by Corey Pronman
The college FA signings will start soon and while I won’t be able to cover every signing, on players I am able to cover those notes will be posted here.
Kellan Lain, Center, Vancouver Canucks (Lake Superior):
Lain is an older than usual Junior, a 23 year old who turns 24 in July. His main asset is his physical game, at 6′6′’ 222 not only is he tall and strong but tough as well. He’s a big center who can win battles and make opposing defensemen aware of his presence on the ice. He also skates at a decent level for a man his size. Lain doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive upside, notching 39 points over 108 NCAA games, but he does have some defensive value and I think he can stay at center at the pro level. He actually led Lake Superior in face off % this season, winning 56% of his 571 draws. That’s not a great sample, but it is nevertheless intriguing.
Andrej Sustr, Defense, Tampa Bay Lightning (Nebraska-Omaha):
Sustr is a very toolsy prospect with significant upside although with some risk as well. The 22 year old Junior was on the third All-WCHA team this season, notching 25 points in 39 games, putting him top 20 in NCAA scoring for defensemen. His skating is average, but notably above-average for a 6′8′’ defenseman. His mobility has seen significant advancements in the last 12-24 months. He’s a good puck-mover too, showing nice touch with the puck and the offensive instincts to make unusual offensive plays for a player his size. For Nebraska-Omaha on the man advantage I’ve seen him be used in front of the net as a screen or a primary quarterback up high. This combo of traits make Sustr a very desirable asset with the potential to be a #3 if not a #2 defenseman. He is not a player without warts though, for one even though he’s a huge player with a good wingspan, he isn’t all that physical. His decisions in both ends, while not a major issue, could use some work as he can make the odd bad turnover or be off with his positioning.
Danny DeKeyser, Defense, Detroit Red Wings (Western Michigan):
DeKeyser is the top player of this college free agent class and would have been so last year had he not decided to go back to school. DeKeyser is the two-time best defensive defenseman in the CCHA and was named to the CCHA’s first All Star team. Some may wonder when you look at his numbers — 49 points in 118 NCAA games, 15 points in 35 games this season — and ask what all the hype is about; and it is because he has such great defensive value. DeKeyser has high-end hockey sense, good if not great mobility and a big frame that he’s not afraid to use. Given how well he processes the game, how many defensive stops he makes, the low amount of errors he commits, and where he is in his physical development, it is conceivable the 23 year old DeKeyser could step into the NHL right away upon being signed. He does have average offensive ability as a puck mover, and could potentially play a 2nd power play unit on a non elite team. His potential is that of a good #3 defenseman with a low amount of risk on that projection.