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Frozen Four: Evaluating the NHL Draft Picks

St. Cloud State has more NHL draft picks than any other team in the 2013 Frozen Four. The Huskies have five, followed by Yale with four and UMass-Lowell and Quinnipiac with three each.

UMass-Lowell freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is one of the NHL draft picks competing in the 2013 Frozen Four.
UMass-Lowell freshman goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is one of the NHL draft picks competing in the 2013 Frozen Four.
Walter Rossini

The Minnesota Golden Gophers and North Dakota Fighting Sioux typically stockpile NHL draft picks. Unfortunately for those two WCHA powers, those draft picks didn't guarantee them a spot in Pittsburgh. This year's Frozen Four is a good example of the amount of parity in college hockey. It also shows fans that NHL prospects don't necessarily translate into college hockey success. St. Cloud State has the most draft picks of any team in the Frozen Four with five.

Let's take a look at this year's NHL draft picks on the four Frozen Four teams.


Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets)

The Commerce, Mich. native came in to his rookie season in Lowell looking for playing time with an incumbent, Doug Carr, who was an All-Hockey East performer a season ago. The tall, lanky goaltender had a rough first outing in a non-conference game at Denver. Since then, he has been nothing short of a brick wall in net. His poise and ability to keep UML in every game was one of the big reasons the River Hawks won the Hockey East regular season and tournament championships for the first time in school history.

Scott Wilson (Pittsburgh Penguins)

The reigning Hockey East Rookie of the Year started the season slowly like most of his teammates. He doesn't have the gaudiest numbers, but he is one of the best in the league on power play. He has a rifle for a shot and is dangerous every time he comes across an opponent's blue line. He is an all around player. He made a big block in the waning minutes of UMass-Lowell's 2-1 Hockey East semifinal victory over Providence. Coach Bazin said, "Scott bought into playing defense as did the rest of the team. When guys see the skilled guys getting down on the ice everyone wants to get down."

Dimitri Sinitsyn (Dallas Stars)

The redshirt freshman from Russia came to UMass-Lowell last season in January. He has seen very limited ice time so it is hard to make much of an evaluation on the defenseman who the Stars took a flyer on in the late rounds. He's still only 18 years-old in a league where there are players 6 years older than him.


Kenny Agostino (Calgary Flames)

The sophomore was originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was traded to the Calgary Flames along with St. Cloud's Ben Hanowski in the Jarome Iglina deal. The former Delbarton Prep player is a skilled forward who can take over a game. He is the play maker with the vision and smarts that keeps the first line going.

Rob O'Gara (Boston Bruins)

The hulking 6-foot-four-inch defenseman from Nesconset, NY played his prep hockey at Milton Academy just outside of Boston. He's a very steady defenseman who can play the body. He is rarely caught out of position. He could be an asset to the Bruins positional depth down the road.

Gus Young (Colorado Avalanche)

The Dedham, Mass. native played his prep hockey at Nobles, also right outside Boston. He is another big defenseman for the Bulldogs. He will not stick out or show any offensive flare, but he's steady and rarely noticed on the ice. That is a good thing for a stay-at-home blue liner.

Matthew Beattie (Vancouver Canucks)

The freshman only saw action in 15 games this season, under half of the games Keith Allain's club played. The former Phillips Exeter standout is originally from New Jersey. He showed the ability to score in the preps, but the jury is still out on the White House Station, NJ native.

St. Cloud

Ben Hanowski (Calgary Flames)

Like Agostino, Hanowski was dealt to Calgary from Pittsburgh in the Iginla trade. The Little Falls, Minn. native has 17 goals and 14 assists on the season. He came to St. Cloud directly from high school hockey. The senior can definitely power his way through traffic and is great around the net.

Nic Dowd (Los Angeles Kings)

The junior from Huntsville, Al. is the second the leading scorer for the Huskies with 14 goals and 25 assists. The large, physical forward plays with an edge that could translate well in the professional ranks.

Nick Jensen (Detroit Red Wings)

The junior blue liner has four goals and 27 assists on the year. He has been the quarterback of the power play for Bob Motzko's team. The Rogers, Minn. native is a flight risk once the season is over. For now, he could be a pivotal player in the Frozen Four.

Kevin Gravel (Los Angeles Kings)

The huge defenseman from Kingsford, Mich. was drafted for his toughness and physical presence on the blue line. The junior has 10 assists on the season, but his ticket to the pros will be his ability to play the body.

Nick Olivier (Nashville Predators)

The Roseau, Minn. native came to St. Cloud with higher expectations, but has primarily been used as a third or fourth line checking forward this season. His offensive output has not been high, but he is developing into a solid checking line forward.


Matthew Peca (Tampa Bay Lightning)

The Pembroke, Ont. native burst on the scene with a spectacular performance in the East Regional. The sophomore forward scored a key goal in the regional semifinal comeback victory over Canisius. He then recorded a natural hat trick in the 5-1 thrashing of ECAC foe Union. His three goals, scored in a span of just 3:12 of the opening period, gave the Bobcats a lead they would never relinquish. Coach Rand Pecknold describes the sophomore as a great kid off the ice. What Peca lacks in size he makes up for in quickness, craftiness and good hands.

Jordan Samuels-Thomas (Winnipeg Jets)

The Bowling Green transfer is a big power forward who can park himself in front of the opposition's net and cause havoc like he did in the regional final against Union. The West Hartford, Conn. native scored the Bobcats fourth goal on a tip in from the left boards.

Kellen Jones (Edmonton Oilers)

One of two Jones' brothers on Rand Pecknold's team, Kellen is undersized, but has good hands and overall speed. He has 12 goals and 14 helpers on the year. He is typically the right wing on the first line with Peca on the left side. Jones' brother, Connor, centers the line.

Jeff Cox covers college hockey for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.