Year after year college hockey players are recognized for their talents and given the opportunity to make their dreams come true. These days over 300 former college players are skating in the NHL and making headlines. These are the guys that put in serious time to hone and develop their skills. Many of them play years of junior hockey before beginning their college careers, careers in which they spend countless hours training on and off the ice, while using their remaining time to hit the books. They now account for more than 30% of NHL players. Something that Babes Dig Balls admires about these guys is their passion and commitment to the game. It takes a special kind of person to commit to the training, studying, and pressure that these guys do, and it is fantastic to see when it all pays off for them.
Here are three former college players that are making waves in the NHL this season:
1. Cory Conacher: Canisius College alumni Conacher has the Calder Trophy within his reach this season. The Tampa Bay Lightning center didn’t even have a guaranteed spot on the roster this season and has so far proven that it should have been his all along. @Conhockey19 had an impressive 14 points (5G, 9A) in his first 15 games with the Bolts and continues to impress. As this is his first year in the NHL, it looks like great things can be expected of Cory Conacher.
2. Justin Schultz: The talk of Summer 2012 did not fail to disappoint this season. Fresh out of the University of Wisconsin, defenseman Justin Schultz began his first professional season in Oklahoma City where he and teammate Jordan Eberle took turns leading the AHL in points. Not bad! He then made his debut with the Edmonton Oilers when the NHL season finally began and made his way into Oilers faithful’s hearts. After being the most wanted man in hockey this past summer, @6Schultz6 has dealt very well with the pressure and made himself into yet another candidate for the Calder Trophy this year. His beloved Wisco Badgers must be so proud.
3. Thomas Vanek: This former Minnesota Gopher has plenty to flaunt. He has been sitting comfortably in the NHL’s leading scorers list this season, currently in the eighth position with 31 points. He also now holds the seventh position on the Buffalo Sabres’ all time scoring list with 244 goals. @T_Vanek26 deserves props for staying on top of the league leaders even as his team is having a rough season.
So who’s next? This year’s college hockey rosters feature nearly 200 NHL Draft Picks. Let me know who you think will be signing and NHL contract in the near future