It’s been ridiculously difficult to keep up with all of the college signings of late, but I figured I’d do my best to help you NHL fans out. You might not know much about your team’s newest acquisition, especially if he wasn’t drafted. So hopefully you’ll find this guide useful.
Since it seems there’s about a dozen college players signing contracts per day, I wanted to keep an open post, something I’ve never done before, to continually update with notes on each of these signings, if only to give you a small taste of the player your favorite team just picked up. This will be broken down by NHL team in alphabetical order, to make it easy for you to check in on how your favorite team or their biggest rival has been doing so far on the market.
You can also check out College Hockey, Inc.’s handy college signing tracker, which has a running list of player’s signed to professional contracts in the NHL, AHL and ECHL.
Coming up after the jump, notes on every college player signed to an NHL contract so far this year. (Last Updated: 4/13)
* – denotes early departure // # – denotes drafted //^ – denotes free agent
Ryan Hegarty# — Maine — It doesn’t sound like the Ducks are going to get a chance to sign Justin Schultz, but Anaheim did lock up one of its other D prospects this week. Ryan Hegarty, Anaheim’s fourth round selection in 2008, is coming off of a career year at Maine. Typically more of a stay-at-home, defensive stalwart, Hegarty put up a career best 14 points, which included 12 assists. He had never had more than eight points in a season previously, but Hegarty didn’t get drafted for offensive skills. The 6-foot, 200-pound blueliner has gotten more and more physical with each year and has become a strong defender in all areas of the ice. You don’t typically think of shut-down D to be the best skaters, but Hegarty has a really nice stride. He can play with pace and keeps a lot in front of him. He might not be Schultz, but Anaheim has a strong prospect in Hegarty to develop into an NHL Dman.
Chris Wagner*# — Colgate — Drafted by Anaheim in the fifth round in 2010, Wagner really blossomed in his sophomore season at Colgate. After posting 19 points as a freshman on a struggling team, Wagner exploded this year with a staggering 51 points including 34 assists. Sure, it helps to play with the nation’s leading goal scorer in Austin Smith, but Smith probably owes just as much to his set-up man. Smith and Wagner accounted for 44 percent of Colgate’s goals in 2011-12 and more than 30 percent of the team’s total points. That’s the definition of a dynamic duo. Wagner has decent size, and can clearly dish. Putting up 19 goals in the ECAC isn’t anything to sneeze at either. Now Anaheim can see how Wagner will develop away from Smith and against professionals.
Torey Krug*^ – Michigan State — The Bruins made a big splash by landing Krug as a free agent. Krug received the max ELC for leaving Michigan State a year early. The Spartan junior was a Hobey Baker finalist after posting 34 points, including 12 goals from the blueline. Though he lacks size, Krug is an elite offensive defenseman with terrific vision and excellent decision-making skills.
Zach Trotman*# — Lake Superior State — The Bruins locked up their seventh round pick from 2010 after Trotman completed his junior season for the Lakers. The big, 6-4, 202 forward had his best college season to date with 11 goals and 21 points. Trotman may be a bit of a longer-range prospect, but he appears ready for this next step of playing pro at the AHL level.
Justin Florek# — Northern Michigan — Florek was a prized recruit when he signed with his local college and delivered on all those expectations, posting 30 or more points twice in his four-year career. Florek led the Wildcats with 19 goals and 36 points as senior captain. Like Trotman, he has a big frame, but has more touch around the net. Florek is already paying dividends at the AHL level with four points through his first three games.
Tommy Cross# — Boston College — Cross was a player that needed all four years of college to develop, but he certainly made the most of it. The 2007 second-rounder has grown into a big, strong two-way defenseman who is especially good in his own zone. Cross posted a career year for the national champs with 19 assists and 24 points. Cross stands at 6-3, 210 pounds, skates well and can play the body. After the way his game has grown, he could see himself in the NHL in the not so distant future after some extra seasoning in the AHL.
Brian Flynn^ — Maine — The Sabres get a nice pickup by signing the Maine senior. Flynn posted 156 points over his four-year career and was particularly good as a senior, playing a major role in Maine making it to the Hockey East championship game. He has decent size and strength and posted 30 assists this year. He consistently produced throughout his four-year career.
