Since 75 wasn’t enough, our prospect expert has expanded his annual look at the college players he is most excited to watch this season. It’s going to be a great year for fans of Wisconsin and the Philadelphia Flyers, among others.Cole Caufield|UW AthleticsI feel like I say this every year, but it’s really hard to whittle down my annual list of NCAA players to watch. So this season, I’ve expanded to 100 players from the previous 75. And guess what? It was still incredibly hard. There is an abundance of talent in the college game today and thanks to the growing success of the NTDP and USHL – plus more Europeans coming over – we’re seeing more and more NHLers come from the NCAA path. So here I am again, with the list of the players I am personally excited to see this season. Because new is fun, many of these players tend to be freshmen or sophomores and all of them are either drafted by NHL teams or will be this summer. I do not have any undrafted free agents this year, because we get to them at the end of the year. Also, remember that this is a pure meritocracy – some programs will have multiple players on this list, while others will have none. Not everybody gets a ribbon in my world.
But there is a ton of talent here and it promises to be an excellent NCAA campaign, so let’s get to the top 100 players I’m excited for this season.
Cole Caufield, RW, Wisconsin: He may not have been the highest draft pick of this crop, but Caufield’s offensive game is mesmerizing. How the Montreal pick fares as a freshman is such a compelling question.
Trevor Zegras, C, Boston U: No longer overshadowed by NTDP teammate Jack Hughes, Zegras can cut a swath of offensive destruction in Hockey East. The Terriers freshman is an Anaheim prospect.
Alex Turcotte, C, Wisconsin: Another NTDP product, Turcotte is a Los Angeles pick who was brilliant at the world under-18s and has the talent to be an immediate threat for the Badgers.
Jack Dugan, LW, Providence College: The Vegas prospect is coming off an excellent freshman campaign and I can’t wait to see what the power forward does for his sophomore season.
K’Andre Miller, D, Wisconsin: An incredible two-way defenseman who looked great this summer at the World Junior Summer Showcase, Miller is a New York Rangers pick with loads of upside.
Spencer Knight, G, Boston College: One of the best American goaltending prospects in years, Knight is a Florida pick who enters his freshman season with a ton of hype.
Cam York, D, Michigan: A top-end puckmover drafted by Philadelphia, York was coveted by numerous NHL teams. But the Wolverines get first crack at his services.
Dylan Holloway, C, Wisconsin: A late 2001 birthday and 2020 draft prospect, Holloway is a big kid with excellent skating skills who joins the Badgers this season.
Matthew Boldy, LW, Boston College: The offensive skills are excellent and if Boldy can hit the ground running, the Eagles will have a freshman force. He’s a Minnesota pick.
Johnny Beecher, C, Michigan: The speed, skill and size make for a devastating package. Beecher, a Boston Bruins first-rounder, won’t be underrated for much longer.
Ryan Johnson, D, Minnesota: A second-generation Gopher who excels at moving the puck up the ice, Johnson is a Buffalo prospect and the son of ex-NHLer Craig Johnson.
Wade Allison, RW, Western Michigan: Injuries have bedeviled him the past two seasons in Kalamazoo, but now the farmboy-strong Philadelphia pick gets a chance at redemption.
Bobby Brink, RW, Denver: Another Philadelphia pick, Brink comes into Denver with a load of offensive tricks and he can really make a line sing.
Morgan Barron, C, Cornell: It’s been a charmed college career so far for Barron, who nearly notched a point-per-game as a sophomore. He’s a New York Rangers pick.
Scott Perunovich, D, Minnesota-Duluth: Two national championships in a row and now the St. Louis pick and offensively-skilled defenseman can go for three.
Jacob Bernard-Docker, D, North Dakota: Looked great as a freshman, now JBD returns with some experience. He’s a solid, two-way Ottawa prospect.
Alex Newhook, C, Boston College: Incredibly talented and driven, Newhook comes in from the BCHL with a great resume. He’s a Colorado first-rounder.
Reilly Walsh, D, Harvard: With Adam Fox gone, expect Walsh to get even more offensive looks on the back end for the Crimson. Walsh is a New Jersey pick.
Shane Pinto, C, North Dakota: Size, smarts and a two-way game make Pinto a very enticing freshman to keep an eye on. He’s an Ottawa prospect.
Yan Kuznetsov, D, UConn: A 2020 draft prospect who could have stayed in the USHL, Kuznetsov was highly pursued by the Huskies, who get his size and defense right away.
