WAKEFIELD, Mass. - A record 79 alumni of the Hockey East Association will have begun the 2021 season on National Hockey League rosters, setting the bar for the most alumni on NHL rosters on opening night for the ninth season in a row. The number also nearly doubles the 44 league alumni who suited up in the NHL on opening night in 2011, showing the steady growth of the league’s talent over the last decade.
Each Hockey East member institution is represented on at least one NHL roster as the season began, led by Boston University’s 17 players, Boston College’s 15, and Massachusetts’ 10. Three schools boast six alumni on club rosters, including Maine, Northeastern, and Providence, while New Hampshire sends five, UMass Lowell claims four, and UConn, Merrimack, and Vermont all are represented by one player. Additionally, seven players from Notre Dame who competed in Hockey East began the year on NHL teams.
The record opening night follows a 2020 NHL Entry Draft that saw 25 current players and recruits selected, representing nine of the 11 Hockey East member schools. Hockey East’s 25 selections were the most of any college hockey conference and represent nearly 40% of the 65 NCAA players and recruits chosen.
Of the 25 players, four spent the 2019-20 season in Hockey East, including UConn defenseman Yan Kuznetzov (Murmansk, Russia/Calgary), Massachusetts defenseman Matthew Kessel (Bloomfield Hills, Mich./St. Louis), Merrimack defenseman Zach Uens (Belleville, Ont./Florida), and New Hampshire forward Filip Engaras (Stockholm, Sweden/Edmonton.) In total, Hockey East had 16 forwards, seven defensemen, and two goaltenders chosen. Massachusetts and Northeastern led all member schools with four players chosen each, while Boston College, Boston University, UConn, and Providence each boast three, Merrimack and New Hampshire claimed two, and one UMass Lowell player was picked.
In total, 20 of the current 31 NHL clubs chose at least one current or future Hockey East player. The selections were highlighted by four second round choices and seven of the 10 NCAA players picked in the sixth round.
The impressive showing at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft follows a record-breaking 2019 Draft that saw 27 Hockey East selections. The draft concludes a 2019-20 season for Hockey East that saw 94 alumni play in the NHL, once again more than any other college hockey conference.
Last season, two Hockey East alumni captured the Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay, represented by former Boston University defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (2007-10) and Boston College’s Stephen Gionta (2002-06), a pro scout in its front office. The 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins had a record seven Hockey East players on their Stanley Cup Championship team.
In the NHL’s Return to Play this summer, 23 of the 24 returning teams boasted a Hockey East alumnus on their Stanley Cup Playoff roster, totaling 71 former Hockey East players in the playoffs. Boston University led the way with 16 former players, good for second most of any NCAA program this year, followed by Boston College with 14, Northeastern with seven, Providence and UMass with six apiece, New Hampshire with five, Maine with four, UMass Lowell with three, and Merrimack with one.
|Hockey East Alumni on 2020-21 NHL Opening Night Rosters|
|Cam Atkinson||F||Boston College||CBJ|
|Kieffer Bellows||F||Boston University||NYI|
|Anders Bjork||F||Notre Dame||BOS|
|Nick Bonino||F||Boston University||MIN|
|Kevin Boyle||G||UMass/UMass Lowell||DET|
|Alex Chiasson||F||Boston University||EDM|
|Adam Clendening||D||Boston University||CBJ|
|Ian Cole||D||Notre Dame||MIN|
|Charlie Coyle||F||Boston University||BOS|
|Thatcher Demko||G||Boston College||VAN|
|Casey DeSmith||G||New Hampshire||PIT|
|Brian Dumoulin||D||Boston College||PIT|
|Jack Eichel||F||Boston University||BUF|
|Jake Evans||F||Notre Dame||MTL|
|Dante Fabbro||D||Boston University||NSH|
|Joel Farabee||F||Boston University||PHI|
|Warren Foegele||F||New Hampshire||CAR|
|Johnny Gaudreau||F||Boston College||CGY|
|Nathan Gerbe||F||Boston College||CBJ|
|Dennis Gilbert||D||Notre Dame||COL|
|Jordan Greenway||F||Boston University||MIN|
|Matt Grzelcyk||D||Boston University||BOS|
|Noah Hanifin||D||Boston College||CGY|
|Kevin Hayes||F||Boston College||PHI|
|Connor Hellebuyck||G||UMass Lowell||WPG|
|Vinnie Hinostroza||F||Notre Dame||FLA|
|Carter Hutton||G||UMass Lowell||BUF|
|Stephen Johns||D||Notre Dame||DAL|
|Clayton Keller||F||Boston University||ARI|
|Chris Kreider||F||Boston College||NYR|
|Anders Lee||F||Notre Dame||NYI|
|Mike Matheson||D||Boston College||PIT|
|Charlie McAvoy||D||Boston University||BOS|
|Matt Nieto||F||Boston University||SJS|
|Jake Oettinger||G||Boston University|
|Kyle Palmieri||F||Notre Dame||NJD|
|Brett Pesce||D||New Hampshire||CAR|
|Cal Petersen||G||Notre Dame||LAK|
|Evan Rodrigues||F||Boston University||PIT|
|Chad Ruhwedel||D||UMass Lowell||PIT|
|Bryan Rust||F||Notre Dame||PIT|
|Zach Sanford||F||Boston College||STL|
|Cory Schneider||G||Boston College||NYI|
|Kevin Shattenkirk||D||Boston University||ANA|
|Riley Sheahan||F||Notre Dame||BUF|
|Brady Tkachuk||F||Boston University||OTT|
|Alex Tuch||F||Boston College||VGK|
|Trevor van Riemsdyk||D||New Hampshire||WSH|
|James van Riemsdyk||F||New Hampshire||PHI|
|Oliver Wahlstrom||F||Boston College||NYI|
|Colin White||F||Boston College||OTT|
|Miles Wood||F||Boston College||NJD|