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While some aspects of the college hockey season might be up in the air due to COVID-19, one thing is certain: the WCHA is loaded with possible breakout stars.
As a conference that has developed numerous NHL players and prospects — including David Backes, Colton Parayko, and Marc Michaelis — the next wave of talent is ready to take the reigns in 2020-21.
Here’s a list of names to make sure you know before the puck drops this fall.
Owen Sillinger | F
After a 34-point (14 G, 20 A) effort in 37 games, Sillinger is ready to lead the Beavers into 2020-21 as the team’s leading returning scorer. The pending junior improved his numbers across the board in his second year with the program and is a safe bet not only to top the young team again, but to battle for some of the best numbers in the WCHA.
Elias Rosén | D
In his freshman season, Rosén put up an agreeable 24 points (5 G, 19 A), showing significant improvement in the North American game after a rough USHL season in 2018-19. In a better league among better opponents, the Swedish defenseman was strong on both sides of the ice. As a sophomore he’ll earn a bigger role and be the leader on the backend.
Alex Barber | F
Barber’s 17-point improvement this past season could be argued as a breakout, but he’s still got another level he can reach with the Falcons. More consistency in the defensive zone will help him push the game forward and be better served with his offensive talents and 5-foot-9 stature. He’ll see lots of time with the loss of two leading scorers.
Up next in our player features, #6 Alex Barber:— Bowling Green Hockey (@BGFalconHockey) April 6, 2020
?: Dublin, Ohio
?: Central Illinois Flying Aces (USHL)
?: Tallied a career-high 27 points in 2019-20, tying for fourth on the team!#AyZiggy pic.twitter.com/HdqMlCyKmv
Lake Superior State
Pierre-Luc Veillette | F
After a 12-goal, 18-point increase from his freshman season, Veillette could be in for another massive jump on the scoresheet with a win-win relationship to a familiar linemate (more to come). Veillette will be among the young leaders as the Lakers look to get back to regular wins after a slouched 2019-20 season.
Louis Boudon | F
Boudon’s impressive 27-point freshman season came with a regular spot alongside Veillette as the duo formed great chemistry and will be able to more then fill the hole left by leading scorer Max Humitz. He should enter 2020-21 with confidence and become a greater shooting threat to increase his unpredictability and naturally add offense.
Ashton Calder | F
Despite Calder being the team’s leading returning scorer, with the duo ahead of him he may be the victim of a “too many cooks in the kitchen” occurrence. Moreover, save for a massive season at LSSU, there can only be so much offense. Still, the sophomore is in for a career year.
With eight of the top nine scorers of 2019-20 being underclassmen, the Huskies have a young core and bright immediate future. Rather than individually highlighting their abilities to breakout, they collectively are Alec Broetzman, Trenton Bliss, Brian Halonen, Tommy Parrottino, Colin Swoyer, Logan Piettila, Eric Gotz, and Parker Saretsky.
The Huskies have the makings of a young, breakout team that could make real noise in the WCHA in 2020-21.
Lucas Sowder | F
A changing of the guard is happening at powerhouse Minnesota State as three of the top four leading scorers graduate from the pre-COVID favorite for the Frozen Four. Sowder returns as the leading scorer after a freshman season that saw him record 31 points in as many games.
Men's Hockey | Sowder Named 2019-20 WCHA Rookie of the Year https://t.co/5Sx8o2aN7R— Minn. St. Athletics (@msumavericks) March 17, 2020
Nathan Smith | F
Alongside Sowder is Smith, who is also set to enter his sophomore campaign and keep the winning tradition alive in Mankato. The Winnipeg Jets prospect is in for another strong season as the Mavericks certainly have no intention of settling down.
Dryden McKay | G
McKay’s numbers have been among the best in the NCAA for the past two seasons, but a significant alteration to the offensive corps will likely give him a bigger test. Any improvement or maintenance of his career numbers will keep the Mavericks besting opponents and in line for another shot at the NCAA Tournament.
Griffin Loughran | F
After finishing second in goals and tying 11th in the national scoring race, Loughran had a huge sophomore season in Marquette. Besting 23 goals and 39 points is no easy feat, but merely matching it is enough to show last season wasn’t a flash in a pan. Still, with young, rising players surrounding him and creating multiple threatening lines, Loughran could be up to the task.
Vincent de Mey | F
Heading into his junior year, de May is ready to build on his 15-goal, 28-point campaign. With 131 shots in 38 games last season, he’s showing he isn’t afraid to shoot the puck and create rebounds. Similarly to the aforementioned Boudon, mixing in some passing with his shooting will decrease predictability to spread the wealth for the Wildcats to become more dangerous.
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.