While a lot of the top picks in each year’s NHL Draft end up being international players, there have still been a lot of greats that came through the NCAA. Taking both their professional and college careers into account, which players are the greatest in men’s D-1 history? Here are our picks for the top five.
5. George McPhee
College Career: George McPhee moved from Ontario to Ohio for his college hockey career, spending four seasons at Bowling Green. While playing with the Falcons, McPhee netted 114 goals and added another 267 assists. In 1982, he was named the NCAA’s best player by being given the Hobey Baker Award.
Pro Career: McPhee went undrafted in 1982 despite winning the Hobey Baker, signing with the New York Rangers for the 1983-84 season. McPhee spent four seasons with the Rangers then two more with the New Jersey Devils, appearing in just 115 games with 45 points. McPhee then went into management with multiple franchises (Vancouver, Washington, New York Islanders) and became the first General Manager in Vegas Golden Knights history.
4. Johnny Gaudreau
College Career: Gaudreau would go on to become known as “Johnny Hockey” thanks to his time at Boston College from 2011 to 2014. Over his three seasons as an Eagle, Gaudreau would finish with 78 goals and 98 assists for a total of 1.48 points per game. Gaudreau also won the Hobey Baker Award in addition to leading Boston College to the Frozen Four in 2014.
Pro Career: Before Gaudreau really took off as an NCAA player, he was drafted 104th overall by the Calgary Flames in 2011. Gaudreau would become an All-Star in Calgary, winning the Lady Byng Trophy in 2017. He spent nine years with the Flames, scoring 609 points (more than a point per game) before leaving in free agency.
3. Martin St. Louis
College Career: Hailing from Laval, Quebec, Canada, Martin St. Louis headed to Vermont to play in the NCAA and became an instant impact player with 49 points in his freshman season. St. Louis played all four years with the Catamounts, scoring 265 points in 138 games.
Pro Career: Another great player that went undrafted, St. Louis signed with Calgary where he spent his first two seasons. It wasn’t until St. Louis signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning that he really found his stride, spending 13 seasons with the franchise. St. Louis was a five-time All-Star with the Lightning, winning a Stanley Cup in addition to three Lady Byng, two Ross, and one Hart trophies. St. Louis spent his final two seasons with the New York Rangers before retiring and going into coaching, taking the helm for the Montreal Canadiens.
2. Mike Zuke
College Career: Mike Zuke didn’t have to go far from his hometown of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario to play his college hockey at Michigan Tech. Zuke spent four seasons in college, scoring 133 goals and dishing out 177 assists (310 total points). Zuke’s Huskies would win a National Championship during his time, as well (1975).
Pro Career: In 1974, Zuke was drafted into both the NHL and WHA. His professional debut came in 1976-77 with the Indianapolis Racers (WHA) before playing with Edmonton, St. Louis, and Hartford. Zuke played in 455 total NHL games with 282 points. After retirement, he would start an apparel company in St. Louis.
1. Paul Kariya
College Career: Paul Kariya needed just one full season in college to prove that he was the best player in the NCAA. Kariya spent the 1992-93 season with Maine where he scored a whopping 100 points in just 39 games, then 24 points in eight games the following season. Kariya won the Hobey Baker Award his freshman season and an NCAA Championship, leaving during his sophomore campaign to focus on his professional career.
Pro Career: Paul Kariya is easily the most decorated professional player on the list, spending 15 seasons in the NHL, most of which came with Anaheim. Kariya became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, making five All-Star teams and winning a pair of Lady Byng Trophies. He retired following the 2009-10 season with 669 career points.