They're the top talent in the NHL. But not too long ago these All-Stars were at the top of the college hockey world, too. Here are where some of your favorite NHL All-Stars got their NCAA starts.
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres — Boston University (2014-2015)
This former Boston Terrier boasts a trophy shelf of accolades from his one season in the NCAA. Eichel was named the Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner, the crowing individual achievement in college hockey. He was also named a CCM First Team All-American, and the Hockey East Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year (just the third freshman in league history at the time to claim both in the same season). The North Chelmsford, Mass. native led the nation in points (71), assists (45) and plus-minus (+51) throughout his season. Eichel led his team to the 2015 national championship game, recording three points (2g, 1a) in Boston’s semifinal victory over North Dakota.
The Terriers are on 🔥🔥🔥— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) January 22, 2019
With its win tonight, Boston U. is 5-1-1 in its last seven games. pic.twitter.com/ciSxBmUmqZ
Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings— Maine (2002-2005)
Jimmy Howard played three seasons for the Black Bears and enjoyed a record-setting career in his time there. During the 2003-04 season, he set NCAA single season records for goals against average at 1.19 and save percentage at .956. He holds Maine team records for career goals against average at 1.84, career save percentage at .931 and shutouts with 15. He also boasts the most saves in a game by a Maine goalie, stopping 63 pucks in a 2004 contest against Massachusetts. Howard led Maine to the 2004 NCAA championship title game and was a 2011 selection to the University of Maine Hall of Fame.
Cam Atkinson, Columbus Blue Jackets — Boston College (2008-2011)
Atkinson was a solid presence for the Eagles during his time at Boston College, scoring twice in BC’s win over Wisconsin to capture the 2010 NCAA championship. The forward was one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award after leading the Eagles in scoring with 52 points for his junior season. Atkinson also recorded a team-high 53 points during his sophomore season. Overall, the current Blue Jacket registered 124 points — 68 goals and 56 assists — in 117 collegiate games between 2008-11.
Kyle Palmieri, New Jersey Devils — Notre Dame (2009-2010)
Originally drafted by the Ducks in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Palmieri had a strong impact with the Irish during his one season there. Palmieri played in 33 games for Notre Dame and tied for ninth in scoring on the team with nine goals and eight assists. The Montvale, NJ native was third on squad with five power-play goals and tied for the team lead with two game winners.
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets — Minnesota (2005-2008)
This is the second year in a row that Gopher alum Wheeler has been selected to participate in the NHL All-Star Game. During his collegiate career, Wheeler totaled 96 points (42 goals, 54 assists) in 127 career games. The Plymouth, Minn. native served as an alternate captain in 2007-08 when he earned all-conference honors as the team's leading scorer. The forward helped Minnesota capture back-to-back WCHA regular-season crowns in 2006 and 2007 while also scoring one of the biggest goals in program history to win the 2007 WCHA Final Five, earning the tournament MVP award.
Here are the point leaders for your Winnipeg Jets halfway through the season:— Winnipeg Jets (@Winnipeg_Jets19) January 22, 2019
G: 25 for Mark Scheifele & Patrick Laine
A: 52 for Blake Wheeler
P: 61 for Blake Wheeler
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames — Boston College (2011-2014)
Perhaps you know him as “Johnny Hockey,” Gaudreau exploded into college hockey as a freshman with Boston College, helping the Eagles to a dominant 4-1 win over Ferris State in the NCAA Frozen Four national championship game, after notching a team-high 27 points during Boston’s 19-game win streak to end the season. The lefty’s accolades continued over his next two seasons as he was named one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award and named Hockey East Association Player of the Year as a sophomore. Gaudreau still had room to rise in his final season, capturing the Hobey Baker Award and registering 80 points on the season — the third-most total points for a season in Boston College history and most in all of college hockey since the 2002-03 season. He left the NCAA as BC’s 10th-most prolific scorer in program history with 175 points in just three seasons.
Clayton Keller, Arizona Coyotes — Boston University (2016-2017)
Although he only played within the NCAA for his rookie season, Keller certainly left his mark on the league. Keller garnered a host of awards including ACHA National Rookie of the Year, New England Rookie of the Year and Hockey East Rookie of the Year. The forward out of Swansea, Illinois appeared in 31 games, totaling team highs in points (45), goals (21) and plus-minus (+15). He led all Hockey East freshmen in points and was second among NCAA rookies, and before heading off to the pros Keller capped off his collegiate career on a 10-game point streak.
Clayton Keller strips Morgan Rielly of the puck then beats Frederik Andersen with a wicked wrister 💪 pic.twitter.com/Vr73pzgSiU— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 21, 2019
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks — Wisconsin (2004-2006)
The San Jose Captain is enjoying his 13th season in the NHL, but fans would be remiss if we didn’t recognize the NCAA team that shaped his early career. His rookie campaign saw Pavelski share the national scoring lead among freshmen with 45 points in 2004–05. Pavelski won the 2006 NCAA championship with Wisconsin, leading the Badgers in points with 23 goals and 33 assists in 43 games. Those 56 points also ranked Pavelski second in the WCHA and fourth in the country. Over his career the Plover, Wisconsin native collected 101 points in 84 games played to become just the ninth Badger to score 100 points through their first two seasons.
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.