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SIX PACKS ON ICE, NCAA EDITION: College Stars Ink Deals with NHL Teams

It’s hard to believe that while some NHL teams are still fighting for a spot in the playoffs, college hockey is wrapping up with the Frozen Four in Philadelphia April 10 & 12th. Unless you’re a die-hard fan of one of the teams headed to Philly, then your season is done and you’re eagerly anticipating the start of next season.

For some teams, that means new faces on the ice. Come autumn, there’s a chance your college team will have a different look to the starting line-up, perhaps even new faces between the pipes and wearing a “C�? on the front of their jerseys.

Here’s a quick recap of some of the college hockey stars that are leaving the bright lights of campus for “The Show.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk – University of New Hampshire

Oh, does that name sound familiar? It should. Trevor is the younger brother of current Toronto Maple Leafs star James, who also attended UNH. Twenty-year-old Trevor signed a two-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent. In the past season, shortened to 26 games after an ankle injury, van Riemsdyk tallied 23 points (four goals, 19 assists). At 6’ 2�? and 185 lbs., he is mobile enough to be a threat at the blue line.


Phil DiGiuseppe – University of Michigan

DiGiuseppe made a huge impact in Ann Arbor as a freshman three years ago. Since then, the 6’ 1�?, 195 lb defenseman has remained quiet for the Wolverines. Michigan had made the NCAA tournament for 22 consecutive seasons before failing to miss the tourney the last two. Despite the lack of games after the regular season, DiGiuseppe inked an entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after playing 35 games with the Wolverines this season. Hopefully the Canes organization can help him improve in the areas he had been making strides in at Michigan, especially working the corners.


Bryce Van Brabant – Quinnipiac

Ranked 78th in SBNation’s Top 100 NHL Prospects, Van Brabant is doing what all young hockey players dream of: playing for their hometown’s NHL team. A native of Morinville, Alberta, Van Brabant is forgoing his senior season with the Bobcats to bring his impressive junior season to the NHL, signing an entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames. He has 22 points this season with 10 of his 15 goals during a powerplay. Van Brabant played in his first NHL game on April 7, 2014.


Jordan Oesterle – Western Michigan University

A native of Dearborn Heights, Michigan, Oesterle is following in fellow Bronco Danny DeKeyser’s footsteps by leaving Kalamazoo a year early, signing an entry-level contract with Edmonton. The defenseman secured a spot in the top line this season, ending the year with a +2 rating. WMU has a good history in recent years of turning out top-notch defenseman (four have signed with NHL teams in the last three years), so keep an eye on Oesterle.

Want to be an NHL defenseman? Apparently all you have to do is play for Western Michigan. 4 dman signing NHL deals in 3 years. Love it!

— Brett Beebe (@BrettBeebe) March 31, 2014


Alex Guptill – University of Michigan

Another junior choosing to forgo his senior season with a college team is Michigan forward Alex Guptill. Afer 110 games with the Wolverines, Guptill is trading the maize & blue for the green and gold of the Dallas Stars, who drafted him in the third round of the 2010 NHL Draft. During his career in Ann Arbor, Guptill tallied 44 goals and 50 assists.


Mac Bennett – University of Michigan

Prior to Guptill being drafted in 2010, Mac Bennett was drafted in the third round by the Montreal Canadiens in 2009. The captain of the Wolverines scored two goals and 12 assists this season. What? That’s not impressive? Well some leaders are quiet leaders, and Bennett has been a solid leader in Ann Arbor.


Chris McCarthy – Vermont

Senior forward and captain of the Catamounts, 6’ 1�?, 205 pound McCarthy was ranked second among undrafted prospects on SB Nation. The forward signed a free agent contract with the New York Rangers back in March. McCarthy led the team in scoring this season, netting 18 goals along with 24 assists for a total of 42 points in 38 games. Numbers don’t lie. This guy has the potential to be a star on Broadway… on the ice anyway.


Christian Folin #26 of the UMass Lowell River Hawks had plenty of teams chasing after him including the Kings, Blackhawks and Lightning.

Christian Folin #26 of the UMass Lowell River Hawks had plenty of teams chasing after him including the Kings, Blackhawks and Lightning.

Christian Folin – Umass-Lowell

Okay, so far, we’ve seen juniors and seniors ink deals with NHL teams. Folin is just a sophomore and is forgoing his final two years to join the Minnesota Wild. Did the Wild hit the free agent lottery? Perhaps. A native of Sweden, Folin was reportedly coveted by Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago. At 6’3�?, the defenseman has both size and speed, which will help him play well in both zones.


Garrett Thompson – Ferris State

A native of beautiful Traverse City, Michigan, Thompson had already put a solid senior season in the books. He helped lead the Bulldogs to a WCHA championship with 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists) in 43 games. The 6’2�?, 191 pound senior signed a one-year contract with the Ottawa Senators. He has the size to make a big impact on offense so keep your eye on him.


