Keller? Boeser? Jost? What to Expect from the Recent Signings out of College Hockey

by Cam Robinson on March 31, 2017

Keller? Boeser? Jost? What to expect from the recent signings out of college hockey.


Like most years around this time, NHL teams start scouring the college ranks in search of undrafted and unrestricted players to help boost their pipelines and fill up their 50-contract quota. Just like in fantasy hockey, free prospects are great, but it’s rare that one of these players becomes an impactful piece to an organization. There have been a few in recent years however: Tyler Bozak, Chris Tanev, Torey Krug… So, it’s not a complete effort in futility.


What has begun to make for impactful pieces is NHL organizations beginning to pluck some of their prized drafted prospects from their college dorms and dumping them into local hotels to finish the season on a professional club. This season has seen more than a few future stars go that route.


This week on Frozen Pool Forensics, we’ll dig into a handful of players who just a few moments ago were wearing full cages, eating at the student union building and spending their evenings in the library stacks.




Clayton Keller


We may as well begin with the player who appears destined to have the most prominent fantasy career. The seventh overall pick from last June terrorized the college competition in his one and only season at Boston University.


The slight forward racked up 21 goals and 45 points in just 31 games. That 1.45 point-per-game output was good for seventh best in the entire nation and was firmly the leader for freshman skaters. He also managed a share of the second most short-handed tallies with four – a testament to his dynamic skill set and two-way game.


Keller was named the Hockey East Rookie of the Year as well as a Second Team All-Star.




The young American’s season was also highlighted by a World Junior Championship gold medal as his USA squad managed to take down the Canadians thanks in large part to the 18-year-old’s terrific play. His three goals and 11 points in seven contests was good enough to be named a tournament all-star.


A gifted cerebral and distributing centre, the Missouri native owns the full gamut of offensive weapons. His averaging 4.45 shots per contest this past season is indicative of this and offers a terrific metric in which to expect future professional results.


Keller’s season at BU ended just under a week ago and he was quickly signed by Arizona the following morning. He has now officially joined the smorgasbord of young, high-end talent in the desert and was welcomed into the NHL by facing off in back-to-back contests against his home-town, St. Louis Blues.


Here’s how those first two contests have gone:


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Mar 29



















Mar 27























The United States National Team Development Program point leader, recorded his first NHL point on the power play on Wednesday night while seeing just under half of the available man-advantage ice. He’s been placed in quality positions right out of the gate, seeing time at even-strength and on the man-advantage on the left-wing alongside fellow-rookie, Christian Dvorak and top line winger, Radim Vrbata.


He hasn’t registered a shot on goal yet, likely a result of getting acclimated to the much faster and more difficult NHL game, but you can see by his quick, efficient passes that he’s already right there skill-wise. 


Even Strength Line Combinations


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Keller currently resides as the fifth best fantasy asset on Dobber’s Prospect Rankings, was recently named the top prospect outside of the NHL by Craig Button, ESPN and The Hockey News and is consistently compared to the likes of Patrick Kane and Mitch Marner. This is in large part due to his terrific edgework, supremely quick hands and deft play-making ability – and of course, his comparable stature.


Here sits a player that every keeper league team should have designs on obtaining before his stock explodes, and while he may only produce around a half-point-per-game in 2017-18, that number is destined to steadily increase and he has a legitimate shot at becoming the type of guy who graces the top 10 scoring lists on a consistent basis.


Read more about Keller over on DobberProspects



Brock Boeser


The Vancouver Canucks could sure use an influx of top end talent and they’re very much hoping that they did that last week.


After failing to defend their National Championship by being eliminated by Keller and the Boston University Terriers in double overtime last Friday night, Boeser and his North Dakota teammates chartered a bus back to Grand Forks, had a ‘team dinner’ and then Brock boarded a plane to Minnesota to sign an NHL contract and suit up for his first career game that following morning.


Talk about a whirlwind start to your pro career!



The powerful, sharp-shooting winger immediately adds a dangerous element that the Canucks have lacked for some time: a player capable of sniping goals on first-chances on a regular basis.


Not only did Vancouver burn a year of his entry-level contract by bringing Boeser right into the NHL, they’ve also put him in a position to succeed. The 23rd overall selection from 2015 has lined up beside Bo Hovat and Sven Baertschi on the team’s most dangerous even-strength line as well as seeing time alongside the Sedins on the first power play unit.



Even Strength Line Combinations


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Power Play Line Combinations


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The results have been two goals, nine shots, four hits and over 60 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone through his first three contests. It’s been a quality start, but Boeser has looked noticeable tired during stretches of those games and it’s not that surprising seeing as he had played four games in five nights with the adrenaline pumping at an extreme rate.


Heading into next season, it’s likely the Canucks would prefer to have their top offensive prospect see some time in the American league to help his adjustment period and not lop any extra pressure on the 20-year-old, but his unique skill-set, coupled with the Canucks inability to score goals will likely mean a strong training camp will result in a roster spot. From there, he’ll need to continue developing alongside a young core which hopes to be pushing for a playoff spot in two seasons down the road.


Read more about Boeser over at DobberProspects




Tyson Jost


Another 2016 draftee, Jost spent just the one season as a teammate of Boeser’s at the University of North Dakota. The Avalanche’s top prospect is a highly-skilled offensive player who owns formidable two-way ability and is an accomplished faceoff man – he should be able to use that defensive ability to overcome the initial challenges that face him as a teenager in the NHL.


Jost has been stellar everywhere he’s gone: breaking Connor McDavid’s U18 points record by racking up 15 in seven games last year; posting two points per game for the Penticton Vees in Canadian Jr. A. during his draft campaign, and then following that up with 35 points and a +17 rating as a NCAA freshman.


That 1.06 point-per-game mark was the sixth highest of any first-year player.


Jost will likely suit up later today next to Matt Duchene for his first ever NHL game against the Blues and because he’s just 19-years-old and there are fewer than 10 games remaining in the season, his contract will slide into next year and won’t expire until the end of the 2019-20 campaign.




The Alberta-native may project as a less-offensive player than the two featured before him, but those in leagues that count faceoffs will enjoy having the player who emulates his game after Jonathan Toews and he’ll be joining a Colorado team that has plenty of high-octane offensive players that should be able to put things together in the future.


Read more about Jost over at DobberProspects




Players to Watch for Next Season


Charlie McAvoy


  • The Bruins most recent first-round selection had a tremendous season at Boston University and with Team USA at the WJC. He has left school to sign an Amateur Try-Out with Boston’s AHL affiliate similar to what Zach Werenski did a season ago. The smooth-skating and dynamic minute-muncher is a true threat to usurping Torey Krug’s role as Boston’s top offensive option in the not-so-distant future.


Colin White

  • Another player who signed an ATO when his NCAA season ended, White owns splendid two-way ability and is a dominant force in the face off dot. The Senators will allow him to get his feet wet in the minors this spring, but expect the 20-year-old to begin his contract next fall with the big club.


Zach Aston-Reese

  • The prized-signing of the college season for undrafted, unrestricted players ended up in Pittsburgh and is off to a roaring start to his professional career. The Hobey Baker finalist has popped two goals and six points in four AHL games and will push for a roster spot amongst the extremely deep Penguins top nine in 2017-18.





Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3 where I often give unsolicited fantasy advice that I’m sure at least someone is listening to.