If it's the off-season following the NHL Entry Draft, it means two things for college hockey: speculation about fine-tuning next year's schedules, and speculation about next year's rosters.
Here's a sampling of NCAA players, in alphabetical order, who won't be back for 2012-13, along with their positions, year they were headed into and NHL organization they have signed with since the 2012 NCAA Frozen Four was held in early April:
Beau Bennett, F, Jr., Denver (Pittsburgh Penguins). California native Bennett, who was drafted 20th overall by the Pens in 2010, played in just 10 games this past year due to a wrist injury. He had 13 goals and 25 assists for 38 points for the Pioneers over two seasons, both of which ended in the NCAA Tournament.
Tyler Biggs, F, So., Miami (Toronto Maple Leafs). Biggs, son of former pro player Don Biggs, hasn't actually signed with the Leafs, although he has told Miami not to expect him back next season. He tallied 9-8-17 points in 2011-12 for the Redhawks, who advanced to the NCAA East Regional.
Jason Clark, F, Jr., Wisconsin (New York Islanders). He produced two assists in 35 games with the Badgers over two collegiate campaigns. Prior to that, he racked up 49 points in 54 games in his final prep season at Shattuck-St. Mary's in Minnesota.
Adam Clendening, D, Jr., Boston University (Chicago Blackhawks). The Wheatfield, NY native is one of several Terriers who will not be back next season, after registering 4-29-33 points from the BU blue line.
Brian Dumoulin, D, Sr., Boston College (Carolina Hurricanes). A two-time All-America selection, Dumoulin wristed home the game-winning goal for the Eagles in the national title contest in Tampa. He finished with 7-21-28 points in 44 appearances as a junior, before signing with Carolina, which later dealt his rights to the Boston Bruins.
Zemgus Girgensons, F, Fr., Vermont (Buffalo Sabres). Girgensons, who skated for Dubuque (USHL) the past two seasons, decided to turn pro with the Sabres, who drafted him 14th overall last month, before he ever got on the ice with the Catamounts. He had 45-59-104 points in 100 games over the past two seasons with the Fighting Saints.
Kyle Jean, F, Jr., Lake Superior State (New York Rangers). Jean, who formerly played junior hockey for the NAHL's Marquette Rangers, had 12-12-24 totals this past season for the Lakers, and already shined at a Rangers prospect development camp.
Chris Kreider, F, Sr., Boston College (New York Rangers). Unless you were off-planet the last few months, you already know how Kreider scored five goals for the Rangers in the Stanley Cup playoffs, including three tallies in the conference semifinal versus New Jersey, and came within two wins of playing for a Stanley Cup after helping BC to its third national title in five years.
Matt Mangene, F/D, Sr., Maine (Philadelphia Flyers). Mangene had a breakout year with Maine, posting 16-18-34 points in 40 outings and helping the Black Bears to both the Hockey East championship game and the NCAA Northeast Regional. He then got his professional feet wet by playing in five games with Adirondack of the American Hockey League.
Brock Nelson, F, Jr., North Dakota (New York Islanders). The 6'3" Minnesota native led the Fighting Sioux in scoring with 28-19-47 points last season, and then skated in his first four pro games with Bridgeport (AHL).
Steve Quailer, F, Sr., Northeastern (Montreal Canadiens). Quailer, from Colorado, matched his 25-point freshman output with 8-17-25 totals last year for the Huskies. He had 13 points as a sophomore.
Justin Schultz, D, Sr., Wisconsin (Edmonton Oilers). Schultz took advantage of a loophole in free agency to spurn Anaheim, which drafted him 43rd overall in 2008, and instead sign with the Oilers. He earned a host of accolades the past two seasons while twice topping the 40-point mark on the Badgers' blue line.
Chris Wagner, F, Jr., Colgate (Anaheim Ducks). The Massachusetts native was second on the Raiders in scoring with 17-34-51 points last year after a 19-point freshman campaign. He also helped Colgate to the 2012 Eastern College Athletic Conference semifinals in Atlantic City.
Jeremy Welsh, F, Sr., Union (Carolina Hurricanes). Welsh turned pro just after the Dutchmen were eliminated from their first-ever NCAA Frozen Four by Ferris State. He scored 27 goals last year and added 17 assists as Union won both the ECAC regular-season and playoff titles, and then claimed the NCAA East Regional crown with wins over Michigan State and UMass-Lowell.
There'll undoubtedly be at least several more early signings before the puck drops on the new college season in October, so don't stop speculating just yet.
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