More than 500 former college players began their pursuit of the 2019 Stanley Cup championship this week as NHL training camps opened.
The 535 NCAA alumni in camps included 84 who played college hockey in 2017-18. Sixteen of those rookies already made their NHL debuts at the end of last season, including Henrik Borgstrom (Denver/Florida Panthers), Ryan Donato (Harvard/Boston Bruins), Adam Gaudette (Northeastern/Vancouver Canucks) and Casey Mittelstadt (Minnesota/Buffalo Sabres).
Pittsburgh leads all NHL teams with 32 NCAA alumni in camp, with Anaheim (26), Boston (26) and New Jersey (24) close behind.
Alumni in training camps represent 56 schools. Minnesota (31), Boston College (29), North Dakota (28), Boston University (27) and Wisconsin (27) boast the most former players attending camp.
The 2018 training camps also mark the debuts of head coaches Jim Montgomery with the Dallas Stars and David Quinn with the New York Rangers after being hired from Denver and Boston University, respectively. They join Jeff Blashill (Detroit), Dave Hakstol (Philadelphia) and John Hynes (New Jersey) as NHL head coaches with college coaching experience.
The NHL preseason schedule begins Saturday, Sept. 15, with a meeting of the Bruins and Flames in China. Those two teams both have squads in China and the rest of their camp at home.
The North American portion of the NHL preseason begins with three games on Sunday, Sept. 16.
Last season 310 former college players appeared in the NHL, comprising 32% of all NHL players. It marked the fourth time that 300-plus NCAA alumni played in the NHL.