A new college season is upon us, which means it is once again time for one of my favorite – and most vexing – rankings. I've been doing my top 100 NCAA men's players for years now and it consistently gets tougher, since I end up leaving a lot of worthy names off the list. I suppose that's a good problem to have if you're the NCAA, because it speaks to just how super-charged that route has been for NHL prospects lately.
As always, I will lay down the ground rules for the newbies: My list is not necessarily the best 100 players, but the top ones I am excited about. Which is to say that my rankings are pretty much all NHL draft picks or first-year eligible players I expect to be drafted. And because I only have 100, I often demur to freshmen and sophomores versus upperclassmen because I've seen the older players already and know what they are capable of.
You will also notice that certain schools get a lot more shine than others here. While I do like to get as many programs on the list as possible, I'm also not going to compromise. If half the Michigan Wolverines make the rankings, so be it. And hey, it's very possible a Frozen Four school ends up with only one or two names if they have a veteran squad (which was the case last year with finalist Minnesota State).
With all that out of the way, let's get to the list.
1. Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan: A likely top-three pick in the 2023 draft, Fantilli brings a fantastic combination of size, skating and skill to Ann Arbor and coach Brandon Naurato has already been impressed with the teen's compete level.
2. Luke Hughes, D, Michigan: The New Jersey Devils pick could very well find himself in the Hobey Baker conversation thanks to his immaculate skating and offensive capabilities on the back end.
3. Logan Cooley, C, Minnesota: Taken third overall by the Arizona Coyotes this summer, Cooley now gets a chance to make an immediate impact with the Gophers, where his speed and offensive toolbox will come in handy.
4. Cutter Gauthier, C, Boston College: Opportunity knocks for the freshman and Philadelphia Flyers first-rounder, as the Eagles need a top-line pivot. Gauthier's size, shot and two-way game fit the bill.
5. Charlie Stramel, C, Wisconsin: I know the 2023 draft prospect has some detractors, but I love his combination of size, hands and snarl. The kid's a beast out there and the Badgers can use his high-end abilities.
6. Devon Levi, G, Northeastern: I'm still not sure what Levi's pro career will look like (due to his size), but I am stoked about his upcoming campaign with the Huskies. The Buffalo Sabres prospect is coming off a 10-shutout season, so what's the encore?
7. Matthew Wood, RW, UConn: Another freshman to watch for the 2023 draft, Wood joins the Huskies out of the BCHL, where the big and talented kid ran roughshod over the competition with 85 points in 46 games last season.
8. Arsenii Sergeev, G, UConn: Maybe I'm higher on Sergeev than most, but from the NAHL to USHL, all this kid has done is impress. The Calgary Flames pick arrives in Connecticut after earning USHL goalie of the year honors.
9. Matt Coronato, RW, Harvard: Another Calgary Flames prospect, Coronato was who we expected him to be as a freshman, putting up more than a point per game for the Crimson. How much better will he be after another summer of training?
10. Frank Nazar, C, Michigan: The kid's got a wicked motor and a ton of skill, which is why the Chicago Blackhawks made him a first-rounder in 2022. Now Nazar gets the chance to wheel with the talented Wolverines.
11. Rutger McGroarty, RW, Michigan: Taken one pick after Nazar by the Winnipeg Jets, McGroarty has the size and the two-way acumen to help out in a number of ways as he begins his NCAA journey with Michigan.
12. Jimmy Snuggerud, RW, Minnesota: When I spoke to scouts about Snuggerud last year, they thought he was still on the ascent and that he'd be even better for the Gophers than he was with the NTDP. He's a St. Louis Blues first-rounder now.
14. Isaac Howard, LW, Minnesota-Duluth: Another high-motor player from the NTDP, Howard can fly and he can produce. The Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder gives the Bulldogs some firepower to add to their typically defensively excellent squad.
15. Owen McLaughlin, C, North Dakota: The Philadelphia Flyers pick had a monster breakout year with USHL Sioux City, winning the Clark Cup championship and setting the table for his freshman season in Grand Forks.
16. Matthew Knies, LW, Minnesota: Expectations will be high for the Toronto Maple Leafs pick, as Knies is coming off a point-per-game freshman campaign. The power forward can dominate, so let's see what he can do as a sophomore.
17. Domenick Fensore, D, Boston University: After he put up 31 points in 35 games as a junior, I'm very excited to see what Fensore can do as a senior. The undersized Carolina Hurricanes pick could really go off for the Terriers this season.
