Hockey might be a sport associated with the frost of the ice in the rink matching the frigid winter conditions outside, but the more pleasant October month is when it all gets started. And a quick glance at the calendar shows that is, in fact, now October, so it’s time to get ready for the puck to drop.
With that said, as teams work through the preseason, here is the ultimate lineup of returning Division I men’s hockey players for the 2016-17 season.
F: Brock Boeser, North Dakota
2015-16: 42 games, 27 goals, 33 assists, 60 points
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With incredible puck skills and a great eye for passing, Boeser is as lethal a scorer as you will ever come across in the college ranks. For him to do what he did as a freshman last year was a testament to his raw abilities, and that should only keep getting better with another year of game and practice experience under his belt.
F: Luke Kunin, Wisconsin
2015-16: 34 games, 19 goals, 13 assists, 32 points
Like Boeser, Kunin looked very at home as a freshman, especially toward the end of the campaign. He finished the season on a seven-game point streak and nine of the final 10. For his potential, the Minnesota Wild took the center — who played half of his freshman season at just 17 years old — with the 15th pick in this year’s draft.
F: Ryan Fitzgerald, Boston College
2015-16: 40 games, 24 goals, 23 assists, 47 points
After a solid first two years at Boston College, Ryan Fitzgerald broke out last season. He was the best offensive player on a team that went to the Frozen Four, scoring a power-play goal in the quarterfinals that proved to be the game-winner. What he lacks in size at 5-foot-11, he makes up for sheer ability to make things happen with the puck.
D: Will Butcher, Denver
2015-16: 41 games, nine goals, 23 assists, 32 points
After an outstanding 2015-16 season that included a trip to the Frozen Four, expectations are high for the Pioneers. And after showing he can hang with the best, including a goal against North Dakota in the semifinals, a lot of eyes will be on Butcher to continue to step up for one more year.
D: Charlie McAvoy, Boston University
2015-16: 37 games, three goals, 22 assists, 25 points
G: Cam Johnson, North Dakota
2015-16: 34 games, 1.66 goals-against average, .935 save percentage
He finished the year with five shutouts and stopped 32 of 33 Quinnipiac shots in the championship. He has been considered a late bloomer as a young goaltender, but now the Fighting Hawks are reaping the benefits of his development.