NCAA players to make impact on first day of draft
NCAA Players to make impact on drafts first day
By Carl TillesonAs this weekend’s NHL draft approaches, teams are busy finalizing who they will go after when they’re on the clock. More than ever before, these prospective draftees are coming from the college ranks. It wasn’t long ago that even the top college players were little more than an afterthought, not likely to be picked early on. These days however ,teams are looking more and more to the NCAAs for an impact player. Players such as Paul Kariya (Maine) and Chris Drury (Boston U) have starred as soon as they made the NHL. Other college players have provided teams the role players they needed to make a title run. New Jersey may never have won the Stanley Cup in 99-00 without the abilities of guys such as John Madden (Michigan), Jay Pandolfo (Boston U), and Brian Rafalski (Wisconsin). College hockey as a whole has provided the NHL with more talent than ever before. This year should be no different, as there are several players who could provide help to the teams drafting early on Saturday. The following is a quick look at the top 5 college players heading into this weekend’s draft. The numbers in the parantheses indicate the player’s CSS ranking.
Komisarek was a key player in Michigan’s trip to the frozen four this past season. Last year, his first with the Wolverines, he provided 4 goals and 12 assists for 16 points. More importantly, however, he provided an intimidating presence on the ice, and was nearly impossible to beat. The 6’4 225 pound blue liner is deceptively quick on his skates, and played the positional game as well as an player in the country. As you might expect for someone of his size, he also plays an intense physical game, and can hit with the best of them. In addition to the defensive side of his game, he can also effectively join the rush, and has an extremely hard an accurate shot. An all-rookie selection in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, Komisarek should provide an immediate impact as soon as he leaves Michigan for the big time.
Defenseman, Michigan (4)
The first of two Ohio State players on the list, Umberger is perhaps the best overall athlete of the group. At 6’2 200, he has the size to make it at the NHL level. In addition, he adds the speed and grit that most teams are looking for in a forward. An excellent puck handler, Umberger works well in heavy traffic and can release an effective wrister at any time. Despite being a freshman, he was used in nearly every key situation during the past year. He was named the CCHA rookie of the year this past season, and has succeeded at every level. Prior to OSU, Umberger led the U.S. developmental team in scoring the two years before his arrival in Columbus. There is a very good chance that Umberger will continue to excel at the highest level in the near future.
Center, Ohio State (5)
The second of two buckeyes on the list and the third CCHA all-rookie team member, Steckel again provides good size and speed. An excellent two-way player, Steckel provided a little over a point a game average this past season while providing sound defense. At 6’5 200, he plays the physical game well, and is a talented playmaker. He was effectively used in front of the net, especially during power plays, and as you might imagine is extremely difficult to move. Steckel is a hard worker who doesn’t take nights off, a trait many NHL coaches yearn for. After some seasoning, he could be an important role player for a team looking to take the next step.
Center, Ohio State (16)
Of all the players listed, Kobasew made perhaps the biggest impact of all for his college squad. Part of a highly-touted freshman class, Kobasew and his fellow frosh helped lead Boston College to it’s first NCAA crown since 1949. The first non-american of the group, Kobasew took a slightly different route to college. Playing for the BCHL’s Penicton Panthers in 99-00, he became just the third player in team history to score 50 or more goals, totaling 54 to lead the BCHL in goalscoring. Kobasew was voted interior division MVP, as he led his Penicton team to a first place finish in the division. A fast skater with a hard an accurate shot, Kobasew is a pure goal-scorer. He plays the body well, and works well in the corners. He is a hard competitior who logged a lot of ice time on a very talented BC team. Kobasew should provide the team that drafts him with the kind of goal-scoring that is becoming harder to find with every passing year.
Right Wing, Boston College (20)
Jackman was perhaps one of the least anticipated recruits of the above group, as he was not a big goal scorer during his junior career. Despite that, he managed to finish with 25 points, good for fourth on his team in scoring, despite playing on the worst team of the above mentioned schools. He showed flashes of why he is a potential NHL player throughout last season, showing very good offensive skills and the drive required to make it to the top. A good skater, Jackman used his 6’2 190 pound frame to effectively take the body and work the puck out of corners. An unselfish player, he is very well-respected by his teammates for his unselfishness and willing ness to do whatever it takes to win. Jackman will need another year or two in college before making the jump to the next level, but he definitely has the tools to eventually make it. There you have it, the top five players according to the CSS heading into this weekends draft. Each one of these guys, despite their talents, will definitely benefit from some more time in the college ranks. Of course, by no means are these the only players capable of making an impact in the NHL coming out of college, but they are perhaps the ones considered to be the closest to “sure things”. Whether all 5 of these guys will stay in school is still somewhat up in the air, but college hockey fans can look forward to seeing at least a few of these guys show their skills on Friday and Saturday nights next year.
Minnesota State, Mankato (21)