Connor Knapp# — Miami — The Sabres locked up their 2009 sixth-round pick and a darn good prospect at that. Knapp has a stunning career stat line with a 46-22-11, 1.94 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and 13 shut outs. Knapp has tremendous size at 6-5, 215 and may have been the best NHL prospect among NCAA goaltenders this year. Goaltenders can be brought along gradually, but Knapp’s four-year workload should go a long way in preparing him for the pro game. He’s a very strong prospect for Buffalo to have in its system.
David Eddy*^ — St. Cloud State — Eddy’s college career has been interesting, to say the least. After a stellar freshman campaign, his sophomore year was derailed by academic and off-ice-related suspensions. When at his best, Eddy can be a big-time offensive threat. After the long layoff last year, Eddy underwhelmed a bit, offensively. He posted 25 points as a junior. He’s still intriguing because of what he’s shown in the past.
Brady Lamb^ — Minnesota Duluth — It’s been really intriguing to watch the maturation of Brady Lamb from last year to this. He was a big part of the D corps of UMD’s national championship squad, and played an even bigger role this year as a senior. He has great size and strength, which lends itself well to his physical game, but Lamb also possesses high-end offensive tools. He makes a great first pass and owns a big shot from the point. Lamb posted a career-best 31 points (9g-22a) this year. He’s also a Calgary native, so he’ll get the chance to play for the team he grew up on.
Jeremy Welsh*^ — Union — Mere hours after Union was eliminated from the Frozen Four, Carolina announced it had signed the team’s leading scorer in Welsh. The big-bodied junior posted a team best 27 goals in 2011-12 and showed a strong power-forward style game. Though the Dutchmen lost to Ferris State in the Frozen Four, Welsh recorded his 100th career point in the game. Welsh uses his 6-3, 200-pound frame to win board battles, play the body and protect the puck. He has surprising puck skills for a player of his size and showed great scoring ability this year. He was certainly one of the higher-end college free agents available this season and Carolina did well to pick him up before anyone else even had the chance.
Brian Dumoulin*# — Boston College — Dumoulin, a two-time All-American, was easily one of the best defensemen in college hockey this year. With his size and strength, Dumoulin vastly improved his defensive game. His point-production dipped as a result, but he can still get the job done offensively with 28 points, including a career-best seven goals. At 6-3, 200, it’s not a stretch to expect the two-time national champ and Carolina second-rounder in the Hurricanes’ lineup on the opening night of the 2012-13 NHL season.
Terry Broadhurst*^ — Nebraska-Omaha — The Blackhawks selected Broadhurst’s younger brother Alex in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, and added Terry as a free agent. The junior forward finished second for the Mavericks with 36 points. He’s not big at 5-11, 162, but he skates well and possesses good offensive instincts. Broadhurst did quite a bit of damage for UNO in his three years, posting 90 points in just 110 career games.
Paul Carey# — Boston College — Finishing his collegiate career with two national titles, the Avs locked up a proven winner in Carey. A fifth-round pick in 2007, Carey has gotten better in each year of his career and his stats reflect that improvement. As a senior this year for Boston College, Carey finished with a career high 18 goals and 30 points. He has a solid frame and good strength and was one of BC’s best players in the Frozen Four.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Shawn Hunwick^ — Michigan — The senior goaltender may have gotten a contract based on necessity, as Steve Mason went down with injury, requiring the Jackets to call upon Hunwick as an emergency back up. He’ll stay with the club for the remainder of the season though and might get a chance to see some game action. This is one of the most incredible stories in hockey. Even if Hunwick doesn’t stick (he very well could), he’ll go down as one of the unlikeliest players to reach the NHL.
Sean Collins# — Cornell — Collins just wrapped up a really strong career for the Big Red. A seventh round pick by the Jackets in 2008, Collins had his best season to date. He was a big part of Cornell’s run to the national tournament and first-round upset of Michigan. Collins posted a career-best 13 goals and 26 assists in his senior campaign, a significant uptick in production from the previous year. Collins also has great size at 6-foot-3 and can play a two-way game. Cornell always develops good, gritty forwards that can push the pace and play the body. Collins is one of those guys.