18. Sean Farrell, LW, Harvard: The Montreal Canadiens pick had a full 2021-22 campaign, with more than a point-per-game as a freshman with Harvard and a great performance for Team USA at the Olympics. Now he's back for more.
19. Sean Behrens, D, Denver: I'm a big Behrens fan and the puckmover is coming off an excellent freshman campaign with the Pioneers that saw the Colorado Avalanche pick put up 29 points in 37 games and help the team with the national title.
20. Carter Mazur, RW, Denver: The combination of drive and skill that Mazur brings to the table is simply fantastic and the Detroit Red Wings prospect has demonstrated it both internationally with Team USA and with the defending champs from Denver.
21. Brock Faber, D, Minnesota: Playing excellent defense isn't necessarily the sexiest thing in hockey, but if the Gophers want to win a national championship (and they should be in the mix), Faber is going to lead the way. He's a Minnesota Wild prospect.
22. Scott Morrow, D, UMass: Morrow, the Carolina Hurricanes pick, had a fantastic freshman campaign for the Minutemen with 33 points in 37 games – good for second on the team. With more seasoning, his sophomore year should be even better.
23. Jaroslav Chmelar, RW, Providence College: Based on his rough-and-tumble world juniors this summer, the Czech national is gonna be fun to watch for the Friars. Chmelar is a big and talented New York Rangers pick.
24. Michael Benning, D, Denver: The offensive blueliner notched nearly a point per game from the blueline as a sophomore with the Pioneers, helping Denver win a national championship. Benning is a Florida Panthers prospect.
25. Gavin Brindley, RW, Michigan: The 'other' 2023 draft prospect on the Wolverines, Brindley caught eyes with Team USA at the world under-18s and is coming off a nice year with USHL Tri-City. The kid is quick, slick and competitive.
26. Lane Hutson, D, Boston University: An Internet favorite and Montreal Canadiens pick, Hutson is an incredibly dynamic offensive defenseman. And though he lacks size, the Terriers tend to know what to do with such talents.
27. Dylan James, LW, North Dakota: His chemistry with Owen McLaughlin helped Sioux City win a USHL title; now they're both Fighting Hawks. James is a Detroit Red Wings pick who uses speed and compete level to contribute all over the ice.
28. Ryan Greene, C, Boston University: A great skater with smarts who projects as a two-way center, Greene is a Chicago Blackhawks pick who took on a big role with the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers last season.
29. Corson Ceulemans, D, Wisconsin: As a freshman, the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect led the Badgers in scoring by a defenseman and tied for the team lead overall. Ceulemans has a great physical dimension, as well.
30. Wyatt Kaiser, D, Minnesota-Duluth: He has all the traits of a modern NHL defenseman and is playing for a program that has excelled at developing blueliners. Kaiser is a Chicago Blackhawks pick who nearly doubled his production year over year.
31. Jack Peart, D, St. Cloud State: A mobile defenseman with elite hockey IQ, Peart is coming off a successful freshman campaign and is playing for a Huskies squad with a lot of talent. He's a Minnesota Wild pick.
32. Aidan McDonough, RW, Providence College: The Vancouver Canucks pick has been excellent throughout his college career with the Friars and enters his senior year with confidence after a breakout 25-goal junior campaign.
33. Shai Buium, D, Denver: It was always about the growing potential with Buium, so expect another step up from the big, puckhandling defender. The Detroit Red Wings pick had 18 points as a freshman with the national champions.
34. Brett Berard, LW, Providence College: Watching Berard is so fun – though I wouldn't want to play against him. Gritty, fast and talented, the New York Rangers pick really embodies the solid Friars teams of late.
35. Drew Commesso, G, Boston University: If the Terriers want to make some noise this season, a lot will come on the back of Commesso, their star goalie. The Chicago Blackhawks pick has been a stalwart for the program.
36. Seamus Casey, D, Michigan: As soon as he stepped on the ice with the Wolverines, it seemed like Casey was making plays. The freshman comes in from the NTDP after going 46th overall to the New Jersey Devils this past summer.
37. Josh Doan, RW, Arizona State: Doan had a monster frosh campaign with the Sun Devils, putting up more than a point per game. Now the Arizona Coyotes pick returns with the captaincy and a new rink to play in.
