NHL College Free Agent Tracker 2014 (Updated 4/15)

With the college hockey season winding down and some teams already done for the year after missing out on the postseason, the NCAA free agent season is upon us.

Undrafted players currently too old to be selected in the NHL Entry Draft and playing in U.S. college hockey (or anywhere in North America) are eligible to be signed to entry-level contracts as unrestricted free agents. They can sign deals, most often at two years, up to the maximum allowed under the entry-level system in accordance with the previous draft. There used to be a graduated scale, but in the new CBA, the maximum ELC allowed from 2011 until 2022 is $925,000 annually.

Being a college free agent for some players is more advantageous than actually getting drafted. Players have some leverage in that they are good, cheap investments for a team. That means there’s a pretty large market for a lot of the higher-end college UFAs. Guys that are juniors have the leverage of going back to school another year and trying their hand the next year if they don’t find the offers appetizing enough. That puts any number of offers on the table. Beyond the max ELC, a team can offer immediate NHL playing time.

This year’s free agent crop doesn’t have quite the buzz of last year’s which featured two of the hottest undrafted free agents to come out of college hockey in the last two years (Justin Schultz drafted UFA buzz may never be topped). There are no Danny DeKeysers or Andrej Sustrs to bring all 30 teams to the table this season, but teams looking for value are going to find some quality players in the mix.

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Posted in American Prospects, NCAA, NHL | 12 Comments

2014 NTDP Tryout Camp Roster Announced

Every year around this time, the NTDP unveils its tryout camp roster for next season’s U.S. National Under-17 Team. This year, the NTDP is inviting 52 of the best American players born in 1998 to compete in the four-day camp to evaluate players for next year’s squad.

USAH NTDP LogoSome players will receive offers after camp, others will continue to be monitored into the summer player development camps and some could make the team that were not at the camp. It seems to happen every year.

This list is always fun to look at to get a feel for who some of the up-and-coming American stars are. Back when I worked in Ann Arbor, it was always fun to look back at past camp rosters and see all of the big names that were in this camp that either didn’t make the NTDP that year or decided not to go. Hindsight can be fun.

This list, however, is all about the future. Know these names as many of these players will be future NHL draft picks, college hockey stars and some will be either playing at the NTDP or in a top junior league as early as next year.

After the jump, the complete roster.

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Posted in American Prospects, NTDP, USA Hockey | 6 Comments

VIDEO: Ryan Fischer Remembered with Touching On-Ice Tribute

Late Friday night, I wrote about the shocking and tragic passing of Grandville (Mich.) High School senior Ryan Fischer and how his teammates played on hours after learning of the loss of their co-captain.

Grandville lost to Michigan high school hockey power Detroit Catholic Central, 3-0, in what was an emotional day for players on both sides of the ice. After the game, fans cheered the team loudly and held up both index fingers in honor of Fischer, who wore No. 11 for the Bulldogs, as Grandville joined together at their end of the ice.

The team then gathered closely and knelt to the ice in prayer. Soon after, they were joined by their opponents from Catholic Central, who surrounded the Grandville players to pray with them and honor Fischer.

It is one of the great acts of sportsmanship and a display of the goodness in humanity. They were opponents for 54 minutes, but after, they were just people. And the boys in maroon needed the support.

MLive.com posted video from the scene and it is an absolute must-watch.

Just a touching moment in an absolutely dreadful situation. Fischer was honored by his classmates with a memorial service at Grandville on Sunday.

The 17-year-old was a varsity football, baseball and hockey player. He planned to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point starting this summer, with a desire to study aerospace engineering.

Judging by the comments of those who knew him and the support shown Friday, Ryan Fischer left a remarkable impact on this world in the time he had.

Posted in High School Hockey | 1 Comment

The Johnny Gaudreau Question

There’s a lot we already know about Boston College junior Johnny Gaudreau.

