Five NCAA free agents that the Vancouver Canucks should pursue

TAMPA, FL - APRIL 7: Troy Stecher #2 of North Dakota Fighting Hawks skates against the Denver Pioneers during game two of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Frozen Four Championship Semifinal at the Amaile Arena on April 7, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. The Fighting Hawks won 4-2. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 7: Troy Stecher #2 of North Dakota Fighting Hawks skates against the Denver Pioneers during game two of the 2016 NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Frozen Four Championship Semifinal at the Amaile Arena on April 7, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. The Fighting Hawks won 4-2. (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images) /
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Strauss Mann of the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Strauss Mann of the Michigan Wolverines. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

Akito Hirose – LD, Minnesota State, Freshman

The freshman defenseman out of Minnesota State did enough in one season to impress NHL teams to warrant consideration for an entry-level contract. Like Kawaguchi, Akito Hirose played his junior hockey in the BCHL before taking his talents to the NCAA. Although Hirose may head back to Minnesota State for his sophomore season, he will definitely get consideration from NHL teams this spring to turn pro. Nothing out of Hirose’s game jumps at you when watching him, but he does so many things well enough to make you think that’ll he has the ability to develop an elite skill.

Hirose has excelled on the powerplay this season, displaying the ability to read the play very well. Teammate Jake Livingstone spoke highly of Hirose’s on-ice ability: “With the puck, he’s just deceptive. He makes the plays, he moves his feet well, he just sees the game really well,” Livingstone said of Hirose. “On the power play … there’s a couple times where the team’s scored, and you know that doesn’t happen without him out there.”

Although there are doubts that Hirose will take the leap to the pro’s after just one season in the NCAA, there are benefits for him to develop under the watch of an NHL team rather than returning to college hockey.

Strauss Mann – G, Michigan, Junior

The only goaltender on the list, Strauss Mann has put up some gaudy numbers in his last two seasons at Michigan, which included an eye-popping .939 save percentage and 1.85 goals-against-average in his sophomore season.

Mann has displayed an ability to be a technically sound goaltender in his crease with the incredible ability to make the highlight reel save with his quickness. Statistically, it doesn’t get much better than what Mann has displayed through his collegiate career at Michigan. Mann has been a workhorse for the Wolverines, being nothing but reliable in his three seasons with the team.

You can never have enough depth at the goaltending position at the NHL level, and the Canucks could use Mann, given that their goaltending depth behind Thatcher Demko is iffy at best. With Braden Holtby likely being Seattle-bound next season, the backup role will be up for grabs as Mann could come in and challenge Mike Dipietro for the position if the team decides to go with an in-house solution for the role.

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What do you think, Canucks fans? Does any of these names intrigue you as a possible college free agent addition?