38. Mason Lohrei, D, Ohio State: The highest-scoring returning player on the Buckeyes, Lohrei is a solid offensive defenseman who will need to be big once again for the team. He's a Boston Bruins prospect.
39. Jackson Blake, RW, North Dakota: He's been electric everywhere he's been, from Minnesota high school to the USHL. Now the skilled and competitive Carolina Hurricanes pick enters the next phase of his development.
40. Ryan Chesley, D, Minnesota: Personally, I think the Washington Capitals got a steal when Chesley fell to them in the second round this past summer. He's an all-around beast that fortifies the Gopher back end.
41. Rieger Lorenz, RW, Denver: He dominated the Alberta Jr. A League with his size and his release, now Lorenz joins a Pioneers team with back-to-back title aspirations. He's a Minnesota Wild prospect.
42. Ryan Tverberg, C, UConn: Tverberg made a massive leap between his freshman and sophomore campaigns and now the Toronto Maple Leafs pick is a major offensive threat for an intriguing Huskies squad.
43. Kyle Kukkonen, C, Michigan Tech: He ain't big and he ain't fast, but Kukkonen has consistently shown the ability to get the job done offensively in his career. Now the Anaheim Ducks pick makes his NCAA debut.
44. Henry Thrun, D, Harvard: With size and nice two-way ability, Thrun was one of the Crimson's leading scorers last season. The Anaheim Ducks prospect brings a lot of experience to the table.
45. Dominic Basse, G, St. Cloud State: Coming over from Colorado College, the towering Basse now joins a team with a lot of depth and a solid 'D' corps. That should put the Chicago Blackhawks pick in a good spot.
46. Alex Campbell, C, Clarkson: The Golden Knights' leading scorer last season, Campbell is a Nashville Predators pick who could easily crest the point-per-game mark this year and maybe crack 20 goals.
47. Mackie Samoskevich, RW, Michigan: Samoskevich had a great freshman campaign with 29 points in 40 games for Michigan, but with the Wolverines losing a lot of talent, the Florida Panthers first-rounder will get even more opportunities.
48. Adam Ingram, LW, St. Cloud State: A goal-scorer with a great shot and instincts, Ingram is a Nashville Predators pick who lit up the USHL with Youngstown last year. The Huskies can help him round out his game.
49. Cam Lund, RW, Northeastern: With strength, skating and a great shot, Lund has some very impressive tools to work with as he enters his freshman campaign in Boston. The burgeoning power forward is a San Jose Sharks pick.
50. Guillaume Richard, D, Providence College: The smooth-skating defenseman is coming off a solid freshman campaign with the Friars, so it will be fun to see the progression from the Columbus Blue Jackets pick.
51. Magnus Chrona, G, Denver: After leading the Pioneers to a title (and outduelling Dryden McKay in the process), Chrona could have turned pro, but the big San Jose Sharks prospect is back for another go.
52. Jackson LaCombe, D, Minnesota: The senior has bumped up his points substantially every year with the Gophers and with a national championship a definite possibility, it's a big year for the Anaheim Ducks prospect.
53. Ty Smilanic, C, Wisconsin: Coming over from Quinnipiac, Smilanic brings lots of skill and a steadily evolved game to Madison, where the Badgers need help. Smilanic is a Montreal Canadiens prospect.
54. Joe Miller, C, Harvard: It feels like Miller has been on the radar forever, so it's fun to finally see what he can do at the college level. The small but skilled center is a Toronto Maple Leafs pick who had a breakout season with USHL Chicago last year.
55. Blake Biondi, RW, Minnesota-Duluth: The top sniper on last year's Bulldogs with 17 goals, Biondi enters his junior season with a ton of experience. He's a Montreal Canadiens pick playing for an intriguing program.
56. Samu Salminen, C, UConn: A smart, playmaking pivot who can dominate in the faceoff circle, Salminen makes his North American debut with Connecticut. The New Jersey Devils pick is a Finnish national.
57. Carter Gylander, G, Colgate: There's a lot of potential in the lanky netminder, who continues to steadily develop with the Raiders. The Detroit Red Wings pick has a great opportunity to really seize the starter's role as a junior.
58. Brent Johnson, D, North Dakota: A prior injury meant Johnson's NCAA career got off to a slow start, but there's still plenty of time for the puck-moving D-man to grow his game. Johnson is a Washington Capitals pick.