Alex Vlasic, D, Boston U: A big D-man who plays a shutdown game, Vlasic is a Chicago pick who was also pursued hard by the OHL’s London Knights this summer.
Ruslan Iskhakov, C, UConn: Small and slippery, Iskhakov put up some pretty good numbers as a freshman. He’s a New York Islanders pick.
Zac Jones, D, UMass: The Minutemen lost Cale Makar and Mario Ferraro over the summer, so Jones has big puckmoving shoes to fill. But the New York Rangers pick is a good one.
Will Lockwood, RW, Michigan: The gritty and talented Vancouver pick could have turned pro, but Lockwood wanted one more shot at glory with the Maize and Blue
Tyler Madden, C, Northeastern: The Vancouver Canucks pick has already proven himself to be a tenacious and talented player. Can he be a point-per-gamer as a sophomore?
John Leonard, C, UMass: A holdover from the Minutemen’s national championship final team, Leonard is a San Jose pick who can provide a lot of offense
Wyatt Kalynuk, D, Wisconsin: A surprise offensive weapon his first two seasons with the Badgers, Kalynuk is a Philadelphia pick who will help lead the back end again.
Layton Ahac, D, Ohio State: The freshman blueliner is a Chris Tanev-type of defenseman who will bolster the Buckeyes blueline. He’s a Vegas prospect.
Sampo Ranta, LW, Minnesota: Coming off a nice World Junior Summer Showcase with Finland, Ranta is a Colorado pick with size and skill.
Ethan Phillips, C, Boston U: A smaller pivot with lots of skill and a willingness to go into traffic, Phillips is a Detroit prospect and one of the Terriers’ intriguing freshmen.
Jackson LaCombe, D, Minnesota: The Shattuck-St. Mary’s product was snapped up by Anaheim in the draft and now he brings his awesome skating to Dinkytown.
Isaiah Saville, G, Omaha: A Vegas draft pick who looked great in the USHL last season, Saville joins a Mavericks team in need of a big-time stopper.
Evan Barratt, C, Penn State: The Chicago pick broke out offensively with the Nittany Lions as a sophomore; now he returns for a shot at team glory.
Ian Mitchell, D, Denver: Another Blackhawks draft pick, Mitchell is an ace offensive defenseman who probably could have turned pro. Score one for the Pioneers.
Dylan Samberg, D, Minnesota-Duluth: The big, physical two-way defenseman has known nothing but national championships with the Dogs. He’s a Winnipeg pick.
David Cotton, C, Boston College: Another big dude, Cotton has become a go-to offensive force for the Eagles. The incoming senior is a Carolina pick.
Tomas Vomacka, G, UConn: After splitting the crease with Adam Huska as a freshman, Vomacka now gets a chance to shine as the Huskies starter. He’s a Nashville prospect.
Emelio Pettersson, RW, Denver: The super-talented Norwegian was a playmaking star as a freshman. Let’s see what the Calgary prospect can do for an encore.
Noah Cates, C, Minnesota-Duluth: Incredibly smart and driven, Cates is a Philadelphia pick coming off a very accomplished freshman season that ended in a title.
Jack Drury, C, Harvard: Great motor and an all-around game mark Drury’s upside and the Carolina pick had a nice freshman season with the Crimson last year.
Trevor Janicke, C, Notre Dame: A dark horse favorite in the draft for many, Janicke was snapped up by Anaheim and now he takes his talents to South Bend.
Peter Diliberatore, D, Quinnipiac: A puck-moving defenseman and Vegas pick, Diliberatore will get more chances for points with Chase Priskie and Brandon Forntunato gone.
Jayden Struble, D, Northeastern: The incoming freshman is a strong dude and a great skater, so the college adjustment will be fun to watch. He’s a Montreal pick.
Brandon Kruse, LW, Bowling Green: Practically a folk hero at this point, Kruse was a point-per-gamer as a sophomore for the Falcons. Vegas took him in the draft.
Tanner Laczynski, C, Ohio State: Tough to play against, the Buckeyes senior and Philadelphia pick could put up some monster numbers this year.
Demetrios Koumontzis, RW, Arizona State: Coming off a successful freshman season with the Sun Devils, look for the Calgary Flames pick to be an offensive driver.
