If you need a break from watching countless hours of the 2023 NCAA men’s basketball tournament (like me), you can check out some hockey this weekend. The 2023 NCAA men’s hockey tournament gets going this week on Thursday and Friday with 16 teams competing in regionals. Among these top teams in the country there are plenty of top players. Below we’re going to go over some of the top names to know if you’re going to watch the tournament.
Best players in 2023 Frozen Four NCAA hockey tournament
Adam Fantilli, C, Michigan
Fantilli is among the players who was nominated for the Hobey Baker award this season. He’s almost a lock to go No. 2 overall in the 2023 NHL Draft after Canadian C Connor Bedard. Fantilli leads Michigan, the top overall team in the tournament, in points with 61 points in 33 games entering the tourney. Fantilli is the complete package in terms of an NHL center. He’s got good size at 6-foot-2, speed and hockey IQ. Fantilli leads Michigan with 27 goals, so the finishing touch is there. This very much feels like the McDavid-Eichel draft 1-2 punch at the top.
Luke Hughes, D, Michigan
Michigan is stacked and their top defenseman comes from quite the hockey family. Luke is the brother of Jack Hughes and Quinn Hughes, both of whom have achieved All-Star status in the NHL. Jack is the leading scorer for the New Jersey Devils and Quinn is the top defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks. Luke figures to join his brother Jack on the Devils roster once the season is over.
Hughes is second on Michigan in points with 42 in 36 games this season. He is your prototypical offensive defenseman. Great skating ability and vision, similar to Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche (but not at that level yet). Luke Hughes has the potential to step into the NHL and be a difference-maker right away.
Sean Farrell, F, Harvard
Farrell is a name you may not be as familiar with if you follow college hockey. He’s also a Hobey Baker award finalist along with Fantilli and is the second in point in the NCAA with 52 in 33 games. Farrell is undersized and because of that, was drafted in the fourth round by the Montreal Canadiens back in 2020. Farrell will likely go unsigned and go to free agency. We’ve seen undersized forwards succeed in today’s NHL, so think of Farrell in the same vein as Cole Caufield and Alex DeBrincat.
Yaniv Perets, G, Quinnipiac
The Quebec native is set to lead Quinnipiac into the Frozen Four for a second straight season. Last year, the Bobcats were ousted by Michigan in the regional final. This time around, Quinnipiac avoids the Wolverines in the bracket but has to take on Harvard if they can get by Merrimack.
Perets is one of the top goaltenders in the nation, going 30-4-3 with a 1.52 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage this season. He went undrafted in his draft year but figures to be able to land an NHL contract when he decides to leave school. Perets is technically a sophomore because of the COVID-19 year and has two more years of eligibility at school.
Logan Cooley, F, Minnesota
Cooley is arguably the top NHL prospect in the tournament behind Fantilli (unless you don’t consider him one yet). Cooley was drafted third overall by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2022 NHL Draft. Cooley is fourth in the NCAA in scoring with 19 goals and 33 assists in 35 games this season for the Gophers. In comparison to Fantilli, Cooley projects more as a top offensive center or could shift to wing given his size and skating ability.