(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Each season a fresh crop of talent becomes available after the college hockey season winds down. The NCAA players on teams that have been eliminated from postseason contention are now free to sign with NHL clubs. Over the past, the Golden Knights have acquired several collegiate puck handlers, including Zach Whitecloud, who has suited for 236 NHL games. Not every find is as impactful as Whitecloud but it’s an opportunity to take a chance on a low-risk investment. Since 2017, we have annually spotlighted some of college hockey’s best and brightest unsigned free agents.

Justin Hryckowian
Forward (5’10”, 194 lbs)
Northeastern University

The 23-year-old from Northeastern undeniably fits the Golden Knights mold. The true center can play on the wing and he backchecks. While at Northeastern, Hryckowian was known for his flexibility on both sides of the ice. Scouts credit the center for being one of the better penalty killers in college hockey and praise him for his net-front presence in the offensive zone. Let me highlight that again.

Hryckowian has the skill to make plays from the flank or the bumper position, but it’s his net front and crease area presence that leads to results. –Jason Bukala on Sportsnet.ca

Hryckowian will likely need time in Henderson to hone his skills and prove himself to the Golden Knights coaching staff. However, his maturity might be an advantage going into next season’s training camp. NHL coaches desire players who win board battles, go to the net, and show leadership. Hryckowian’s versatility should catch the eyes of several NHL clubs and Vegas could be one of them. Cassidy couldn’t ask for enough men that play bottom six minutes, add scoring, and kill off penalties.

Collin Graf
Forward (6’0″ 180 lbs)

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