Miami junior forward Austin Czarnik stated Wednesday that he would come back for his senior season rather than sign a pro contract as an undrafted free agent.
Czarnik, a 5'9, 160 lbs forward from Washington, Michigan, led Miami in points (47) and assists (34) this season. Despite his small size, the speedy forward is one of the better offensive weapons in college hockey - our own Chris Dilks wrote an in-depth profile last November about his on-ice play and what he means to Miami. He is convinced he can play at the next level.
SB Nation College Hockey also had Czarnik ranked as the 44th-best NHL prospect even though he was not drafted.
44. Austin Czarnik, Forward, Miami (Free Agent)
Czarnik is one of the most exciting, dynamic forwards in the NCAA, but his diminutive size kept him from being drafted into the NHL. Czarnik plays with tremendous speed and has excellent hockey sense, which should allow him to transition to the pro level despite being smaller than most players in the league.
During a time when so many stories are being written about players leaving college to sign early, this is good news for the RedHawks after a disappointing season. Miami, picked by many to win the new NCHC, finished the regular season in last place with a 6-17-1-1 conference record. The postseason went much better, however. After sweeping top seed St. Cloud State on the road, Miami shut out now-Frozen Four semifinalist North Dakota 3-0 before falling one game short of its eighth consecutive NCAA tournament by losing to Denver 4-3 in the NCHC Frozen Face-off Final.
In addition to Czarnik, junior Blake Coleman also stated on Twitter that he would return for his senior season rather than sign with the New Jersey Devils, where he was a 2011 3rd round pick. Coleman had 19 goals in 27 games for the RedHawks. That includes 9 in the final 10 games of the season once the Plano, TX native returned from surgery on his collarbone.