icehockey-men-d1 flag

Adam Hermann | NCAA.com | May 12, 2018

Four former college players are leading Vegas' crazy run

The Vegas Golden Knights are doing the unthinkable: in the franchise’s first season ever, the Knights have reached the NHL’s Western Conference Finals and looked like the best team in the playoffs.

Vegas has seen nine former NCAA players grace its roster this season, but four in particular (representing four of the team’s top nine point-getters this season) have been blazing the way for the Knights’ mind-blowing run, and might just lead their team to a Stanley Cup.

RW Reilly Smith |  Miami OH, 2009-2012

Draft: 69th overall by Dallas Stars in 2009

College: 66 G / 56 A in three years

Pros: 98 G / 149 A

This year: 22 G / 38 A

The 2017-18 season was Smith's third 20-goal season in the NHL, and it marked the first 60-point campaign of his career. 

Frozen Four 2018: Minnesota Duluth holds off Notre Dame to win NCAA title

He's been a huge part of Vegas's up-tempo attack, and his assist on William Karlsson's gorgeous overtime winner vs. San Jose was just one example of how valuable he is to this young team.

LW Erik Haula | Minnesota, 2010-2013

Draft: 182nd overall by Minnesota Wild in 2009

College: 42 G / 82 A in three years

Pros: 71 G / 73 A

This year: 29 G / 26 A

Vegas fans, young and old, will always remember Erik Haula's 2OT winner against the Kings in the first round. Vegas has experienced the whole gamut this season, and Haula's been a gigantic piece the whole way.

MORE MHKY: Top plays from this year's NCAA tournament 

The Finish winger scored 29 goals during the regular season, second-most on the team, and has a trio of goals in the postseason to match. Not too bad for a player who was a seventh-round pick nine years ago.

RW Alex Tuch | Boston College, 2014-2016

Draft: 18th overall by Minnesota Wild in 2014

College: 32 G / 30 A in two years

Pros: 15 G / 22 A

This year: 15 G / 22 A

Tuch, just a couple years after finishing his BC career, has been a beast for the Knights as a screener (he's 6-foot-4, 220 pounds) and someone who's really found his passing game during the season.

College hockey: Brett Larson named head coach at St. Cloud State

He opened the scoring in Vegas's 7-0 drubbing of San Jose in the second round, and with four goals in 10 games this postseason, he's clearly stepped up his game after scoring 15 during 78 regular season games.

D Nate Schmidt | Minnesota, 2010-2013

Draft: Undrafted

College: 12 G / 62 A in three years

Pros: 13 G / 66 A

This year: 5 G / 31 A (career highs)

Schmidt's never been much of a goal-scorer during his still-young NHL career, so when an initially disallowed goal from the point against the Sharks was reviewed and counted, he had to be relieved. 

MORE: Merrimack names Borek eighth head coach in program history

The former Gopher's been an anchor for Vegas's blue line all season long, and his five postseason points (including two goals!) have come in handy.

And here are five more former NCAA players who've skated for Vegas this season: 

D Brad Hunt | Bemidji State, 2008-2012

Draft: Undrafted

College: 24 G / 88 A

Pros: 5 G / 22 A

This year: 3 G / 15 A (career highs)

C Ryan Carpenter | Bowling Green, 2011-2014

Draft: Undrafted

College: 37 G / 42 A in three years

Pros: 11 G / 8 A

This year: 9 G / 5 A (career highs)

D Jon Merrill | Michigan, 2010-2013

Draft: 38th overall by New Jersey Devils in 2010

College: 11 G / 36 A in three years

Pros: 7 G / 32 A

This year: 1 G / 2 A

D Jason Garrison | Minnesota Duluth, 2005-2008

Draft: Undrafted

College: 9 G / 20 A in three years

Pros: 48 G / 111 A

This year: 0 G / 1 A 

D Zach Whitecloud | Bemidji State, 2016-2018

Draft: Undrafted

College: 7 G / 29 A

Pros: 0 G / 0 A

This year: 0 G / 0 

An early look at 3 players who could win the Hobey Baker Award in 2019-20

Ahead of the 2019-20, we examine three players who could win the Hobey Baker award, given to the top player in college hockey.
READ MORE

NCAA standouts Tim Thomas, Brian Gionta headed to the US Hockey Hall of Fame

NCAA men's hockey standouts Brian Gionta (Boston College) and Tim Thomas (Vermont) are heading to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
READ MORE

See where these 2019 first-round NHL draft picks are playing college hockey

Nine incoming freshmen were drafted in the first round of the 2019 NHL draft and will go on to play college hockey this year before turning professional.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners