2022 Frozen Four – Top NHL prospects to watch in Boston

The 2022 Frozen Four in Boston is loaded with high-end talent as more than 40 members of the four competing teams for the men’s college hockey national championship — Michigan, Minnesota, Denver and Minnesota State — have been drafted by NHL teams.

Much of that buzz has centered on the Wolverines, who feature four of the top five picks from the 2021 draft, but Minnesota has the most draftees on its roster with 14, followed by Michigan with 13 and Denver with 12.

Minnesota State has just two players who have been drafted, but the Mavericks are led by one of the most intriguing free agents in senior goalie Dryden McKay. The NCAA’s all-time leader with 34 shutouts, McKay has a career record of 112-19-4, with a 1.45 goals-against average and .933 save percentage, and is a top-three Hobey Baker finalist for the second time.

Another undrafted free agent who is expected to attract a lot of attention after this weekend is Big Ten Player of the Year Ben Meyers, who has led the Minnesota attack with 17 goals and 41 points. His profile rose with a strong performance for Team USA at the Olympics in Beijing.

The Frozen Four semifinals are Thursday, with Michigan facing Denver at 5 pm ET on ESPN2, followed by Minnesota meeting Minnesota State at 8:30 pm on ESPNU. The winners face off for the national title Saturday at 8 pm ET on ESPN2.

Here are the NHL draftees to watch during the games at Boston (players listed with the round, overall pick and year they were drafted and their statistics from this season):

Michigan

D Owen Power, Sabres
First round, No. 1, 2021
3-29–32; +27; 32 GP

The No. 1 pick in last year’s draft, Power has been a dominant two-way player on the Michigan blue line in addition to being a key contributor for Canada at the Beijing Olympics. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 214 pounds, he certainly won’t be out of place in the NHL.

C Matty Beniers, Kraken
First round, No. 2, 2021
20-23–43; +30; 36 GB

The first-ever draft choice of the expansion Kraken, Beniers is expected to join Seattle after the Frozen Four. He leads the Wolverines in points, and our Greg Wyshynski said he consistently was one of Team USA’s best forwards on both ends of the ice in Beijing.

D Luke Hughes, Devils
First round, No. 4, 2021
17-22–39; +28; 40 GP

With NHL-level skating and puck handling, Hughes established himself as perhaps the top offensive defenseman in the country. He won’t be 19 until September, so he could take another year in school to get bigger and stronger.

C Kent Johnson, Blue Jackets
First round, No. 5, 2021
8-29–37; +26; 31 GP

Johnson is another Wolverine who could be in the NHL at this time next week. He was third nationally in assists per game and was one of Team Canada’s top players in the Olympics, with five points in five games despite averaging just less than 14 minutes of ice time.

C Brendan Brisson, Golden Knights
First round, No. 29, 2020
21-21–42; +19; 37 GP

Michigan’s leader with 21 goals, Brisson is a legit NHL prospect who scored twice in Beijing, including the game winner for Team USA against Canada, and was impressive with the puck, consistently according to Wyshynski.

C Thomas Bordeleau, Sharks
Second round, No. 38, 2020
11-25–36; +18; 36 GB

Another Olympian for Team USA, Bordeleau has had two solid years at Michigan, following a 30-point campaign (in 24 games) in 2020-21 with 36 points (and counting?) this season.

Also drafted:

G Erik Portillo, Sabres
Third round, No. 67, 2019
31-9-1; 2.13 GAA; .926 save pct.

D Ethan Edwards, Devils
Fourth round, No. 120, 2020
3-8–11; +2; 35 GP

D Jacob Truscott, Canucks
Fifth round, No. 144, 2020
2-15—17; +29; 39 GB

C/LW Johnny Beecher, Bruins
First round, No. 30, 2019
6-9–15; +3; 33 GP

C Dylan Duke, Lightning
Fourth round, No. 126, 2021
10-9–19; +7; 40 GP

RW/C Mackie Samoskevich, Panthers
First round, No. 24, 2021
10-19–29; +10; 39 GB

RW Eric Ciccolini, Rangers
Seventh round, No. 205, 2019
Limited to four games due to injury


Minnesota

D Brock Faber, Kings
Second round, No. 45, 2020
2-12-14; +11; 31 GP

The smooth-skating, cerebral defenseman led Team USA with 24:45 of ice time per game in the Olympics. While his offensive numbers don’t jump off the page, he’s a rock on defense and seemingly would be right at home as an NHL blueliner.

