Discover the NCAA Hockey Teams Worth Rooting for from a Rangers Fan’s Perspective! Find out where Rangers prospects shine and who to keep an eye on in the college hockey scene.
Hey there, New York Rangers fans! It’s that time of year again. Hockey is officially back, with the NCAA and NHL seasons beginning this week.
Atop college hockey, It’s pure chaos at the top of the national standings, just like the traffic on the FDR during rush hour!
Scouting Potential Future Rangers: Which NCAA Teams and Prospects Should We Keep an Eye On?
The Boston University Terriers may have lost some key players, like Drew Commesso and Domenick Fensore.
However, they still have Lane Hutson, a Hobey Baker finalist and Montréal Canadiens prospect, leading the charge. Last season, he posted 48 points as a freshman.
Joining him is Macklin Celebrini, the probable No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NHL draft. If he’s half as good as Jack Eichel was during his college days, we’re in for a wild ride.
Eichel led BU to the national title game in the 2014-15 season with 26 goals and 71 points in 40 games.
Adding a talent like Celebrini to last year’s Frozen Four team makes for a terrorizing unit.
Sure, Celebrini might miss the start due to a shoulder injury, but he’s already practicing with the team. There’s still hope he’ll be ready for the opening game against Bentley on Saturday.
Backstopping the team will be offseason addition Mathieu Caron, who, entering his junior season, transferred from Brown. The 23-year-old Abbotsford native had a .921 save percentage in 24 games last year.
Now, we can’t forget about BU’s rivals at Boston College. They have an impressive first-year class, including Will Smith (San Jose Sharks prospect), Ryan Leonard (Washington Capitals prospect), and Gabriel Perreault (New York Rangers prospect). The three went 5, 8, and 23 in the 2023 draft.
Behind Perrault will be his Eagles teammate and defenseman, Drew Fortescue, who the Blueshirts selected with the 90th overall pick in the third round of the 2023 draft.
Meanwhile, in the Big Ten, Brody Lamb, the Rangers’ 2021 4th-round pick at 104th overall, is ready to shine.
In his sophomore season, Lamb played 39 out of 40 games, scoring four goals, assisting on four, and maintaining a plus-three rating. He also became a shot-blocking machine, with 22 blocked shots.
Minnesota had a stellar season, becoming Big Ten Conference regular season champions. Although they came close in the 2023 NCAA Frozen Four, they couldn’t overcome National champion Quinnipiac.
In the ECAC, Hank Kempf, the Blueshirts’ 2021 7th-round pick, 208th overall, is ready for his junior season.
Kempf, a left-shot defenseman, finished last season with a solid plus-twelve rating, contributing one goal and one assist. His shot-blocking skills are commendable, with 30 blocks to his name.
Now, Kempf might not be known for his offensive fireworks, but he’s the kind of stay-at-home defenseman every team needs. He’s expected to continue his journey at Cornell for all four years, honing his skills and making New York proud.
Up in Harvard, Zakary Karpa, the Rangers’ 2022 6th Round pick, 191st overall, is ready to lead the Crimson.
Despite missing some action due to injury last season, in the 22 games he suited up for, he made an impact. Karpa had a plus-2 rating on the ice and showcased his prowess in the faceoff circle, boasting a solid 53.1% success rate. He also contributed offensively with five goals and three assists.
While the Rangers might be eager to sign Karpa next summer, it could be in his best interest to stick around for a senior year at Harvard before going pro. More time to develop those skills and dominate the college hockey scene!
As for Harvard, they ended the previous season with a tough loss to Ohio State in the NCAA Regional Round, but their overall record was impressive at 24-8-2.
Down in Merrimack, Hugo Ollas, the Rangers’ 2020 7th-round pick, 197th overall, will look to backstop the Warriors. Hugo is a massive presence in goal, standing tall at 6’7″ and weighing in at a solid 220 lbs.
Last season, the Warriors put up an impressive record of 23-14-1. Sure, they fell to Quinnipiac University in the NCAA Regionals, but they were right in the mix. And Ollas was a big part of that.
During the 2022-2023 campaign, Hugo held his ground with a 10-9-0 record, boasting a sharp 2.32 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
Hugo is currently the only amateur goaltending prospect in the Rangers’ organization, and there’s a possibility he could make the leap to the pros at the end of the year.
In Providence, Jaroslav Chmelar, the Rangers’ 2021 5th-round pick, is a significant presence standing at 6’5″ and weighing in at 221 lbs. The Friars will look at Chmelar as they develop their next wave of stars.
In his sophomore year, Jaroslav skated in 33 games for Providence, lighting the lamp seven times and setting up his teammates with six assists. He also proudly represented Czechia in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championships, earning himself a shiny silver medal.
Projections have Jaroslav Chmelar as a future staple in the Rangers’ bottom-six forward group. Even his coach, Nate Leaman, believes he’s got what it takes to play in the NHL one day. That’s high praise!
In Colorado, Noah Laba, the Rangers’ 2022 4th-round pick at 111th overall, is ready for his sophomore season.
Last season, Noah made quite the impact, scoring 11 goals and notching 22 points in 35 games. He’s not just about the offense; he’s also a faceoff ace with a .549 winning percentage, ranking seventh in the NCHC. Off the ice, he’s a scholar-athlete, earning honors as a Distinguished Scholar-Athlete by the NCHC and making the all-academic team.
He also scored in international play, winning bronze with Team USA at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championships.
Last but certainly not least, Victor Mancini, the Rangers’ 2022 5th-round pick at 159th overall, ready for his junior year in Nebraska.
In the 2022-2023 season, he accumulated an impressive eight assists in 32 games. Mancini is one of the few right-shot defensemen prospects in the Rangers’ system, and the Blueshirts will be eager to sign him as soon as possible to bolster their defensive ranks.
The NCAA has also tweaked a couple of rules. Coaches can’t review too many men on the ice after a goal. And in offside reviews following a goal, officials can only consider if the play was offside, nothing else.
So, fellow Blueshirts, let’s gear up for some NCAA hockey action.
It’s a chance to follow our prospects, scout future NHL stars, and, most importantly, enjoy heart-pounding hockey.