Two of the better freshmen defensemen in NCAA hockey last season are returning for their sophomore campaigns.
Brandon Hickey, a Calgary draftee from Boston University and Zach Weresnki, the University of Michigan product taken eighth overall by Columbus at the 2015 draft, have opted not to go the Canadian junior route and instead stay at their respective schools.
Hickey’s status was thrown into doubt earlier this week when his WHL rights were traded to Red Deer, who will host the 2016 Memorial Cup. Werenski was rumored to be headed to OHL London, who drafted him in the second round in 2013.
“I’m going back to school, the plan hasn’t changed,” Hickey said, per TSN. “I’m looking for a backup plan in case I get injured. Injuries happen in sports. I don’t want to be a guy that is just tied to hockey.
“I want to be a guy who has options. If hockey doesn’t work out then I’ll always have my degree to fall back on.”
Werenski, meanwhile, confirmed his intention to play another year for the Wolverines to NHL.com.
The returns are a big boon for the collegiate hockey landscape. Hickey is the only NCAA player currently playing for Canada at the World Junior Showcase, and had six goals and 17 points in 41 games last season for the Terriers; Werenski led all Wolverines d-men in scoring, with 25 points in 35 games, and was named to both the Big Ten’s first and all-freshman teams.