The 2022 NHL playoffs have boiled down to two teams — the Colorado Avalanche and the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning seek their third straight Stanley Cup while the Avalanche are in their first Cup final since 2001.
Both teams got here by way of phenomenal player development. Some of Colorado's key players prepared for the NHL in college hockey. And while Tampa Bay doesn't have as many former college hockey players as the Avs, the Bolts do have a vital supporting cast that's made up of various former collegiate athletes.
Let's take a look at the collegiate careers of all the former college hockey players in the 2022 Stanley Cup final.
Andrew Cogliano (Michigan: 2005-07)
Andrew Cogliano spent two seasons at Michigan from 2005-07. His best campaign came in 2006-07 when the first-round pick (25th overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft) posted 50 points in 38 games. He's spent 15 seasons in the NHL, playing for the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, San Jose Sharks and now the Avalanche.
J.T. Compher (Michigan: 2013-16)
Another former Wolverine, J.T. Compher played in the maize and blue for three seasons from 2013-16. His first two seasons were solid, but Compher experienced a massive jump in points in his third and final year at Michigan as team captain, potting 16 goals and 47 assists for a total of 63 points. Along with being a second team ACHA All-American and an All-Big Ten first team selection, Compher was one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. He was drafted 35th by the Buffalo Sabres in 2013 and has spent six seasons in the NHL with the Avalanche.
THE FULL LIST: Here's all the former college hockey players that were in the 2022 NHL playoffs
Jack Johnson (Michigan: 2005-07)
To quote Smash Mouth, the former Wolverines "start coming and they don't stop coming." Jack Johnson entered Michigan having just been selected third overall in the 2005 NHL entry draft by the Carolina Hurricanes. In two seasons at Ann Arbor, Johnson posted point totals of 32 and 39, growing as a solid offensive defenseman at the college level. Johnson has spent 16 seasons in the NHL, playing for the Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and now the Avs.
Erik Johnson (Minnesota: 2006-07)
Fifteen years before Owen Power was drafted No. 1 overall in the NHL entry draft and opted to play a year of college before moving onto the show, there was Erik Johnson. The top defenseman in his draft class, Johnson was selected first overall by the St. Louis Blues in 2006. Instead of going straight to St. Louis, Johnson went to Minnesota for the 2006-07 season and played a season with the Golden Gophers. He posted 24 points in 41 games. He's spent 14 seasons in the NHL, playing for the Blues and the Avalanche.
Cale Makar (UMass: 2017-19)
After a solid 21-point freshman season at UMass, Cale Makar took over college hockey in 2018-19, posting 49 points in 41 games and leading the Minutemen all the way to the national title game. His season culminated in winning the 2018-19 Hobey Baker Award. Makar's become one of the game's most dynamic players since leaping into the NHL. He won the Calder Trophy in his first season and after posting a whopping 28 goals and 86 points in 77 games this season, he's the favorite for the Norris Trophy. He was selected fourth overall in the 2017 NHL entry draft by the Avalanche and has played three full seasons in Colorado.
Josh Manson (Northeastern: 2011-14)
Josh Manson spent three seasons at Northeastern. In his third and final year, he was named team captain. While his offensive stats never jumped off the stat sheet, his defensive abilities shined on the ice. He was named Hockey East's Best Defensive Defenseman at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season. He was a Hockey East Second Team All-Star that season, too. He was selected in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL entry draft by the Ducks. His first full NHL season came in 2014-15 and he spent eight seasons in Anaheim before being dealt to Colorado at this season's trade deadline.
Alex Newhook (Boston College: 2019-21)
On a stacked Boston College team in 2019-20, Alex Newhook shined as a freshman, posting 42 points in 34 games. His 19 goals that season were the most among all freshmen. He also won the Tim Taylor Award as rookie of the year in DI men's ice hockey. Even though he missed some time during his sophomore season in 2020-21, he still put up a solid 16 points in 12 games. Newhook was drafted 16th overall in the 2019 NHL entry draft by Colorado. This is his first full season.
Logan O'Connor (Denver: 2015-18)
Logan O'Connor picked quite the time to be a Denver Pioneer. In his three seasons there, Denver went to two Frozen Fours and won the national championship in 2016-17. O'Connor posted 43 points in 108 collegiate games. O'Connor signed with the Avalanche in the summer of 2018 and has been in the system ever since.
Nico Sturm (Clarkson: 2016-19)
Nico Sturm spent three seasons at Clarkson. While his freshman and sophomore years were good, his junior year was great. Sturm posted 45 points in 39 games, leading Clarkson to an ECAC tournament championship. That year, he was a top-10 Hobey Baker finalist, a finalist for ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and a First-Team CCM/ACHA All-American. He notched two ECAC Hockey Best Defensive Forward awards in his final two seasons as well. He signed with the Minnesota Wild following his junior season. Since then, he spent three years with the Wild and was sent to Colorado this past season.
