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2016 Top 100 NHL Prospects: #11-20

Billie Weiss/Getty Images

This is the ninth and penultimate installment of our ten-part series on the top 100 NHL prospects playing in the NCAA this season. Here are the previous eight installments of our list: #21-30#31-40, #41-50 51-60, #61-70, #71-80, #81-90,#91-100.

This section of the list features the top two skaters eligible for this summer's NHL Draft, as well as our best available free agent. It also features some young forwards that could potentially make a very big impact in the NHL some day.-

11. Max Letunov, Forward, UConn(St. Louis Blues)

Letunov was a skilled but slight and skinny prospect when the Blues selected him two years ago. After spending an extra year in the USHL, Letunov came into the NCAA ranks this year much stronger and made an immediate impact, scoring 16-24-40 in his rookie season behind only first round picks Kyle Connor, Brock Boeser, Colin White, and 2016 Draft eligible Dylan Gambrell.

Letunov's added muscle has made him stronger on his skates and better able to fight through traffic, allowing him to use his offensive skills better. He's got the ability to turn a bad pass into a good pass with excellent body control and does a nice job using lateral movement to create space for himself in the offensive zone. He's also really improved his wrist shot in recent years, giving him a deadly scoring weapon.

12. Danton Heinen, Forward, Denver(Boston Bruins)

danton heinen denver (Matt Christians)

(photo by Matt Christians)

Faced with big expectations after a surprisingly strong freshman season, Heinen got off to a slow start in the first half of his second year at Denver. But his second half was absolutely stunning. Starting January 22nd, Heinen registered at least one point in 18 straight games, with 11 of those games being multi-point efforts.

Heinen is a smooth, calm player that exhibits incredible hockey sense. He's continued to add some of the extra muscle he'll need at the NHL level. He has the elite skill necessary to be a top-six scoring line forward at the NHL level.

13. Charlie McAvoy, Defenseman, Boston University(2016 Draft Eligible)

Charlie McAvoy Matt Dewkett

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

McAvoy is still an extremely raw prospect--something that should be expected with a young defenseman playing a tough position--but his raw tools and upside are really exciting.

He is a great skater with an explosive first step capable of getting up the ice to contribute offensively, and handles the puck very well. He also exhibits moments of struggle when he is caught being too aggressive with his positioning or being prone to bad turnovers, but those mistakes should be cleaned up with further development, leaving him as a player that could be a top four defenseman at the NHL level.

14. Zach Sanford, Forward, Boston College(Washington Capitals)

Rob Nichols Zach Sanford

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

Sanford followed up a strong freshman season where he was a decent secondary contributor for the Eagles with a sophomore season  where he became a key contributor for Boston College. He uses his 6'4" frame to work into tough areas of the ice and be a presence in front of the net, while still having the skating ability and puckhandling ability to make a skill play. Sanford could potentially be a second line wing at the NHL level and contribute on the power play.

15. Alex Tuch, Forward, Boston College(Minnesota Wild)

Alex Tuch

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

It was a difficult start to the season for Tuch. He suffered a knee injury during the US World Junior evaluation camp this summer,  and got off to a slow start this year as a result. That led to his surprising snub from the US World Junior team, despite playing a big role on the team the year prior. But by the end of the year, Tuch was back to showing why the Wild selected in the first round of the 2014 Draft.

He's a big forward with smooth skating and strong puck-handling ability. The quick release on his heavy wrist shot makes him a threat to score from anywhere on the ice.

16. Will Borgen, Defenseman, St. Cloud State(Buffalo Sabres)

This was a breakout season for Borgen beyond Buffalo's highest hopes when they took a chance drafting him in the fourth round of last year's NHL Draft. Borgen stepped straight into the St. Cloud State line-up after playing high school hockey last season and made an immediate impact on the Huskies blue line, which helped him earn a surprise invite to the US World Junior team, where he played very well for Team USA. Borgen has elite level agility and skating ability which allows him to evade and escape pressure in his own end and join the rush to make an impact on the offensive end.

17. Miles Wood, Forward, Boston College(New Jersey Devils)

Wood is a nightmare for opponent's to play against. He's a very solid, muscular 6-1 185 lbs. and uses that size, along with his tremendous speed to hit opponents frequently. He's always involved in the play and never afraid to go to the dirty, physical areas of the ice. He'd be perfect as a third line wing at the NHL level, but showed enough offensive skill that he could contribute as more of a second line type at the NHL level.

18. Luke Kunin, Forward, Wisconsin(2016 Draft Eligible)

Kunin flirted with the idea of leaving Wisconsin midway through this season, but ultimately stuck with the Badgers. While this year wasn't a great one in Madison, Kunin did manage to show off his impressive abilities against the older, more mature, and more defensive-minded NCAA competition.

Kunin isn't a blazing skater, but he's got great hands and a strong stick, which means when he gets the puck, he's going to do something with hit. He's a great finisher that netted 19 goals this season, a number matched by only three other freshmen(who were also first round NHL Draft picks, like Kunin should be this summer). There were questions coming out of the NTDP last year if Kunin could be a scorer on his own or if he was just the product of playing with great linemates, but his scoring numbers this season on a Wisconsin team bereft of offense showed he's capable of creating his own chances.

19. Troy Stecher, Defenseman, North Dakota(Free Agent)

troy stecher north dakota (Matt Dewkett)

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

Stecher is one of the most dynamic defenders in the NCAA. His exceptional skating ability allows him to get up the ice and become a fourth attacker on the offensive rush, while still being able to get back and cover defensively. Stecher should be a perfect fit for the possession-oriented style of play in the NHL that values defensemen that can contribute offensively as well as play solid defense.

20. Doyle Somerby, Defenseman, Boston University(New York Islanders)

Doyle Somerby Matt Dewkett

(photo by Matt Dewkett)

From this past January:

Very few players in this observer's time watching Hockey East have improved as dramatically as the former Kimball Union star. At six-foot-five, his footwork and lower body strength took a little time to catch up to his frame, but now that it has done so, his mobility is worlds better than it was as a freshman. It would be easy to point to his four goals and seven assists this season after registering just 11 points in his first three years, but that's not where his development is most notable. His ability to cover a lot of ground and force the play to the outside in the defensive zone is what's most intriguing about the progression in his game. He's also learned to reel it in and avoid some of the penalties he was whistled for as a freshman. He still gets called on some hits that aren't penalties, but referees see the end result due to his size and the lack of it from the victims of his hits. Players with his size will always get a chance in the NHL and he's no different. He'll have to play with a mean streak and prove he can be an intimidating force to stay at the highest level.