Teams can't sign undrafted college free agents until after they've played the final game of their season, which is already the case for a few teams. Some candidates will have to wait until after the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship, which starts March 29. The Frozen Four will be held at KeyBank Center in Buffalo from April 11-13.
Players eligible to be signed must be at least 20 years old and have gone through the NHL Draft twice without being selected.
NHL.com takes a look at some of the top college free agents (in alphabetical order), some of whom already have signed with an NHL team, or could do so soon:
Robert Carpenter, F, Boston University; agreed to terms with New York Islanders
Carpenter, the son of former NHL forward Bobby Carpenter, agreed to terms on a two-year, entry-level contract with the Islanders that begins next season on March 26. He had 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in 27 games and was a co-captain for BU, which had its season end in a 2-1 overtime loss to Northeastern in the semifinals of the Hockey East tournament on March 22. Carpenter (5-foot-11, 200 pounds), who turns 23 on Aug. 16, attended development camps with the Islanders and New Jersey Devils last summer.
"The way he goes about his business, the guys can watch and pick up on how intense he is and how serious he is every day," Boston University coach Albie O'Connell said. "He's one of the first guys on the ice and one of the last guys off the ice."
Joseph Duszak, D, Mercyhurst; signed with Toronto Maple Leafs
Duszak (5-10, 185), a 21-year-old junior, signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 13 that will start next season; he will finish this season with Toronto of the American Hockey League on an amateur tryout contract. Mercyhurst's season ended with a loss to Army in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs March 9.
Despite not playing in nearly a month, he's third among NCAA defensemen with 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) in 37 games, and led Mercyhurst with four game-winning goals and 125 shots on goal. The right-shot played forward until he was 15, when he became a defenseman.
He's a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the most outstanding NCAA men's Division I player.
Taro Hirose, F, Michigan State; signed with Detroit Red Wings
The 22-year-old junior left wing is tied for the NCAA lead with 50 points (15 goals, 35 assists) in 36 games despite Michigan State's season ending in a loss to Notre Dame in the Big Ten tournament March 9. Hirose agreed to terms on a two-year entry-level contract with the Detroit Red Wings on March 12 and made his NHL debut March 19. Hirose (5-10, 160) was born in Winnipeg but raised in Calgary and models his game after Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau.
Hirose, regarded for his good speed, vision and quick hands, attended development camp with the Red Wings last summer and the Maple Leafs in 2017. He's a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award.
Jake Kielly, G, Clarkson; signed with Vancouver Canucks
The 6-foot-2, 201-pound junior signed a two-year entry-level contract April 1. He's second in the NCAA with 26 wins in 39 games (26-11 with two ties) and has a 1.91 goals-against average, five shutouts and .929 save percentage. He earned ECAC Hockey goaltender of the week honors three times this season. Clarkson's season ended with a loss against Notre Dame in the Northeast Regional of the NCAA Tournament on March 29.
The 22-year-old is one of 10 semifinalists for the Mike Richter Award, given to the top NCAA goalie.
Ryan Kuffner, F, Princeton; signed with Detroit Red Wings
Kuffner (6-1, 195), a 22-year-old senior left wing, led Princeton in goals (22) and points (44) in 31 games, and his average of 4.71 shots on goal per game remains second among NCAA players. He signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings on March 12. Princeton lost to Brown in the first round of the ECAC tournament March 9.
He leaves Princeton as its all-time leader with 75 goals, second with 152 points and first in games played with 132.
Mat Robson, G, Minnesota; signed with Minnesota Wild
The 22-year-old sophomore signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Wild on March 18. He was 14-12 with four ties, a 2.78 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage in 31 games. Minnesota's season ended with a loss to Notre Dame in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament March 16.
Prior to entering college, Robson (6-3, 190) led the British Columbia Hockey League in wins (35) and shutouts (six) and was second in GAA (1.94) and save percentage (.930) in 49 games for Penticton in 2016-17.
Jimmy Schuldt, D, St. Cloud State; signed with Vegas Golden Knights
Schuldt (6-1, 205), a 23-year-old senior, signed a one-year entry-level contract with the Vegas Golden Knights on April 3. Schultdt had attended Vegas' 2018 development camp. Schuldt led St. Cloud State defensemen with 35 points (10 goals, 25 assists), and was a plus-24 in 39 games. St. Cloud State lost to American International College in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on March 29.
The left-handed shot, who hasn't missed a game in his college career (156 straight games), is the all-time leader among St. Cloud State defensemen with 118 points (38 goals, 80 assists) and is in his third season as captain. He's also a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award for the second straight season.
Andrew Shortridge, G, Quinnipiac; signed with San Jose Sharks
The 23-year-old (6-4, 186) signed a one-year contract with the San Jose Sharks on April 3 and will finish the season with San Jose of the American Hockey League on an amateur tryout contract. Shortridge finished his junior season 18-7 with two ties. He leads NCAA goalies with a .940 save and is second with a 1.51 goals-against average in 27 games. He's also one of 10 semifinalists for the Mike Richter Award. His final game was Quinnipiac's loss to Minnesota Duluth in the Midwest Regional Final of the NCAA Tournament on March 31.
"It's hard to argue with the numbers," Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. "Slowly but surely he's taken it over. His game has elevated. He's always moved well but now he's ahead of the play and making it look easy."
Nico Sturm, F, Clarkson; signed with Minnesota Wild
The 6-3, 211-pound junior center signed a one-year entry-level contract with the Minnesota Wild on April 1. A co-captain, Sturm was named best defensive forward in the ECAC the past two seasons and is considered by some scouts to be the best defensive forward in NCAA hockey. He's tied for eighth among college players with 45 points (14 goals, 31 assists) in 39 games, and won 57.9 percent of his face-offs. His season ended with a loss to Notre Dame in the Northeast Regional of the NCAA Tournament on March 29.
A 23-year-old native of Augsburg, Germany, Sturm is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
Max Veronneau, F, Princeton; signed with Ottawa Senators
The 23-year-old senior right wing had 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 31 games. Princeton lost to Brown in the first round of the ECAC tournament March 9, and the Ottawa native signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators on March 12, and made his NHL debut March 14.
"He's someone where you have confidence as a coach when he's on the ice that things are going to be done well because he's very consistent in his habits, does things extremely well and repeats that over and over again," Princeton coach Ron Fogarty said. "That's why he's going to be a pro hockey player."
Veronneau (6-0, 180) took part in rookie camp with the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017.
Josh Wilkins, F, Providence
Wilkins (5-11, 181), a 21-year-old junior, leads Providence with 45 points (19 goals, 26 assists) in 39 games and is tied for first with seven power-play goals. Providence plays Minnesota Duluth in the Frozen Four on April 11.
A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, the left-shot center took part in Carolina Hurricanes rookie camp in 2016. He was invited to development camps for five NHL teams in 2017 but was unable to attend any of them because of a shoulder injury.