As the 2012 NCAA Men's Frozen Four gets underway later this week, it is time to look back on some recent NCAA Champions to see where key players from those teams have gone on to make an impact in the NHL.
Joe Pavelski As a sophomore, he led Wisconsin in scoring with 56 points (23g, 33a) in 2005-06. Turned pro in the Sharks organization following Wisconsin’s NCAA championship season. Currently in his sixth NHL season, Pavelski reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career in late March.
Brian Elliott Goalie who backstopped the Badgers by going 25-5-3, with a 1.55 goals-against average and .938 save percentage. After spending his early NHL seasons with Ottawa and Colorado, he has found a home this season with the St. Louis Blues, who he represented at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game.
Adam Burish The Badgers second-line center who has gone on to an NHL career with Chicago and Dallas, most notably serving as one of the top checkers on the Stanley Cup-winning Blackhawks in 2010. Had 33 points (9g, 24a) with the Badgers in 2005-06.
2003-04 and 2004-05 Denver Pioneers
Matt Carle Defenseman who would later win the Hobey Baker Award in 2006, prior to starting an NHL career where he’s played for the Lightning, San Jose Sharks and his current team, the Philadelphia Flyers. Won his pair of NCAA championships as a freshman and sophomore, before turning pro following his Hobey Baker Award-winning season as a junior.
Paul Stastny Son of Hockey Hall of Famer Peter Stastny who was drafted by the hometown Colorado Avalanche following Denver’s second straight NCAA championship in 2005. Was the leading scorer on the 2003-04 Pioneers and second leading scorer on the 2004-05 team, prior to leading the Avalanche in scoring in 2007-08 and 2009-10.
2001-02 and 2002-03 Minnesota Golden Gophers
Thomas Vanek Only a member of the 2002-03 Minnesota championship team,which he led in scoring with 62 points (31g, 31a). Was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres in the first round (fifth overall) the June after his championship-winning season with Minnesota. Has been a regular with the Sabres since the start of the 2005-06 season.
Jordan Leopold Defensive anchor of the 2001-02 Minnesota NCAA championship team. Won the Hobey Baker Award in 2002 and joined the Calgary Flames the following year. Has gone on to play for almost a decade in the NHL with Calgary, Colorado, Florida, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.
Paul Martin Mainstay on both the 2001-02 and 2002-03 championship teams at Minnesota. After combining for 87 points during his first three collegiate seasons, he joined the New Jersey Devils after Minnesota’s second straight NCAA championship and is currently in his second season with the Pittsburgh Penguins.