NCHC's top 20 forwards for 2020-21

100619 S GFH UNDHOCKEY JordanKawaguchi01.jpg
Fighting Hawks forward Jordan Kawaguchi drives the puck down the ice at Ralph Engelstad Arena during UND's season-opening home exhibition game against the Manitoba Bisons. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference brings back an impressive group of forwards, including three players who earned All-American honors a year ago in UND's Jordan Kawaguchi and Minnesota Duluth's Cole Koepke and Noah Cates.

Here's a list of the Herald's preseason top 20 forwards in the NCHC.

1. Jordan Kawaguchi, North Dakota

The senior from Abbotsford, B.C., was a Hobey Baker Award Hat Trick finalist last season and is the top-returning scorer in the nation. Kawaguchi is one of three Hobey Baker Award finalists to return to college hockey this season, joining Boston University defenseman David Farrance and MSU-Mankato goalie Dryden McKay.

2. Cole Koepke, Minnesota Duluth (TBL, 6th, 183rd)


The Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick was a second-team All-American last season. Koepke tallied 16 goals and 33 points last season.

3. Noah Cates, Minnesota Duluth (PHI, 5th, 137th)

The Philadelphia Flyers draft pick was a second-team All-American last season. Cates matched Koepke's output with 33 points.

4. Shane Pinto, North Dakota (OTT, 2nd, 32nd)

The 2020 NCHC rookie of the year is poised for a big sophomore season after leading No. 1 UND in goals last season with 16.

5. Bobby Brink, Denver (PHI, 2nd, 34th)

The 2020 NCHC rookie of the year runner-up will play with a loaded DU roster. Brink had 24 points in 28 games last season.

6. Collin Adams, North Dakota (NYI, 6th, 170th)


Small but dynamic, Adams had a breakout junior season with 12 goals and 28 points. He centered UND's top line, which could be reunited this season.

7. Steven Jandric, Denver

Jandric led Alaska (Fairbanks) in both goals and points each of the last two seasons. The graduate transfer will step into a big role at Denver.

8. Brett Stapley, Denver (MTL, 7th, 190th)

Stapley is a skilled set-up man who had five times as many assists (25) as goals (5) last year.

9. Easton Brodzinski, St. Cloud State

An elite goal-scorer, Brodzinski has tallied three-straight double-digit goal seasons.

10. Nick Swaney, Minnesota Duluth (MIN, 7th, 209th)


The senior has taken just two minor penalties in his last 75 games dating back to his freshman year.

11. Casey Gilling, Miami

Gilling had a big junior year (31 points) but lost both of his linemates from last season.

12. Cole Guttman, Denver (TBL, 6th, 180th)

The Tampa Bay Lightning pick scored 14 goals in each of his first two seasons.

13. Grant Cruikshank, Colorado College

The Tiger captain is an explosive skater, just like his mother, Bonnie Blair.

14. Paul Washe, Western Michigan


Not only did Washe develop into a scoring threat, he’s one of the NCHC’s best faceoff men.

15. Tyler Weiss, Omaha (COL, 4th, 109th)

All the signs are there that Weiss is about to have a breakout season for Omaha.

16. Taylor Ward, Omaha

The son of former UND great Dixon Ward led Omaha in scoring last season.

17. Kobe Roth, Minnesota Duluth

The former Warroad High forward scored five of his 13 goals on the power play a year ago and had eight points with the extra-man advantage.

18. Grant Mismash, North Dakota (NSH, 2nd, 61st)


Mismash has a lot of intriguing elements -- size, shooting ability, physicality, speed.

19. Sam Hentges, St. Cloud State (MIN, 7th, 210th)

Hentges fed on nonconference opponents last season, but had just one goal in NCHC play.

20. Jasper Weatherby, North Dakota (SJS, 4th, 102nd)

The former BCHL scoring champ’s game took off last season as he hit double digits in goals.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at
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