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2017 Top NHL Prospects in the NCAA: 16-20

wade allison Matt Dewkett

This is the 17th installment of our annual list of the Top 100 NHL prospects playing in the NCAA this year, covering spots 31--35 on the list.

Previous installments can be found here: 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40, 41-45, 46-50, 51-55, 56-60, 61-65, 66-70, 71-75, 76-80, 81-86, 86-90, 91-95, 96-100

20. Dennis Cholowski, Defenseman, St. Cloud State(Detroit Red Wings)

2016 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images

It’s easy to understand why the Detroit Red Wings were interested enough in Cholowski to select him in the first round of last year’s NHL Draft. The tall 6’2” defender is a remarkably smooth, graceful skater.

The Red Wings drafted him with the understanding that he would be a bit of a project, and that is still the case. Cholowski has room to add a lot of muscle, which would help make him a more effective defender and improve an unimpressive shot.

But once he gets a little stronger, and develops the confidence to be aggressive in attacking up the ice with his tremendous skating ability, he has the raw potential to be a game-changing defenseman at the college level and a very solid second pairing defenseman at the NHL level.

19. Max Letunov, Center, Connecticut(San Jose Sharks)

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

The duo of Letunov and linemate Tage Thompson helped lend instant credibility to UConn in their move to Hockey East by giving them an elite scoring duo.

Letunov went through a rough stretch this season where he was a bit snakebit offensively, and as a result, his goal-scoring numbers took a big hit compared to last season. But he still has elite hands and playmaking ability and is a dangerous offensive threat any time he touches the puck. He has potential as a scoring line winger at the NHL level.

18. Adam Gaudette, Center, Northeastern(Vancouver Canucks)

John Corneau/SB Nation

After a decent freshman season, Gaudette had a breakout sophomore season to become one of the better players in college hockey.

Gaudette is a big, strong centerman that plays a responsible game in his own end and works hard in the dirty areas of the ice. He developed excellent chemistry with linemate Dylan Sikura this year, using his finishing ability to take advantage of Sikura’s excellent playmaking abilities.

Gaudette has the potential to be a big center at the NHL level, an extremely rare commodity. He’s capable of playing a lower line role, but his offensive breakout this year suggests he might score at the pro level too.

17. Wade Allison, Right Wing, Western Michigan(Philadelphia Flyers)

wade allison Matt Dewkett

The biggest thing that stood to me about Allison was his motor. Lots of players have his size and strength, but what really separates him from other players is his ability to use a second-effort to stay on the puck and make plays. It’s subtle, but his ability to come back and win a puck along the boards, even if it looks like the other player is in better position, and his ability to continue to pressure the puck and force turnovers even if the player he’s attacking makes a move to gain position on him.

from our full scouting report on Allison, November 16, 2016

16. Joey Anderson, Right Wing, Minnesota Duluth(New Jersey Devils)

USA v Canada - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship

The last lock I have on my roster is the perpetually underrated Joey Anderson(Minnesota Duluth), who is off to a great start to his freshman season with the Bulldogs. Anderson maybe isn’t the most exciting player, but he’s going to make whoever he is on a line with look better because he’s great at getting the puck to skill players and letting them work, and he capitalizes on opportunities when he gets them.

November 28, 2016

Anderson draws remarkably little attention for a young freshman that plays on the top line of the second-ranked team in the country and played on the top line of the gold medal-winning US World Junior team. He’s a very workman-like player that goes about his business in a very effective manner without making really flashy plays.

His shot is above average and he can handle and distribute the puck well. His skating is just average, which limits his effectiveness in open ice, but when he can play zone-to-zone, he’s a very good player. In terms of pro upside, he likely slots as a solid second liner, but given the ability he has shown to play with top talent, he could make an effective first liner.