This is the seventh installment of our annual series on the top 100 NHL prospects playing in the NCAA. The previous installments of the list are here: #41-50 51-60, #61-70, #71-80, #81-90, #91-100.
As we move up the list, the list definitely starts to trend younger as we get to players with higher upside. Nine of the ten players in this section are either freshmen or sophomores that had strong seasons, and should be even higher on this list next year should they return.
31. Anthony Angello, Forward, Cornell(Pittsburgh Penguins)
The Penguins took a bit of a chance on Angello after an average draft year in the USHL, betting on his size and hoping he could develop into something down the road. Angello's numbers improved in his second year in the USHL, and he just finished off a very promising first season with Cornell. Angello keeps the game simple, but uses his size and considerable mean streak to be an effective two-way forward. His 24 points in 34 games for the traditionally low-scoring Big Red was a strong offensive number for his rookie season as well. Angello isn't the type of player that will blow people away with skill, but should be an effective pro player for a long time.
32. CJ Franklin, Forward, Minnesota State(Winnipeg Jets)
(photo by Matt Christians)
Franklin's point total dipped a bit in his second season due to less of a supporting cast, but he increased his goal total from nine to 14 and took another step forward in his development. Franklin is a strong, fast skater that is difficult to stop on zone entry. He's good along the boards and has a wicked wrist shot that makes him a consistently dangerous scoring threat. Franklin has upside of a second or third line wing at the NHL level.
33. Tyler Motte, Forward, Michigan(Chicago Blakchawks)
(photo by Patrick Barron)
Motte wasn't really known for his scoring ability prior to being paired with Kyle Connor and JT Compher this season. But he had a breakout year, scoring 32 goals, 24 assists and being named one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. At the pro level, Motte still projects as a high-energy two-way winger that is better known for his grit and hard work than scoring pretty goals, but this season has shown that he knows what to do with the puck when paired with talented players.
34. Jake Evans, Forward, Notre Dame(Montreal Canadiens)
Evans took a big jump from his freshman season, when he scored 17 points, to almost doubling that number this season with 33 points. Evans has always had exceptional skill and playmaking ability. Spending a year in the weight room has been a big benefit to him as he has gotten better at playing in traffic. The extra year of maturity has also allowed him to move from wing to center, where he is better able to use his passing ability to create offense, while still handling the greater defensive responsibility. Evans will probably move back to the wing at the pro level, but should make a skilled and versatile forward.
35. Anders Bjork, Forward, Notre Dame(Boston Bruins)
Bjork was a bit of a surprise selection to the US World Junior team this year, but a strong tournament gave him confidence heading into the second half of his season. Bjork has always been a strong skating two-way forward, but began to show more offensive ability in his second season at Notre Dame, giving him more upside at the pro level. He'll be an honest hard-working bottom six forward at the pro level.
36. Jordan Greenway, Forward, Boston University(Minnesota Wild)
Greenway is a player with all the tools to be a rare and exceptional talent. There aren't many, perhaps not any, players 6'5" 230 lbs like he is that can skate and handle the puck like he can. But Greenway still has to figure to utilize those skills better with better hockey sense if he's going to be an effective player at the next level. Greenway picked up 21 assists in his rookie year, which is a nice number, but has the potential to be much more of a goal-scorer than he showed in his first year at BU.
37. Cooper Marody, Forward, Michigan(Philadelphia Flyers)
Marody came to Michigan a year early as a true freshman after the early departure of Dylan Larkin and had no trouble stepping into the college game. He was a point-per-game player through his first 12 games before a bout of mononucleosis slowed him down for much of the middle part of the season. Marody was a fixture on Michigan's third line, showing off excellent speed to create scoring opportunities for teammates. He has room to improve on the defensive end, but should see his role increase next year when he will be expected to play a much bigger role for Michigan's offense.
38. Christian Wolanin, Defenseman, North Dakota(Ottawa Senators)
A late-bloomer selected in his final year of draft eligibility, Wolanin had no difficulty jumping into the North Dakota line-up on a very deep blue line early in his college career. He's an all-around defenseman that understands the game so well that he is able to play and be effective in any situation.
39. Tucker Poolman, Defenseman, North Dakota(Winnipeg Jets)
Poolman is a physical beast on the blue line. He's every bit of the 6'3" 214 lbs. he is listed at. After spending some time at forward last season to stay in the line-up, Poolman moved back to his natural position full-time this season. He's still a bit raw in terms of handling the puck, but his size, combined with his agility and his cannon of a shot make him an intriguing prospect with a lot of upside.
40 .Tommy Novak, Forward, Minnesota(Nashville Predators)
(photo by Matt Christians)
Novak had a successful freshman season, posting 6-21-27 in 37 games and looking more and more comfortable with the college game as his season progressed. Novak still needs to add some muscle to be more effective in the dirty areas of the ice, but he has the high-end skill and playmaking ability to be a scorer at the NHL level. He'll play a bigger role in the Minnesota offense next season, and could develop into a top scorer in the college game.