As of 2019, 33% of NHL players played college hockey, according to colleghockeyinc.com. Last season, 17 of the 47 players that suited up for the Blue Jackets played in the NCAA, which is a 36.1% mark.
The Blue Jackets have built a highly-touted prospect pool that may be the best in the league, but how many of those prospects will be playing NCAA hockey in 2023-24?
Gavin Brindley, F, Univ. of Michigan [Big Ten]
Last season, Brindley, the No. 64 pick in the 2023 Draft, along with fellow Blue Jackets draftee Adam Fantilli and 2022 first-round pick Rutger McGroarty made one of the best lines in college hockey. In his freshman season at Michigan, Brindley posted 12 goals and 38 points in 41 games and scored one goal and four points at the World Juniors where he picked up bronze with Team USA. With both Brindley and McGroarty returning for their sophomore campaigns, it'll be interesting to see if they'll play on the same line again and if Brindley could move to center. If he stays on the wing, the center that plays between him and McGroarty will have large shoes to fill.
Brindley puts Michigan on the board 24 seconds into the game! pic.twitter.com/v37FeG7hK6— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) March 11, 2023
William Whitelaw, F, Univ. of Wisconsin [Big Ten]
The Blue Jackets selected Whitelaw with the No. 66 pick in the 2023 Draft, and after helping the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) capture the Clark Cup, he's excited to be playing in the Big Ten.
"I think everyone's good there," Whitelaw said after he was drafted. "It's a high, fast, skilled, pace game & I think that fits my game really well. And I think the Big Ten's an unbelievable league and preps you well for the NHL."
After fellow Blue Jackets prospect Corson Ceulemans departed Wisconsin this year after his sophomore campaign, the Badgers add another Columbus prospect.
Guillaume Richard, D, Providence College [Hockey East]
Richard is entering his third season at Providence after the Blue Jackets drafted him at No. 101 overall in 2021. In 67 games over his first two seasons, he's posted four goals and 22 points with a +12 rating, including a goal, eight points, and a -6 rating in 2022-23.
Aidan Hreschuk, D, Boston College [Hockey East]
The Blue Jackets acquired Hreschuk, the No. 94 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, when they traded Max Domi to Carolina in 2022. In his first two years at Boston College, he's recorded two goals, 14 points, and a +4 rating in 72 games including one goal, six points, and a -5 rating in 2022-23.
Two more Blue Jackets prospects are scheduled to play college hockey in 2024-25, with defenseman Andrew Strathmann (No. 98 in the 2023 Draft) headed to North Dakota after spending this season with the Youngstown Phantoms and forward James Fisher (No. 201 in the 2022 Draft) committed to Northeastern after playing this season with the BCHL's Penticton Vees.
The Blue Jackets will be represented at the highest levels of college hockey in 2023-24.