Photo credits: Rob Rasmussen (Tufto), Mark Kuhlmann (Kawaguchi)
With the college hockey regular season ending a few weeks ago and teams being eliminated from the national tournament last weekend, there has been a recent flurry of NCAA players signings pro contracts.
Eight of these players are BCHL alumni and every one of them signed with an NHL team. Six of the players left college early to sign pro, while the other two signed on after their senior season.
Alex Newhook – Colorado Avalanche
Newhook was one of Canada’s best players at the 2021 World Juniors and ended the tournament with six points in six games. He missed the start of the college season due to the tournament and a lingering shoulder injury, which limited him to 12 NCAA games this year, but he still managed to contribute 16 points. Last year, in his freshman season, Newhook had 42 points in 34 games and won the Tim Taylor Award as college hockey’s top rookie.
The St. John’s, N.L. product also enjoyed a successful BCHL career, totaling 168 points in 98 regular-season games over his two seasons in Victoria. He won the Bruce Allison Memorial Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2017-18, but took his game to another level the following season where he notched 102 points in 53 games to take home the Brett Hull Trophy as the league’s leading scorer. That same season, he won the Vern Dye Memorial Trophy as the BCHL’s Most Valuable Player and was named the CJHL’s MVP and Top Forward.
Jordan Kawaguchi – Dallas Stars
Kawaguchi finished his impressive four-year career with North Dakota last weekend having put up 126 points in 136 games. This year, he was named an NCHC First-Team All-Star, but last year was probably his most impressive campaign. In 2019-20, Kawaguchi exploded with 45 points in 33 contests and was a Hobey Hat Trick Finalist.
The 23-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C. played four full seasons with Chilliwack from 2013 to 2017, notching 242 points in 215 regular-season games and another 82 in 55 playoff games. Kawaguchi finished second in league scoring in 2016-17 with 85 points in 55 games and was named a First-Team All-Star.
Mike Hardman – Chicago Blackhawks
Hardman was a point producer right from the get-go at Boston College. The 22-year-old from Hanover, Mass. had 25 points in 34 games his first year and followed that up this year with another impressive campaign, putting up 19 points in 24 contests.
Hardman played one season in West Kelowna in 2018-19 and was dominant, notching 72 points to finish third in league scoring, including 39 goals, which put him second in the league in that category.
Odeen Tufto – Tampa Bay Lightning
Tufto registered at least 38 points in all four of his college seasons, but his senior year was the most impressive as he finished second in the NCAA with 47 points in 29 games. He was named the ECAC Hockey Player of the Year and was a Top-10 Finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. He finishes his college career with 168 points in 139 games.
Tufto played the 2015-16 season in Vernon where he led the team in goals (25), assists (40) and points (65).
Layton Ahac – Vegas Golden Knights
College team: Ohio State University
BCHL team: Prince George Spruce Kings
Draft status: Drafted in the third round by the Golden Knights in 2019
Assignment: Will report to the Henderson Silver Knights of the AHL
Ahac played two years at Ohio State and started to chip in offensively his sophomore season, finishing the year with a goal and eight assists in 27 games.
From North Vancouver, B.C., Ahac was with the Prince George Spruce Kings for two seasons from 2017 to 2019 and was a key part of the team’s dominant run to the 2019 Fred Page Cup championship. The 20-year-old contributed at a point-per-game clip during the 2019 playoffs, finishing the Spruce Kings 16-1 run with five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 17 postseason games.
Angus Crookshank – Ottawa Senators
College team: University of New Hampshire
BCHL team: Langley Rivermen
Draft status: Drafted in the fifth round by the Senators in 2018
Assignment: Will report to the Belleville Senators of the AHL
Crookshank was a Hockey East Third-Team All-Star this year after registering nine goals and nine assists for 18 points in 20 games. He wraps up his college career with 63 points in 90 games.
The 21-year-old from North Vancouver, B.C. played two full seasons in Langley from 2016 to 2018. Crookshank finished his BCHL career with 67 points in 77 regular-season games. He also played in the 2017 World Junior A Challenge for Canada West and finished second in team scoring with five points in five games en route to a gold medal.
Seth Barton – Detroit Red Wings
Barton was productive in all three of his seasons with UMass-Lowell, racking up 29 assists and adding seven goals in 83 career games.
The 21-year-old Kelowna, B.C. native played one full BCHL season with the Trail Smoke Eaters in 2017-18 where he finished in the top-20 in defencemen scoring with 33 points in 49 games. He is another player who won a gold medal playing for Canada West at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge.
Adam Scheel – Dallas Stars
College team: North Dakota
BCHL team: Penticton Vees
Draft status: Undrafted
Assignment: Will report to the Texas Stars of the AHL
Scheel grew into one of college hockey’s best goaltenders over his three-year stint at North Dakota. This past season was by far his best, posting a 20-4-1 record, a .931 save percentage and a 1.74 goals-against average, along with four shutouts. Scheel was named NCHC Goaltender of the Year and a conference First-Team All-Star, all while leading UND to the Penrose Cup as the conference’s top regular-season team and an NCHC tournament championship.
Scheel had a 19-12-3 record in 2017-18 with Penticton and was named a Second-Team All-Star after finishing with the second-best goals-against average in the league with a mark of 2.08 and the fourth-highest save percentage at .927.