Since the first NHL Draft in 1963, there have been 176 college hockey players drafted in the first round, representing five conferences and 28 Division I programs. Michigan leads the way with 25 first-rounders followed by Boston College and Minnesota with 21 each.
The Wolverines’ footprint is all over the NHL from veterans Max Pacioretty (Vegas Golden Knights) and Zach Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets) to one of the game’s more tantalizing prospects in Quinn Hughes (Vancouver Canucks). No school can claim more top-round representation than Michigan, which has produced 14.8 percent of all first-round picks in NHL history.
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In total, five programs have 20 or more first-round draftees.
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When it comes to the first round, Michigan has a solid grip atop the record books. Boston College and Minnesota trail with 21 apiece while Boston University and North Dakota are right behind them with 20. Only one other school has cracked the double-digit mark through 58 years — Wisconsin. The top six have combined for 120 of the NHL’s 173 first-round picks, close to 70 percent.
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Of these teams, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin all now play in the Big Ten. In other words, it’s not hard to figure out which conference might have the most first-round picks. But, here’s a breakdown of which leagues produce the most top-round talent in the NHL.
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*Conference counts are by where teams play currently, not previously
And finally, the most heralded draft choice — the No. 1 overall pick. No college hockey program has produced the top pick more than once. In fact, only three collegians have ever gone No. 1 overall. Michigan State’s Joe Murphy was the first in 1986. It’d be another 14 years before Boston University goalie Rick DiPietro was taken first overall. In 2006, Minnesota defender Erik Johnson became the most recent college player to be the first overall pick.