Second round opens floodgates for college players, recruits in 2013 NHL Entry Draft

College fans had to wait a long time to have a player with college ties drafted at Sunday’s 2013 NHL Entry Draft at the Prudential Center.

Now they’ll have to wait a little while longer to know if that player will be heading to college.

Western Michigan recruit Michael McCarron was selected 25th by the Montreal Canadiens. But immediately after being selected, McCarron was clear that his decision on where he will play next season is hardly certain.

“I’m still waiting to make the decision,” McCarron said when asked where he’ll play next year. “I’m going to talk to the [Canadiens] organization and see what they think is best for me.”

McCarron said he’s been working out with the Western Michigan team for the last two weeks and has been in contact with coach Andy Murray. Still, it is possible that he may choose to play for the London Knights of the major junior Ontario Hockey League, where he can use his 6-foot-5 frame to fight, something he said “is a big part of my game.”

Should McCarron choose major junior, it will make a bad draft day for college hockey worse as McCarron was the only player with college ties selected in the opening round. He’s the latest first college-connected player selected since Michigan’s Mike Van Ryn, who was selected 26th by New Jersey in 1998.

The decision on whether to head to Western Michigan, McCarron said, will be made within the next week. While he’ll listen to Montreal management, ultimately he’ll be the one making the decision.

“I’ll obviously take everything they say into consideration,” McCarron said. “But ultimately it’s up to what I want and where I fit best.”

As expected, after the first round concluded the floodgates began to open for collegians. Boston College commit Ian McCoshen was the first player taken in the second round, 31st overall, going to the Florida Panthers. He was followed four selections later by Michigan recruit J.T. Compher.

Unlike McCarron, both of those players are definitely heading to their respective colleges, each to play for legendary coaches in Jerry York and Red Berenson, respectively.

McCoshen will play at Boston College alongside another Florida Panthers draftee, Mike Matheson. “He actually toured me around the campus,” McCoshen said of Matheson.

After Compher was selected at No. 35 by Buffalo, the Sabres grabbed another collegian in Notre Dame recruit Connor Hurley at No. 38.

McCoshen’s roommate-to-be at BC, defenseman Steven Santini, was the 42nd selection overall and first of the day for the host Devils. He was followed by Minnesota recruit Tommy Vannelli, going No. 47 to the St. Louis Blues.

The second round closed with Washington selecting a third BC recruit in left wing Zachary Sanford.

Possibly the biggest college-related story of the opening round had nothing to do with a current or incoming player. It was a trade that sent former Boston College standout goaltender Cory Schneider from Vancouver to draft host New Jersey in exchange for the Devils’ first-round pick, the ninth pick overall. The Canucks selected center Bo Horvat from the London Knights of the OHL with the pick.

“We felt strongly enough to make this move to get a great young player like Bo,” Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said. “This was a way that we felt we could improve our hockey team now and in the future.”

For New Jersey, Schneider becomes the heir apparent to longtime goaltender Martin Brodeur, who has played his entire 21-year career with the Devils. Brodeur, 41, hasn’t announced his retirement but at his advanced age it seems like something that will happen in the next few seasons.

The top overall selection in the draft was Nathan MacKinnon, who became property of the Colorado Avalanche. Seth Jones, who many thought would be the top pick, was the top American selected at No. 4 by the Nashville Predators.

Despite the slow start, 63 players with college ties became draftees of NHL team on Sunday.