Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Change In Direction? Yup

Ever since the event that shall not be named that occurred two weeks ago, the staff has explored a couple of options to add some depth to BC's forward core. There were three legitimate options, well, two really. The first (pretty unrealistic) one was to bring in Noble and Greenough forward Miles Wood a year early. He is, without a doubt, BC's #3 forward recruit in the pipeline (behind White and Bracco) but unlike those guys, he will be a 19 year old senior in high school this fall. He couldn't make it to Chestnut Hill this year because he doesn't have the high school credits required to gain entry into BC.

The second, what I thought very realistic, option was to bring Joey Dudek, who did in fact graduate from high school this spring, a year early. The reason they didn't bring Dudek in is because while he would have most likely been able to accelerate and gained entry into the school, the staff feels that he needs one more year to develop into the top end player that he is capable of being.

The third option the staff had was bringing in Chris Brown but like Dudek, they think he needs a year in the USHL to play against bigger, stronger guys similar to the ones he will see in Hockey East just a year from now.

You may be wondering why I decided to title this "A Change in Direction". As you certainly know, the whole age issue in college hockey drives me insane. I have never been a fan of the fact that we have 17 year old freshman that have to play against guys @ Merrimack and Lowell that are 22/23 year old freshmen or 26/27 year old seniors but like my lovely (sarcastic) twitter followers like to point out, there is no rule against bringing in older guys and maybe the staff should try and see what they can do with older prospects. Well look how old these guys are going to be when they hit the ice for us.

Zach Sanford (this fall)- Turns 20 on November 9th.

Joey Dudek (fall of 2015)- Will turn 19 midseason.

Miles Wood (fall of 2015)- Will be 20 when the puck drops in the fall of 2015.

Christopher Brown (fall of 2015) Will turn 20 towards the end of the 2015 season.

Whether we like it or not, and I certainly am not a fan, college hockey recruiting is changing in so many ways, especially the age at which players are first recruited and when they eventually arrive on campus. The fact of the matter is my opinion, the staffs opinions, your opinion, don't matter. Older players is becoming a trend but unlike other schools in this league (besides BU), we continue to bring in TRUE freshmen that will have every opportunity to succeed.

Oh and by the way, Merrimack is bringing in their first true freshman since 2003, this fall. Go figure.

Go Eagles.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Four Eagles Named To All American Prospects Game

One current Eagle and (hopefully) three future ones were named to the All American Prospect game, which will take place September 25th in Buffalo, New York. Noah Hanifin (the only current Eagle), Colin White, Casey Fitzgerald, and Jeremy Bracco were named to the 42 man squad. The four Eagles is the second most amongst NCAA teams, the Michigan Wolverines led the way with five guys. BU had two. 

Congrats to all four guys. Good luck. 

Go Eagles. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Local Recruiting Problem

Craig Janney, Brian Leetch, Mike Mullowney (had to), Brian Boyle, Greg Brown,Marty McInnis, and Mike Mottau, what do these names all have in common? They're are all BC legends that played in the Independent School League (or another New England Prep league) before arriving and succeeding @ BC. The question is, what happened? So much of our dominance in the mid 2000's through today has been because of Massachusetts born kids, some that didn't even play in the ISL. Schneider, Hayes, Arnold, Gibbons, and Whitney(s), but certainly without a doubt, one can say that BC's dominant product led by Massachusetts kids could soon be coming to an end. Are my saying BC Hockey is going down the drains? Haha no, I am not. I am saying that in order for the Eagles to be as good as they're capable of year in and year out, the staff may need to make stronger recruiting efforts in Michigan, Minnesota, and New York (a place where they have already been great).

Over the next couple of years, the Eagles have recruits coming in from these various states.

Massachusetts- Hanifin (left after sophomore year), White (left after sophomore year), Wood (3, maybe 4, years), Casey Fitzgerald (left Mass after sophomore year for NTDP), David Cotton (entering sophomore year @ Cushing), Connor Moore (entering sophomore year @ Brooks, didn't make USHL team), Luke McInnis (entering sophomore year @ Dexter, transfer from Hingham).