Matthew Stienburg, C, Cornell: A burgeoning power forward making the leap from prep school, Stienburg is a Colorado prospect with a nasty streak.
Ryder Donovan, RW, Wisconsin: With a big frame, skating and scoring ability, the freshman brings an enticing skill set to the Badgers. He’s a Vegas pick.
Jordan Harris, D, Northeastern: A new-school defenseman who excels at moving the puck, Harris is a Montreal prospect. He’ll get more points with Jeremy Davies now gone.
David Hrenak, G, St. Cloud State: The big Slovakian netminder was solid as a sophomore; let’s see how good the Los Angeles prospect can be as a junior.
Benton Maass, D, New Hampshire: He fell back to earth after a dynamic freshman season; can the Washington pick find his offense again as a junior?
Marc Del Gaizo, D, UMass: A key blueline returnee from last year’s powerhouse squad, Del Gaizo is now a Nashville draft pick and he’ll have to be big for the Minutemen.
Jack LaFontaine, G, Minnesota: The Carolina pick transfers from Michigan after playing last year in the BCHL. He’ll get crease competition from Winnipeg pick Jared Moe.
Mattias Samuelsson, D, Western Michigan: Solid defensive defenseman blocks shots and plays physical. The Buffalo pick will be crucial on the Broncos back end.
Nathan Smith, C, Minnesota State: The Mavs will try to rebound from a first-round tourney exit and Smith, a Winnipeg pick and freshman, will help the offense.
Slava Demin, D, Denver: A two-way defenseman who showed well as a freshman, the Vegas pick returns to a solid Pioneers blueline corps.
Arvid Henrikson, D, Lake Superior State: After a year getting used to North American hockey in the USHL and NAHL, the big Swede and Montreal pick joins the Lakers.
Christian Krygier, D, Michigan State: Forecasted as a defensive defenseman, Krygier opened eyes with some offense at the World Junior Summer Showcase. He’s a New York Islanders pick playing with his twin brother Cole (a Florida pick).
David Farrance, D, Boston U: An offensive defenseman and Nashville pick, Farrance more than doubled his freshman point total as a sophomore. What can he do as a junior?
Ben Brinkman, D, Minnesota: He went to school early and took his lumps. Now Brinkman is a Dallas pick with experience heading into his sophomore season.
Magnus Chrona, G, Denver: A towering goaltender taking over the Pioneers crease from fellow Swede Filip Larsson, Chrona is a Tampa Bay pick with a lot of talent.
Max Gildon, D, New Hampshire: The big offensive defenseman has been a great driver for the Wildcats through two seasons. Gildon is a Florida pick.
Nikita Pavlychev, C, Penn State: Another big dude, Pavlychev is a Pittsburgh prospect whose production shot up as a junior. Get ready for a massive senior campaign.
Jakov Novak, LW, Bentley: It was always about potential with Novak, the Ottawa pick and power forward. He had a nice freshman campaign but there is still plenty of room to grow.
Josiah Slavin, LW, Colorado College: Jaccob’s younger brother is coming off a solid USHL season and bring size and scoring to the Tigers. He’s a Chicago pick.
John Farinacci, C, Harvard: Great hockey sense is Farinacci’s calling card and he lit up the prep ranks last year. Now the Arizona pick makes the big jump to the ECAC.
Blake McLaughlin, LW, Minnesota: Looked solid at the World Junior Summer Showcase. McLaughlin is an Anaheim pick coming off a very nice freshman campaign.
Spencer Stastney, D, Notre Dame: The type of physical, defensive defenseman you hate to play against, Stastney is a Nashville pick who always seems to play well in big games.
Patrick Moynihan, RW, Providence College: An unsung hero of last year’s dominant NTDP squad, Moynihan is a New Jersey pick who brings size and work ethic to the Friars.
Austin Wong, RW, Harvard: This one’s a true personal fave. Wong is a Winnipeg pick who stirs up trouble every shift. He’s a hard hitter who can also go bar-down.
Liam Gorman, C, Princeton: A big frame and nice potential highlight Gorman’s scorecard. He’s a Pittsburgh pick who comes in from the prep ranks.
Judd Caulfield, RW, North Dakota: Another NTDP product, Caulfield has a power forward profile and the ability to dig for pucks in traffic. He’s a Pittsburgh pick.
Jack Rathbone, D, Harvard: New-school defenseman coming off a solid freshman year. The Vancouver pick will be another beneficiary of Adam Fox’s departure.