Will Weber# — Miami — After a very strong four-year career at Miami, Columbus has to be pleased to get its 2007 second-rounder under contract. Weber has tremendous size at 6-4, 226 and can be a punishing defensive defenseman. He can handle himself a bit offensively, with a good first pass, but he’s much more of a stay-at-home type. With a pro body already, he could probably use some extra time. Oh yeah, he’s also tough as nails… if you need proof… click this link (not for the squeamish).
Jake Hansen# — Minnesota — Hansen certainly made the most of his four years at Minnesota, showing significant statistical improvement each year. During the Gophers’ Frozen Four run, Hansen played a significant role, playing some of his best hockey during the regional tournament. He posted career highs in goals (16) and assists (22) as a senior. With good size at 6-2, 182, Hansen has the right frame, but it is likely he’ll take a little while yet to crack the NHL lineup. Regardless, Columbus has to be happy with the progression of its 2007 third-rounder.
Alex Chiasson*# — Boston University — Chiasson picked up a great deal of the slack left by a pair of unexpectedly departed teammates. The big forward (6-4, 195) has shown marked statistical improvement over each of his three seasons at BU (increasing his point total by double digits each year), making him look ready for the jump to pro hockey. Dallas selected Chiasson in the second round in 2009, and he looks like he’ll be a strong player for the Stars down the road. Chiasson put up a career-best and team-leading 46 points this season.
Rielly Smith*# — Miami — Simply one of the best goal scorers in college hockey over the last two years, Smith jumped right into the Dallas lineup to help support a team that’s struggling to do what he does best. Smith was a Hobey Baker finalist this year after putting up 30 goals (second-best in the nation) and 48 points. His assist total went down as a Junior, only because he became the go-to scorer on the team. He’s a natural in that department.
Austin Smith# — Colgate — How great is this for Dallas? With Reilly and Austin, the Stars get two Smiths (unrelated), who just so happen to be the best goal-scorers in college hockey. Austin led the nation with 36 goals, the best goal-scoring season in over a decade in the ECAC, and was named one of the Hobey Hat Trick finalists. He has a good shot at winning the award. Smith put up 57 points in his explosive senior season. He could become the first Texas born, trained and drafted prospect to play for the Stars.
Detroit Red Wings
Riley Sheahan*# — Notre Dame — Detroit locked up its 2010 first-round pick after Sheahan put up a career year as a junior, posting nine goals and 25 points. Sheahan is a gifted two-way forward that can get involved physically. He has enough offensive skill to be relied on to score goals, but always plays a responsible game defensively. Sheahan has power-forward size at 6-2, 200, but he can adapt to just about any role.
Drew Shore*# — Denver — The Panthers signed their 2009 second rounder after he posted his best college season as a junior. Shore has shown an elite offensive game that has grown leaps and bounds over his three years at Denver. Improved skating, puck handling and scoring ability has turned Shore into a high-end offensive weapon. He posted back-to-back 20-plus goal seasons as a sophomore and Junior and served as the team’s co-captain this year. Shore was a constant presence in an inconsistent year for the Pioneers as a team, posting 1.26 points-per-game. He could see regular NHL action as early as next season if the Panthers want.
Los Angeles Kings
Brian O’Neill^ — Yale — The Kings tried signing O’Neill after last season, but O’Neill wanted to stick it out for his senior year at Yale. Despite a down year for the Bulldogs, O’Neill kept up his usual productivity, registering his third consecutive 45-plus point season. In that three-year span, O’Neill put up 137 points in the ECAC, a notoriously stingy league. Despite his small stature at 5-8, 165, O’Neill averaged over a point-per-game for his career, which can be incredibly difficult in NCAA hockey. Just a remarkable career for this diminutive forward.
Jason Zucker*# — Denver — I remember watching the Draft in 2010 and thinking to myself, how hasn’t Jason Zucker been picked yet? When Minnesota grabbed him 59th overall, I thought it was a coup for the Wild. Zucker lit college hockey on fire over his first two seasons. He notched 45 points including 23 goals as a freshman, then put up 22 goals and 46 points as a sophomore. His lightening speed, tenacity on the ice and filthy release are going to give the hard-on-their-luck Wild a jolt. Don’t be surprised if he finds a way to stick with the big club all season next year.
