This article is part of our Blue Line Buzz series.
Denver, Harvard, Minnesota and Minnesota-Duluth — these are your four No. 1 seeds for the annual Frozen Four, slated to begin on March 24. As is the case every season, this is the time when NHL teams start signing free agents. NCAA players can sign at any time, but will forgo their eligibility if they do, which means most players will wait until their team is eliminated before signing.
The crop this year isn't particularly strong, but there are certainly some intriguing names to consider. Some of them will step in right away as teams continue to evaluate their signees, as was the case with the Sabres and Casey Nelson, but keep in mind that we're looking at mostly second-pairing defensemen and guys who may need some AHL seasoning. Without further ado…
Dan Brickley, Minnesota-Mankato – Regarded as the top free agent defenseman of his class, Brickley is an undrafted 6-foot-3, left-shot defenseman who averaged a point per game and finished second on the team in scoring with 31 points. You'd have to think the Sabres have the inside track here, as Brickley was invited to Buffalo's training camp and was also the aforementioned Nelson's defensive partner.
Neal Pionk, Minnesota-Duluth – Also undrafted, Pionk finished third in team scoring with 32 points in 38 games, and although a little undersized at 5-foot-11, is reportedly to have as many as 20 teams gunning after him. Yes, that includes Vegas.
Matias Cleland, New Hampshire – He just finished his senior season