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Top 100 NHL Prospects in the NCAA: #41-50

Matt Dewkett

This is the sixth installment of our series on the top 100 NHL prospects playing in the NCAA this season, focusing on players ranked 41-50. The previous installments of the list are here: #51-60#61-70#71-80#81-90#91-100.

We're into the top half of the list. This section features the two highest ranked goalies on our list, as well as some high-skill scorers, and a few talented players that struggled to put the puck in the net at times this season.

41. Ryan Fitzgerald, Forward, Boston College(Boston Bruins)

This has been a breakout season for Fitzgerald. After putting up point totals of 29 and 25 in his first two seasons, he exploded this year to become BC's leading scorer with 23-23-49 in 39 games so far this season. Fitzgerald has always had tremendous offensive abilities, but he has gotten a little bigger and a lot stronger since coming to Boston College and is now able to use those offensive skills more effectively in the much more physical college game. Fitzgerald will likely have to continue scoring at the pro level to stick in the NHL, but his big upward development curve shows he might be able to do it.

42. Sean Kuraly, Forward, Miami(Boston Bruins)

sean kuraly miami (Matt Christians)

(photo by Matt Christians)

Kuraly was acquired by the Bruins last summer in a trade with San Jose. His offensive numbers took a huge hit in his senior season thanks to a shooting percentage of 4.4% on the year, but Kuraly still managed to show enough in the other areas of his game to prove why the Bruins considered him a valuable asset. Kuraly is a big forward capable of playing the center position. He's good in the defensive end--he was named his conference's defensive forward of the year--and is strong in the face-off circle.

43. Paul LaDue, Defenseman, North Dakota(Los Angeles Kings)

paul ladue dakota (Matt Christians)

(photo by Matt Christians)

The King were extremely interested in signing LaDue last summer, but he opted to return to Grand Forks for his junior season. LaDue isn't flashy, but he's a tremendously strong defensive defenseman. He has one of the best sticks in the college game, which he uses to take away passing lanes and break up scoring opportunities. He's a tough presence in front of his own net as well. He doesn't project to score much at the pro level, but would be an extremely reliable bottom pairing-type defenseman.

44. Dominic Toninato, Forward, Minnesota Duluth(Toronto Maple Leafs)

dominic toninato duluth (Matt Christians) Matt Christians

(photo by Matt Christians)

Toninato didn't quite follow up his impressive sophomore season as well as hoped in his junior season, but a late-season goal surge helped bring his numbers to about what they were last year. Toninato struggled in the early part of the season getting into the tough areas of the ice where he can use his size to be effective, and as a result, his shooting percentage plummeted, really hurting his stats. But in the latter part of the season, he showed his potential as a player that can bring a tough, physical game, and be a deadly finisher when he gets into the prime scoring area of the ice.

45. Brandon Tanev, Forward, Providence(Signed by Winnipeg)

Brandon Tanev

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

Tanev established himself as one of the top free agent targets in college hockey this past season due to his incredible tenacity and work ethic. He's not the most skilled player, but plays with a non-stop motor that makes him tough to defend on the offensive end, and a frustrating player to play against defensively because of the way he can take time and space away from players. He likely projects as a bottom six forward at the NHL level, but one that is very effective in that role.

46. Frederik TIffels, Forward, Western Michigan(Pittsburgh Penguins)

frederik tiffels western (Matt Christians) Matt Christians

(photo by Matt Christians)

Tiffels was drafted by the Penguins last summer after a successful freshman season. His numbers took a bit of a hit this past year due to lack of a supporting cast, but Tiffels was still impressive in showing off his most valuable asset, which is his tremendous speed. Tiffels is an elite-level skater which makes him difficult to stop on zone entry and creates opportunities in the offensive end. If he can add a little more scoring touch and playmaking ability, he has the makings of a very dangerous offensive player.

47. Brian Pinho, Forward, Providence(Washington Capitals)

Pinho isn't a flashy, high-scoring player, but plays a very smart, detail-oriented game which makes him a very reliable center at both ends of the ice. He doesn't have a standout skill, but does everything well enough to be an effective high-possession player.

48. Thatcher Demko, Goalie, Boston College(Vancouver Canucks)

thatcher demko boston college (Matt Dewkett)

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

Demko came to Boston College as the youngest goalie in college hockey and keeps posting better and better numbers. This year, his .936 save percentage and 1.85 goals against along with a nation-best 10 shutouts helped make him a Hobey Baker finalist. Some of that credit goes to an amazing collection of talent both on the blue line, and at forward for keeping quality chances away from his net. But Demko's calm demeanor and quick reaction time make him a formidable threat in goal with the potential to be an NHL starter some day.

49. Troy Terry, Forward, Denver(Anaheim Ducks)

Terry took a bit of a backseat to Denver's outstanding Pacific Rim line this year, but showed a lot of promise for a young rookie in his second line role. He has very good hands and a strong, quick wrist shot that can be difficult for goalies to handle. With Danton Heinen likely signing at the conclusion of Denver's season, expect Terry to take on a bigger role next season and put up bigger offensive numbers. He projects as a second or third line wing at the NHL level.

50. Chris Nell, Goalie, Bowling Green(Free Agent)

chris nell (Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com) Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com

(Photo by Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com)

The Falcons already have one former free agent goalie starting in the NHL in Andrew Hammond, and Nell could be next. Nell is only listed at 6'1" but he has a lanky frame and positions aggressively, allowing him to cover a lot of net and really cut down on angles. He's developed more consistency in his sophomore season, raising his save percentage from .917 as a rookie to .930 as a sophomore.