Greg Pateryn# — Michigan — A fifth-round choice of Toronto in 2008, Pateryn was part of the package the Leafs sent to Montreal for Mikhail Grabovski. Pateryn is a big, defensive defenseman who has some offensive capabilities as well. He could do a little bit of everything for the Wolverines and he did. From throwing checks to blocking shots, Pateryn was a rock for Red Bernson’s club. His offensive game has grown, too, as Pateryn posted 32 points over his last two seasons.
Jack Maclellan*^ — Brown — To be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about Maclellan beyond his statistics. That said, he did lead the Brown Bears for the last three seasons, registering 30 or more points and 14 or more goals in each. Brown has been a team that has struggled to score, but not Maclellan. He’s average sized and clearly was able to produce in the ECAC, where goals are awfully tough to come by.
Anthony Bitetto*# — Northeastern — Coming into Northeastern, Bitetto was looking like a stud offensive defenseman, and he was with 40 points from the blue line in the USHL. That kind of production is one of the reasons Nashville selected Bitetto in the fifth round of the 2005 draft. Bitetto has really developed into a gifted two-way defender. He has pro size at 6-2, 200, and good instincts. In just two seasons, he put up 35 points while going up against the best Hockey East has to offer. He might be a few years away, but Bitetto has become a very strong prospect.
New Jersey Devils
David Wohlberg# — Michigan — After signing an ATO with the Devils AHL affiliate, the big club signed Wohlberg to a two-year entry-level contract. Wohlberg has strength and power, but still shows offensive touch and a keen sense around the net. He reached double digits in goals each of his four years at Michigan, with 111 points total in his career. Wohlberg put up a career-best 33 points as a senior. Wohlberg was the Devils’ sixth-round pick in 2008.
New York Islanders
Brock Nelson*# — North Dakota — When drafted 30th overall in 2010 by the Isles, it was clear that Nelson, out of Warroad High School in Minnesota, was highly talented, but raw. A rail-thin frame also brought concerns that Nelson was a bit of a risk and would be easily pushed around. His freshman season didn’t do much to calm doubts, as Nelson was getting dominated physically and managed a less-than-exciting eight goals and 21 points as a freshman. Then came sophomore year and after entire off-season of building muscle and strength, Brock Nelson became who the Isles thought he was. Nelson led North Dakota with 28 goals and 47 points. The skill level and scoring ability Nelson showed in high school were there, but with the added muscle, he was able to do more with it. Nelson really could have gone either way. Stay a year, build even more strength, or get to the pros and test himself at a higher level. He might be in the AHL for a bit, but you wouldn’t expect he’ll be there long after the giant developmental leap he took this year.
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider*# — Boston College — One of the best NHL prospects in college hockey signed with the team that drafted him in the first round in 2009. The junior was the leading scorer for the national champs this year with a career-best 45 points. It was by far the best season of his collegiate career, as Kreider posted 23 goals and averaging just over a point-per-game. The Rangers thought highly enough of Kreider to sign him in time for the playoffs. Kreider has the deadly combination of size and speed and should be able to contribute at the NHL level rather quickly. He just keeps getting better and better.
Cole Schneider*^ — UConn — Schneider only needed two years at UConn to attract NHL suitors. In those two years, Schneider led the Huskies in points, posting a total of 78 as a freshman and sophomore. This year, the 6-2, 180-pound forward was incredible. He posted 22 goals, accounting for 20 percent of UConn’s goal scoring this year.
Chris Wideman# — Miami — Wideman had a remarkable college career at Miami, eclipsing 20 points in each of his four seasons from the blue line. Ottawa selected Wideman in the fourth round in 2009 after his stellar freshman campaign. It’s been a consistent effort from Wideman ever since. His tremendous on-ice vision and decision-making make him a weapon on the back end. He doesn’t boast great size, but Wideman has a good hockey brain and was a major part of Miami for these last four years.
