The first round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is expected to be void of NCAA prospects. After a few recent drafts where college hockey programs saw their prospects get taken in large numbers, this year looks to be different.
TSN's Bob McKenzie recently released his top 30 for the draft, and the list did not include a single current college hockey player or recruit.
There should be several players with college hockey connections that go higher than expected including Boston College recruit Ryan Fitzgerald. The son of former NHL veteran Tom Fitzgerald could be viewed with more regard by certain teams than he is by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau. Fitzgerald fell 10 spots down to 56th in the final CSB Rankings of North American skaters from the mid-term rankings.
Some teams might consider his NHL lineage and his hockey smarts when contemplating drafting the former Malden Catholic (MA) forward. Fitzgerald grew up around the rink. His dad, now an assistant to Penguins General Manager Ray Shero, played in over 1,000 NHL games.
The knowledge of the intricacies of the game is evident when watching the younger Fitzgerald play. He spent this past season playing for Andy Heinze's Valley Warriors in the Eastern Junior Hockey League (EJHL). Fitzgerald is very savvy on the ice, always seemingly in the right position for a loose puck or in the right lane when backchecking.
Fitzgerald is a proven winner. His teams at Malden Catholic won two Massachusetts state championships in high school. The youngster from North Reading, Mass. will play for the all-time career wins leader in NCAA history at Boston College in Jerry York.
Another player that could go higher than expected is Western Michigan recruit Michael McCarron. He has a lot of potential, and the size at six-feet-five-inches and 225 lbs. to attract high-end interest. The right wing who played for the US National Development Program is also drawing intrigue from the London Nights of the OHL.
Chris Peters of United States of Hockey and CBS Sports speculated in a recent article that McCarron, ranked 35th in Central Scouting Bureau's Final Rankings, could find his way in to the first round.
USA Hockey named Minnesota recruit Taylor Cammarata the top junior hockey player in the United States. He tallied 38 goals and 55 assists for 93 points in the USHL season for the Waterloo Blackhawks. He has scored at every level despite questions about his size and speed. Expect a team to take a chance on the Minneapolis, Minn. native with the thought that his scoring prowess could continue.
Jeff Cox covers the NHL Draft, college hockey and the American Hockey League for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.