C/LW Matthew Knies, Maple Leafs
Second round, No. 57, 2021
14-18–32; +16; 32 GP

Knies, who had a SportsCenter-worthy goal late in the third period of Minnesota’s overtime win over UMass in the regionals, has the size (6-3, 210) and strength to play in the NHL. “I’m ready to jump,” he said recently, according to TSN. Nick Abruzese, who played with Knies for Team USA in Beijing, told TSN that Knies is “really skilled and kind of a moose on the ice.”

D Ryan Johnson, Sabres
First round, No. 31, 2019
3-16–19; +6; 38 GP

Paired with Faber on the blue line, Johnson has been a key cog to the Gophers’ rock-solid defense. He’s also adept at getting pucks out of the zone with strong skating and smart passes.

D Jackson LaCombe, Ducks
Second round, No. 39, 2019
3-27–30; +25; 38 GP

LaCombe continues to improve his offensive game, leading the Gophers in assists as well as plus/minus. He also makes a big impact on defense; his 63 blocked shots are by far the most of any player in the Frozen Four.

Also drafted:

D Ben Brinkman, Stars
Sixth round, No. 173, 2019
1-7–8; +7; 36 GB

D Mike Koster, Maple Leafs
Fifth round, No. 146, 2019
3-11-14; +18; 35 GP

RW Bryce Brodzinski, Flyers
Seventh round, No. 196, 2019
12-13–25; +7; 38 GP

F Tristan Broz, Penguins
Second round, No. 58, 2021
6-5–11; +6; 35 GP

F Aaron Huglen, Sabres
Fourth round, No. 102, 2019
7-9–16; +16; 36 GB

LW/C Blake McLaughlin, Ducks
Third round, No. 79, 2018
13-20–33; +9; 38 GP

RW/D Jack Perbix, Ducks
Fourth round, No. 116, 2018
5-7–12; +3; 37 GP

LW Rhett Pitlick, Canadiens
Fifth round, No. 131, 2019
5-13–18; +20; 29 GP

C Sammy Walker, Lightning
Seventh round, No. 200, 2017
14-13–27; +14; 38 GP

C Chaz Lucius, Jets
First round, No. 18, 2021
9-10–19; +5; 24 GP (out since Feb. 12 with injury)


Denver

RW Bobby Brink, Flyers
Second round, No. 34, 2019
14-42–56; +25; 39 GB

Brink was a top-three Hobey Baker finalist and led the NCAA in scoring, making a big jump from his first two seasons at Denver (35 points combined).

LW Carter Savoie, Oilers
Fourth round, No. 100, 2020
22-22–44; +19; 37 GP

Savoie, who turned 20 on March 28, was the youngest player in college hockey to score 20 goals. He stepped up his two-way game this season, going from a 0 plus/minus as a freshman to +19 this season.

LW Carter Mazur, Red Wings
Third round, No. 70, 2021
14-22–36; +20; 39 GB

Mazur is a speedy, agile skater who had a great freshman season, giving the high-octane Pioneers some scoring depth behind their top line (Brink, Cole Guttman and Savoie).

Also drafted:

G Magnus Chrona, Sharks
Fifth round, No. 152, 2018
26-8-1; 2.16 GAA; .909 save pct.

D Sean Behrens, Avalanche
Second round, No. 61, 2021
3-26–29; +8; 35 GP

D Mike Benning, Panthers
Fourth round, No. 95, 2020
14-20–34; +28; 39 GB

D Shai Buium, Red Wings
Second round, No. 36, 2021
3-14—17; +14; 37 GP

D Antti Tuomisto, Red Wings
Second round, No. 35, 2019
1-8–9; +19; 33 GP

C Cole Guttman, Lightning
Sixth round, No. 180, 2017
19-26–45; +19; 39 GB

C Massimo Rizzo, Hurricanes
Seventh round, No. 216, 2019
11-23–34; +13; 37 GP

C Brett Stapley, Canadiens
Seventh round, No. 190, 2018
16-25–41; +19; 39 GB

LW McKade Webster, Lightning
Seventh round, No. 213, 2019
6-8-14; +11; 37 GP


Minnesota State

C Nathan Smith, Coyotes
Third round, No. 91, 2018
19-31–50; +27; 36 GB

In his third season at Minnesota State, Smith leads the Mavericks in scoring, doubling his output from last season, and is second nationally in points per game. He scored the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Notre Dame in the regionals and also had the winning goal for Team USA in its win over Germany at the Beijing Olympics.

Also drafted:

D Benton Maass, Capitals
Sixth round, No. 182, 2017
2-11–13; +23; 40 GP

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