Reprinted with permission from hockeybuzz.com
Back in October, 2014 Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News was giving some love to the NCAA when he released a list of "50 college players you need to know." The impetus behind Kennedy's list was the sheer talent that sat atop in what he called "The Fab Five Frosh" lead by Jack Eichel.
Eichel, of course, would go on to have a phenomenal season at Boston University and would be plucked second-overall in the 2015 NHL Draft by the Buffalo Sabres. Rounding out the top-five were Boston College defenseman Noah Hanifan who went 5th-overall to Carolina in the 2015 Draft, Mike Reilly (2011, 98th, CBJ,) Dylan Larkin (2014, 15th, DET) and goalie John Gilles (2012, 75th, CGY.)
In addition to the Sabres landing the top college player in Eichel, they also placed four other college players in the top-36 of Kennedy's list. Michigan's JT Compher, who was traded to the Colorado Avalanche in the Ryan O'Reilly deal, came in at No. 15 while Notre Dame's Connor Hurley was ranked No. 32. Providence defenseman Anthony Florentino, who's Friars begin their defense of the national title was ranked No. 36. All three will be playing in the NCAA Tournament which begins on Friday.
One player who will not be in the tournament is Hudson Fasching who's Minnesota Golden Gophers were beaten in the BIG 10 Championship game by Compher's Wolverines.
Fasching was ranked No. 16 by Kennedy, one spot behind Compher, and this is Kennedy's blurb, "Tank-sized power forward was brilliant at 2014 world juniors. Rights strangely traded from Los Angeles to Buffalo last season."
Listed as 6'2", 207 lbs., Fasching rolled like a tank this past season reaching career highs with 20 goals and 18 assists in 27 games played, but decided to forgo his senior season at Minnesota to join the Buffalo Sabres. "We are pleased to sign him,” Buffalo GM Tim Murray said in a statement. “We believe he has the potential to be an effective NHL player and wanted to bring him in as soon as possible.”
It wasn't too long ago that a BIG 10 interview had some questioning whether he'd sign with Buffalo or not. Such is the internet where a simple statement by Fasching got blown out of proportion. "It's tough, it's a tough situation," he said when asked about keeping in the present with the NHL a real possibility this year. "You talk to other pro teams being around, but your focus needs to [stay] here. That's what I try to do."
Apparently because "other pro teams were around," there was a possibility he was somehow being influenced into signing elsewhere. That's been put to rest now as he'll be bringing his power forward game to the Buffalo Sabres who, coincidentally, have had a hole on the right side ever since Tyler Ennis went down with a concussion.
Fasching will be in a good spot as he'll probably get his feet wet on Eichel or O'Reilly's wing in the top-six. Can't ask for much more than that.
With seven prospects at the 2016 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Buffalo will be well represented this year.
The No. 1 seed in the West Region belongs to St. Cloud State who have prospects Will Borgen (2015, 92nd-overall) and Judd Peterson (2012, 204th.) West Seneca native Sean Malone (2013, 159th) and the Harvard Crimson will face off against Christopher Brown (2014, 151st) and the Boston Eagles. Notre Dame's Hurley (2013, 38th) and Cal Petersen (2013, 129th) plus Florentino (2013, 143rd) all begin their quest for the Frozen Four this weekend.