goal output in a 2019-20 season cut short. With 105 points (56 G, 49 A) in 106 games, Leonard’s offensive totals give him a strong chance to earn a role out of camp next season.
Following a drop-off from Stanley Cup contention after years of dominance, the Chicago Blackhawks need help just about everywhere. A third-round pick in 2017, Barratt’s past two seasons have seen him explode offensively after a slow rookie year.
With consecutive years scoring at or above a point-per-game, the six-foot center has the chance to play with some notable NHL players in 2020-21. He has amassed 39 goals and 95 points in 98 games with the Nittany Lions.
Perunovich chose to forgo his senior season to sign with the St. Louis Blues and could factor into the 2019 Stanley Cup champions relatively soon. Perunovich’s two-way play on the blue line helped Minnesota Duluth capture consecutive NCAA titles and the Bulldogs were making a run fro a third-straight prior to the season’s cancellation. He ended his collegiate career with 105 points (20 G, 85 A) in 115 games.
For a Duluth team built on defense, the subsequent loss of Perunovich and Samberg will certainly have an effect on the Bulldogs. For Samberg, a second-round pick by the Winnipeg Jets in 2017, he’ll have the chance to make an immediate impact for the Jets next season. His steady defensive game and growing ability to chip in offense will help a diminished blue line in Winnipeg take the next step in 2020-21.
Drafted ninth overall in 2019 by the Anaheim Ducks, Zegras was hailed for natural offensive ability and strong two-way play. With 36 points (11 G, 25 A) in 33 games as a freshman, he showed he’s ready for the next level.
#1 - Trevor Zegras 🇺🇸— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) April 1, 2020
Zegras is a dynamic playmaker with fantastic skating. He finished top 5 for all DY+1 Forwards in the #NCAA in P1/60 (3rd), EV P1/60 (5th), P1/GP (3rd), and EV GF%Rel (2nd). He's a very well rounded player with an incredibly high ceiling. pic.twitter.com/PLBD5RBsK1
The Ducks need all the help they can get in the offensive zone and Zegras will fit into a big group of young, promising forwards.
Harper was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville Predators in 2016 and has since developed with Boston University for the past four seasons, accumulating 115 points (41 G, 74 A) in 128 games. The forward broke out for a 37-point campaign this season, matching his rookie output prior to two down seasons.
The Florida Panthers added a stalwart defenseman out of Bowing Green as a coveted free agent. The two-way play of Rauhauser has been massive in the Falcons’ success the past several seasons. For a Panthers team that could use defensive help, Rauhauser will make a case for the opening night lineup next season.
Originally drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in the third round of the 2018 draft, Madden’s rights were sent to the Los Angeles Kings in the Tyler Toffoli trade. Madden forwent his last two years of eligibility and signed with an offensively starved Kings team likely to offer him a spot next season.
Another Duluth loss, the New York Rangers continue to pluck from the NCAA in both free agency and prospects. They’ve already signed K’Andre Miller and Patrick Khodorenko and have continued to build a strong team ready to reload for Stanley Cup contention. Richards ended his three-year stint with the Bulldogs compiling 26 goals and 66 points in 120 games.
While there are other NCAA free agency signings the above are among the biggest names being inked as other suitors miss out. More contracts will continue as teams speak to free agents and try to determine their best course of action with developing prospects.
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