Ben Blood# — North Dakota — The big, bruising Blood certainly lives up to his ominous name most nights. Blood showed a more rounded out two-way game as a senior this year, posting a career-best 21 points. Blood’s value lies in his defensive ability and physical game. The 6-3, 212-pound defenseman is a bear in his own zone in front of the net and along the walls. He can play on the edge of the rules sometimes, but provided an intimidating presence throughout his career on the blue line. Blood was a fourth-round choice by Ottawa in 2007.
Cal Heeter^ — Ohio State — Heeter was one of the very first college free agents to be signed this year. Heeter was simply one of the best goaltenders in all of college hockey over his four-year career. He has NHL size at 6-foot-4 and showed constantly improving skills over his career. Ohio State had a late-season collapse, but prior to that, Heeter was lights out. Goaltenders tend to take a bit longer to get to the NHL, but this was an incredible signing by Paul Holmgren.
Matt Mangene*^ — Maine — It seemed like things were slowing down on the college free agent front, but Tim Wharnsby reported the Flyers signed Mangene on Sunday. There wasn’t a lot of buzz surrounding Mangene, but the junior had a great season for the Black Bears. After starting the year in his natural position on defense, Mangene was moved up to forward and payed immediate dividends. The junior posted a career-best 34 points including 16 goals. Perhaps Mangene found a new natural position.
Scott Arnold*^ — Niagara — Arnold is another player I’m not as familiar with, but Phoenix was quick to snap him up after his sophomore season drew to a close. The 6-2, 185-pound forward scored 26 goals over his only two seasons in college hockey, but was an offensive dynamo in the CJHL with the Brockville Braves.
Chris Brown*# — Michigan — Phoenix has always been very high on their 2009 second-round pick, and with good reason. Brown has offensive skills, but brings a bit of snarl to his game. Brown has a power-forward frame, skates well and has some good hands for a big guy. He didn’t light the world on fire offensively, but posted 80 points over his three-year collegiate career. He throws the body around, too. As long as he continues in the direction he’s headed developmentally, it may not be long before Brown is throwing his weight around in the NHL.
Mike Lee*# — St. Cloud State — Though his season was limited by injury, when he was in the game, Lee was pretty darn solid. In just 16 appearances, Lee posted a 2.23 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. Over his three-year career, Lee put up a 32-29-9 record for the Huskies to go along with a 2.59 GAA and .919 save percentage. The Coyotes picked up the Roseau, Minn., native in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in the third round. When on top of his game and confident, Lee can be as good as anyone. He saw a lot of rubber at St. Cloud, but the allure of a pro schedule likely swayed Lee to forgo his senior season.
Beau Bennett*# — Denver — Bennett’s college career was marred by injuries in both his freshman and sophomore seasons, but Pittsburgh felt ready to sign its 2010 first-round pick. Bennett averaged over a point-per-game this season before getting knocked out for the rest of the year after posting 25 points as a freshman. Bennett is known as an elite offensive talent, having posted 120 points in his only BCHL season before heading to Denver. Though his time was brief in college, Bennett showed flashes of that high-end speed and skill. Bennett’s collegiate career feels a little incomplete, through no fault of his own, but no one thought he’d be around much more than two years anyway.
San Jose Sharks
Travis Oleksuk^ — Minnesota Duluth — The Bulldogs had one of the most prolific offenses in the country and Oleksuk was a very big part of it. The UMD senior put up 53 points, good for second on the team behind Hobey finalist Jack Connolly. Olksuk’s senior output was 20 points better than what he did as a Junior and he eclipsed 20 goals for the first time with 21. Oleksuk is strong on his skates and gets to the net really well. He’s not afraid to get his nose dirty and clearly has some serious offensive prowess. This was a nice free agent pickup for the Sharks.
Sebastian Stalberg*^ — Vermont — The younger brother of the Blackhawks’ Viktor Stalberg has taken a step forward in each of his three seasons with the Catamounts. He never overwhelmed offensively, but had a career year with 31 points on a team that really struggled. Like brother Viktor, Sebastian can burn. He has decent size and strength and likely will need a few years of seasoning in the minors, but he’s highly intriguing.
