The 2011 NHL draft confirmed what has been a growing trend in the league's scouting process: College hockey is not the pipeline to the NHL. Young and talented players, whether American, Canadian or European, are bolting to the Canadian Junior Leagues the first chance that they get. The competition is better, the coaching is better and the school portion of the exchange is not present.
The NCAA is still churning out some successful NHL players, though. The Brett Hulls of the old days are no longer coming out of the collegiate ranks in waves, but James Van Riemsdyk, Jonathan Toews and Ryan Miller were all the big man on campus before becoming staples of NHL rosters.
So, who's next? Typically, college hockey players take a bit longer to develop, and tons of success in the NCAA does not always translate to the NHL. College hockey boasts a handful of high upside prospects that are either returning to school or arriving this fall.
Check out the biggest men on campus for the upcoming college hockey season.