Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning has a list of NCAA free agents he wants to target in the off-season.
As Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning told TSN 1040 in an interview in early March, there is more than one NCAA free agent the Canucks want to talk to in the off-season. In fact, Benning even made a list of players and ranked them by how much he likes them.
"“We’ve had conversation these last couple of weeks, we did the groundwork with agents, we have a list of players in the order that we like them, and as their teams start losing out and they decide that they’re gonna turn pro, we’re gonna be in on that too.”"
Unless they are good enough to make the jump to the NHL immediately or one season after being drafted, NCAA prospects like to stay in college for four years. The reason is simple: while every drafted hockey player dreams of playing in the NHL one day, most of them are smart enough to get a college degree and prepare for their life after hockey.
The second they sign a professional contract, though, they are ineligible to return to the NCAA. Therefore, going for a nine-game try-out like CHL prospects do is not an option.
It is equally obvious that NHL clubs and fans are not exactly happy about that rule. After all, their drafted NCAA prospects become unrestricted free agents once they complete their senior year at college — a loophole that was most recently used by Minnesota Wild defenceman Mike Reilly, who had been drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2014.
The Canucks are in a similar situation with goaltending prospect Thatcher Demko, who could become an unrestricted free agent following next season, if he elects to stay at Boston College for his senior year.
While it sucks for the club who drafted the respective NCAA prospect, all other clubs happily go on an NCAA UFA prospect hunt every off-season. This year, there are several intriguing prospects available — some drafted, others undrafted.
When Benning says he made a list, all we know is the fact that there is a list. What we do not know is who is on that list. So, why not make our own?
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