NHL Prospect Report

NCAA Stock Watch: Gabe Perreault back to his productive ways at Boston College

This article is presented by Everything College Hockey

The holiday break is about the halfway point in the college hockey season, and we're inching pretty close to that most festive time of year.

So if teams were feeling each other out and trying to get their footing when we last checked in on the NCAA in Stock Watch, then this is the point where the competition starts in earnest. Most teams are about 15 games into the season, they've played in and out of conference, and the stakes are only getting higher as things move along.

Some prospects are rising to the occasion. Others are holding the fort. Then there's a select few who are starting to fall off entirely. It's time for the December stock watch, let's go!

Stock Rising 📈

Gabe Perreault, LW, Boston College (New York Rangers)

The adjustment to college hockey was always going to prove difficult for someone with Gabriel Perreault's skating stride, and it was for much of October. The pace of the game is so much faster than in junior hockey, and it almost has to be with the bigger playing surface in many rinks.

That wasn't the case in November though. Perreault's made the necessary adjustments, moving the puck more briskly and even improving his skating habits as the season's worn on, to the point that he's more than kept up with the game in most of my recent viewings. And the skill was always there, even when the game wasn't coming as easily to him in October.

Will Smith and Ryan Leonard may have been the ones from this line to go in the top-10 of last year's draft, but Perreault's been the one driving much of that line's success of late. I can't wait to see him at the World Juniors in Gothenburg.

Aiden Fink, RW, Penn State (Nashville Predators)

Nashville Predators seventh-round pick Aiden Fink has caught fire at Penn State, amassing 14 points in only seven contests for the Nittany Lions through the month of November. He's now up to 22 points through 17 games as a freshman.

Perhaps most impressive in all this is the list of teams that Fink torched en route to among the most productive Novembers in college hockey. Sure, you've got two games and six points against Lindenwood, but the rest came against Michigan (twice), Michigan State, and Notre Dame (twice). These are some of the best if not the stingiest programs in college hockey.

Fink isn't much of a burner, but he's deceptively quick in the small area game and has a knack for sneaking into defenders' blindspots. His pace with and without the puck is electric, his legs always churning and his eyes always scanning for clean looks and passing lanes. He hasn't been shy about taking the puck to the middle of the ice either.

There's a long road ahead for Fink, but the early returns are overwhelmingly impressive. One last parting gift from long-time general manager David Poile, who made Fink his last draft pick before riding off into the sunset this offseason.

Zeev Buium, D, Denver (2024 NHL Draft)

I'm not going to linger on Zeev Buium, lest this turn into Buium Week at EP Rinkside with my colleague Russ Cohen's feature last night and Sean Shapiro's this morning, but what he's doing at Denver right now is special.

Like Perreault, Buium wasn't exactly great to start the season, but that's par for the course for a true freshman. Since the calendar turned to November, he's up to 17 points in 10 contests, the highest mark in the entire NCAA – not among defencemen, not among first-time draft-eligible skaters, not among freshmen.

Buium is just so much fun with the puck on his stick. He's a deceptive distributor from the blue line, capable of connecting with his linemates through heavy traffic and every bit as efficient in transition. He's held up well defensively – a bit of poor luck and a minus-three against North Dakota last Friday notwithstanding – and doesn't seem overmatched by the increased forechecking pressure of the college game.

I'd like to see Buium add a step, but that hasn't stopped him from dominating at the college level to this point. He's also grown to 6-foot-2 according to USA Hockey's Preliminary 2024 World Juniors Camp roster release, too – scouts will like that.

Honourable mentions: Jackson Blake (Carolina Hurricanes), Alex Jefferies (New York Islanders), Jack Devine (Florida Panthers), Lane Hutson (Montréal Canadiens), Jacob Fowler (Montréal Canadiens)

Stock Steady ↔️

Jackson Dorrington, D, Northeastern (Vancouver Canucks)

Adam Gaudette, Tyler Madden, Aidan McDonoughJackson Dorrington? Many Canucks fans are starting to wonder if he's the next player to travel that same path, from Northeastern all the way to the NHL after his run of strong play in November, punctuated by Hockey East Defender of the Week honours last week.

There's cause for optimism, certainly. Dorrington is playing a matchup role with the Huskies and escaping in the black on a night-to-night basis after a bit of a rough start. He's already up to five assists on the season, one short of his six points last year in 24 fewer games.

Still, I would temper my enthusiasm a bit if I was a Canucks fan. Dorrington still lacks any separating skill or a standout element to his game that can easily project to the NHL level. Instead, I would describe his game as a hair above average in a lot of respects, but not necessarily elite.

Dorrington can move the puck reasonably well, though he often struggles against forechecking pressure, and he's a capable defender, but there isn't much of an offensive dimension to his game. Players with this profile rarely go on to make much hay at the NHL level, but here's hoping Dorrington beats the odds anyway.

Stock Falling 📉

Charlie Stramel, C, Wisconsin (Minnesota Wild)

Nothing has come easy for Charlie Stramel at Wisconsin.

First, he's struggling through probably one of the worst draft-plus-one seasons by a first-round pick at the college level – any level, maybe? – in recent memory. His first and only point to this point in the season came in a 5-0 drubbing of Alaska on Nov. 25, a garbage time goal with barely five minutes left in the game.

Then he became the rare player to play for Team USA at the World Juniors in his draft-minus-one and draft year, only to be snubbed as a 19-year-old when USA Hockey revealed their Preliminary 2024 World Junior Camp roster.

What's most confusing is that his game seemed tailormade to play in new head coach Mike Hastings' system. It's all about attacking as a five-man unit and puck support and playing more quick than fast, which seemed like a natural fit with his 200-foot game and small-area playmaking skill.

Apparently not. Stramel's stuck on the third line and I won't be surprised if his grip on even that role doesn't last for much longer. It may be time for Stramel to start thinking about the transfer portal. Things have not gone well at Wisconsin.

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This article is about:
NHL Prospect Report Boston College Minnesota Wild New York Rangers Northeastern Univ. Penn State Univ. Univ. of Denver Univ. of Wisconsin Vancouver Canucks NCAA Zeev Buium Jackson Dorrington Aiden Fink Gabriel Perreault Charlie Stramel
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