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Should The Predators Pursue Top NCAA Free Agent?



Photo of Collin Graf via ECAC Hockey

With Quinnipiac’s 5-4 loss to No. 1-seeded Boston College in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, the top free agent in college hockey, Collin Graf, is now free to sign an NHL contract.

Graf, who led Quinnipiac to a national championship in 2022 after a breakout 21-goal, 59-point season, attended the Nashville Predators development camp last June ahead of his junior season.

“In Nashville, specifically, we spent a lot of time on development, which I thought was really good,” Graf told Nashville Hockey Now last summer. “Even though it was a week, I tried to pick up tricks and tools to use in game scenarios, not just like practice stuff but things that would help me succeed.”

Graf’s time working with the Predators’ coaches paid off as Graf notched 22 goals (10th-most in the NCAA) and 49 points (12th-most) in 34 games with Quinnipiac, and his goals per game increased from 0.51 to 0.64 and his points per game increased slightly from 1.43 to 1.45.

The 21-year-old winger had interest from a few NHL teams last year but decided another season with the Bobcats was best for his development. Graf has made the top 10 for the Hobey Baker award each of the last two seasons, and he’s likely on his way to earning All-American honors for the second straight season.

Many scouts project Graf as a middle-six forward with potential 20-goal upside.

“[Graf] is a very skilled puck-handler who skates well and can create on the move like a pro,” The Athletic’s Cory Pronman wrote. “He sees the ice well, can run a power play with quick decisions, and has a good shot as well. His game can lack physicality at times and stick too much to the perimeter, which is my only concern about him, but I wouldn’t call him soft or a low-compete type.”

It’s been reported that the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers are the front-runners for Graf, but given their already established relationship, the Predators shouldn’t be counted out as a team that could make a push for the highly sought after forward.

Follow Michael Gallagher on X/Twitter @MGsports_

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