Every summer some notable NCAA players hit the free agency market despite having already been drafted. NHL clubs have until August 15th to sign NCAA seniors that they selected in earlier drafts and as usual, there are a few players that should garner attention later this week.
This coming Friday, upwards of 20 players will have the ability to entertain multiple offers and sign with whichever NHL club they so desire. After the jump, I'll spotlight the top 5 who look like they'll have that opportunity.
Here is a list that was provided to me of the players who will become free agents on the 15th if not signed by the NHL club that drafted them. I made some quick notes on a few of the guys that stuck out to me and provided a link to the Elite Prospects profile. I have removed the 5 top guys so as to list them below.
Kevin Lind (D) Notre Dame - The 6th round pick of the Ducks back in 2010, Lind is a 6'3, 222 lb blueliner known more for his defensive play than any offensive production.
Radoslav Illo (C) Bemidji State
Justin Holl (D) Minnesota - Chicago's 2nd round pick in 2010, Holl has pretty decent size at 6'3 and just under 200 lbs. The Minnesota native is signed to a minor league contract to play for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.
Kirill Gotovets (D) Cornell - Originally a late 2009 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Gotovets is signed to an AHL contract with Rockford.
Gus Young (D) Yale
Luke Moffat (C) Michigan - The Arizona product was taken 2nd overall way back in 2007 by the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL Bantam draft. It's one of the few times the Rockets failed to land such a high pick and but it wasn't for lack of effort (or enticement according to Moffat). Moffat's numbers at Michigan were OK but his 13 goals last year were almost double his previous best.
Kellen Jones (C) Quinnipiac - One half of the dynamic Wonder Twins who helped provide the Bobcats with their potent offensive attack. Kellen, and his brother Connor, both ended the year off with the Edmonton Oilers farm team in Oklahoma City and both are signed to minor league deals with the organization for the coming season. Only their size prevents the pair from erasing all doubt from skeptics who question their NHL potential.
Joe Basaraba (RW) Minnesota-Duluth - The captain of the Bulldogs last year has size at 6'3 and just under 200 lbs but limited offence might be the reason Florida hasn't signed the 3rd round pick (yet). Still, he finished the season in the ECHL and made a nice transition to the pro game scoring 5 points in 10 games.
Mike Cichy (C) Western Michigan - Once considered a steal by the Canadiens as a 7th round selection, Cichy's development stagnated at North Dakota before transferring (and sitting out a year) to Western Michigan. Unfortunately, his USHL offence didn't carry over to college.
Curtis Gedig (D) Ohio State - After 4 years with the Buckeyes, one of them as captain, Gedig's NCAA career is in the rearview mirror. He's another large defenceman with little offensive stats.
Joe Faust (D) Wisconsin - A 4th round pick by the Devils that recorded just 4 points in his first three seasons as a Badger but then finished things off with a 14-point campaign as a senior. He joined the team earlier than expected which partially led to Troy Hesketh not getting his shot with the Badgers.
Derek Rodwell (LW) North Dakota - A former standout in the AJHL, Rodwell was a depth player for the former Fighting Sioux during most of his NCAA career.
Cody Ferriero (C) Northeastern
Isaac Macleod (D) Boston College - The big 6'5 Canadian defenceman had a career high 11 points for the Eagles last season. He also wore an 'A' as an alternate captain. Initially drafted in the 5th round by the Sharks.
Maxwell Tardy (C) Minnesota-Duluth
Jeff Costello (LW) Notre Dame - Originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators, Costello's rights have been traded twice in the last six months. The Sens dealt him to Vancouver who included him with Jason Garrison to acquire Tampa Bay's 2nd round pick at the 2014 draft. Costello had a pretty decent career at Notre Dame ending with 41 goals and 82 points in 145 career games for the Irish, most of which came in his final two seasons. Last year Costello played as the team's captain.
5. Nate Condon (Minnesota)
At 6'0 and about 200 lbs, Condon isn't too small. With 103 points in 159 career NCAA games with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, Condon has shown the ability to produce. He's always played in the shadow of some true blue chippers on the Gophers roster but a team looking for a nice complimentary player could do worse than the 24-year-old from Wisconsin. The Colorado Avalanche selected him way back in the final round of 2008.
4. Chase Balisy (Western Michigan)
Three of Balisy's four seasons as a Bronco saw him scoring at least 30 points. He ended his NCAA career with 129 points in 161 games but it's not his offensive contributions that should make him a target for teams on August 15th. Balisy is a quality 2-way center that can chip in with some points but will likely make more of an impact as a penalty killer. At 5'11 and 181 lbs, he's average sized but not too small to deserve consideration. Quite frankly, I don't get why the Predators are taking a pass on Balisy, a 2nd team NCHC all-star this past season.
3. Kevin Gravel (St.Cloud State)
The Huskies of St.Cloud were a team to watch this past year and Gravel led the club in scoring by defencemen with 23 points. That was by far a career high but more opportunity as a senior probably plays a factor in that. The LA Kings have chosen to sign Gravel but only to a minor league contract which leaves him open to NHL offers from the other 29 teams in the league. Hockey's Future currently ranks Gravel as the 3rd best blueline prospect for the Kings. The 6'4, 200 lb Michigan native should receive interest that would test his loyalty to the Kings, and theirs to him.
2. Martin Ouellette (Maine)
Not long ago the Columbus Blue Jackets were desperate for crease depth in their organization but now, apparently, they're confident enough in what they have to let a quality goalie walk for nothing. Martin Ouellette was a Hobey Baker nominee (and a leading vote getter from fans) thanks to his stellar play for the Maine Black Bears. The 6'2, 190 lbs netminder posted two strong seasons as the starter for the Black Bears on what were average teams.
1. Kevin Hayes (Boston College)
Even casual fans see Hayes as the top impending free agent and almost everyone envisions him signing in one of two places. Hayes was one-third of the always dangerous top line at Boston College alongside Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold, and both are prospects of the Calgary Flames. Surely the Flames would love to add the complete line to their organization at the same time? The other popular assumption is that to play with his older brother Jimmy in Florida will be Kevin's choice. It certainly makes sense as Kevin followed Jimmy to Boston College too. But let's be honest, while it's reasonable to suggest those two outcomes would seem to be the most likely, 27 other teams could call and make an offer that changes everything else. After all, who wouldn't want to add a 6'4, 220lb forward that scored 27 goals and 65 points in 40 games last year?