This is the fifth installment of our annual list of the Top 100 NHL prospects playing in the NCAA this year, covering spots 76-80 on the list.
80. Chad Krys, Defenseman, Boston University(Chicago Blackhawks)
"He's been so highly sought after and and talked about for so long. Sometimes that can work against players. We live in an age where everyone knows who the best 14 year-old is. He was that guy. People can be hard on those players," BU head coach David Quinn explained.
79. Ryan Collins, Defenseman, Minnesota(Columbus Blue Jackets)
Ryan Collins was a project pick when the Blue Jackets selected him in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft. Though his progress has been, at times, frustratingly slow, he continues to keep moving towards developing into the shutdown defender Columbus hoped he could be.
Though consistency is still an issue, there have been nights this season when Collins was a dominant shutdown defenseman. He’s become more comfortable with the puck on his stick as well, and contributed a bit of offense from the blue line.
He’ll still likely finish out his four years at Minnesota next year, and may need some development time before that, but the important thing is that he continues to move in the right direction.
78. Jake Evans, Center, Notre Dame(Montreal Canadiens)
Evans has slowly continued to develop as a prospect over his three years at Notre Dame. His biggest strides have come on the defensive end, where he has developed into one of the more reliable two-way centermen in Hockey East.
But his development is perhaps most notable on the offensive end, where he has developed excellent chemistry as the set-up man to line mate Anders Bjork. Evans averaged over a point-per-game in his third year at Notre Dame, packing some offensive punch to go along with his strong defensive work.
77. Patrick Harper, Left Wing, Boston University(Nashville Predators)
Freshman Patrick Harper’s production has cooled as of late, but he’s still a player who can do something special with the puck on his stick anytime he’s on the ice. He’s one of those players who can change speeds and make plays that leave you wondering if he has eyes in the back of his head.
Harper is averaging just a shade under a point-per-game as a true freshman that made the jump to college hockey straight from the prep school ranks, an increasing rarity. His lack of size will be a question mark, and he was quiet at the World Juniors in a very limited role, but once he adds some physical and mental maturity to his tremendous skills, he could be an electric offensive force.
As a prospect, Harper remains a boom-or-bust type that is unlikely to play anything but a scoring role at the NHL-level, but the signs he’s shown of maybe reaching that potential are certainly intriguing.
76. Gage Ausmus, Defenseman, North Dakota(San Jose Sharks)
Ausmus is a defensive-minded defenseman, so his presence isn’t always noticeable, but North Dakota is a much stronger team whenever their captain is on the ice. He is a hard-worker and a physical presence that isn’t flashy with the puck, but takes care of it well, and logs a lot of tough minutes against the opposition’s top units.
The lack of offensive upside likely limits Ausmus’ pro potential, but he is the type of defenseman that could fill a hole in a line-up in the right situation with strong, reliable defensive play.