With the seasons of some NCAA teams already concluded and conference postseason tournaments wrapping this weekend, the exodus of free agents from the college hockey ranks already is well under way.
On Tuesday, UMass-Amherst sophomore forward Casey Wellman
(23 goals, 45 points in 36 games this season; 34 goals, 44 assists in two seasons with the Minutemen), signed with the Minnesota Wild
, and Northeastern freshman defenseman Jake Newton
(9 goals, 13 assists this season with the Huskies) signed with the Anaheim Ducks
Wellman, 22, already was on his way to meet his new Wild teammates Wednesday and could dress for the Wild when they play at Nashville Thursday.
"You're going to see a lot of NHL and AHL rosters flooded with college free agent signings in the next few weeks," one NHL amateur scout told NHL.com Wednesday. "There's plenty of players out there, and with their seasons coming to a close, teams will want to fill out their AHL rosters or if they've secured a playoff position or not going to make the playoffs, they will use NHL playing time as a recruiting tool and find a way to get these kids into the lineup for their NHL club."
With that in mind, here is a look at some of the players who could join Wellman and Newton"
James Marcou, UMass-Amherst
-- Wellman's linemate, Marcou has blossomed into a coveted prospect during his three college seasons. With 96 assists over the last three seasons, Marcou, 22, is the all-time leader in that category for UMass, and he also led the team in scoring the last three seasons with 130 points. The 5-foot-7, 155-pound forward may be a bit on the small side, but he is crafty and savvy on the ice, and with the current NHL environment, players like him can succeed in the NHL with speed and finesse.
Jarod Palmer, Miami
-- Since he is a senior, Palmer is certain to be leaving the college ranks. He already has amassed 136 points in four seasons. Palmer, 24, easily is the most NHL-ready prospect, and with a 6-foot-1, 195-pound frame and experience, he should be signed by an NHL club once Miami's run in the NCAA Tournament concludes.
Stephane Da Costa, Merrimack
-- Another forward to keep an eye on is French native Da Costa. The 22-year old freshman started his college career with a 5-point game and never looked back, finishing with 30 assists and 46 points. The belief among scouts is the 5-11, 170-pound Da Costa will make his decision after he plays for France in the World Championships next month.
Calle Ridderwall, Notre Dame
-- The junior forward from Sweden is a hot name out there. Ridderwall, who turns 22 in May, has 66 points in three seasons for the Irish and has impressed scouts with his work ethic and aggressiveness.
Lee Baldwin, Alaska-Anchorage
-- At 6-3 and 203 pounds, NHL scouts are drooling over the potential of this freshman defenseman. There is room for him to grow physically and in terms of his on-ice game, but if Baldwin, who had 9 points this season, wants to forgo his final three seasons, the option will be there. He has the potential to become a great puck-moving defenseman, and with his size, that's a rare combination all NHL teams desire.
Cam MacIntyre, Princeton
– A darkhorse from the Ivy League, MacIntyre has great potential, but the 24-year-old had an injury-riddled college career. But at 6-1 and 220 pounds, he has all the makings of a power forward.
Cam Talbot, Alabama-Huntsville
-- The goaltender turns 23 in June and stands 6-3 and 185 pounds. He was 12-17-3 with a 2.62 GAA and .924 save percentage this season. His record may be average, but he was sensational in the final CHA Tournament, making 43 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against Niagara in the championship game.