Colorado College hockey fans will have several reasons to follow this weekend's NHL draft with three or four future Tigers under consideration.
Four incoming players grabbing the most attention are Minnesota high school defenseman Robbie Stucker, 18, who was ranked No. 88 among 247 North American skaters listed in the final rankings released by NHL Central Scouting prior to Friday's and Saturday's selections at Chicago’s United Center.
The St. Thomas Academy blue-liner may sign with CC during the current NCAA signing period, which ends Aug. 1, and join the team in fall 2018.
Three CC signees garnering attention are Lone Star Brahmas goalie Alec Calvaruso, Muskegon Lumberjacks defenseman Zach Berzolla, both of whom are scheduled to join the National Collegiate Hockey Conference program this fall, and Edina (Minn.) High School forward Bram Scheerer, who may arrive with Stucker.
“I think it is a very good sign when the commits and signees going into your program are getting that kind of attention even if they don’t end up drafted,” coach Mike Haviland said. “We need to have those high-end players to compete in this league.”
All four are projected as late-round picks, meaning they may hear their names called sometime Saturday. Those interviewed were not worried about it.
"We believe there is a chance I could get lucky late in the draft," said Calvaruso (24-7, 2.13 goals against, .906 saves percentage last North American Hockey League season). "I did have a couple NHL teams come out to watch me during my season in Lone Star and I have been sending out film. However I don't have my hopes up at all and won't be upset if I do not get drafted."
If anything, not being drafted may make them want to prove experts wrong.
"Yes, definitely more motivation," said Berzolla (20 points, 63 U.S. Hockey League games). "I know playing college hockey will still give me the opportunity to accomplish my dream (of playing in the NHL). I'm on the right path. I know I can accomplish many things in hockey if I keep working hard and trying to perfect my game."
The 6-foot-3 Scheerer, 18, recorded 36 points in 28 high school games and took part in USA Hockey select festivals. The 6-2 Stucker recorded 47 points in 28 games as a senior. He is expected to play for the NAHL's Minnesota Magicians next season.
If they are fortunate enough to be drafted, loyalties will be tested. New draft picks typically pledge allegiance to the organization that just drafted them.
"My favorite current team is the Montreal Canadiens because of (goalie) Carey Price," Calvaruso said. "I would be perfectly fine with having a new favorite team after Saturday."