Ryan Dzingel – Ohio State

The Senators selected Dzingel in the 7th round of the 2011 draft. Since then, the junior has made significant improvement in Columbus. This season, he led the Big Ten in scoring with 22 goals. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Like others from the Midwest, Dzingel has the ability to use his size effectively in both zones.


Jake McCabe was selected 44th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He saw his first game with the squad earlier this week.

Jake McCabe was selected 44th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. He saw his first game with the squad earlier this week.

Jake McCabe – Wisconsin

In case you’re unaware, most of these guys go to the AHL team for the respective NHL team they sign with. In McCabe’s case, he is going directly to Buffalo, because they definitely need all the help they can get. The junior defenseman signed a three-year deal last week after playing 100 games with the Badgers. McCabe was selected to captain Team USA in the 2013 IIHF World Juniors Tournament, winning gold. While McCabe would probably rather be in Philadelphia with his fellow Badgers, a tough loss against North Dakota ended that dream in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The leadership McCabe showed with Wisconsin made him an early favorite for captain next year. Instead, he saw his first game with Buffalo April 3, finishing with an even +/- and 16:20 of ice time. Hopefully McCabe can bring some of his skills and improve the Sabres record… next year.


Stephen Johns – Notre Dame

The Fighting Irish have 11 seniors listed on the 2013-14 roster. That means a lot of guys have some big decisions to make after being eliminated in the West Regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament. One of them has already made quite a big decision. Johns signed a two-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks last week. Something Johns has to work on is his decision making. That’s something that he needs to balancing his size to be effective in both zones.


Connor & Kellen Jones – Quinnipiac

After four years at Quinnipiac, twin brothers Connor and Kellan Jones are both headed to Edmonton with the Oilers. Kellen was a 7th round draft pick for the Oilers in 2010, while Connor joins as an undrafted free agent. Kellen ended his run at Quinnipiac with 53 goals and 74 assists, while Connor had 49 goals and 80 assists. The two will spend the rest of the AHL season with the Barons in Oklahoma City.


A native of Commerce, MI, Connor Hellebuyck joined UMass-Lowell for the 2012-2013 season and made such an impression, he's leaving Massachusetts to go to the Winnipeg Jets.

A native of Commerce, MI, Connor Hellebuyck joined UMass-Lowell for the 2012-2013 season and made such an impression, he’s leaving Massachusetts to go to the Winnipeg Jets.


Connor Hellebuyck – UMass-Lowell

Yes, even tendys are making moves! Sophomore UMass-Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck has signed an entry-level contract with the Winnipeg Jets. Hellebuyck’s path was one well-known to hockey players from the Midwest: high school, to the NAHL, to college and on to “the show.�? Obviously, not all hockey players are so lucky, but his story is proof that the system can work for you, if you’re willing to put in the work. Once in Lowell, Hellebuyck was able to set all doubts aside by leading the nation in goals against average and save percentage in both of his two years. If he can keep that dominance going, he’s going to be a breath of fresh air for the Jets organization that drafted him in the 5th round of the 2012 NHL Draft.


Nic Kerdiles – Wisconsin

Another sophomore chosing to leave campus quite early is Wisconsin’s Nic Kerdiles, a second-round draft pick in the 2012 NHL Draft. Kerdiles was selected 36th overall by the Anaheim Ducks and signed an entry-level contract last week. In 60 games with the Badgers, Kerdiles tallied 26 goals and 45 assists for a total of 71 points. He has a wonderful ability to compliment his size – listed at 6’1�? and 201 pounds – with smooth hands and a large stature, he can make a big splash with the Ducks.


Ryan Faragher – St. Cloud State University

The same day Kerdiles signed with Anaheim, the Ducks signed St. Cloud State University’s Ryan Garagher. Like Hellebuyck, the junior goaltender spent time in the NAHL before going to college, but Faragher wasn’t expected to make a big impact right away. After starting goaltender Mike Lee was injured, Faragher was able to show why he deserved the title of starter. Faragher ended his freshman campaign with a 2.77 GAA and .914 save percentage. The next year, he was able to avoid the sophomore slump with a 2.27 GAA and .914 save percentage while leading SCSU to their first-ever WCHA title and first-ever Frozen Four appearance. Maybe the slump was made unaware of his start as a freshman because as a junior, Faragher posted just a .905 save percentage and a brutal 2.79 GAA – well, brutal in comparison to his first two years. He’ll have to get his confidence back and then much higher while with the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals before heading to the west coast for Anaheim.

These are just a handful of the athletes that have inked their trip to “The Show�? after shining bright for their college teams. Some stayed four years, others are leaving after as little as two. Want to talk about your predictions for their future success?


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