WCHA's Top Prospects

This year the Western Collegiate Hockey Association has donated many talented players to the professional ranks.  Some of them leaving school early to pursue dreams while others are finding paychecks waiting after they've finished their senior seasons.

With 10 (give or take) WCHA players gone to the NHL so far, who's left?  It would seem as though the best are gone, but that is far from the case.  Below is a few of the conference's finest hockey players that could potentially make their hockey dreams come true.

In my opinion, some of the top-end talent that has yet to depart is Colorado College's Rylan Schwartz and Alexander Krushelnyski, both whom had fabulous seasons for the Tigers.  Schwartz just finished his senior season 20 goals and 53 points, while Krushelnyski still has one year of eligibility left at the collegiate level  The only negative issue with both player is their sizes.  Schwartz is only 5'10" but has a relatively large frame weighing in at 200+ while Krushelnyski is just an inch taller.

It really didn't seem like to much of an argument in assuming Minnesota's Erik Haula would leave after this season, even though he could still come back for his senior year.  The forward scored 51 points this year for the Gophers and displayed a spectacular set of abilities that should allow him to compete at the next level, but when will that be?  With the Minnesota Wild's farm system as deep as it is, and no real need for Haula to leave unless he would like the paycheck, it will be interesting to see if his talent is taken to the next level.

Although both of Wisconsin's Michael Mersch and Mark Zengerle are juniors, they have a relatively decent chance of signing.  If they decide to stay, Wisconsin should make a great amount of noise in the Big Ten hockey conference next year returning the 65 points the two of them racked up

Obvious talent the St. Cloud State Huskies exhibit will have to wait until after the NCAA tournament is over for contracts to be signed.  6'2" Calgary prospect, Ben Hanowski, Red Wings prospect, Nick Jensen, Los Angeles prospect Nic Dowd and Hobey Baker hat-trick free-agent Drew LeBlanc are all very talented college hockey players that could be signed after the Frozen Four.  Hanowski and LeBlanc are both seniors, while Jensen and Dowd (the Nic(k)s) have one year of eligibility left.

Outside changes of departure are found in Wisconsin's Nic Kerdiles, a freshman who found much success after he was able to find some chemistry with UW's first line.  Colorado College's Mike Boivin, a goal-scoring defenseman that helped CC run in the post-season, although without a point.  Denver's Nick Shore, the middle child in the Drew-Nick-Quentin Shore family of DU players is only a junior, but did find 34 points.  Minnesota's Nate Condon, who is only a junior, but really played a key role in keeping the Gophers around in games where it seemed as though not everyone was "there".   Denver's Joey LaLeggia, whom didn't have quite the year we thought he would, still was able to exhibit the top-end talent the Pioneers expected from the sophomore.

Bulldog fans shouldn't have too much to worry about, although I don't think anyone really thought Chris Casto was going to depart.  Andy Welinski possess the only real threat of leaving UMD, although I would debate that chance is very, very slim.

As more college talent turns pro, I'll update this list here throughout the process.


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