NCAA and European free agents update: Which names we’re hearing connected to the Canucks
Photo credit:© Adam Cairns/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK
By Faber8 months ago
The signing season for NCAA and European free agents is upon us.
European teams have begun their playoffs and the NCAA just had their selection Sunday yesterday and have regionals going on this Thursday and Saturday to determine the four teams to compete in the Frozen Four tournament on April 6th and 8th.
We heard some names connected to the Canucks over the weekend and want to bring them up while giving a quick breakdown of the player.
Let’s get into it.
NCAA Free Agents
We will begin with two names from Cornell.
Right-shot defenceman Sam Malinski is the name we hear increasingly connected to the Vancouver Canucks. They have made visits to see him play and have been impressed with his play in big games this season with Cornell. Malinski is an excellent puck-mover from the backend and will surely be contacted by multiple NHL organizations when his season is over.
The other name from Cornell that we’ve heard in relation to the Canucks is centre Max Andreev (or Maxim Andreyev).
Andreev may not have numbers that pop off his EliteProspects page but he’s the type of guy who you need to watch play to fully understand how impactful he can be.
Andreev may be the best defensive centre in the NCAA and has won 54% of his faceoffs over the past two seasons. We’ve heard the Canucks have shown some interest.
Cornell plays their Sweet 16 game against #4-ranked Denver on Thursday. Denver is the defending champion of the NCAA and will be a tough matchup for Cornell.
We might see Malinski and Andreev sign with an NHL team by the end of the week.
The whole top line of Western Michigan should land NHL contracts if they all decide to come out this season. Left winger Ryan McAllister, centre Max Sasson, and right winger Jason Polin are all players to watch over the next week.
Western Michigan has a Sweet 16 matchup with #5-ranked Boston University on Thursday, and that’s a tough task for the Mustangs.
McAllister is a 21-year-old and can still be looked at as a young prospect for an NHL team. McAllister lit up the AJHL in 2021-22 with 67 goals and 82 points in 60 games. He then jumped into the NCAA and had a great freshman season with 13 goals and 35 assists in 38 games.
We’ve heard the Canucks are a team to watch with McAllister but have also heard that he is not certain if he will go pro after this season. It’s rare to see a one-and-done in NCAA hockey when a player isn’t a high draft pick but McAllister may be an exception.
Centre Max Sasson is a name to watch as well. He is a Dan Milstein client and we all know how that goes with the Canucks.
Right winger Polin is one of the 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award for the NCAA’s best hockey player this season. He had a great season with 29 goals and 17 assists for 46 points in 38 games.
We haven’t heard Polin’s name come up in regards to being connected to the Canucks but we have heard McAllister and Sasson as players the Canucks have interest in.
Finally, for the NCAA updates, Minnesota State (Mankato) has a tough matchup in the Sweet 16 and that means that the unicorn Jake Livingstone’s NCAA career may be coming to an end.
Mankato matches up against #7-ranked St. Cloud State on Thursday.
The Canucks are one of the many teams in on BC-boy Livingstone and we could see them target winger Brendan Furry or left-shot defenceman Akito Hirose as well.
European Free Agents
Over the weekend we were told to keep an eye on a pair of SHL defencemen when it comes to the Canucks and their venture into the European free agency market.
That same source gave us four other names to watch for in terms of landing NHL contracts, so let’s get into those names.
The two names we heard connected to the Canucks were defencemen Hardy Häman Aktell and Filip Berglund. Both players are former draft picks who struggled in their 18-23 years and have now seen an uptick in their play as their mid-twenties are upon them.
Häman Aktell is a 24-year-old, 6’4″ left-shot defenceman who more than doubled his production from last season in the SHL. He finished this year with nine goals and 27 assists in 51 regular season games and has added a goal and two assists through three SHL playoff games.
Berglund is a 25-year-old 6’3″, right-shot defenceman and he has just totalled up eight goals and six assists through 52 regular season games with Örebro in the SHL. He has added a goal and an assist in two playoff games and we know that the Canucks value what a player can do in the big moments like the SHL playoffs.
The other names we heard to watch for from the SHL are right-shot defencemen Jakob Stenqvist and Samuel Johannesson. We haven’t heard anything related to the Canucks on these two but they should be players who are in the mix to earn NHL contracts.
Johannesson had a heck of a season. He is 22 years old and finished the year with eight goals and 24 assists. Johannesson is a 2020 draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets but is not on their reserve list, so we are looking for further confirmation there on his signing eligibility.
We were also told to watch for two wingers signing NHL contracts, hopefully not with the Canucks because of their current winger situation.
Marcus Sylvegård and Linus Öberg are both under the age of 24 and show well defensively in the SHL. Sylvegård was the better scorer this season, totalling up 17 goals and 24 assists over 52 games.
I spoke about this on today’s episode of Canucks Conversation LIVE if you’d like to check it out there.
Be sure to subscribe to the CanucksArmy YouTube page and come hang out with us Monday to Friday at 1:00 pm on YouTube. The live chat is always a ton of fun and we’d love to see you there!
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