2013 Frozen Four notebook

By DJ Powers

Nick Jensen - St. Cloud State University

Photo: St. Cloud State junior defenseman Nick Jensen, who was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Year, also earned national recognition as part of the All-America West First team (courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

In this special edition of the NCAA prospect notebook, Hockey’s Future takes a look at some stories making headlines at the 2013 Frozen Four in Pittsburgh, PA.

Gillies named National Rookie of the Year

Providence College freshman goaltender Jon Gillies (CGY) has been named the HCA National Rookie of the Year. The honor is the latest in a string of accolades that the South Portland, ME native has garnered this season. He was also named the Hockey East Rookie of the Year as well as the Rookie of the Year by College Hockey News and the New England Writers Association.

Last month, Gillies completed a stellar, record-setting freshman campaign at Providence College. He finished the season with a 17-12-6 record that included five shutouts, which was a new Friars single-season record. His 2.08 goals-against average is the second best mark in program history for a single season.

At the World Junior Championship back in January, Gillies served as the backup to John Gibson (ANH) on Team USA’s gold medal-winning squad.

Among the runners-up for the award were RPI goaltender Jason Kasdorf (WPG), who was named the ECAC Rookie of the Year, and Miami winger Riley Barber (WSH), who finished as the nation’s top scoring rookie. Barber was also named the CCHA Rookie of the Year.

From the Hobey to the ‘Hawks

It was a bittersweet week at the Frozen Four for St. Cloud redshirt senior Drew LeBlanc. After he and his Huskies team saw their season come to an end at the hands of the Quinnipiac Bobcats in Thursday night’s semi-final, Leblanc was named the recipient of the 2013 Hobey Baker Award on Friday, and shortly thereafter he signed with the Chicago Blackhawks. This was actually the second time that Chicago had made an offer to the Hermantown, MN native. The Blackhawks previously made LeBlanc an offer after his successful junior campaign in 2010-11.

Eight NHL-drafted players among 2012-13 All-Americans

On Friday, this year’s All-American teams were announced and it featured eight NHL-drafted players among them. They are: Boston College sophomore and Hobey Hat Trick finalist John Gaudreau (CGY), St. Cloud State junior defenseman Nick Jensen (DET), Michigan freshman defenseman Jacob Trouba (WPG), North Dakota seniors Danny Kristo (MON) and Corban Knight (FLA), Providence College freshman goaltender Jon Gillies (CGY), Union College sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI), and Notre Dame junior Anders Lee (NYI).

Gaudreau was the only NHL-drafted prospect named to the All-America East First team. Jensen, Trouba and Kristo were all named to the All-America West First team.

Gillies and Gostisbehere were both named to the All-America East Second team, while Knight and Lee were both named to the All-America West Second team.

Trouba, Kristo, and Lee have all begun their professional careers, signing with the teams that have held their respective NHL rights.

In addition to the eight drafted players, seven recent NHL free agent signees are also among this year’s All-Americans, including the 2013 Hobey Baker Award winner Drew LeBlanc (CHI). The other free agent signees are St. Lawrence senior Kyle Flanagan (PHI); Boston College senior Steven Whitney (ANA); Denver sophomore goaltender Juho Olkinuora (WPG); Western Michigan junior defenseman Dan DeKeyser (DET); Minnesota junior defenseman Nate Schmidt (WSH); and UMass-Lowell junior defenseman Chad Ruhwedel (BUF).

Flanagan, Whitney, and Ruhwedel were both named to the All-America East First team. Olkinuora, DeKeyser, and Schmidt were all named to the All-America West Second team.

NHL free agent signings in full swing

With the 2012-13 NCAA season about to come to a close, the free agent signing frenzy is well underway. In addition to the aforementioned All-Americans having already signed with NHL teams, other collegians have also signed with NHL or AHL teams.

Since the beginning of the month, the San Jose Sharks have been quite busy in the collegiate free agent market. Among the Sharks’ signings was Colorado College senior Rylan Schwartz, who will finish as the nation’s top scorer with 53 points. Schwartz was one of two highly coveted WCHA free agent forwards to sign with San Jose. The other was Minnesota State-Mankato senior power forward Eriah Hayes, whose 13 power play goals were the second most nationally. The third collegiate free agent that San Jose signed was Union College junior netminder Troy Grosenick. The Brookfield, WI native was the backbone of the Dutchmen’s successful run to the Frozen Four last year and put together an excellent season this year.

Dartmouth’s speedy winger Matthew Lindblad opted to forgo his senior season to sign with the Boston Bruins. The Winnetka, IL native finished second on the Big Green roster with 28 points.

Two top-scoring ECAC defensemen who were also named as All-Americans have signed AHL contracts. RPI senior Nick Bailen, who led the Engineers in defensive scoring with 31 p