Getting to know the latest NCAA rookies in the NHL

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The NCAA’s Frozen Four field is ready, which means we’re really deep in this exciting college season.

But it also means more than 50 teams are out for the year, leaving plenty of quality players to sign NHL deals and step in immediately. There was a good mix of drafted players ready to make their mark, as well as some high-quality UFAs looking to add depth to any position.

Early starts saw players like Devon Levi (Buffalo Sabers), Josh Doan (Arizona Coyotes), Aidan McDonough (Vancouver Canucks), Nikita Nesterenko (Anaheim Ducks), Jayden Struble (Montreal Canadiens ) and Ryan Tverberg (Toronto Maple Leafs) to sign deals and start earlier this month.

But the bulk of signings have taken place over the past week, with more to come in the coming days. Here is a list of the most notable players who retired from the NCAA in recent weeks:

Sean Farrell, C (Montreal Canadiens)

It’s no secret that Canadiens fans were thrilled that Farrell was turning pro. One of college hockey’s most dangerous forwards, Farrell scored 20 goals and 53 points as a sophomore at Harvard this year to become a runner-up to Hobey Baker. That’s after he helped Harvard win the ECAC title and led the United States in scoring at the 2021-22 Beijing Winter Olympics, and two years after he was named the Junior Player of the League. year of USA Hockey. Those are significant accomplishments for the 21-year-old since being drafted 124th overall in 2020, quickly making him one of the organization’s top prospects. Farrell will be with Montreal on the team’s next road trip, so it won’t be long before they get the quick and dynamic striker who is capable of playing through the middle and on the wing.

Matt Coronato, RW (Calgary Flames)

Farrell’s Harvard teammate, Coronato comes at an exciting time for the Flames. The team is still in the hunt for wild cards, just four points behind the struggling Winnipeg Jets for last place. It’s not uncommon for college players to rush after a new contract, come in with a ton of confidence, and embark on a season-ending tear. Could this be the case for the Flames? They hope so. Coronato finished third at Harvard with 36 points this year, matching his freshman output as a key contributor to the team’s scoring strength. Before going to college, Coronato helped Chicago Steel of the USHL win a title after leading the league with 48 goals, good enough to earn honors of the year. Coronato, 20, appears to be playing an important role in Calgary’s offense, and that’s just the beginning.

Max Sasson, C (Vancouver Canucks)

Sasson was one of the most sought-after free agent forwards. His deal won’t take effect until 2023-24, but fans will get a first look when he visits the AHL Abbotsford. The 22-year-old forward with a strong frame had a breakout campaign, recording 42 points for an offensively loaded front line at Western Michigan. Its year-on-year progress shows that despite its late flowering, there is something tangible here from a professional standpoint. Sasson can be feisty, but he’s much more controlled and reserved for the most part compared to his junior days. He’s fast, plays a proficient two-way game, and the points have followed him all season. The Canucks are still in re-equipment mode, and Sasson can give them solid cap flexibility in the last six next season.

Cole Krygier, D (Los Angeles Kings)

A tall 6-foot-3 defenseman, Kyrgier turned heads after the Florida Panthers traded his rights to Los Angeles last Monday — well past the NHL’s trade deadline. He eventually signed with the Kings and previously played in the AHL with the Ontario Reign. His NHL contract won’t kick in until next year, but getting that extra experience against pros after his five-year run at Michigan State will be a good testing ground as he looks to break into the league. Los Angeles roster next year. Krygier is a big, physical defenseman who loves to shoot the puck, and his confidence has only grown over time. His cap isn’t that high and he probably won’t be more than a third pair defender, but he can do a great job in that regard.

Tyler Kleven, D (Ottawa Senators)

If you like powerful and punishing defenders, you’ll love Kleven. The 21-year-old was ranked 44th overall in 2020 and managed to become one of the most threatening defensemen in the NCAA in the process. He finished his junior year with 18 points and 84 penalty minutes, just missing his career high of 93 the previous year. The 2021 NCAA NCAA Champion and World Junior Gold Medalist is doing a solid job of shutting things down and making life miserable for attackers coming the other way. Don’t expect him to put a lot of pucks in the net, but as a third pairing option, Kleven has solid potential.

Carl Berglund, C (Edmonton Oilers)

Berglund is a skilled 200-foot forward who I’m surprised hasn’t been picked up in 2020, even as a late round option. He has a good size, is reliable in his own zone and moves well. We haven’t seen a huge progression throughout his college career, but his frame and defensive play should be enough to earn a call-up somewhere down the line. Berglund is currently with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL and will look to play in games next season. We’re talking about a bottom-six striker here, but who can do a bunch of different things decently.

Max Crozier, D (Tampa Bay Lightning)

A 2019 fourth-round pick by Tampa Bay, Crozier could be another big mid-round find for the Bolts. The two-way defender started strong but lost some momentum due to the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign. A pair of good seasons with Providence College allowed him to show some professional qualities, including defensive reads and decision-making with the puck. The Bolts have had some success turning under-the-radar college defensemen into strong contributors — Nick Perbix comes to mind. There is a chance that Crozier will also become found money.

Brett Berard, RW (New York Rangers)

Don’t be scared off by a drop in offensive production: it’s been a slow year for Providence. Berard was the school’s top scorer in 2021-22 and went on to show scoring prowess, physicality and shrewd defensive awareness. The 5-foot-9 forward is energetic and thinks the game fast, allowing him to make plays under pressure. While he may not be a high-yielding striker at the top tier, he could struggle to buy time in the middle six, which should become valuable as Rangers look to spend to the ceiling to remain a competitor for the next few years. He has an aggressive side that will also make him a fan favorite.

Hunter McKown, C (Columbus Blue Jackets)

The Blue Jackets are a disaster this year. As simple as that. But the future looks bright and they got some inexpensive help after signing McKown, one of the best NCAA UFAs on the market. The 20-year-old forward brings significant muscle and scoring ability, leading Colorado College in scoring over the past two years. He picked up an assist on his NHL debut against the Islanders and is expected to finish the season with Columbus as the club deals with an insane number of injuries. Columbus will most definitely select a high-yielding forward this year, but having McKown as a mid-six scoring option will be very nice on the road.

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