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2016 Top 100 NHL Prospects in the NCAA: #21-30

Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

This is the eighth installment of our annual list of the top 100 NHL prospects playing NCAA hockey this season. In case you missed them, here are the previous installments of the list: #31-40#41-50 51-60, #61-70, #71-80, #81-90, #91-100.

Four players in this segment of the list have already signed NHL contracts for next season, with one already scoring his first NHL goal. That's perhaps owed to the lateness with which this is being published, but also speaks to the high caliber of players we're seeing as we near the top of our list.

21. Jake Walman, Defenseman, Providence(St. Louis Blues)

Walman struggled with injuries through much of his sophomore season, but when he was healthy, he was arguably the best offensive defenseman in the NCAA. From a scouting report in January:

Among defensemen, he is the national leader in goals, power play goals, game-winning goals, points per game and shots on goal per game. His offensive talents from the blue line are unmistakable. His progression from last season to this is astonishing. He had an impressive skill set last season, but his skating, footwork and strength improved so greatly over the off-season that he has become just that much more dynamic. No place is his improved footwork more noticeable than at the blue line where he can pivot and unleash an absolute bomb of a one-timer from the top of the point. At one game earlier in the season against Ohio State, he literally just stood at the blue line and blasted six one-timers in one single power play. His defensive zone play is not as good as the other three in the top four, but it has gotten better and there is still time for that to develop further. He will always be more of an offensive defenseman, but he is below the BC duo because he doesn't possess the same reliability and consistency in his own zone.

22. Luc Snuggerud, Defenseman, Nebraska-Omaha(Chicago Blackhawks)

luc snuggerud omaha (Matt Christians) Matt Christians

(photo by Matt Christians)

Snuggerud was frequently handcuffed in Omaha's extremely conservative defensive system, but when given the opportunity, he was able to use his tremendous skating ability to be a threat on both ends of the ice. He's still developing on the defensive side of the puck and needs to get physically stronger, but he has the skating ability and upside to be a very good defenseman at the NHL level.

23. JT Compher, Forward, Michigan(Buffalo Sabres)

jt compher michigan (Matt Christians)

(photo by Matt Christians)

After a sophomore season in which he struggled to generate consistent offense, Compher had a breakout season as a junior playing on a line with Kyle Connor and Tyler Motte, scoring 63 points and being named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. Compher has always been a solid two-way centerman known for his vicious competitive streak. This past season, he showed excellent abilities as a passer, leading the nation with 47 assists and helping both his linemates reach 30 goals on the season. Compher would have no difficulty filling a bottom six center role at the NHL level, but his success this season showed that he could also play more of a scoring role at the pro level.

24. Hudson Fasching, Forward, Minnesota(Signed by Buffalo)

hudson fasching minnesota (Matt Christians)

(photo by Matt Christians)

After a promising freshman season, Fasching took a bit of a step backwards in his sophomore year as he struggled to adjust to a bigger role in the Minnesota offense. But in his junior season, Fasching became a little more comfortable with who he was as a player and focused more on being the physical, grinding power forward that he is rather than trying to be too much of a skill player. At his best, Fasching is big enough to be a physical presence both with and without the puck while still also having the skill to be a scorer.

25. Matt Grzelcyk, Defensema, Boston University(Signed by Boston)

Matt Grzelcyk

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

From a January scouting report:

A two-time captain of the Terriers, he was drafted by his hometown team prior to his freshman season on Comm. Ave. Grzelcyk lacks the prototypical pro size of an NHL defenseman. He's the first player on these rankings that doesn't measure in above six-feet, but his impact on the game is undeniable. With him in the lineup, Boston University is 7-2-3. Without him, the Terriers are just 6-5-1. He missed significant time twice this season with a knee injury. His skating and his ability to distribute the puck are as good as it gets at the collegiate level. He has a good stick and can keep up with opposing forwards due to his footwork. He's a defenseman that might lack the defensive prowess to be considered strong defensively by some, but his puck possession skills keep the biscuit away from opposing teams, which is just as good.

26. Andy Welinski, Defenseman, Minnesota Duluth(Signed by Anaheim)

welinski duluth (Matt Christians)

(photo by Matt Christians)

Welinski is a tough, physical defensive defenseman that has worked to incorporate more offense into his game over the course of his career at Minnesota Duluth. He played in every situation and logged a lot of minutes for the Bulldogs over his final two seasons in Duluth. He also served as team captain and was a well-respected leader in the locker room.

27. Jake Guentzel, Forward, Nebraska Omaha(Signed by Pittsburgh)

jake guentzel omaha (Chris Dilks)

(photo by Chris Dilks)

Guentzel is one of the smartest players in college hockey, showing an incredible ability to find open space in the offensive zone. When he gets the puck in open space, he's an excellent passer and strong finisher. He's also reliable enough in the defensive zone that he could play on the wing or at center at the pro level.

28. Tage Thompson, Forward, UConn(2016 Draft Eligible)

The young forward was given an opportunity for a lot of ice time at UConn this season playing on the team's top line along with fellow star freshman Max Letunov, and Thompson made the most of that opportunity scoring 14-18-32 despite being one of the youngest players in college hockey. Thompson is a potential late-first round NHL Draft pick this summer because of his combination of big size and his offensive skillset. He's got the ability to jam in front of the net, but also the ability to make a pretty stickhandling play to create his own offense.

29. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Forward, Boston University(Boston Bruins)

JFK had no difficulty stepping into the college game and assuming the number one center role for Boston University, spending the entire year paired with Danny O'Regan and a rotating cast of left wings. Forsbacka-Karlsson is a skilled distributor of the puck in the offensive zone. He needs to become a more consistent and better three-zone player, but he has tremendous upside as a scoring centerman at the NHL level. He was also among the best in the nation in face-off percentage this past season.

30. Frederik Olofsson, Forward, Nebraska Omaha(Chicago Blackhawks)

Olofsson is still growing into his body and filling out his frame a bit, but he uses the size he has effectively to control the puck, and for a big forward, he has a surprising amount of skill with the puck. He spent much of his rookie season on Omaha's top line playing the wing alongside Austin Ortega and Jake Guentzel and helped create time and space for that duo to be so effective. Olofsson isn't likely to ever drive play, but will make a very solid, reliable second or third line winger at the pro level.