We know he is the nation’s leading scorer with his 64 points being 10 clear of the next closest player. We know he has points in 29 straight games and has been held off the scoresheet just once this year. We know he’s averaged nearly a point and a half per game over three years at BC. We know he’s the most electrifying player in college hockey in years (possibly of the last decade or more) and we can say without much trepidation he’s going to win the Hobey Baker this year.

What we don’t know is what Gaudreau is going to do next and the biggest question of them all, one that has followed Gaudreau since he started getting noticed in the USHL, will his game translate to the NHL level? (There’s another important question, too, but we’ll get to that in a little bit.)

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Posted in American Prospects, NCAA, NHL | 5 Comments

High school star Ryan Fischer honored by teammates, opponents after tragic passing

Ryan Fischer was supposed to be there standing on the blue line with his Grandville High School teammates. If not for him, none of them may have been standing there at all. But when the Bulldogs took the ice at Compuware Arena in Plymouth, Mich., for their semifinal matchup against Michigan High School Hockey power Detroit Catholic Central Friday night, they did so without their 17-year-old co-captain.

FischerRyan

Ryan Fischer

Earlier Friday morning, Fischer was found unresponsive in his bed. Later that day, it was determined that the young hockey and football star had died of hyperthotic cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart. No warning. Few answers.

He had gone to bed around 11 p.m. the night before according to MLive.com, likely with his mind on the biggest game of his young career, and he never woke up.

Ryan Fischer was quite clearly a special person. He had been accepted to both the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy. He chose West Point and had planned to study aerospace engineering.

He was popular and kind as classmates and friends recalled. A multi-sport athlete with so much more to him than a life in sports.

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Posted in High School Hockey | 1 Comment

2014 Paralympics: Team USA Sled Hockey Preview

SledTeamAfter the U.S. Olympic Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams came up short in Sochi, the U.S. Paralympic Sled Hockey Team has a chance, a good one, to end the American hockey gold drought in Sochi.

The Paralympics will open Friday in Sochi, with Team USA getting on the ice for the first time Saturday against Italy.

After winning gold in Vancouver, expectations for this edition of the U.S. sled hockey team are sky high. Under the direction of legendary college hockey coach Jeff Sauer, who was not with the team in 2010, the team has several returnees from that squad that will be providing leadership and production for Team USA.

Led by goaltender Steve Cash, who did not allow a single goal in Vancouver, Team USA will also be looking to an experienced core of Paralympic veterans including returning captain Andy Yohe, Taylor Chace and Taylor Lipsett.

The great news is that NBC Sports Network will be covering some games, some live, some on tape delay with all streamed live from TeamUSA.org. If you’ve never seen sled hockey before, this is a great chance to check it out. It is as physical and fast as anything you’ve seen from stand up players, too.

More on the TV schedule and the team after the jump.

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Posted in Paralympics, U.S. National Teams, USA Hockey | 2 Comments

USA Hockey at the Olympics — Final Assessment

The dust has only begun to settle in the days since the Olympics ended on the sourest of notes for USA Hockey at the Olympics. From 3:26 away and a post away from a gold medal in women’s hockey to the disaster that the bronze-medal game devolved into for the men, it was not a great 72-hour span for American hockey.

SochiThere has been much written about what it all means and what it tells us. But I keep looking back at it and wondering how much can we really learn from 72 hours of hockey?

I’m sure had the men found a way to beat Canada in the semis and the women claimed gold, there would be much written (not here) about the arrival of American hockey and I bet north of the border it would have been viewed as a national travesty requiring sweeping changes from top to bottom and blowing up the whole system.

That is the Olympics for you. This grandiose event from which we’re supposed to learn so much about these athletes and the programs is built up to be the end-all, be-all. It is the biggest event in international hockey, but it’s hardly the defining event of the sport it is so easily made out to be. In fact, no one event is. At least not when trying to figure out what it says about where a country’s hockey program is or is going. Continue reading

Posted in 2014 Olympics, NHL, U.S. National Teams, USA Hockey, Women's Hockey | 2 Comments