New Hampshire- Dudek (Coming this year, I believe), Sanford (here now, finished high school career in USHL)

New York- Tuch (here now), Bracco (left after his freshman year of high school for NTDP)

Pennsylvania- Chris Shero (graduated from a New England prep school, playing in EJHL)

Washington DC- Graham McPhee (Playing for NTDP this year after playing for Shattuck U16's

Idaho- Zachary Walker (played for Colorado Thunderbirds, will play for NTDP this year)

Michigan- Chris Brown (Played in Michigan high school leagues, will play USHL jr and sr years)

Minnesota- Nothing

The most important thing to take out of all that information is we have just ONE guy coming from Minnesota and Michigan, COMBINED. Look, I love the ISL and Mass high school leagues more than anyone but I'll be the first to admit that there are maybe three kids in the ISL that are good enough to play @ BC right now and one or two guys that are good enough to be @ BC right now from the MIAA.

As of now, Massachusetts hockey is still producing high quality players but it's concerning that the high quality players are not staying in Massachusetts which only means that there is a huge difference between the high end players (Wood, White, Eichel, etc) and the average players you find in the ISL or MIAA. To me, it is very disturbing to see the quality of hockey in the Mass high school leagues go down so much because for so many years, BC could just pluck kids right of the ISL in their junior or senior year. Now, the staff has to offer a kid that is a star in the ISL as a freshman but since the league is so down, who knows what he will do when he plays in the USHL or the NTDP?

Everyone (including this guy) likes to tall about how college hockey recruiting is changing because of age, which it is, but in this state, it appears to me that a large majority of elite players go to other leagues and fade away, mainly because the competition they played against in Mass is slipping tremendously. Look, the Woods, Eichels, and Hanifins of the world are going to be good no matter who they play against because those are the type of kids that have the skill and size to play versus the best high schoolers in the United States. It's about those third and fourth line guys that I am worried about. Obviously, our bottom six forwards have been a bit of a weakness since the National Championship in 2012 and I believe it's because the staff is having such a hard time finding guys in this area that are going to stay three or four years, will play third or fourth line and block shots, kill penalties, play solid defense vs another team's first line, etc.

We need to find a way to bring in more Barry Almeida's, Matt Lombardi's, Paul Carey's, Pat Mullane's, guys that come in here as fourth line guys, from this area, and will eventually work there way up and become high quality players and leaders by their junior and senior years.

Look, BC obviously a public university like the University of Minnesota or the University of Michigan, but BC Hockey (and admittedly BU Hockey) have inspired kids all throughout Massachusetts and New England to work towards one day wearing the maroon and gold or, if worst comes to worst, the scarlet and white. I mean, it seems that David Quinn and his staff have picked up a lot more Mass kids (Coughlin, Carpenter, Greer, Difley, Macleod) than we have. Obviously, the staff can't recruit Mass kids if the quality of play in the state does not go up but hopefully in the future, we will see more guys in the maroon and gold from Massachusetts than from California or Idaho.

Go Eagles.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hayes Signs With Rangers, Mottau Retires

With all that is surrounding the current and future states of the Eagles, I have completely forgotten to talk about a couple of former guys, both of whom made some big time decisions this week.  Yesterday, former Eagle and Hobey Baker winner Mike Mottau retired after a 14 year professional hockey career. Mottau is arguably the best defenseman of the Coach York era and is certainly one of the very best guys to come out of this program. Teammate Bobby Allen called him "My favorite teammate of all time, no contest". The have played with or against each other since they were eight years old. Congrats to Mike on a terrific career.

This afternoon, Kevin Hayes signed an entry level deal (worth about 925,000 plus bonuses) with the New York Rangers. Hayes selected the Rangers over his hometown Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche, among others. Congrats to Kevin, we wish him all the best (except when they play the Penguins)

Go Eagles

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Waiting Games

Let me start this post with being completely honest with you. I am really, really, worried about what could possibly take place this season for our club. Everyone wants to talk about our superb D and solid goaltending but if you look at our past three National Title teams, those clubs won on offense, each of which had three lines that could score at any time and a fourth line that could shut down another team's first line at certain junctures of a game. Frankly, I don't see that with this team, as of now.  Last season, the Eagles had 27 players on the roster and for the first time in a long time, they had to cut a guy (Sullivan) before the season started. As of today, BC has just 22 total skaters (including goalies). That is as shallow a roster we have ever had.

