Brickley Leads Class of NCAA Undrafted Free Agents
With the 2017-18 college hockey season less than a month away, it won’t be long before NHL scouts are scouring the rinks for the top undrafted NCAA free agents.
Defensemen are the name of the game this season. Minnesota State junior Daniel Brickley will be the most sought-after free agent and will likely sign as soon as the Mavericks’ season is over.
“We’re looking for guys who compete, can play with pace, aren’t afraid to engage, can fill spots throughout a lineup, and are good people,” said one NHL scout speaking on the condition of anonymity.
In addition to the undrafted free agents, there is likely to be several drafted seniors that choose the free agent route come next August 15th.
Top Undrafted NCAA Free Agents
Daniel Brickley, Jr., D, Minnesota State — A native of Sandy, Utah, Brickley returned to school to finish his degree, which he will do in just three years. The reigning WCHA Player of the Year will garner a ton of interest because of his size and offensive ability from the blue line. Brickley is still maturing in his own zone, but because he hasn’t reached his ceiling, NHL organizations will covet him that much more. Brickley has the agility to sidestep forecheckers on the breakout, despite not having the best speed.
As a sophomore, Brickley had eight goals and 23 assists for 31 points. He led all WCHA defensemen in assists and points while tying for the league lead in assists among all players. Brickley made the 2015-16 WCHA All-Rookie Team as a freshman.
In addition to being named a West Second Team All-American, Brickley competed for USA Hockey at the 2017 IIHF World Championship. Brickley attended NHL Development Camps with the Buffalo Sabres in 2016 and the New York Rangers in 2015.
Prior to matriculating to Mankato, Brickley spent a year in the NAHL with the Topeka RoadRunners. He played the 2013-14 season with Hawkesbury in the CCHL. His uncle is Andy Brickley, who played 385 NHL games, mostly with the Boston Bruins, the organization he now serves as television color commentator.
Mattias Göransson, Soph., D, Massachusetts-Lowell — The Slottsbron, Sweden, native is coming off an impressive rookie season with the River Hawks. Göransson had five goals and 18 assists while being a solid defender on the blue line. He’s another defenseman with tremendous size and has a strong skating ability. He has a good stick, gaps well and has solid positioning. A good indication of his defensive abilities came in his being paired with current senior Tyler Mueller for most of last season. The duo were on the ice a lot in key defensive situations.
A Tri-City Storm alum, he was a key cog in the team’s USHL Clark Cup Championship during the 2015-16 season. Göransson participated in the Washington Capitals Development Camp this summer.
Kiefer Sherwood, Jr., C, Miami — The leading returning scorer in terms of conference points in the NCHC, Sherwood is an explosive offensive player. He’s fast and has a lethal shot, especially on the power play coming off the wall. He finished last season with 14 goals and 24 assists, including six power-play tallies.
The New Albany, Ohio, native isn’t overly big, but he plays at a pace that NHL scouts like. His younger brother, former BU recruit Kole Sherwood, is in the Columbus Blue Jackets organization.
Jimmy Schuldt, Jr., D, St. Cloud — The Minnetonka, Minn., native will serve as the Huskies’ captain for a second consecutive season in 2017-18. Schuldt is a formidable two-way defenseman with average NHL size. He’s a mobile, puck-transporter who can positively impact a team’s possession numbers. A NCHC All-Rookie team member as a freshman, he followed that up with being named an honorable mention NCHC All-Star last season. Schuldt finished last season with eight goals and 11 assists.
Schuldt, who came to St. Cloud from the Omaha Lancers in the USHL, skated at the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp over the summer.
Tariq Hammond, Sr., D, Denver — It will be an interesting season for NHL scouts watching Hammond, who is still recovering from a gruesome injury suffered in the NCAA Championship game. The Calgary, Alberta, native will serve as captain of the Pioneers as the team looks to defend its crown.
Hammond has pro size, can skate and cover a lot of ground in the defensive zone. He’s a physical presence who can intimidate the opposition. What he lacks in offensive upside, he makes up for with closing ability and positioning in his own end.
He sat out the summer due to injury, but was invited to Montreal Canadiens Development Camp in 2016.
Sebastian Vidmar, Jr., LW, Union — Vidmar was sometimes lost in the hoopla surrounding linemates and fellow free agents Mike Vecchione and Spencer Foo last season. This year, he’ll have to find new linemates, but he brings a lot to the table in his own right.
Vidmar doesn’t have an elite offensive skill set, but his size affords him the ability to play well below the dots, win net front battles, and protect the puck from opposing defenders. His skating isn’t bad, but it’s an area of his game that could continue to improve.
Vidmar attended the Calgary Flames’ NHL Development Camp over the summer. Look for the Malmo, Sweden, native to get serious offers following the completion of the Dutchmen’s season.
Grant Hutton, Jr., D, Miami — The Carmel, Ind., native has flown a little under the radar, but that won’t be the case this winter after attending NHL Development Camps this past summer with both the Las Vegas Golden Knights and Toronto Maple Leafs. Hutton is another big, strong, mobile two-way defender. He makes a good breakout pass and has a good shot from the point. Hutton racked up nine goals and nine assists last season while being the only Red Hawk to not have a negative plus/minus.
Hutton, who played three seasons of junior hockey between the NAHL and USHL, will serve as an alternate captain for the RedHawks for a second straight season.
Honorable Mention: Tyler Mueller, Sr., D, Lowell; Tyler Sheehy, Sr., F, Minnesota; Jake Kamrass, Sr., F, Lowell; Brady Ferguson, Sr., F, Robert Morris; Max Veronneau, Jr., F, Princeton; Erik Autio, Sr., D, Penn State; Rob Michel, Jr., D, Maine; Alec McCrea, Jr., D, Cornell.