The NHL Playoffs begin on Wednesday with the Stanley Cup on the line and the rosters are chock-full of players that made their way up from the ranks of NCAA hockey.
Out of the 60 teams in Division I, 36 different programs have combined for 121 players on current 16 NHL playoff rosters. Minnesota leads all teams with 11 former players while recent champion North Dakota and Wisconsin tie for second with nine each.
As far as which professional franchise has the most former players, the Pittsburgh Penguins have 15 players on their roster while Minnesota Wild have 14, including five that also played college hockey in The Land of 10,000 Lakes. The Eastern Conference outnumbers the Western Conference by 11 players..The most members from a NCAA championship team goes to the 2009 Boston Terriers, represented by Nashville’s Colin Wilson, Islanders’ Brian Strait, Pittsburgh’s Nick Bonino, San Jose’s Kevin Shattenkirk. Fellow Beanpot member Boston College has three with its 2012 national championship team (Kevin Hayes and Chris Kreider for Rangers, Brian Dumoulin for Penguins).
A total of 18 players won a national championship during their time in the NCAA, with Paul Martin and Matt Carle the only two to win a pair of NCAA titles. Martin won back-to-back national titles with the 2002 and 2003 Minnesota team and Carle followed the feat with the 2004 and 2005 Denver teams.
The NHL playoffs aren't just limited to the players on the roster, but the team's head coaches as well who either played or coached in the NCAA.Red Wings head coach Jeff Blashill was at the helm of Western Michigan's program for just one season, but earned several coach of the year honors with the Broncos. Mike Sullivan, who took over as Pittsburgh head coach in December, spent four seasons at Boston University from 1986-90 before a successful 11-year playing career in the NHL. NY Islanders' head coach Jack Caupano remains the highest-scoring defenseman for the University of Maine.
Phildelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol, who has reached the playoffs in his first season, played and coach at North Dakota. Hakstol attended UND from 1989-92 and made seven Frozen Four appearances in 11 seasons as head coach with a 289-141-43 record.
Here is the full breakdown of players by college, NHL team and years played based on College Hockey Inc databases.
*Editor's Note: Rosters and figures are current at time of publication.