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Three University of Michigan players selected in 2020 NHL Draft

Michigan’s 10-member freshman class should be one of the most exciting in college hockey this season.

Three were selected in the 2020 NHL Draft, which began Tuesday night and concluded Wednesday.

Forward Brendan Brisson was drafted in the first round (29th overall) by the Vegas Golden Knights, becoming the 25th player in program history to be selected in the first round – an NCAA record. Forward Thomas Bordeleau was taken by the San Jose Sharks in the second round (38th overall), while defenseman Jacob Truscott was a fifth-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks (144th overall).

Meanwhile, defenseman Ethan Edwards, who is committed to Michigan for the 2021-22 season, was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the fourth round at 120th overall. He will play next season with the Sioux City Musketeers in the United States Hockey League.

Brisson was named the United States Hockey League Rookie of the Year last season after recording 24 goals and 35 assists in 59 games for the Chicago Steel. He is Michigan’s fifth first-round pick in the past four years.

The 5-foot-9 Bordeleau, whose father and grandfather both played in the NHL, led the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 team in goals (16) and assists (30) last season.

Truscott was Bordeleau’s teammate with the NTDP, finishing with 21 points in 47 games in 2019-20.

But those three aren’t the ONLY NHL prospects in the freshman class. Defenseman Owen Power and forwards Matty Beniers and Kent Johnson are projected to be first-round picks in 2021, while goalie Erik Portillo was a third-round pick in 2019.

Plus, Michigan’s two first-round picks in 2019 – defenseman Cam York and forward Johnny Beecher – are returning for their sophomore seasons.

NCAA players can sign pro contracts at any time during their college careers.

The Wolverines, who finished 18-14-4 in 2019-20, will open the season next month after the Big Ten announced Tuesday that it will begin as soon as Nov. 13. It was supposed to begin in early October, but the Hockey Commissioners Association announced Sept. 10 that the start of the season would be delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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Dribble Handoff: Which four-year college player in the 2020 NBA Draft class will have the best pro career?

The three biggest stars in the NBA Finals took three distinct paths to the NBA. LeBron James jumped straight to the professional ranks after high school, while Lakers teammate Anthony Davis played one season of college basketball at Kentucky. Both were No. 1 picks in their respective drafts after taking the quickest path available to the NBA (rules had changed to keep high school prospects from entering the draft by the time Davis came along).

But Miami Heat leader Jimmy Butler’s journey to the game’s highest level looked much different than the paths James and Davis took. He played at a junior college in Texas before transferring to Marquette, where he exhausted his collegiate eligibility before the Bulls selected him 30th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Several other NBA Finals contributors also exhausted their collegiate eligibility, including Jae Crowder, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn of the Heat. Same for Danny Green and Alex Caruso of the Lakers. Of the group, Butler was the only one taken in the first round in the NBA Draft. 

But he and the other former four-year college players prove that you can still find your way to the NBA spotlight even without one-and-done hype. With that in mind, our writers responded to the following prompt for this week’s dribble handoff: Which four-year college player in the 2020 NBA Draft class will have the best pro career? If you think it’s an easy question, go look at the 2020 prospect rankings. There are some intriguing choices but no obvious answer.

Cassius Winston, Michigan State

My favorite thing about this Heat team is how it’s made up of such an unlikely cast of characters while the Lakers’ starting lineup features the No 1. pick of the 2003 NBA Draft (LeBron James), the No. 1 pick of the 2004 NBA Draft (Dwight Howard) and the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NBA Draft (Anthony Davis) — all of whom combined to spend a total of one year in college. It’s quite the contrast. So I dig this question. And I suppose my pick to be the best four-year player from this draft class is former Michigan State point guard Cassius Winston.

Will he be a star?

Probably not.

But I have him going 28th to the Lakers in my latest mock draft. He’d be great in that spot considering Los Angeles could use another natural point guard on the roster — especially one who would serve as another high-level shooter next to The King. Winston made 43.0% of the 603 3-pointers he attempted in four years at Michigan State. So even if he’s not the best athlete, the quickest or the biggest, he should be able to provide quality minutes off the bench, right from the jump, and bury open jumpers whenever they’re presented, which is often for anybody lucky enough to play with LeBron James. — Gary Parrish

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On second day of draft, Bruins went old school with four college prospects

Like all NHL teams, the Bruins did not have the benefit of seeing spring showcase tournaments and the June combine. They watched a lot more video than usual. They logged onto Microsoft Teams to hash out their draft boards.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman prepares for the 2020 National Hockey League Draft at the NHL Network Studio in Secaucus, N.J.

© Mike Stobe
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman prepares for the 2020 National Hockey League Draft at the NHL Network Studio in Secaucus, N.J.

In these uncertain times, perhaps its coincidence they went a familiar route.

The Bruins made four picks in the 2020 draft, which concluded Wednesday. The newest crop of prospects includes defenseman Mason Lohrei (second round, 58th overall), forward Trevor Kuntar (third, 89th), defenseman Mason Langenbrunner (fifth, 151st) and forward Riley Duran (sixth, 182nd).

All four are American players with NCAA ties.

Lohrei has committed to Ohio State for 2021. Kuntar is at Boston College after his original choice, Harvard, postponed its season. Langenbrunner, the son of Bruins director of player development Jamie Langenbrunner, will head to Harvard next fall. Duran, from Woburn, will enroll at Providence in 2021.

Dupont: If they can’t entice Torey Krug to stay, can the Bruins afford Oliver Ekman-Larsson?

General manager Don Sweeney did not add a draft pick for the rights to UFA-to-be Torey Krug, or make any other trades on Wednesday. When the free agent market opens at noon Friday, replacing Krug may be his first order of business.

“We have to improve, whether that’s through internal growth or acquisition,” Sweeney said. “We’re not as good as we need to be. We’re going to explore everything. Our cap situation is good, but you can tip that upside down in a hurry.”

Sweeney bowed out of the draft a round early, dealing his seventh-round pick (213th) to the Maple Leafs for a seventh-rounder in 2021.

His first two picks were late-bloomers. Both Lohrei (LORE-eye) and Kuntar were eligible in 2019, but both went undrafted.

“I felt like I was being overlooked but it’s the way things go,” said Lohrei, a 6-foot-4, 204-pound, left-shot defenseman out of USHL Green Bay. Scouts consider the Madison, Wisc., product a rangy, poised, two-way rearguard. But he was not ranked by NHL Central Scouting until the final list of 2020, when he placed 132nd overall.

“I wouldn’t say it was a struggle not being on lists or not getting drafted,” he said. “Kind of just kept my head down and went to work every day because I knew that this would come. And here we are. I couldn’t be happier.”

Penguins deal goaltender Matt Murray to Ottawa for prospect, second-round pick

Lohrei grew “significantly” over the last year, Bruins director of scouting Ryan Nadeau said, and transitioned from forward to defense. The team liked how he transitioned from Culver (Ind.) Military Academy to the USHL. “His path this year was intriguing for us,” Nadeau said.

Kuntar, the third-rounder,