NHL scouts and general managers will be keeping close tabs on the NCAA conference tournaments, which start March 12.
Teams can’t sign an undrafted college free agent until after he’s played the final game of his season, which is already the case for a few teams. Some candidates will have to wait until after the NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship, which starts March 27. The Frozen Four will be held at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit from April 11-13.
Players eligible to be signed must be at least 20 years old and have gone through the NHL Draft twice without being selected.
NHL.com takes a look at some of the top college free agents (in alphabetical order), some of whom have signed with an NHL team or could do so soon:
Jack Ahcan, St. Cloud State University
The 22-year-old defenseman (5-8, 185) has excellent hands and a high hockey IQ suited to the modern game. The St. Cloud captain finished the regular season with 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 33 games.
Mitchell Chaffee, University of Massachusetts
Chaffee (6-foot, 205) is a wing who plays a heavy game and has a good touch around the net. The junior had interest from a dozen NHL teams at the end of last season, according to UMass coach Greg Carvel. He had 29 points (16 goals, 13 assists) in 30 regular-season games.
Patrick Curry, Boston University
The 23-year-old senior forward (6-0, 185) finished the regular season with 32 points (19 goals, 13 assists) in 34 games.
Josh Dunne, Clarkson University
The 21-year-old sophomore forward (6-4, 210) had 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 32 regular-season games. He attended development camps with his hometown St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets the past two offseasons.
Zach Giuttari, Brown University
The 23-year-old senior defenseman (6-2, 190) was a workhorse as Brown captain. A good defender, he had 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 31 games and signed an ATO with Hartford, the American Hockey League affiliate of the New York Rangers, on Monday.
Jordan Kawaguchi, University of North Dakota
The 22-year-old forward (5-9, 185) is a natural scorer with an exceptional shot release. The junior was second in the NCAA with 45 points (15 goals, 30 assists) in 33 regular-season games, seven points behind Providence College forward Jack Dugan (Vegas Golden Knights).
Patrick Khodorenko, Michigan State University; agreed to terms with New York Rangers
The senior center (6-0, 198) was a productive point producer throughout his college career, with 120 points (54 goals, 66 assists) in 143 regular-season games. He was signed by the New York Rangers on Monday.
Matt Kiersted, University of North Dakota
The 22-year-old junior defenseman (6-0, 181) displays a blended game that should translate to the professional level. He has 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) in 35 games.
Connor Mackey, Minnesota State University
The 23-year-old defenseman (6-2, 200) has been on NHL radars for the past two seasons. Several teams are expected to pursue him he scored 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 36 games.
Marc Michaelis, Minnesota State University
The 24-year-old senior center, who represented Germany in the 2020 World Junior Championship, had 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 31 games.
Drew O’Connor, Dartmouth College; signed with Pittsburgh Penguins
The sophomore forward has the size (6-3, 200) and scoring touch to be an impact player. He has 33 points (21 goals, 12 assists) in 31 games. The 21-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Greg Printz, Providence College
The 21-year-old junior forward (6-2, 214) has a highly coveted shot and had 27 points (15 goals, 12 assists) in 34 games.
Justin Richards, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Named the best defensive forward in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference last season, the 21-year-old (5-11, 190) had 25 points (14 goals, 11 assists) in 34 games. He is the son of NHL assistant coach Todd Richards.
Gustaf Westlund, Ohio State University
The 21-year-old sophomore (6-0, 174) from Stockholm scored 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) in 34 games. He attended Vegas Golden Knights development camp in June.
NHL.com independent correspondent Mark Divver contributed to this report