Top college prospects to watch

Updated: October 11, 2012, 1:35 PM ET
By Corey Pronman

With the NHL locked out, hockey fans looking for live action should turn to the NCAA, which kicks off its hockey season this weekend (though a few non-conference games have already taken place).

In the process those fans can catch a glimpse of a number of already-drafted NHL prospects. Here are some of the bigger names in the college ranks who bear watching this season.

Nick Bjugstad, C, Florida Panthers, University of Minnesota

Bjugstad was one of the NCAA's top players last season and arguably the top NHL prospect playing in the college ranks. So it was a bit of a surprise when he announced that he was returning for his junior season, as the Panthers may have put him in their lineup. Selected 19th overall in 2010, Bjugstad is a huge forward (6-foot-5) who has above-average offensive tools across the board and is unusually gifted for his size. This season, Bjugstad, playing on a very good Gophers team, should dominate and challenge for the Hobey Baker Award.