More and more often, the world's top hockey talent makes the decision to develop its game through NCAA college hockey before jumping into the pros.
These 13 skaters were all top draft picks for NHL teams and will most likely make a professional debut within the next four years. Here's where you can see them play before they skate on NHL rinks.
K’Andre Miller — Wisconsin
Draft: New York Rangers, 22nd overall, 2018
A Minnesota native, the lefty was selected 22nd overall by the New York Rangers in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft before beginning his collegiate career with Wisconsin. Before joining the Badgers, Miller spent two seasons with the National Team Development Program playing for the U-18 and U-17 squads. Between the two teams Miller tallied 47 points in 113 games. As a freshman, Miller has appeared in every Wisconsin game this season, notching four goals and 13 assists for 17 points.
Jay O’Brien - Providence
Draft: Philadelphia, 19th overall, 2018
Before committing to Providence, O’Brien was named the All-USA Hockey Player of the Year, given to the top high school player in the United States. The Hingham, Massachusetts native posted 43 goals and 37 assists for Thayer Academy in the 2017-2018 season. O’Brien notched his first NCAA goal on Dec. 1 against New Hampshire, taking the pass to skate in alone and beat New Hampshire’s Mike Robinson high on the glove side.
Jacob Bernard-Docker — North Dakota
Draft: Ottawa, 26th overall, 2018
Bernard-Docker earned his draft spot and collegiate career by being one of the best defensemen in the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL). He also received the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s (AJHL) W.G. Scott Memorial Trophy as its most outstanding defenseman, collecting 20 goals and 21 assists in 49 games and leading all defensemen with seven power-play goals. As of Dec. 13, Bernard-Docker was tied for most points from a North Dakota defenseman, combining four goals and six assists for 10 points.
Quinn Hughes — Michigan
Draft: Vancouver, 7th overall, 2018
Before Hughes led all Michigan defensemen in assists, points, plus/minus, and goals as a freshman he played two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program, scoring 47 points in 56 games for the U-18 team. As a rookie with the Wolverines, the Orlando, Florida native set the program record for assists by a freshman defenseman (24) and ranked third all-time in points (29). So far this season, Hughes has three goals and ranks third in the country with 17 assists. Hughes’ father played college hockey for Providence and coached professional hockey, his mother played at the University of New Hampshire and for the U.S. Women’s National team and his younger brother, Jack, is touted to be the No. 1 draft pick in 2019.
Joel Farabee — Boston University
Draft: Philadelphia, 4th overall, 2018
The Cicero, New York native served as captain of the 2017-2018 U.S. National U-18 team. Farabee helped his team to a silver medal at the U-18 World Championships and finished second on the team in goals (33), assists (43), and points (76) in 62 games. So far on the season Farabee has three goals and seven assists for the Terriers.
HAT TRICK!— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) December 29, 2018
BU's Joel Farabee had a natural hat trick to lead USA to an 8-2 victory over Kazakhstan in the World Junior Championships. Next up: Sweden. pic.twitter.com/OlvWo8H6Sx
Oliver Wahlstrom — Boston College
Draft: New York Islanders, 11th overall, 2018
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Wahlstrom spent his time before college in the USHL, earning a silver at the 2018 U-18 World Championship where he finished the season with the best plus/minus in the USHL (+30). He also played a major role in the U-18 squad’s 2017 gold medal at the World Championship, scoring four goals in seven games. As an Eagle, Wahlstrom has racked up four goals so far in the season, and added an assist in BC’s most recent contest against UConn.
Ryan Poehling - St. Cloud State
Draft: Montreal, 25th overall, 2017
Poehling has been using his time at St. Cloud State to develop into an even better draft pick for the Canadians. From his rookie season to last year’s sophomore campaign the Lakeville, Minnesota native doubled his goals scored — jumping to 14 — and more than doubled his assists and points for the season (17, 31). Now, only halfway through his junior year, Poehling has already counted 14 assists and 17 points. The forward sees a lot of support from his family, as his older brothers Jack and Nick both suit up for the Huskies as well.
Josh Norris - Michigan
Draft: San Jose, 19th overall, 2017 — Rights traded to Ottawa on Sept. 13, 2018
Norris’ father played at Michigan State and his brother his currently on Ferris State’s roster so it’s no surprise that Oxford, Michigan native is making his name known with the Wolverines. As a freshman, Norris recorded 23 points for the blue and gold, leading the team in blocked shots (43) and faceoff win percentage (56.4%). Norris started off this season as one of the Big Ten’s stars of the week (10/30) and has racked up nine goals and assists for 18 points.
Cale Makar — Massachusetts
Draft: Colorado, 4th overall, 2017
Scoring depth has been 🔑 for us so far this season...— UMass Hockey (@UMassHockey) December 21, 2018
And we’re the ONLY team in the nation with 4️⃣ players in the top 3️⃣0️⃣ in scoring at the break 😯
See you all @MullinsCenter ✌️ weeks from tonight 🙌#NewMass | #Flagship 🚩 pic.twitter.com/HKF0Y8F9Tu
The highest draft pick in UMass history, Makar was tabbed as Co-Rookie of the Year as a freshman and named one of the two recipients of the 2018 George C. Carens Awards from the New England Hockey Writers Association. Makar notched 21 points for his rookie season. As a sophomore, he has been a driving force behind the Minutemen’s recent success with 21 points on 16 assists and five goals. He was named Hockey East Player of the Month for October after registering three goals and eight assists in six games. Makar leads all defensemen in goals, assists, points and shots on goal.
Shane Bowers — Boston University
Draft: Ottawa, 28th overall, 2017 — Rights traded to Colorado on Nov. 5, 2017
As a rookie the Halifax, Nova Scotia native finished third on the team in points (32) and second in goals (17), leading all skaters with a plus-16 rating and tying for most game-winning goals. So far this season Bowers has tallied five goals and three assists.
Jake Oettinger — Boston University
Draft: Dallas, 26th overall, 2017
Oettinger showed his potential as a freshman with the Terriers, backstopping BU in 35 games to a 21-11-3 record. His sophomore campaign brought five shutouts in 38 starts, a .945 save percentage in his final nine games and was named the Hockey East Tournament MVP after a 30-save shutout. So far this season Oettinger has 484 saves and a .924 save percentage.
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Riley Tufte — Minnesota Duluth
Draft: Dallas, 25th overall, 2016
Tufte had a breakout sophomore season, topping UMD in goals (16) while finishing third in points (29 -- nearly double his rookie-year total). He scored more times on the power play than any other Bulldog last season (5) and entered the 2018-2019 campaign with UMD’s best career-plus minus rating (+26). Tufte has seven points on 65 shots so far this season.
Dante Fabbro — Boston University
Draft: Nashville, 17th overall, 2016
Fabbro started his BU career with 18 points on six goals and 12 assists, twice named a Hockey East Top Performer and adding an assist on the game-winning goal over for a Beanpot victory over rival Boston College. Fabbro continued to improve in his sophomore season, ranking fifth on the team in points (29) and second among all Hockey East defensemen. He tied for third on the team in assists and led all Hockey East players in blocks (82). Fabbro also added some hardware to his trophy case last season, leading Team Canada to a 2018 World Juniors Gold medal as assistant captain. Currently, the New Westminster, B.C. native leads all BU skaters in assists, points and blocks.
Callan Sheridan is a graduate of Saint Peter's University and has produced content for The Press Enterprise, the American Junior Golf Association and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Follow her on twitter at @calsh_13.