59. Jack Hughes, C, Northeastern: A very young freshman, Hughes survived last year, but expect him to thrive as a sophomore. The Los Angeles Kings pick does a little bit of everything out there with a nice skill set.
60. Erik Portillo, G, Michigan: Should the Wolverines hope to snatch a national title this year, they'll need solid goaltending and Portillo is a good bet to give it to them. The big Swede is a Buffalo Sabres pick.
61. Ryder Rolston, RW, Notre Dame: After a quiet freshman year with the Fighting Irish, Rolston caught fire as a sophomore and now returns for a third campaign with higher expectations. He's a Chicago Blackhawks prospect.
62. Robert Mastrosimone, LW, Arizona State: Coming over from Boston University, Mastrosimone brings veteran experience and scoring punch to the Sun Devils, who already have some weapons for the Detroit Red Wings pick to play off.
63. Aku Koskenvuo, G, Harvard: A raw but tantalizing goalie prospect out of Finland, Koskenvuo is a Vancouver Canucks pick entering his first year with the Crimson. It'll be fun to see what the 6-foot-4 keeper can do.
64. John Farinacci, C, Harvard: A solid contributor as a sophomore last year, Farinacci's development path was impacted by the Crimson's lost Covid season, but the Arizona Coyotes pick battles and produces.
65. Stephen Halliday, C, Ohio State: Snapped up by the Ottawa Senators in the draft after being passed over before, Halliday spent his time in the USHL getting his skating up to speed and now he marries it with a big body and scoring touch.
66. Veeti Miettinen, LW, St. Cloud State: The Finnish national has been a great piece for the Huskies for two years already and with his experience and scoring touch, the Toronto Maple Leafs pick will be a threat once again.
67. Ryan Ufko, D, UMass: A heady, deceptive puckmover, Ufko was awesome for the Minutement as a freshman, posting up 31 points from the blueline. That put the Nashville Predators pick third in team scoring.
68. Noah Laba, C, Colorado College: With his physicality and willingness to stick up for his teammates, Laba could become an instant favorite for the Tigers. The incoming freshman is a New York Rangers pick.
69. Jake Livingstone, D, Minnesota State: Potentially one of the top free agents in the country this year, Livingstone exploded for 31 points with the Mavs last year during his sophomore campaign. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, he's got a good frame to work with, too.
70. Oscar Jellvik, LW, Boston College: The Swedish freshman makes his North American debut this year and does so as a Boston Bruins prospect. Jellvik pairs offensive skill with some edge and he can also play center.
71. Mike Koster, D, Minnesota: The offensive defenseman and Toronto Maple Leafs pick has quickness and good hands. After two solid seasons with the Gophers, it's time for a breakout from the Minnesota native.
72. Ayrton Martino, LW, Clarkson: Quick playmaker had a very impressive frosh campaign at Clarkson, putting up 28 points in 37 games as a teenager in the older ECAC. Martino is a Dallas Stars prospect.
73. Alex Jefferies, LW, Merrimack: With some key veterans moving on, Jefferies will become an even more important part of the Warriors attack and he has the offensive skill set to do so. He's a New York Islanders pick.
74. Red Savage, C, Miami: Offensively, Savage had a nice freshman year with the RedHawks, but what you're really getting in the Detroit Red Wings pick is a faceoff ace who can play a solid two-way game for you.
75. Ian Moore, D, Harvard: Still growing as a mobile defenseman, Moore had a nice first season with the Crimson. The Anaheim Ducks pick comes into his sophomore campaign with a bit of a boost from playing in the summer world juniors.
76. Jackson Hallum, RW, Michigan: A big-time speedster who took a longer route to college, Hallum comes in as a 20-year-old freshman after blitzing the USHL. He's a Vegas Golden Knights prospect.
77. Luca Munzenberger, D, Vermont: His size and physicality give the German national an edge in the defensive zone, which is where he makes his presence felt the most. Munzenberger is an Edmonton Oilers pick.
78. Sam Colangelo, C, Northeastern: His size and skill make him an obvious one to watch, especially after Colangelo put up nearly a point per game last season, Look for the Anaheim Ducks pick to beat that as a junior.
79. Sam Lipkin, C, Quinnipiac: The big center blew away the USHL last season and now enters the NCAA with a chance to make an impact with the Bobcats. Lipkin is an Arizona Coyotes prospect.
