Report: Vancouver Canucks are frontrunners to sign NCAA free agent Cole McWard
Photo credit:Feb 18, 2023; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defenseman Cole McWard (3) celebrates scoring a goal with forward Joe Dunlap (21) and forward Patrick Guzzo (71) during second period of the Faceoff on the Lake outdoor NCAA men s hockey game against the Michigan Wolverines at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-The Columbus Dispatch
By Mike Gould1 month ago
The Vancouver Canucks are among the frontrunners to sign undrafted Ohio State Buckeyes defenceman Cole McWard, Vancouver hockey insider Rick Dhaliwal reported Tuesday.
McWard, 21, recorded nine goals and 21 points in 39 games as a sophomore with the Buckeyes during the 2022–23 season. Dhaliwal indicated that McWard is expected to make his decision soon.
McWard hails from Fenton, Mo., and played for the USHL’s Tri-City Storm before making the jump to the NCAA with the Buckeyes in the 2021–22 season.
The six-foot-one defenceman, who shoots right, collected four goals and 16 points in 36 games as a freshman at Ohio State. As a sophomore, he tied for sixth place among all Buckeye skaters in both goals and points (and led Ohio State defencemen in both categories).
The Canucks have already been extremely active in the NCAA free agent market this spring, having added Western Michigan forward Max Sasson and Minnesota State – Mankato defenseman Akito Hirose to their stable thus far.
McWard would be eligible to follow one of two pathways with the Canucks. He could either join the NHL club immediately on an entry-level contract, burning the first year in the process, or he could defer his ELC to next year and join the American Hockey League’s Abbotsford Canucks on an amateur tryout deal.
Ohio State’s 2022–23 men’s hockey season ended on Mar. 26 with a 4–1 loss to No. 2 national seed Quinnipiac in the Bridgeport Regional Final. Through 75 games over his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Buckeyes, McWard collected 13 goals and 37 points.
The Canucks will return to action at 7:00 p.m. PT on Tuesday to take on the Seattle Kraken at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
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