Prospect Need to Know: Free agents and record breakers - The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated

Prospect Need to Know: Free agents and record breakers

In our weekly round-up of future NHLers, we spotlight players from the Habs, Blackhawks and Avs, plus some intriguing 2019 draft prospects and one of the top NCAA free agents potentially available this spring.
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As we get closer to the NCAA Frozen Four (which is about a month away), you’ll start to hear more about this year’s college free agent class. Last year wasn’t so hot and a couple guys who were rumored to come out actually stayed in school – most notably St. Cloud State defenseman Jimmy Schuldt and Princeton forward Max Veronneau. Schuldt is definitely getting signed this time because he’s a senior. The other big name getting attention is Clarkson’s Nico Sturm, whom you’ll meet below. I’ve also included some other notable free agents from around the hockey world and a couple players who have either hit benchmarks or are approaching them.

Nico Sturm, C, Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC): One of the top potential college free agents on the market this spring (he's a junior, so he could return to school), Sturm is a responsible center with great size, so he can play NHL games right away next season if he wanted to. With Clarkson, the German national has seven points in his past five games and 41 in 34 overall, putting him second in the conference. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Pavel Francouz, G, Colorado Eagles (AHL): Signed as a free agent by the Colorado Avalanche in the summer, Francouz was a big-timer for the Czechs at the Olympics. Now a rookie in the ‘A,’ he’s showing off that promise and was just named league player of the week, going 4-0 with just six goals against. NHL arrival: 2019-20

Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie Colts (OHL): It’s been tougher sledding than expected for Suzuki this season and part of that came with Barrie being a seller before the deadline – he doesn’t have as much talent around him as expected. But the 2019 draft prospect is a top-end playmaker and has put up six points in his past three games. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Ville Heinola, D, Lukko Rauma (Fin.): The second half has been very good for Heinola’s stock. The teenager’s minutes have increased and lately he has been playing more than 21 per game. The 2019 draft prospect has high-end hockey sense and a nice dose of offense to his game. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Matthew Robertson, D, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL): The Oil Kings secured a playoff spot for the first time in two seasons on the weekend, so let’s give a shout-out to Robertson, a defensive gem on the squad who is up for the 2019 draft. Robertson actually has four points in his past three games, but it’s his hockey sense and defensive positioning that has scouts excited. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Cole Caufield, RW, U.S. NTDP (USHL): One of the smallest players around, Caufield is still playing big in his 5-foot-7, 155-pound frame. The 2019 draft prospect is now tied for the NTDP scoring lead with Trevor Zegras at 65 points, but the bulk of Caufield’s come in goals. The University of Wisconsin commit has 43, giving him a shot at a couple program records (he had 54 last year). NHL arrival: 2022-23

Arthur Kaliyev, RW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL): It’s been an incredible season for Kaliyev, the 2019 draft prospect from Staten Island. One of the most dangerous scorers in the class, he just hit the 50-goal mark, making him the first Bulldog to do so since the team moved from Belleville. The kid is still raw in other areas, but that just means he’ll get even better. NHL arrival: 2020-21

Chad Krys, D, Boston University Terriers (Hockey East): The Terriers have been nearly unbeatable when Krys scores a point and the mobile defenseman filled the net against Merrimack on the weekend with a five-point outing. The Chicago Blackhawks pick is part of a very active B.U. blueline corps. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Joel Teasdale, LW, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL): Passed over in the draft, Teasdale earned himself a free agent contract with the Montreal Canadiens and the signing is looking nice for the Habs so far. Teasdale is on the cusp of 40 goals and has also been a demon when short-handed for the Huskies, who are currently on a 24-game win streak. NHL arrival: 2021-22

Rhett Pitlick, RW, Omaha Lancers (USHL): Pitlick’s Chaska Hawks were knocked out of the Minnesota high school regionals, so he’s out in Omaha for the rest of the campaign. The 2019 draft prospect has high-end hockey sense and skating ability and scored in his first game with the Lancers. He’s a University of Minnesota commit. NHL arrival: 2022-23

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