Central Scouting Rates 106
Nine NCAA players and recruits earn first-round ratings.

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The NCAA’s top freshman scorer, Kent Johnson, is one of three first-round prospects in Michigan’s rookie class.

Nine first-round prospects headline a group of 106 NCAA players and recruits featured in NHL Central Scouting’s updated “Players to Watch” list for the 2021 NHL Draft, released Friday.

Sortable: NCAA Players to Watch for 2021 NHL Draft

Michigan’s trio of freshmen – Matty Beniers (Hingham, Mass./U.S. NTDP), Kent Johnson (Port Moody, B.C./Trail-BCHL) and Owen Power (Mississauga, Ont./Chicago-USHL) – all earned “A” ratings as first-round candidates, as they had entering the season. Two Michigan recruits, Luke Hughes and Mackie Samoskevich, are also pegged as first-round candidates.

In all, 32 schools – more than half of the 61 in Division I – have a player or recruit on the watch list. Boston College, Michigan and Wisconsin lead all schools with eight players listed, followed by Boston University with seven and Notre Dame with six.

Seven of the players listed have yet to commit to a school but are playing in a North American NCAA-eligible junior league.

The Michigan trio leads a group of 11 current NCAA freshmen featured on the list. That’s a sharp increase from just four freshmen who were on the preseason watch list. Among those added to the list are three freshmen from both Hockey East and the NCHC.

All-Time NCAA First-Round Picks

This could be the first time that three current players from one team are taken in the first round. Three previous teams have had two: Ohio State in 2001, Boston College in 2000 and Michigan State in 1990.

The five Michigan players or recruits that could go in the first round would be a record for one school. Two teams – Minnesota in 2006 and Boston University in 2016 – have had four players or recruits taken in the first round of the same draft.