The 2019-20 regular season for the National Hockey League begins Oct. 2, when the 2019 champion St. Louis Blues host the 2018 champion Washington Capitals.
Most teams have already named captains for the upcoming season and many of them share one thing in common: Their path to the NHL did not include a stop in the college ranks.
Just five captains for the upcoming season played NCAA Division I college hockey. And they were all pretty stellar.
Here’s a quick look back on the five former college hockey players who are now NHL captains in 2019.
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Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres – Boston University
Eichel spent just one season at Boston University, but it was a memorable one. Over 40 games, he led the nation in scoring in the 2014-15 season with 26 goals and 45 assists. He was the scoring champ, Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year in the Hockey East and became just the second freshman to win the Hobey Baker Award, akin to the Heisman for college hockey.
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In the Hockey East championship game that year, Eichel scored two goals and had an assist, leading BU to a win over UMass Lowell. In the regional semifinal of the NCAA tournament, he scored an overtime game-winner against Yale. Boston University advanced all the way to the championship game that season, but fell to Providence.
Eichel was drafted No. 2 overall by the Sabres in 2015, behind Connor McDavid.
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks – North Dakota
In two seasons at North Dakota, Toews racked up 40 goals and 45 assists. The Fighting Hawks made the Frozen Four in each of Toews’ two seasons there, but fell short each time, losing to Boston College in 2006 and 2007. Toews scored in each game.
The Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cups — in 2010, 2013 and 2015 — since Toews joined the team. He’s been the team’s captain since 2008, his second year in the league.
Andy Greene, New Jersey Devils – Miami (Ohio)
Before he took the ice for the Devils, Greene was a stout defenseman for the Miami Redhawks. Greene finished his career as Miami’s all-time leader in games played, appearing in 159. He was a good scorer in college too, notching 27 goals and 87 assists.
Greene helped the Redhawks appear in a pair of NCAA tournaments and was a Hobey Baker finalist in 2006. He was the first player of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association to earn both the league’s Best Offensive and Best Defenseman awards in the same season.
Greene has been the Devils’ captain since 2016.
Anders Lee, New York Islanders – Notre Dame
According to a story on NHL.com, Lee had scholarship offers to play Division I football coming out of high school, but instead opted for a career in hockey at Notre Dame. For the Fighting Irish, Lee was a star on the ice, often leading the team in scoring. In 125 games over three seasons, he tallied 61 goals and 55 assists.
Lee helped the Irish win a conference championship in 2013, and the Irish appeared in the Frozen Four in 2011. He became the Islanders’ captain in 2018.
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets – Minnesota
A Plymouth, Minnesota native, Wheeler suited up for the Gophers beginning in 2005. As a freshman, he scored 23 points in 39 games. As a sophomore, he scored the game-winning goal in the WCHA Championship game, giving the Gophers the Final Five title.
As a junior, Wheeler scored 35 points in 44 games. The Gophers made the NCAA tournament each year he was there.
After signing with the Boston Bruins in 2009, Wheeler was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011. The Thrashers then moved to Winnipeg and became the Jets that offseason. Wheeler has been the captain since 2016.
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2019 NHL captains:
|Anaheim Ducks||Ryan Getzlaf||none|
|Arizona Coyotes||Oliver Ekman-Larsson||none|
|Boston Bruins||Zdeno Chara||none|
|Buffalo Sabres||Jack Eichel||Boston University|
|Calgary Flames||Mark Giordano||none|
|Chicago Blackhawks||Jonathan Toews||North Dakota|
|Colorado Avalanche||Gabriel Landeskog||none|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||Nick Foligno||none|
|Dallas Stars||Jamie Benn||none|
|Detroit Red Wings||--||--|
|Edmonton Oilers||Connor McDavid||none|
|Florida Panthers||Aleksander Barkov||none|
|L.A. Kings||Anze Kopitar||none|
|Minnesota Wild||Mikko Koivu||none|
|Montreal Canadiens||Shea Weber||none|
|Nashville Predators||Roman Josi||none|
|New Jersey Devils||Andy Greene||Miami (Ohio)|
|New York Islanders||Anders Lee||Notre Dame|
|New York Rangers||--||--|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Claude Giroux||none|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Sidney Crosby||none|
|San Jose Sharks||Logan Couture||none|
|St. Louis Blues||Alex Pietrangelo||none|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Steven Stamkos||none|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||--||--|
|Vegas Golden Knights||--||--|
|Washington Capitals||Alex Ovechkin||none|
|Winnipeg Jets||Blake Wheeler||Minnesota|
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