Brandon Hickey/Defenseman/Boston University
Drafted by the Calgary Flames in the 3rd Round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Hickey turned heads this year by playing exceptionally well for the Terriers. BU boasted a stacked defensive group but was often overshadowed by Jack Eichel. Hickey, although not known for his offense, had 17 points in 41 games. He plays a sound two-way game that all NHL teams look for in Defensemen. His smooth skating and top notch defensive game makes him highly coveted. There were rumors Hickey may leave BU for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL but Hickey chose to stay in college to further his education. This summer Hickey also participated in the Flames Development Camp and at the Canada National Junior Team Summer Showcase where he impressed. Hickey will look to improve his offense while still being a stalwart on defense for the Boston University Terriers as they try to win a National Championship.
Danton Heinen/Center/University of Denver
Heinen was drafted in the 4th Round of the 2014 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins. He had an exceptional season for the University of Denver. As a freshman he had 45 points in 40 games, which led his team and was good for third in freshman scoring only behind Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. Heinen did not get as much recognition as the other standout freshman but his play, nonetheless, is still very impressive. Heinen plays a solid defensive game, which sometimes can go unnoticed because of his offense. If Heinen could bulk up, he could be even more dominant as a sophomore. This past season Heinen led the University of Denver past Boston College in the First Round of the NCAA Hockey Tournament but lost to eventual National Champions, Providence, in the Quarterfinals. Heinen will look to lead University of Denver to the Frozen Four and possibly a National Championship.
Jimmy Vesey/Left Winger/Harvard
Vesey was selected in the 3rd Round of the 2012 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators. He scored 32 goals, which led the nation, and had 26 assists for 58 points in 37 games this past season leading him to be a Hobey Baker finalist. His 58 points were third in the NCAA only behind Jack Eichel and Evan Rodrigues. Vesey is a skilled and powerful winger, using his size to beat opponents. He has the speed to wear down defenseman and has a lethal shot. Vesey played at the World Championships this summer on a team filled with NHLers. He and Jack Eichel were the only college players on the roster. He showed well against tough competition. Vesey will look to lead the Crimson to a second straight NCAA Tournament appearance. After the season Vesey will likely join the Nashville Predators to help with their playoff push.
Taylor was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 7th Round of the 2014 NHL Draft. Taylor is a smooth skating offensive defenseman for the Dutchmen. As a freshman Taylor won the National Championship with Union, learning behind Flyers prospect Shayne Gostibehere. Taylor had 4 goals and 27 assists for 31 points in 34 games this past season. Taylor looks to be relied on as a leader and offensive producer in his junior season with the Dutchmen. If Taylor can continue to develop his game, he will have a chance to be an NHL player. Pittsburgh has a lot of depth at defense so Taylor may not play for the Penguins. He could end up like Mike Rielly who was one of the most coveted NCAA free agents this past offseason.
Jake Hildebrand/Goalie/Michigan State
Hildebrand has been stellar all three years at Michigan State. This past season as a Junior Hildebrand was 17-16-2 with 2.18 GAA and a .930 Save Percentage. He is 5’11”, which is below average for a goaltender, but he is quick in the crease. Hildebrand was named Team MVP all three years at Michigan State and just this past year his was named to the BIG Ten First All Star Team and NCAA West All American Team. He also won BIG Ten Goaltender and Player of the year. Going into his senior year at Michigan State he has high expectations. If he continues to play like he has the past three years, he will be a coveted free agent at the seasons end.