It’s officially college free-agency season. And this year’s crop of NCAA unrestricted free agents is not short on intrigue.
College free agents are players who were never drafted and are no longer eligible to be drafted. Most are in their early 20s, meaning they’re about as physically developed as they’re going to get, and they have a few extra years of high-level training. Most will end up being depth additions to NHL clubs.
This year’s top prize is big forward Nico Sturm, who had a breakout season at Clarkson a year ago and built off of it as a junior this past season. Here’s a look at Sturm and the rest of a group who will get interest from scouts around the NHL as college seasons come to an end.
1. Nico Sturm, C, Clarkson
Sturm should garner a lot of offers as soon as Clarkson gets bounced. There’s a lot to like about a 6-foot-3 forward who can skate. The 23-year-old junior from Germany is having his best collegiate season, with 41 points through 34 games. He also is renowned around the ECAC for his defensive play, having won the league’s best defensive forward award following the 2017-18 season.
It’s easy to see why NHL teams will want his services. Sturm is responsible, can play with some power, anticipates plays well and brings a great work ethic to the ice every shift. The size factor is obviously a big one, but the versatility he has shown the past two seasons is bigger. Sturm likely plays a depth role on whichever team signs him, but cheap depth is a hot commodity.