University of Minnesota defenseman BRADY SKJEI (2), the 19-year-old sophomore from Lakeville who was the first round selection (# 28 overall) of the New York Rangers at the 2012 National Hockey League Draft as well as a member of the United States squad that recently traveled to Sweden for the 2014 World Junior Championships in Malmo, uses his skate to control the puck “soccer-style” during the NCAA non-conference clash with intra-state rival Minnesota State University at the Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato.
Freshman Canadian legionnaire ADAM TAMBELLINI abruptly left the University of North Dakota just after the New Year and will finish this season skating in the Canadian junior system with the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League. The 19-year-old left wing from Edmonton, Alberta, registered two goals and two assists in 16 games for North Dakota this term. The sudden departure of the New York Islanders’ third round selection (# 65 overall) at the 2013 National Hockey League Draft last summer from the former Fighting Sioux means that the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers and its former fierce rival in the old Western Collegiate Hockey Association are now tied for the honor of having the most NHL prospects on campus out of all 59 teams in NCAA Division I collegiate ice hockey :
15 ……… North Dakota
14 ……… MINNESOTA
12 ……… MICHIGAN
11 ……… Notre Dame
10 ……… Boston College
9 ……… Harvard, WISCONSIN
8 ……… Boston Univ
7 ……… Cornell, Denver Univ, Minnesota – Duluth
6 ……… Nebraska – Omaha, OHIO STATE
5 ……… Colorado College, Miami (Ohio), MICHIGAN STATE, Providence, St. Cloud State, Yale
4 ……… Maine, Minnesota State, Northeastern, Quinnipiac, PENN STATE, Western Michigan
3 ……… Clarkson, Michigan Tech, UMass – Lowell, Vermont
2 ……… New Hampshire
1 ……… Alaska – Fairbanks, Bemidji State, Brown, Colgate, Merrimack, R.I.T., R.P.I., UConn, UMass – Amherst, Union College
(Please note that North Dakota and Ohio State have each lost one NHL draft pick as this season has progressed)
Of course, the number of National Hockey League prospects on any given roster does not necessarily guarantee results at the NCAA level. Penn State, for example, have already this term failed to defeat several schools (Air Force, R.I.T., Vermont, UMass – Lowell and Union College) with fewer NHL draft picks on its present roster than the four confirmed NHL prospects that the Nittany Lions, themselves, currently have. Conversely, the traditionally unheralded Ferris State Bulldogs have a grand total of zero NHL draft picks on their 2013/14 roster but, nevertheless, have managed a fabulous start to this current campaign by compiling the impressive record of sixteen wins against just three losses with three ties.
University of Minnesota defenseman BEN MARSHALL (10), the 21-year-old junior from Mahtomedi who was tabbed by the Detroit Red Wings in the seventh round (# 201 overall) of the 2010 NHL Draft and has totaled 12 goals and 32 points in 81 NCAA games over the course of his first two collegiate campaigns, sports the lowest ‘draft status’ out of any of the six Golden Gophers rearguards whose rights have already been reserved by National Hockey League clubs.
It is also a fact that the leading scorer so far this season for the # 1 ranked University of Minnesota Golden Gophers is none other than undrafted left wing SAM WARNING (18 ga, 5 go, 21 pts), the 21-year-old junior from Chesterfield, Missouri, while the third-leading scorer is another skater whom all National Hockey League clubs have decided to pass on — 20-year-old center JUSTIN KLOOS (18 ga, 7 go, 18 pts) from Lakeville.
Many undrafted collegiate players will ultimately sign free agent contracts with National Hockey League teams and some will acutally appear in the crack NHL, itself, long before their competitive days are through. One of current Penn State head coach GUY GADOWSKY’s former standout players back at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks, defenseman JORDAN HENRY, later signed as a free agent with the Chicago Black Hawks and went on to skate in 131 NHL games (4 go, 13 pts) over the course of his continuing career which has already included the celebration of a Stanley Cup championship in the spring of 2010. One of the more prominent players under Gadowsky’s charge at Princeton University, left wing DARROLL POWE, was never chosen in the annual NHL Draft but did eventually ink an entry level contract with the Philadelphia Flyers in the spring of 2008 and has since participated in 329 NHL games (28 go, 56 pts), to date.
Still, there are logical reasons why the National Hockey League has formally held an annual “Draft” every year since 1963 in order to systematically disperse the negotiating rights of amateur players …
University of Minnesota defenseman JUSTIN HOLL (12), the highly experienced senior from Tonka Bay who was chosen by the Chicago Black Hawks in the second round (# 54 overall) of the 2010 National Hockey League Draft, controls the puck ahead of Boston College left wing CHRIS KREIDER (19), the 19th overall player taken at the 2009 NHL Draft who now skates regularly for the New York Rangers in the elite National Hockey League this season, during the 2012 NCAA men’s ice hockey tournament semifinal match at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in west central Florida.