80. Ryan Johnson, D, Minnesota: His skating as always been an asset and the points have steadily climbed year over year during his tenure with the Gophers. Can the Buffalo Sabres pick end his time in Dinkytown with a bang?
81. Connor Kelley, D, Providence College: Coming over from Minnesota-Duluth, Kelley brings some nice experience and defensive acumen to the Friars. The junior blueliner is a Chicago Blackhawks pick.
82. Joaquim Lemay, D, Nebraska-Omaha: A very promising offensive defenseman, Lemay put up numbers in both the BCHL and USHL en route to Omaha. Now the Washington Capitals pick begins his NCAA journey.
83. Stiven Sardarian, C, New Hampshire: A big-time playmaker from Russia, Sardarian got his first North American experience last year with USHL Youngstown. Now the Buffalo Sabres pick makes his college debut with the Wildcats.
84. Cruz Lucius, RW, Wisconsin: Injury kinda wrecked his draft year with the NTDP, but Lucius is a very skilled player and had enough of a track record to catch the Carolina Hurricanes' eye at the draft. Now he's a freshman Badger.
85. Devin Kaplan, RW, Boston University: His big frame intrigues and while Kaplan wasn't a marquee player on the NTDP, it was a pretty stacked squad. Now the Philadelphia Flyers pick gets a chance to shine with the Terriers.
86. David Gucciardi, D, Michigan State: Passed over in the draft before the Washington Capitals snapped him up in 2022, Gucciardi is a two-way defenseman who can move the puck and really shoot it for the Spartans.
87. Jake Boltmann, D, Notre Dame: After being blanked as a freshman, Boltmann found his footing last year and put up 13 points from the blueline. The Calgary Flames pick has also really helped out the Notre Dame penalty kill.
88. Jack Devine, RW, Denver: Another young freshman who made a name for himself last season, Devine has some nice puck skills and showed great compete at the Frozen Four. He's a Florida Panthers pick.
89. Matthew Stienburg, C, Cornell: The Big Red's leading scorer returns after notching just over a point per game as a sophomore. Stienburg is a Colorado Avalanche pick who loves to throw his big body around on the ice.
90. Lucas Mercuri, C, UMass: Playmaking center with excellent size got his feet weight with a solid freshman campaign in Amherst. Now we get to see what the Carolina Hurricanes pick can do as a sophomore.
91. Cam Berg, LW, Nebraska-Omaha: The Mavs lost a couple of their top scorers from last year and offense has always been a calling card for Berg. The New York Islanders pick gets a great chance to step up as a sophomore.
92. Tristan Broz, RW, Denver: Coming over from Minnesota, Broz brings a nice offensive toolbox and all the motivation in the world after a rough freshman campaign with the Gophers. He's a Pittsburgh Penguins pick.
93. Cole Brady, G, UMass: Making the move from Arizona State, Brady joins the Minutemen for his sophomore season. The New Jersey Devils prospect has a very projectable 6-foot-5 frame in the crease.
94. Tomas Mazura, RW, St. Lawrence: The big Edmonton Oilers prospect comes over to Providence College and no doubt the Saints will be happy to have him in the lineup as he continues to develop his game.
95. Dylan Duke, LW, Michigan: While he's not big, Duke knows where to go to find goals and he's not afraid to play in traffic to do it. The Tampa Bay Lightning pick had a solid freshman campaign with the Wolverines.
96. Charlie Leddy, D, Boston College: I really liked Leddy with the NTDP last year, even though it's not easy to stand out as a more defensive-oriented defenseman. Clearly the New Jersey Devils agreed when they drafted him this summer.
97. Tyler Kleven, D, North Dakota: We all know Kleven's game by now: nasty and physical. Entering his junior season with the program, no doubt the Ottawa Senators pick is hoping for a long tournament run.
98. Riley Duran, RW, Providence College: Coming off a solid summer world juniors, Duran has the chance to build off a nice frosh campaign as well. The Boston Bruins pick has size, speed and great work ethic.
99. Jakub Dobes, G, Ohio State: The Buckeyes got awesome goaltending from Dobes last year, as the Czech national posted three shutouts and a .934 save percentage. Look for more of the same from the Montreal Canadiens pick.
100. Jayden Struble, D, Northeastern: It's a big year for Struble, an effective two-way defenseman with a physical edge. He's a Montreal Canadiens pick on a Huskies team with high expectations.