No fewer than 130 former NCAA hockey players representing 33 different schools will be on National Hockey League playoff rosters when the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight.
Five of those players played collegiately in 2022-23: Florida’s Mike Benning (Denver), Los Angeles’ Alex Laferriere (Harvard), Minnesota’s Brock Faber (Minnesota), New Jersey’s Luke Hughes (Michigan) and Toronto’s Matthew Knies (Minnesota).
All eight first-round series will feature at least 13 former college hockey players, topped by the combined 25 alumni in the Colorado-Seattle matchup:
Rostered NCAA Alumni by Series:
25 – Colorado (15) vs. Seattle (10)
17 – Vegas (8) vs. Winnipeg (9)
16 – Boston (9) vs. Florida (7)
15 – Toronto (9) vs. Tampa Bay (6), Carolina (8) vs. NY Islanders (7)
14 – Dallas (6) vs. Minnesota (8), Edmonton (5) vs. Los Angeles (9)
13 – New Jersey (5) vs. NY Rangers (8)
* - rosters as of April 16
Three of the eight series will pit former collegiate teammates against one another:
- Carolina vs. NY Islanders (Minnesota’s Brady Skjei vs. Hudson Fasching)
- New Jersey vs. NY Rangers (Harvard’s John Marino vs. Adam Fox)
- Vegas vs. Winnipeg (Minnesota’s Phil Kessel vs. Blake Wheeler)
In addition to the 130 NCAA alumni listed on NHL playoff rosters, 10 of the 16 qualifying teams were assembled by general managers who played college hockey: Boston’s Don Sweeney (Harvard), Carolina’s Don Waddell (Northern Michigan), Colorado’s Chris MacFarland (Pace), Florida’s Bill Zito (Yale), Los Angeles’ Rob Blake (Bowling Green), Minnesota’s Bill Guerin (Boston College), New Jersey’s Tom Fitzgerald (Providence), the New York Islanders’ Lou Lamoriello (Providence), the New York Rangers’ Chris Drury (Boston University) and Vegas’ Kelly McCrimmon (Michigan).
Four of the qualifying teams are coached by ex-NCAA standouts: Boston’s Jim Montgomery (Maine), Carolina’s Rod Brind’Amour (Michigan State), Edmonton’s Jay Woodcroft (Alabama-Huntsville) and Seattle’s Dave Hakstol (North Dakota). Montgomery guided the Bruins to an NHL-record 65 wins and 135 points during the 2022-23 regular season.