Hockey East Free Agent Frenzy

As the college hockey season winds down for those not fortunate enough to have advanced in their respective conference tournaments or to the NCAA’s, the college free agent market is open for business. With the passing of the NHL trade deadline, GM’s turn their attention to the budding stars that have finished up their college careers and are on the precipice of what they hope will be an opportunity in the professional ranks.

Although college stars rarely make an immediate impact, there are a number of high profile talents who have hit the open market and a handful who are one game away for the professional ranks as the do or die portion of the NCAA schedule is upon us. The free agency period lasts until mid April as NHL teams scour the college ranks for additional reinforcements as they head into the final days of the season. I for one was amazed at the depth of talent that has remained undrafted and look forward to watching the chips fall into place as these HE elite vie for a spot in the NHL.

Steve Wozniak of Hockey Primetime offers his take on the some of the intriguing, pro caliber seniors who will attract some attention as the college season winds down and the NHL season is propelled into overdrive. Included in this talented crop of skaters are two of the main ingredients that make up Maine’s top line – LW Spencer Abbott and C Bryan Flynn (Lynfield, MA). Merrimack D Karl Stollery rounds out Wozniak’s list and according to the piece “spent the summer of 2010 in the prospect camp for the Atlanta Thrashers turned Winnipeg Jets.”

Also on the market and open for business are fellow Hockey East members, Barry Almeida (BC), Chris Connolly (BU) Stevie Moses (UNH) and TJ Syner (Springfield, MA – UMass). Syner, one of the speediest forwards in HE, signed on with the Washington Capitals on Tuesday and will join their AHL affiliate- The Hershey Bears for the time being.

Syner had this to say in Dick Baker’s “Capital Gain” column on Masslive.com:

“I got to meet the coaches, and it seems like a perfect fit,” said Syner, who started his long drive down to Hershey Tuesday night.“I feel a little better, this helps,“ he said of still struggling to get over of Saturday night’s officiating-marred defeat at Boston College. “I would have rather been practicing to play at the Garden (for the Hockey East championships).” 

 In the past, players of a small stature were frowned upon by NHL scouts and were often left undrafted. With the proven success of small, speedy forwards like Brian Gionta and Nathan Gerbe, I am a bit surprised that a dynamic player like F Stevie Moses -5’9” 170 lbs (Leominster, MA – UNH) would be left undrafted given his solid career numbers and his

Stevie Moses looks for an NHL home

electrifying skating ability. The post lock out NHL has eliminated the red line and cracked down on all the clutching and grabbing which has seemingly paved the way for all of the diminutive yet nimble, Stevie Moses’ of the world. With UNH’s heart breaking double OT loss at BU, the Wildcats are done for the season and Moses will no doubt be a hot commodity.

An article on NHL.com details its list of college players who have ‘stretch run potential’ and include 6’5” Northeastern goaltender, Chris Rawlings. There has been strong sentiment from the NU faithful pushing for the exodus of Rawlings to make room for prized recruit, John Gillies (Indiana Ice-USHL).

NHL.com had this to say about Rawlings pro potential:

“As a freshman, Rawlings came to the Huskies as a raw goalie with plenty of athleticism and promise. Three seasons later, he’s a more polished prospect who has added technique to go with his size and speed. While some may point to his record as a black mark, his goals-against average and save percentage have stayed in the same ballpark, a sign that he’s the victim of an up-and-down offense. Rawlings is a project for sure, but is of the coveted low-risk, high-reward variety.”

Although Vermont did not qualify for postseason play, talented forward Sebastian Stalberg will be not be sidelined for long. The Burlington Press reported today that the junior

Stalberg joins brother Viktor in the NHL ranks

forward, younger sibling to current Chicago Blackhawk – Viktor Stalberg, has signed a 2 year entry level deal with the San Jose Sharks.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson spoke of Stalberg’s exploits in the Free Press article today:

“Sebastian is a skilled and versatile forward that improved each and every year at the college level,” said Sharks executive vice president and general manager Doug Wilson in a media release. “Coach Kevin Sneddon and his staff at the University of Vermont have been tremendous in helping Sebastian’s development and we look forward to him continuing on that path with our organization.” 

College Hockey Inc. has added the NHL Free Agent signings to their NHL Matchup Tool and will update each signing as they are officially announced. If you haven’t played around with this Matchup Tool, you are a missing a great resource.

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