College hockey has produced stars like Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel, Charlie Coyle, Noah Hanafin, and T.J. Oshie. The Calgary Flames have had a handful of players who transitioned from successful in the NCAA to NHL talent.
Most Recent Signings
The Flames recently added two more players to their blue line. Adding depth to their defense is key as they continue to hunt for success in the postseason.
Defenseman Connor Mackey signed a one-year, entry-level deal with the Flames beginning in the 2020-21 season. The 23-year-old played for Minnesota State and posted 24 points in 32 games.
Through three seasons with Minnesota, he collected 61 points in 118 games. Mackey stands at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds.
University of North Dakota star, Colton Poolman also signed a one-year, entry-level contract. Poolman tallied 75 points in 146 games. He’d go on to be named captain and have a solid season with 17 points in 31 games.
Those Who Have Made a Name For Themselves
Before Johnny Gaudreau shined as a Flame, he was tearing it up at Boston College. He leads all NCAA alumni in scoring heading into the playoffs with 99 points (36 goals and 63 assists) in just 82 games. Gaudreau played three seasons with the Eagles racking up 175 points (78 goals and 97 assists) in 119 games. In 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Hobey Baker Award.
As a member of the Flames, Gaudreau is almost a point-per-game player. In 464 games, the 26-year-old has tallied 454 points. Before the pause, he had a total of 18 goals and 40 assists this season. In his seven seasons in the league, he’s yet to see success in the playoffs. Gaudreau is signed through the 2021-22 season.
Noah Hanifin is another Boston College and Hockey East alumni. He spent one season in the NCAA and missed only a single game while representing Team USA at the World Junior Championship. He posted 23 points in 37 games before being drafted fifth overall by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Since being drafted in 2015, he’s played 389 games. Within those games, the defenseman has tallied 138 points. Hanifin is a key player in the Flames’ success. Just before the pause, he left a game after suffering an upper body injury, or what’s believed to be a concussion. This was going to be a huge loss for the Flames as they were heading into the playoffs within a few weeks. However, we all know what happened next and are still waiting for some answers when it comes to the next step.
On the Rise – Mark Jankowski
Mark Jankowski played four seasons at Providence College, recording 110 points in 148 games. Forty of those 110 points came within his senior season.
There has been a dip in his performance since his college days. He’s played in 208 games, racking up a mere 64 points. His playoff appearance was lack-luster, as he went pointless in five games.
It’s still too early in Jankowski’s career to dub him a “bust.” Fans are quick to jump on those who aren’t up to par with other players in their draft class.
High Expectations Met With Disappointment
Eric Nystrom of the University of Michigan played 160 games and totaled 111 points. The 10th-overall 2002 draft pick played in the NHL for a decade. He wore a Flames jersey for 204 games and recorded 39 points. Those are rather disappointing numbers from such a high draft pick. After his time in Calgary, he suited up for the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators, and Minnesota Wild.
Bill Arnold played at Boston College from 2010-2014. His NCAA career made his NHL potential look promising — he racked up 144 points in 159 games. In his last season with BC, he recorded 50 points.
He was drafted by the Flames in 2010 and played one game with them before playing 113 games in the American Hockey League (AHL), tallying 60 points. Arnold retired and now works at an IT Company in Boston.
College to NHL Transition
In college, you’re playing against guys around your age and more than likely similar skill level. It’s a whole new game when you’re playing in the NHL. There are players that are light years ahead of you in skill and players who are old enough to be your dad.
There is no clear cut path for success in hockey. A strong NCAA career isn’t always going to translate to stardom in the NHL. College hockey is essential and we must continue to give players’ development credit where it’s due.