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Best of the West: Top 50 NHL Prospects in the CCHA/WCHA

Nick Bjugstad tops the list of college hockey's best NHL prospects playing in the west.

Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad is the WCHA's top NHL prospect
Minnesota's Nick Bjugstad is the WCHA's top NHL prospect
University of Minnesota Athletics

Every year, WCH composes a list of the Top 50 NHL prospects playing in the WCHA and CCHA. The list ranks players on their potential as NHL players, and not necessarily how close they are to the NHL right now.

Last year's list never got posted, but for reference, here is the 2010-2011 list, and the 2009-2010 list. They seem to hold up pretty well in terms of guys now making an impact at the NHL level.

For those unfamiliar with college hockey's geography, here's a listing of all the teams considered for this list: Alaska, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Northern Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Western Michigan, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Colorado College, Denver, Michigan Tech, Minnesota, Minnesota State, Minnesota-Duluth, Nebraska-Omaha, North Dakota, St. Cloud State, Wisconsin, Alabama-Huntsville, Penn State

Without further ado, here is this year's list. Special thanks go out to WCH co-writers Nathan Wells and Andy Johnson for their help in compiling and editing this list.

  1. Nick Bjugstad, Forward, Minnesota(Florida Panthers)
  2. Jacob Trouba, Defense, Michigan(Winnipeg Jets)
  3. Anders Lee, Forward, Notre Dame(New York Islanders)
  4. Danny Kristo, Forward, North Dakota(Montreal Canadiens)
  5. Dan DeKeyser, Defense, Western Michigan(Free Agent)
  6. Mario Lucia, Forward, Notre Dame(Minnesota Wild)
  7. Nic Kerdiles, Forward, Wisconsin(Anaheim Ducks)
  8. Andrej Sustr, Defense, Nebraska-Omaha(Free Agent)
  9. John Draeger, Defense, Michigan State(Minnesota Wild)
  10. Corban Knight, Forward, North Dakota(Florida Panthers)
  11. Jon Merrill, Defense, Michigan(New Jersey Devils)
  12. Jordan Schmaltz, Defense, North Dakota(St. Louis Blues)
  13. Teddy Blueger, Forward, Minnesota State(Pittsburgh Penguins)
  14. Derek Forbort, Defense, North Dakota(Los Angeles Kings)
  15. Andy Welinski, Defense, Minnesota-Duluth(Anaheim Ducks)
  16. Boo Nieves, Forward, Michigan(New York Rangers)
  17. Nic Dowd, Forward, St. Cloud(Los Angeles Kings)
  18. Ben Hanowski, Forward, St. Cloud(Pittsburgh Penguins)
  19. Jujhar Khaira, Forward, Michigan Tech(Edmonton Oilers)
  20. Zach Budish, Forward, Minnesota(Nashville Predators)
  21. Jake McCabe, Defense, Wisconsin(Buffalo Sabres)
  22. Brady Skjei, Defense, Minnesota(New York Rangers)
  23. Riley Barber, Forward, Miami(Washington Capitals)
  24. Nick Jensen, Defense, St. Cloud(Detroit Red Wings)
  25. Erik Haula, Forward, Minnesota(Minnesota Wild)
  26. Rocco Grimaldi, Forward(Florida Panthers)
  27. Michael Mersch, Forward, Wisconsin(Los Angeles Kings)
  28. Nate Condon, Forward, Minnesota(Colorado Avalanche)
  29. Mike Reilly, Defense, Minnesota(Columbus Blue Jackets)
  30. Phil DiGiuseppe, Forward, Michigan(Carolina Hurricanes)
  31. Nate Schmidt, Defense, Minnesota(Free Agent)
  32. Scott Mayfield, Defense, Denver(New York Islanders)
  33. Nick Shore, Forward, Denver(Los Angeles Kings)
  34. Robbie Russo, Defense, Notre Dame(New York Islanders)
  35. Blake Pietila, Forward, Michigan Tech(New Jersey Devils)
  36. Joey LaLeggia, Defense, Denver(Edmonton Oilers)
  37. Eriah Hayes, Forward, Minnesota State(Free Agent)
  38. Colton Parayko, Defense, Alaska(St. Louis Blues)
  39. Chase Balisy, Forward, Western Michigan(Nashville Predators)
  40. Steven Fogarty, Forward, Notre Dame(New York Rangers)
  41. Ryan Dzingel, Forward, Ohio State(Ottawa Senators)
  42. Luke Witkowski, Defense, Western Michigan(Tampa Bay Lightning)
  43. Andrew MacWilliam, Defense, North Dakota(Toronto Maple Leafs)
  44. TJ Tynan, Forward, Notre Dame(Columbus Blue Jackets)
  45. Ryan Walters, Forward, Nebraska-Omaha(Free Agent)
  46. Shayne Taker, Defense, Notre Dame(Free Agent)
  47. Matt DeBlouw, Forward, Michigan State(Calgary Flames)
  48. Austin Czarnik, Forward, Miami(Free Agent)
  49. Alex Krushelnyski, Forward, Colorado College(Free Agent)
  50. Kyle Rau, Forward, Minnesota(Florida Panthers)

And a few players that just missed the cut:

Josh Archibald, Forward, Nebraska-Omaha(Pittsburgh Penguins)
Mac Bennett, Defense, Michigan(Montreal Canadiens)
Mike Boivin, Defense, Colorado College(Free Agent)
Tony Cameranesi, Forward, Minnesota-Duluth(Toronto Maple Leafs)
Chris Casto, Defense, Minnesota-Duluth(Free Agent)
Brian Cooper, Defense, Nebraska-Omaha(Anaheim Ducks)
Jeff Costello, Forward, Notre Dame(Ottawa Senators)
Wade Epp, Defense, Northern Michigan(Free Agent)
Garrett Haar, Defense, Western Michigan(Washington Capitals)
Joseph LaBate, Forward, Wisconsin(Vancouver Canucks)
Kellen Lain, Forward, Lake Superior(Free Agent)
Mark MacMillan, Forward, North Dakota(Montreal Canadiens)
Rylan Schwartz, Forward Colorado College(Free Agent)
Eddie Wittchow, Defense, Wisconsin(Florida Panthers)