Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA hockey season is now over. While normally NHL teams would have to wait for each team to finish their season before looking at signing the top college hockey free agents, the end of the season means these players have all now hit the market. Some have even signed already. Today we begin a look at the top 50 available players.
These prospects don’t always have an impact at the NHL level, but the chances of finding a diamond in the rough ala players like Matt Read, Danny DeKeyser, Chris Kunitz, Andy McDonald, Dustin Penner, Tyler Bozak, Jason Garrison, Mike Condon, Ben Scrivens, Torey Krug, Christian Folin, Frank Vatrano, Zach Aston-Reese and others who have been uncovered in recent years is always a chance that NHL teams seem willing to take. At worst they give out an Entry Level contract, pay a player to play for their minor league club for a couple years, and then let them go. At best they get a player who can contribute at the NHL level, for a relatively low cap hit, without using a draft pick, or trading other assets. These players are low risk/big reward and so the competition to sign them will be fierce.
With that said, who are the top College Free Agents available? I’ve listed them in alphabetical order by their last name for ease of reference. We will go through 50 names in five parts.
All our 2019-20 Top Shelf Prospects articles are available here.
2020 College Hockey Free Agents
Jack Ahcan, Left Defence, St. Cloud State, 5’8″ 185 lbs; Senior
While he is undersized, Ahcan has a muscular frame that could help him adapt to the rigours of the professional game. The senior defenceman was named captain of the Huskies this season. He put up seven goals and 25 points in 33 games played. He also scored 34 points in 39 games in his junior season. Ahcan’s skating helps him to overcome his lack of size. While his speed in both directions is good, it isn’t elite. What really helps though is his agility and lateral mobility. He is tough to beat in one-on-one situations and is also good at evading checkers with the puck. Ahcan has good vision and passing skills to go along with a strong shot. He is very good on the powerplay, walking the line and using his quick changes of direction to open up passing and shooting lanes.
Roman Ahcan, LW, University of Wisconsin, 5’9″ 161 lbs; Sophomore
The younger brother of Jack Ahcan, Roman is a left-wing with the Wisconsin Badgers. He put up 14 goals and 11 assists for 25 points in 33 games this past season. It is likely that he heads back to school for at least another year and to add muscle to his frame, as his brother did. However, his skills might garner some interest this year. He has a very good wrist shot and a quick release. He is also a good skater. Ahcan doesn’t let his lack of size get in the way of playing a physical game. He gets in quickly on the forecheck and battles hard on the boards and in front of the net. His high energy game extends to all three zones as he is willing to work in his own end of the ice.
Wade Allison, Right Wing, Western Michigan, 6’2″ 205 lbs, Senior
Drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2nd Round of the 2016 NHL Draft, 52nd Overall.
Allison’s rights currently belong to the Flyers, but the college hockey loophole means that he could become a free agent this summer. Allison plays a simple game, but a highly physical and effective one. He is a budding power forward, willing to throw hits on the forecheck, get involved in battles along the boards, and go to the front of the net. Strong and powerful, Allison uses his well-developed frame to dominate against his peers. Allison has a strong and powerful wrist shot which he gets off with a quick release. He also scores goals in close to the net with quick hands and the ability to bury rebounds and get tip-ins. He has scored 10 goals and 23 points in 26 games this season.
Brandon Biro, LW, Penn State University, 5’11” 161 lbs, Senior
Signed by the Buffalo Sabres.
The captain of the Nittany Lions, Biro has been a reliable scorer for the team. He put up 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 points in 25 games this year. Last season, he scored 16 goals and 40 points in 37 games. Biro plays a solid two-way game, also being asked to play against top lines and to kill penalties. He as a good wrist shot, snapshot, and one-timer. Biro gets them off with a quick release. He also has a knack for finding the open spaces on the ice, allowing teammates to set him up. Biro could stand to improve his skating, but his strong positioning and hockey IQ help him to be in the right spot.
Devin Brosseau, C, Clarkson, 6’1″ 203 lbs, Senior
A two-year captain of the Golden Knights, Clarkson put up eight goals and 29 points in 28 games this season. Brosseau is a slick playmaker with excellent vision and playmaking skills. He extends plays with his strong puck control, waiting for a teammate to get open, and then can feather a tape-to-tape pass through tight openings. His shot can use some more power, but he has a quick release and good accuracy. Brosseau is strong on his skates and tough to knock off the puck. He is effective in the defensive zone as well, with strong positioning and good faceoff skills.
Cal Burke, C/RW, Notre Dame, 5’10, 183 lbs, Senior
Burke was the captain of a disappointing Fighting Irish team this year. He isn’t a big scorer but still put up seven goals and 21 points in 37 games. This was down from the 11 goals and 26 points in 29 games that he scored as a junior. A two-way player, Burke plays a strong positional game. He works hard along the boards, winning battles and controlling play. He also gets to the front of the net, where his quick hands help him to tip in pucks and pick up rebounds. Burke has a strong lower-body and good balance. He is tough to knock off the puck. This makes him strong on the cycle and has the vision and passing skills to get the puck to teammates in good spots. Going forward, he could be developed into a versatile bottom-six forward.
David Cotton, LW, Boston College, 6’2″ 201 lbs, Senior
Drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 6th round of the 2015 NHL Draft, 169th Overall.
While his rights are owned by the Hurricanes, if he is not signed by the summer, Cotton could become a free agent. The captain of the Eagles, Cotton scored 15 goals and 39 points in 32 games this year. This follows up on his junior campaign where he scored 23 goals and 36 points in 39 games. Cotton plays a physical game working hard along the boards and getting to the front of the net. He scores on rebounds, tip-ins and quick one-touch shots in tight. His instincts and hockey IQ are hight. However, Cotton’s skating is a bit of an issue and may hold him back at the next level.
Mitchell Chaffee, RW, UMass Minutemen, 6’0″ 207 lbs, Junior
The captain of the Minutemen has had really two straight really strong seasons, hovering around a point-per-game. He scored 18 goals and 42 points in 40 games as a sophomore before adding 16 goals and 29 points in 30 games in his junior season. The 22-year-old is another strong two-way player. He plays in all situations for the Minutemen, killing penalties as well as putting up points on the powerplay. Mitchell gets to the front of the net and can use his strength and balance to establish his position and create chances. He needs some work on his skating, as he could struggle with the speed at the next level.
Patrick Curry, LW/RW, Boston University, 6’0″ 185 lbs, Senior
The captain of the Terriers, Curry is another strong two-way player who is part of his team’s power play and penalty kill units. While he hasn’t been a big scorer in previous years, the offence came out this year as Curry scored 19 goals and 32 points in 34 games this season. Curry has shown an excellent wrist shot and improved his one-timer. His release is very good. Curry does a lot of the little things well, whether its grinding and forechecking in the offensive zone or helping out the defence in his own end.
Dawson DiPietro, LW, Western Michigan, 5’11” 185 lbs, Senior
DiPietro had a solid career with the Mustangs, scoring 35 points in 36 games as a sophomore, 23 points in 33 games as a junior, and 29 points in 35 games as a senior. One of the older players on this list, DiPietro is already 24. DiPietro is an excellent skater. He has excellent speed and gets there in just a few strides with his very strong acceleration. He has the hands to make plays with the puck while moving at this top speed. DiPietro could work on improving his shot and release though. If it was just a bit quicker, he could go far in the pro game.
Check out part two of our five-part series on this year’s top College Hockey Free Agents here.
College Hockey Free Agents Main Photo:
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