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Devon Toews (Quinnipiac: 2013-16)
Devon Toews' journey to becoming a terrific two-way defenseman began at Quinnipiac. Toews played three seasons for the Bobcats with his best coming in his third and final year when he notched 30 points in 40 games and posted a plus-27 rating. He was selected in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL entry draft and played two seasons for the Islanders from 2018-20. He was dealt to the Avalanche prior to the 2020-21 season, which turned out to be the perfect springboard for NHL success. His best season came this year when he posted 57 points in 66 games.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ross Colton (Vermont, 2016-18)
Ross Colton spent two seasons with the Catamounts, posting 27 points in his first season and 23 in his second. He made Hockey East's All-Rookie Team in 2016-17 and scored a Hockey East All-Star honorable mention the next year. Colton was drafted by Tampa Bay in the fourth round of the 2016 NHL entry draft and moved into the Lightning's system in 2018-19.
Brian Elliott (Wisconsin, 2003-07)
Brian Elliott spent four terrific seasons at Wisconsin. His best came in his junior and senior seasons. In his first season as the full-time starter (2005-06), Elliott posted an incredible .938 save percentage and 1.55 goals-against average. He was a top-three finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. His biggest achievement of that magical year was leading the Badgers to a national championship win over Boston College. He made the all-tournament team as well. The next season saw Elliott earn a 2.10 GAA and .923 save percentage. His efforts during his time with the Badgers earned him a spot in Wisconsin's Athletic Hall of Fame. Since Elliott was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the ninth round of the 2003 NHL entry draft, he reported there after his senior season. He's played for the Senators, Avalanche, Blues, Calgary Flames, Philadelphia Flyers and now the Lightning over 15 seasons.
Alex Killorn (Harvard, 2008-12)
Alex Killorn played at Harvard for four seasons and got better by the year. That culminated in posting 46 points in 34 games in his senior season (2011-12), which got him named to the CCM Hockey All-America first team. He was also named to First-team ECAC Hockey All-League. He was selected 77th overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft by the Lightning and joined the organization at the end of his senior year. Killorn has spent 10 seasons with the Lightning and has consistently put up solid offensive numbers. This season saw him post 59 points — a career-high.
Ryan McDonagh (Wisconsin, 2007-10)
Ryan McDonagh spent three seasons at Wisconsin with his best coming in 2009-10 when he notched 18 points in 43 games. He was a key part of that Badgers team that went all the way to the national championship where they ultimately lost to Boston College. McDonagh was drafted 12th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2007 NHL entry draft. He began his NHL career with the New York Rangers in 2010-11 and has played 12 seasons — eight with the Rangers and four full campaigns in Tampa Bay.
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Riley Nash (Cornell, 2007-10)
While McDonagh was at Wisconsin, Riley Nash was at Cornell establishing himself as a consistent forward. In Nash's final season with the Big Red, he averaged over a point per game with 35 points in 30 contests. The season before saw Nash snag an ECAC Hockey First Team spot. Nash was drafted 21st overall in the 2007 NHL entry draft and left for the NHL after the 2009-10 season. He's played for the Hurricanes, Boston Bruins, Blue Jackets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Winnipeg Jets, Arizona Coyotes and now the Lightning.
Here's the list of all the college hockey players in the 2022 Stanley Cup final.
|PLAYER||POSITION||NHL TEAM||COLLEGE||COLLEGIATE YEARS PLAYED|
|Andrew Cogliano||F||Colorado Avalanche||Michigan||2005-07|
|J.T. Compher||F||Colorado Avalanche||Michigan||2013-16|
|Jack Johnson||F||Colorado Avalanche||Michigan||2005-07|
|Erik Johnson||D||Colorado Avalanche||Minnesota||2006-07|
|Cale Makar||D||Colorado Avalanche||UMass||2017-19|
|Josh Manson||D||Colorado Avalanche||Northeastern||2011-14|
|Alex Newhook||F||Colorado Avalanche||Boston College||2019-21|
|Logan O'Connor||F||Colorado Avalanche||Denver||2015-18|
|Nico Sturm||F||Colorado Avalanche||Clarkson||2016-19|
|Devon Toews||D||Colorado Avalanche||Quinnipiac||2013-16|
|Ross Colton||F||Tampa Bay Lightning||Vermont||2016-18|
|Brian Elliott||G||Tampa Bay Lightning||Wisconsin||2003-07|
|Alex Killorn||F||Tampa Bay Lightning||Harvard||2008-12|
|Ryan McDonagh||D||Tampa Bay Lightning||Wisconsin||2007-10|
|Riley Nash||F||Tampa Bay Lightning||Cornell||2007-10|