Here are the 7 male ice hockey players to watch for the 2021-22 season
This winter, college hockey fans will enjoy returning to arenas across the country to watch their favorite teams in person for the first time since March 2020.
It is a good thing for everyone. But what’s going to be even better for spectators is the amount of talent in the college hockey landscape.
Here are the seven players to absolutely watch this winter.
Owen Power, Michigan
Let’s be realistic. Who else did you expect to see lead this list?
Most draft experts and scouts have placed Owen Power first in the NHL Draft this summer. It didn’t surprise anyone when the Buffalo Sabers pulled the trigger and selected the tall left defenseman at No. 1 overall.
At 6-foot-5 and 214 pounds, Power has a dazzling combination of size and speed that is sure to wow spectators and make opponents wince. He moves the puck to a high level for a big player and he’s never afraid to take the puck out on his side himself and jump into the race. He is also strong defensively, using his big stick to reduce the chances of opponents scoring. He showed it all in his first season.
If hockey operations departments could create a two-way defender in a lab, it would be Power.
He scored three goals and 16 points in 26 games in Michigan’s first year. He was also part of the Big Ten All-Freshman team and was a finalist for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
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Power is expected to ramp up production in its second year. Don’t be surprised when this happens.
Jake Sanderson, North Dakota
When Jake Sanderson is on the ice, there’s no doubt you’ll notice.
The 6-foot, 183-pound defenseman was selected fifth overall by the Ottawa Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft. He is one of the NCAA’s most gifted defensemen with a creativity that never goes unnoticed. The label also fits when it broadened to NHL prospects. His skating ability coupled with his strong defensive play made him a dream for North Dakota.
At the Summer World Juniors, Athletic’s Corey Pronman nicknamed Sanderson âThe best defenseman in the tournament and it wasn’t even that close between the other participants. It is clear that his talent is only increasing.
Sanderson’s freshman campaign was strong. The freshman scored two goals and 15 points with a plus-20 rating – good for the best on the Fighting Hawk blue line. He was named to the All-NCHC rookie squad.
Like Power, Sanderson will be wanted for increased production and responsibility. It’s never a good idea to judge a defenseman on goals, but both Sandersons came on the power play last season. Expect his even-matched goal tally to be much more in 2021-22.
Matt Beniers, Michigan
Yes Michigan is going to be really good this year and no, it’s not the last Wolverine on this list.
Matty Beniers certainly deserves his place here. The 6-1 / 1, 175-pound center took a spot after Power in this summer’s NHL Draft, finishing second overall behind the Seattle Kraken.
The Hingham, Massachusetts native is known for his incredible speed, edge work and agility. In any of his shifts, it’s not uncommon to see him effortlessly carry the puck through the neutral zone and into the attacking zone, sifting through his opponents. His creativity in the offensive zone is also noteworthy.
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Beniers scored 10 goals and 24 points in 24 games in his first year. Those numbers earned him a spot on the Big Ten All-Freshman team, as well as an honorable mention for the All-Big Ten.
With a Michigan team full of NHL Draft picks, Beniers is definitely the one that stands out.
Dryden McKay, State of Minnesota
There’s only one goalie on this list, and it’s only fitting that Dryden McKay takes that spot.
McKay was turned off last season, ending the season with an incredible 1.54 goals against average in 26 starts, which was good for second in the country. His 0.840 winning percentage and 10 shutouts – yes, 10 times he’s shutout the opposition – both have dominated college hockey.
His efforts last season earned him a Hobey Baker Award finalist. Those same efforts helped propel the state of Minnesota into the Frozen Four.
For McKay’s senior season, the expectation remains the same: stop a lot of pucks and win a lot of games. The Mavericks have a strong returning defensive core, so little is expected to change ahead of McKay heading into the 2021-22 season.
Bobby Trivigno, UMasse
This list wouldn’t be complete without a player from last season’s national champion UMass team. So let’s go with the hearts and souls of the Minutemen.
Trivigno is listed at 5 feet 8 inches and 162 pounds. Its game is not equivalent to its size. The fierce left winger is constantly involved in battles in the corners and in front of the opposing net. He has no problem going into dirty areas for goals. While he struggled to cross the line during his first and second year years, his junior campaign saw him curb his trips to the trash.
After two seasons playing the prowess of San Jose Sharks forward John Leonard, Bobby Trivigno has proven he can be “the guy” in 2020-21, posting a record 34 points. His game earned him CCM / AHCA First Team All-Star honors, as well as a spot on Hockey East’s First All-Star Team. He also won the Walter Brown Award as the best DI male hockey player born in the United States in New England.
All of this earned Trivigno the âCâ for UMass heading into the 2021-22 season.
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Expectations for Trivigno will be good in its final year. The obvious reason he wants to keep his production level high is to help UMass become champion again in 2022. But another big motivation will be his hockey career after graduation and proving that his size can perform at the level of. the NHL.
Thomas Bordeleau, Michigan
As we said, Michigan is stacked this year. The seven locations here could have been wolverines, but that wouldn’t be fun. So we’ll stick to three and Thomas Bordeleau’s past performances and current trajectory give him a comfortable place on this list.
Bordeleau was ranked 38th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the 2020 NHL Draft. Even though he’s only 5-foot-9, he uses that to his advantage, using his speed, elusiveness and ability. to protect the puck to escape the defenders. His best assets come while waiting for the passing lanes to open, as was evident with 22 of his 30 points last year helping out.
His game last season earned him Big Ten Freshman of the Year and second-team All-Big Ten honors. He also led the nation in freshman scoring.
With reports from the World Junior Summer Showcase in August that the Michigan product stood out, all indications are that Bordeleau is taking a big step forward into its sophomore year. He’s sure to post as many or more assists than he did in his debut season given the depth of talent around him.
Two things to watch out for: how fast he can go and his work in his own area.
Veeti Miettinen, State of Saint-Cloud
While Veeti Miettinen may not have the same recognition as some of the previous names, he is one of the most interesting players to watch in college hockey.
The Espoo, Finland native was selected 168th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. The 5-foot-9, 160-pound winger has good shooting skills with strong playing skills in the attacking zone. Its speed is extremely underestimated.
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Miettinen burst onto the scene last season, scoring 10 goals and 22 points – good for the first on the Huskies and fifth in the NCHC. Those numbers earned him the NCHC Rookie of the Year award. His efforts helped bring St. Cloud State to the national title game.
All signs point to Miettinen becoming even more powerful in his second campaign.