Matt Tennyson*^ — Western Michigan — After Danny DeKeyser announced he would return to school for his Junior season, everyone expected the rest of WMU’s vaunted D corps to come back, too. That was until news broke at that Matt Tennyson signed with San Jose. Though overshadowed by his sophomore teammate, Tennyson had a remarkable junior year. He was one of the nation’s leading goal scorers among defensemen with 11. He put up a career best 24 points, while displaying excellent instincts in his own zone. Tennyson has pro size at 6-2, 212 and skates extremely well. This was a savvy signing by San Jose.
St. Louis Blues
Jaden Schwartz*# — Colorado College — One of the most electrifying talents in college hockey this year, Schwartz was quick to sign with the Blues after his sophomore season ended. He’s not really big or strong, but Schwartz is supremely skilled with the puck on his stick. He has dynamic puck-handling skills, great vision, strong passing and deceptive goal-scoring ability. Over two NCAA seasons, Schwartz posted 88 points and was the straw that stirred the drink offensively for CC. He’s already scored two goals and added an assist through his first five NHL games. Schwartz is going to have a long, illustrious NHL career.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn# — Harvard — While Killorn lacked size, he was a huge offensive threat for Harvard, leading the team with 46 points this season. Tampa’s third round pick in 2007 increased his production in each of his four seasons and was a big reason the Crimson had a huge bonce-back year in 2011-12. As a senior, Killorn showed more of a goal-scorer’s touch with 23 tallies on the year. He outpaced his personal career best by 17 points this season. Killorn already has his first professional goal, scoring one through his first three games with the hottest team in the AHL, the Norfolk Admirals.
J.T. Brown*^ — Minnesota Duluth — Simply put, J.T. Brown was the best college free agent available, and out of seemingly no where, Steve Yzerman got him under contract. Many believed Brown would sign with Philadelphia after participating in the Flyers rookie camp this summer and receiving many complimentary tweets from Scott Hartnell. Brown looks like he’ll have more opportunities to contribute with Tampa, however. Brown came alive during UMD’s title run last year and kept right on going this year with 47 points as a sophomore. Brown doesn’t have a big frame, but he’s strong and fast. He throws his weight around well, and showed off improved scoring ability this year with 24 markers on the season. Because of his gritty, speedy game, Brown could contribute at the NHL level very soon.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Spencer Abbott^ — Maine — Though Abbott is from Ontario, this move was not made to appease Don Cherry. Oh no, Abbott was the nation’s leading point-getter with 62 during his senior season. He is one of three remaining Hobey Baker finalists and has a strong shot at winning it. Despite his small frame, Abbott showed the ability to take over games. He led the nation with 41 assists and put plenty of pucks in the net himself with 21 goals. Abbott improved his production by double-digits each season, eclipsing his personal best by 22 points this year. The size is going to be a concern at the next level, but you don’t leave production like that on the sidelines.
Joe Cannata# — Merrimack — One of the best goaltenders in the country over the last two years, Cannata injects even more depth into one of the best goalie stables in the NHL. Cannata, Vancouver’s sixth-round selection in 2009, stood on his head many times for the Merrimack Warriors. The 6-1, 200-pound netminder had a career year as a senior, posting a 2.18 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. He’s seen regular action for four years, which certainly will aid his development curve at the pro level. Goalies can be brought along slowly, and Cannata is likely no different. Still a great prospect to have.
Cameron Schilling^ — Miami — Schilling was a defensive stalwart for Miami over four years, but he also found ways to contribute offensively. Schilling’s production dipped in his senior campaign, as he put up 14 points, but that’s not where his value lies. Schilling is a big body who can play the role of shutdown defenseman. He’s probably a longer-range prospect, but Washington did well to get him in their system as a free agent.
Will O’Neill# — Maine — Winnipeg must be looking at the prospects selected during the Atlanta era with pretty somber attitudes. There were a lot of misses in the old Thrasher days, but Will O’Neill was a surprising seventh-round find in 2008. Coming off a career year for the Black Bears, O’Neill has shown a really rounded-out game. The numbers he put up from the back end are eye-popping for a college defenseman. As a senior, O’Neill collected a personal-best 33 points, including 30 assists. Putting up over 100 points from the blueline in college hockey is a rare feat. Winnipeg has to be excited to have an offensive defenseman like O’Neill, who can still play a strong defensive game, in the pipeline.