Neutral Zone Unveils Top-10 NCAA Hockey Recruiting Classes of 2019

For the second time in four years, Boston University had its recruiting class ranked No. 1 by Neutral Zone for the 2019-20 season.

Neutral Zone has ranked the top-10 recruiting classes in college hockey since 2016.

In the top spot, BU has added 11 players this fall, including three off the U.S. NTDP.

“Up front they have a lot of skill coming in lead by first-round pick Trevor Zegras and potent goal-scorer Robert Mastrosimone,” said Neutral Zone Director of Scouting Brendan Collins. “The class adds some size and some depth to the lineup and give their blue line an immediate upgrade.”

Right down the street on Comm. Ave in Chestnut Hill, Boston College comes in at No. 2 in our ranking. The Eagles add Matt Boldy, Spencer Knight and Alex Newhook to its roster this season.

“BC has a smaller class with eight commits, but half the class comes from NTDP, including two first-round picks in Matt Boldy and Spencer Knight to go along with first-rounder Alex Newhook out of the BCHL,” Collins said. “That means three of their eight incoming freshmen were first-round picks. It’s a young class, but they are all skilled, they have the size and arguably the most talented goalie prospect to enter the league since Rick Dipietro.”

Minnesota, who was ranked No. 1 in our ranking last season, checks in with the No. 3-ranked recruiting class this season. The Gophers bring in 11 players this season.

“They added some experienced junior players with a proven track record like Ben Meyers but complemented with younger talent like Ryan Johnson, Jackson Lacombe and Jaxon Nelson,” said Collins. “Perbix and Brodzinski have major upside and while they don’t have as many blue-chip guys as recent classes, they have a balanced mix of styles and ages and backgrounds.”

Up next at No. 4 is an ultra-talented Wisconsin class that includes Alex Turcotte and Cole Caufield. The only thing that is keeping this class outside of the top-three is its size.

“When one of our scouts saw 5-star Cole Caufield (who was committed to Ohio St. at the time) playing for the U17s at the NAHL Showcase, he simply said ‘He will win the Hobey Baker his sophomore year,'” said Neutral Zone VP and Director of U.S. Scouting Brian Murphy. “Cole just scores. He is small and that could keep him in Madison longer to prepare for the NHL but his talents near the net are unmatched by anyone in this age group. He will help right away and let’s hope we get to see him for a couple of years at least. Fun to watch, he will quickly be a fan favorite in Madison.

“The Badgers also have another 5-star recruit in Alex Turcotte. He is prepared and plays a pro-style. The fifth pick in the draft, he plays in any situation. He uses his linemates well and works in his end. He’s another player who will make an immediate impact. He will score but also has the ability to help his team win without getting on the score sheet. Competetive and unique talent.”

Rounding out the top-five is Northeastern. The Huskies bring in a large class that has a lot of balance with Riley Hughes, T.J. Walsh and Jayden Struble among the marquee names.

“A handful of NHL draft picks and a healthy mix of grit and skill which has become their calling card,” Collins described the class, which also includes Michael Kesselring and some veteran junior players.

Michigan’s class is ranked No. 6, highlighted by 5-star recruit Cam York on the blue line and 4.75-star forward John Beecher; both were first-round picks this past summer.

“5-star Cam York, part of the fabled 2001 NTDP group leads this group,” Murphy said. “Picked No. 14 in this year’s NHL draft, all our scouts would have taken him much higher. He is smart, talented and his feet are elite. He starts transition with ease and will be a factor right away at both ends. One of the very best newcomers to college hockey.

“4.25 star Emil Ohrvall played a season at RPI, then in the USHL last season where he put up impressive numbers. He can score and the 1998 has the experience it takes to step in and help. He has a wicked shot and great instincts in the offensive zone. Knows when to pass and when to shoot.

“4.75 star Johnny Beecher snuck into the first round with the Bruins grabbing him. Really big, fast center has impressed in Bruins’ camps but must find the consistency to make an impact at this level. Lots and lots of talent.” See out NHL NZ article on him here

Providence has regularly taken up residency in our top-10 and the Friars return this season at No. 7, bringing in 12 new players.

“They don’t have the blue chips they have had in previous years’ classes, but they had a lot of chairs to fill,” Collins said. “The two most talented are likely youngster Cameron McDonald and Patrick Moynihan but they are complimented with eight other prospects out of the USHL. They brought in a mix of 18, 19, 20 and 21-year-old freshmen and while most their class comes out of the USHL, they have a range of diverse skill sets; some are big and tough, some are small and skilled, some are smart and creative. It’ll take some time to get them settled, but a deep core.”

Merrimack — yes, that’s right — checks in with the No. 8-ranked recruiting class. Second-year head coach Scott Borek is bringing in the largest class in the country with 16 freshmen.

“Merrimack has completely rebuilt their roster,” Collins said. “They have added size, speed and depth to their lineup. Defenseman Declan Carlile is their best overall prospect and Joe Cassetti is an immediate impact forward. They have an older recruiting class than the other teams ranked above them.”

Nebraska Omaha was ranked No. 9 in our rankings. The Mavs bring in another big class with 12 new players. One of the top players in this class is a goaltender, Isaiah Saville, who is a Vegas draft pick and could land the starting job.

“He should have a good shot to be the starter as the Mavericks struggled in the net and graduated their starter,” Murphy said. “From one of our reports: The lefty Saville ‘has size, he makes effortless slides across the net, he has a quick glove hand and controls his rebounds. He’s squared up, takes away the angle and was able to reset after making the initial save in order to make the rebound or second chance save.'”

St. Cloud State rounds out our top-10 ranking with the No. 10 spot. The Huskies are overhauling a roster that was one of the best in college hockey last season, bringing in 12 new faces after a huge graduating class this past spring.

“They have two goalies and two defensemen and the rest are forwards so they’ll be looking for the class to score,” Collins said. “They have a mix of junior leagues with five different leagues represented. They are a bit on the older side but a talented and deep core.”

Neutral Zone ranks the classes using a proprietary algorithm. Neutral Zone created the algorithm that ranks NCAA team recruiting classes based mostly on the individual players in the class’ star rating but it also weighs the age of the player, the league they come out of and position. For example, success rates of a player coming out of the USHL are different than a player coming out of the CCHL so there is a weight assigned to each league.

“While we can’t divulge too much of our secret sauce, two factors that are important to keep in mind is that total points are an aggregate score and how the teams are ranked but it’s not necessarily a representation of who has the most talent,” Collins said. “For example, teams like Wisconsin and Michigan have star rating averages of 4.36 and 4.42 but are ranked below Minnesota and BU which have 4.09 and 4.14 star rating averages. Minnesota State is ranked 12th with a star rating average of 4.04 whereas Merrimack is rated 8th with a star rating average of 3.75. This is because Merrimack is bringing in 14 freshman whereas Minnesota State is bringing in just 6. While Minnesota State’s players might be a higher caliber than Merrimacks, the sheer number of Merrimack’s class will likely produce more games played, more points, more time on ice than Minnesota’s freshman class and therefore why the rankings are based on aggregate score and not average scores.”

2019 Top College Hockey Recruiting Classes
Rankings by Neutral Zone

  1. Boston University
  2. Boston College
  3. Minnesota
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Northeastern
  6. Michigan
  7. Providence
  8. Merrimack
  9. Nebraska-Omaha
  10. St. Cloud State