Curtis Hall, C, Yale: His big frame and attention to detail make Hall an excellent two-way center. The Boston pick will be a sophomore this season.
Logan Hutsko, RW, Boston College: Now a junior with the Eagles, Hutsko is a Florida pick who overcame brutal injuries early in his career to become a great playmaker.
Ronnie Attard, D, Western Michigan: A record-setting scoring defenseman in the USHL, Attard joins the Broncos overripe. The Philadelphia pick will contribute right away.
Sammy Walker, RW, Minnesota: Coming off a great summer in Da Beauty League, Walker will keep building his offensive resume. He’s a Tampa Bay prospect.
Jack Adams, RW, Union: His imposing frame has made him a serious threat in the ECAC through two years. Now the Detroit pick returns for a big junior campaign.
Jeremy Swayman, G, Maine: One of the busiest goalies in the country last year, Swayman is a Boston pick who can really hold down the fort.
Ben Mirageas, D, Providence College: Physical defenseman enters his junior year with the Friars. The New York Islanders will be part of another solid collective.
Aarne Talvitie, LW, Penn State: Solid, all-around player who complements skill players. Talvitie is a leader and New Jersey pick. Freshman season hampered by injury.
Jachym Kondelik, C, UConn: A Nashville pick with great size and offensive ability, Kondelik is a great playmaker who is entering his sophomore season.
Vladislav Firstov, LW, UConn: Yet another European star recruited by the Huskies, Firstov is great with the puck and has a nice shot. He’s a Minnesota pick.
Grant Mismash, RW, North Dakota: A crash-and-banger coming off a tough sophomore campaign, Mishmash is a Nashville prospect.
Case McCarty, D, Boston U: A physical defenseman coming in from the NTDP, McCarthy is a New Jersey pick who keeps the opponent honest.
Robert Mastrosimone, RW, Boston U: A tenacious freshman who plays bigger than his frame, Mastrosimone is a Detroit pick who can also bring secondary offense.
Mike Robinson, G, New Hampshire: The veteran goaltender was a workhorse for the Wildcats as a sophomore and the San Jose pick will be big once again.
Jonny Tychonick, D, North Dakota: His freshman season was a learning experience, but that’s part of the process for the wildly entertaining offensive D-man and Ottawa pick.
Drew Helleson, D, Boston College: Coming in from the NTDP, Helleson is a Colorado pick who gives the Eagles a big blueliner who is hard to play against.
Todd Burgess, RW, RPI: The offensive potential has always been there, now it’s time for Burgess to break out for the Engineers. He’s an Ottawa prospect.
Jack McBain, C, Boston College: The big Minnesota pick enters his sophomore season with the Eagles with NHL pedigree and an evolving two-way game.
Anthony Romano, C, Clarkson: Coming in from the USHL where he won a title with Sioux Falls, Romano is an Arizona pick who can put the puck in the net.
Andre Lee, LW, UMass-Lowell: Big winger won a USHL title with Sioux Falls, where he upped his offense in the playoffs. The Swedish kid is a Los Angeles pick.
Filip Lindberg, G, UMass: Showed some excellent potential last season when the Minutemen went on their run. Minnesota nabbed him in the draft right after.
Skyler Brind’Amour, C, Quinnipiac: Rod’s kid was always long on potential and now he comes in for his freshman season with the Bobcats. Skyler is an Edmonton pick.
Patrick Harper, RW, Boston U: The small but dynamic Nashville pick is in line for a big year on the Terriers’ top line. Harper is entering his senior season.
Karch Bachman, LW, Miami: The RedHawks lost some key players from last year, so Bachman will have to up his offensive game as a junior. He’s a Florida pick.
Seth Barton, D, UMass-Lowell: The two-way blueliner returns to Lowell after a respectable freshman season. He’s a Detroit pick with nice potential.
Cameron Clarke, D, Ferris State: Now a senior with the Bulldogs, Clarke is a right-shot Boston pick and a key member of the Ferris State blueline.
Kale Howarth, LW, UConn: Towering sophomore can also play center. He’s a Columbus pick with a lot of potential.
Tags: NCAA, prospects, montreal canadiens, anaheim ducks, philadelphia flyersConnect: About the AuthorRyan KennedyRyan Kennedy is the associate senior writer and draft/prospect expert at The Hockey News. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all called his house. He lives in Toronto with his wife and kids where he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.