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Ten players to watch in the NCAA men’s Frozen Four on TSN+


The 2024 NCAA men’s Frozen Four is here as four of the best schools in the United States face off for the national championship, starting on Thursday.

The first semifinal on the slate features No. 2 seed Boston University taking on No. 3 Denver, followed by No. 1 ranked Boston College taking on Michigan for a spot in the title game.

Watch Denver take on Boston University LIVE on Thursday at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT followed by Michigan vs. Boston College at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT. Subscribe to watch on TSN+.

From potential top 10 picks in this year’s draft to some of the best drafted prospects in hockey, this year’s Frozen Four is not short on elite talent.

Ryan Leonard/Will Smith/Gabe Perreault – Boston College

The Boston College Eagles did not lose often in 2023-24 and the top line of Ryan Leonard, Will Smith and Gabe Perreault is a big reason why.

The trio played together last season with the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) and parlayed that success into being drafted into the NHL, with Smith going fourth overall to the San Jose Sharks, Leonard eighth to the Washington Capitals and Perreault 23rd overall to the New York Rangers.

In their first college season, Smith led the team and nation in scoring with 23 goals and 69 points. Leonard added 31 goals and 59 points, while Perreault notched 18 goals and 57 points. They also helped lead the United States to gold at the 2024 World Juniors.

“In my view, last year when they were at the NTDP they were the best line outside the NHL,” said TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button of the trio. “Now they’ve gone to BC, the No. 1 team in the country [and] they are still the best line outside the NHL.

“Whatever challenges have been in front of them, they’ve crushed it.”

Cutter Gauthier – Boston College

Gauthier’s rights being traded from the Philadelphia Flyers to the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 8 overshadowed what has been a strong sophomore season.

The 20-year-old forward was second on Boston College in scoring with 37 goals and 64 points and is a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award as the top collegiate men’s hockey player.

He had two goals and 12 points to help lead the Americans to gold at the World Juniors and was named best forward for his efforts.

“[He’ll do] anything in the game,” said Button, who had Gauthier at No. 1 on his top 50 NHL-affiliated prospects list. “[He’ll] kill penalties, make plays, score goals, makes other players better, his confidence is great.”

Macklin Celebrini – Boston University

Celebrini is the favourite to be selected first overall in this year’s draft after a strong rookie NCAA season as a 17-year-old.

The Vancouver, B.C. native had 32 goals and 64 points in 37 regular-season games to finish third in NCAA scoring.

ContentId(1.2096415): Craig's List: Who comes after Celebrini?

He is one of three Hobey Baker finalists along with Gauthier and North Dakota’s Jackson Blake.

“When I watch Macklin play, the word that comes to mind is command, his command of the game,” said Button. “The maturity he possesses as a 17-year-old shouldn’t belong to a 17-year-old.

“His command at 17 years of age, it’s rare. It’s not unprecedented because I saw the same thing from [Sidney] Crosby, [Jonathan] Toews. This is a rare player.”

Lane Hutson – Boston University

After an impressive rookie season in 2022-23, Hutson continued to succeed as a sophomore.

He finished as the top-scoring defenceman in the nation with 15 goals and 49 points in 37 games. He was also part of the golden United States team at the World Juniors.

“I’m going to start calling him ‘The Magician’,” said Button. “His sleight of hand is so deceptive. We talk about his processing speed, it’s Silicon Valley. Next-generation processor. Whatever the next chip is, he’s got it.”

“He’s going to be a good player in the NHL. I don’t have any doubt about it.”

Hutson was drafted in the second round (62nd overall) by the Montreal Canadiens at the 2022 NHL Draft.

Rutger McGroarty – University of Michigan

McGroarty missed time earlier in the season after he suffered a punctured lung and fractured rib in mid-November, but he recovered in time to captain the United States to World Junior gold.

Drafted 14th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in 2022, he had a career high 52 points in 35 games in his sophomore season at Michigan.

“He’s the heartbeat of the team,” said Button of McGroarty. “He’s got his finger on the pulse of the game. Whatever is needed, he just seemingly is able to deliver – a key faceoff, a net-front battle, a puck battle in the corner, a penalty kill, a shot block, a big hit, a goal. He’s always right there. He’s a big-play player.

“He’s another one of those smiling assassins. He’s got this great big smile, this ability to endear himself to people. Don’t be fooled. He’s a killer at heart.”

Gavin Brindley – University of Michigan

Brindley, 19, is coming off a year where he took his game to new heights.

In his second season at Michigan, the centre had 25 goals and 53 points in 39 games, more than doubling his goal total of 12 from 2022-23.

He also had six goals and 10 points with Team USA en route to gold at the World Juniors. 

“He’s a Brendan Gallagher-type player in my view,” said Button. “You can knock them down, you can battle them, you can push them and everything, he’s just coming back [for more]. You cannot deter that young man.

“Oh, and by the way, he’s got some pretty darn good skills.”

Brindley was a second-round selection (34th overall) by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2023.

Zeev Buium – University of Denver

Like Celebrini, Buium is also eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft after a strong freshman NCAA season.

Buium was second in the country in defenceman scoring with 11 goals and 49 points in 40 games at Denver.

He was also the only draft-eligible player for the Americans at the World Juniors where he had three goals and five points.

“The way he skates and the way he controls play, the college game can be a little frenzied and chaotic at times, yet when he plays the game, he’s got the ability to stay composed,” said Button, who had Buium at No. 4 on his March draft rankings.

“He stays in the moment, and he stays composed. That to me is a big indicator of being able to translate success to the NHL.”

Jack Devine – University of Denver

A seventh-round pick (221st overall) by the Florida Panthers at the 2022 NHL Draft, Devine has had a notable progression playing at Denver. 

As a junior this season, the winger had 27 goals and 56 points in 42 games, a notable jump up from his 14-goal, 31-point campaign in 2022-23.

“He’s got a game that is similar in style to Corey Perry,” said Button. “Wherever the action is, he’s in the middle of it.”

In his rookie year in 2021-22, Devine helped Denver win a national championship as the Pioneers aim for their second national title in three seasons.

“He has a real opportunity to play in the NHL,” said Button. “His improvement has been tremendous. A lot of admiration for that young man. Always had the work ethic, the drive but now the development has been really significant.”