Record 300 Alums Play in NHL

A total of 300 former U.S. college hockey players participated in the 2011-12 NHL regular season that concluded Saturday, the biggest NCAA representation in history and a 39% increase from 10 years ago (216).

Former college players accounted for 30.5% of all players in the NHL this season, also a record and the second straight season at 30% or higher. Forty-six former college players made their NHL debuts this season, including seven who appeared after their college seasons concluded.

The 300 former college players who played in the NHL this season represented 45 colleges, led by Michigan (23), Wisconsin (22) and Boston College (21).

Among the former NCAA stars who played in the NHL this year were Brian Elliott (Wisconsin), who led the league’s goaltenders in goals-against average and save percentage, and Jonathan Quick (Massachusetts), who led the league in shutouts. Seven 30-goal scorers were among the group, as well as five of the top nine rookie scorers in the league, including rookie goal-scoring leader Matt Read (Bemidji State). Jonathan Toews (North Dakota) led the league in faceoffs and Curtis Glencross (Alaska-Anchorage) led in shooting percentage.

More than half of the NHLers who played college hockey spent all four years in school, with 74% staying at least three years on campus. Eighty-four of the former college players who reached the NHL this year were undrafted free agents.

College hockey’s impact in the NHL will continue to be felt moving forward, as already 40 players have signed NHL contracts at the conclusion of their 2011-12 college seasons – an average of more than one per NHL team. More than 200 NHL draft picks played college hockey this season, and 96 current or future college players were among the players in the NHL Central Scouting rankings for the 2012 NHL Draft that were released today.

The college season concluded Saturday with Boston College winning the national championship with a 4-1 victory against Ferris State at the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Tampa, Fla., the eighth NHL arena to host a college game this season.

Thanks to Let’s Play Hockey magazine (letsplayhockey.com) for statistics on college players in the NHL prior to 2010-11.

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