Canadian NHL teams eyeing a number of NCAA free agents

The hockey panel talks all things hockey, including Crosby's slash on Methot, Andersen's possible injury and the Islanders looking to trade John Tavares.

On Saturday morning, University of North Dakota product Brock Boeser signed a deal with the Vancouver Canucks. Boeser’s season had ended the night before, when UND suffered a double-overtime loss to Boston University in the NCAA’s West Regional semifinals.

Boeser’s career as a college hockey player ended, but the early returns on his decision were pretty fantastic: the 20-year-old, who was drafted 23rd overall in the 2015 NHL draft, suited up for the Canucks on Saturday afternoon versus the Minnesota Wild, scoring in his NHL debut.

“This was a big moment,” said Elliotte Friedman during the Headlines segment on Hockey Night in Canada. A big moment, that is, for both Boeser and Vancouver, who will look forward to reaping the rewards of the young forward’s talents as the rebuild continues.

Boeser’s big day leads to an obvious question: Which college free agents might be available to teams?

“Union College tonight lost, and there are three players that Canadian hockey fans should know,” Friedman said, listing Spencer Foo, Mike Vecchione and Nick DeSimone.

“A number of Canadian teams will be chasing those players to see if they come out over the next couple of weeks,” he added.

Foo, a 23-year-old forward from Edmonton, had 60 points this season, with 24 goals and 36 assists in 37 games. He was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist, and is described by award officials as “one of the most consistent players in the nation.”

Vecchione, too, was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker earlier this month. The forward and Union College team captain is the team’s all-time scoring leader. The 24-year-old native of Saugus, Mass., had 62 points this season — his fourth with the team — with 29 goals and 33 assists in 37 games.

DeSimone, a 22-year-old defenceman from East Amhurst, N.Y., has had his best season in his third year with the team. The six-foot-two, 190-pounder had 16 PIM and scored a career-high nine goals this season with the Dutchmen.

Teams aren’t just looking at players coming from the NCAA, though.

“Vancouver’s looking at another player, one of several teams looking at another player,” Friedman said, citing Darren Raddysh of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, who “had a big year this year.”

Raddysh, a defenceman, tallied 81 points through 62 regular-season games this season, with 16 goals and 65 assists, good for most points by a D-man in the OHL. The 21-year-old, listed at six-foot-one, 201 pounds, now has five seasons with the Otters under his belt, though the last was by far his best.

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