It's all coming together for David Farrance of Boston University.
The 20-year-old junior has emerged as one of the most dynamic offensive defensemen in college hockey this season. He is tied for the lead among Division I players with eight power-play goals, and first among defensemen in goals with 10. He is also tied for fifth in points among all players with 19 in 14 games.
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round (No. 92) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Farrance has always had loads of potential, but even some of his biggest supporters didn't expect this level of production after he scored a total of seven goals in his first two seasons.
"It's not a surprise that he continues to develop, but I don't think we all would have predicted that he'd be scoring at the rate that he is,'' said Jeff Kealty, assistant general manager and director of scouting for the Predators. "He's always been, progressively, a good offensive player at the college level and we expected him to take another step this year. I think his success is just a result of him maturing overall.''
Farrance (5-foot-11, 189 pounds) played for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program before enrolling at BU.
He had a breakout weekend early this month against Providence College, scoring twice in a 3-3 tie on Nov. 8 and scoring a hat trick and an assist in a 6-5 loss the next night. He dominated possession in the second game with eight shots on goal and 15 shot attempts.
"He's in the best shape that he's been in. He's always been a really good skater, an elite skater,'' said Kealty. "In top shape, you're seeing another level, the way he carries pucks up ice and gets into the offense. It's just an all-around maturity that's going on with him.''
Defensive play is a part of Farrance's game that needs work, but he is improving.
"He's come a long way. We still want to see him make strides in terms of really bearing down and defending and eliminating plays in his own end,'' Kealty said. "But, again, with that type of skating ability, you're able to do a lot of different things, not just offensively. You're able to cover ground and defend the rush and defend top players. We're looking for him to continue to evolve in that area.''
If Farrance continues to put up big numbers this season, he'll be in the mix for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given annually to the best player in NCAA hockey.
"It's tough to say that he'll score at this rate, but I think he's going to continue to be a very productive guy,'' Kealty said.
Noah Cates of the University of Minnesota Duluth is delivering on the power play.
The sophomore left wing has scored eight of his 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 14 games on the man advantage.
The 20-year-old assisted on two power-play goals, one of which was scored by his older brother, Jackson, in a 4-3 win against Colorado College on Nov. 22. He scored twice on the power play (each with an assist from Jackson) and added a power-play assist in a 5-0 win over Colorado the next day.
Cates (6-1, 165) was selected in the fifth round (No. 137) of the 2018 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Tanner Laczynski is making the most of his senior season at Ohio State University.
Hard to move off the puck and possessing an excellent shot, the 22-year-old center scored a goal and won 15 of 20 face-offs in a 5-4 loss to Penn State on Nov. 22, then scored a goal and had one assist in a 4-3 victory over Penn State the next day.
Laczynski (6-1, 190) was selected in the sixth round (No. 169) by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2016 NHL Draft. His 13 points (four goals, nine assists) is tied for the OSU scoring lead with Gustaf Westlund.
Beecher finding his groove
Freshman center Johnny Beecher (6-3, 210) scored the University of Michigan's first goal on a power play and added an empty-net goal in a 4-1 win at the University of New Hampshire on Nov. 22.
The 18-year-old was selected in the first round (No. 30) of the 2019 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins.
A candidate to play for the United States at the World Junior Championship next month, Beecher leads Michigan with eight points (four goals, four assists).
Madden sets pace
After scoring 12 goals in 36 games last season, Northeastern sophomore Tyler Madden has 11 this season, which is tied for the NCAA lead.
The 20-year-old center has 19 points (11 goals, eight assists) in 14 games and is tied with Griffin Loughran of the University of Northern Michigan and Tyce Thompson of Providence College for the goal-scoring lead.
Madden (5-11, 152) was selected in the third round (No. 68) of the 2018 draft by the Vancouver Canucks.
He scored a hat trick and had an assist in a 5-2 win against the University of Maine on Nov. 22 and added an assist when Northeastern completed its sweep with a 3-2 victory the next day.