The position that I am most concerned about is the wing, both wings. On the left side we have Fitzgerald, Smith(can play both), Straight, Gaudreau, and Cam Spiro. On the right side, we have Chris Calnan, Austin Cangelosi, Brendan Silk, and Smith. Not very deep, especially on the left side. Milano was projected to be a first or second line left winger but that spot has since been vacated. What is the best case scenario for filling that hole? Of course, it would be Miles Wood but I don't think the chances of the staff bringing him in are very high, even though they can say with absolute certainty that he will play a lot of minutes both even strength and power play. The other, more likely, option is that they bring in Joey Dudek from Dubuque. Unlike Wood, Dudek was a senior this year @ Kimball Union and he graduated with the necessary credits needed to get into BC. While bringing in Wood would help the team more, Dudek would fill in just fine on the third or fourth line. Who is the better hockey player right now? Wood. Who has the actual credits to get into school right away? Dudek. The bottom line is that the staff has to find a way to get at least of these guys on campus this fall.

The other option they have is one that is more risky and far less likely to happen. They, hypothetically, could try and find a way to get Colin White to accelerate but he, like Noah Hanifin, would be a kid playing against guys that are six or years his senior. Why would I say bringing in a kid like White is so risky? It isn't because he isn't skilled because he is the best forward prospect they have in the pipeline, it's because playing for the USNTDP for one more year could give him the experience he needs to become the best freshman in college hockey when the 2015-16 season begins. If they brought him in this year, he could become a top four or five guy by midseason but I don't know if it is worth taking away one more, very important season of development against elite competition. His teammate, Jeremy Bracco, is another option but he isn't quiet as physically "gifted" as White is. Bracco needs another season to get bigger, faster, and stronger. Another issue with him is that he could be a very real possibility to bolt to the CHL.

I would expect that in the next couple of days, possibly by this weekend, the staff will announce that they're bringing in Joey Dudek for next season. It makes the most sense. He graduated from high school, he can play both wing and center, he is very close to being "Hockey East ready", and he has more skill than any of BC's bottom six guys currently have.

Here are my updated percentage odds to come next year-

Dudek- 95%

Wood- 40%

White/Bracco- Under 10% (a miracle would need to happen)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Rest In Peace, Corey Griffin

Yesterday was a tragic day in BC Hockey world and what happened with Sonny Milano has absolutely nothing to do with it, at all. Former Eagle Corey Griffin was killed in a freak diving accident in Nantucket this weekend. He was 27.

Griffin played at BC for a very short period of time before transferring to Babson, where he graduated. Whether it's a superstar or a walk-on transfer, this is the type of stuff that really hits home for everyone that has been a follower of the program.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Griffin family during this terrible time. 

Rest in Peace, Corey.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

What Now?

As posted earlier today, star recruit Sonny Milano is no longer committed to Boston College for this fall. Instead, he will play with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL (according to Mike McMahon). The Blue Jackets made it official earlier when they tweeted that Milano had in fact decided to sign with them. As you may have seen if you have a Twitter account, I was very shocked and disappointed by this news. Unlike most people, I am gravely worried about BC's chances at competing for a National Title with it's current roster because in all honesty, we just aren't deep enough. BU has Eichel. Maine has Shore. Northeastern has Roy. We don't have a real "go-to" guy, I thought Milano was going to be that guy by midseason, no matter how old he was. On the other side of things, a lot of people @ BC think this is a good move for the team because Milano is as much a self centered person as they have ever come across. He was in it for Sonny, not for Boston College. I'm sure that is true but in reality, we needed more talent. Every other fan in the country will cry about how we are BC and we always get the talented guys, well, obviously not.

So, what could the staff do now? Let's look at some options.

Option #1- Do nothing 

The worst part about this whole thing is that it comes so late in the summer and the staff doesn't really have the time to go out and bring a guy or two in. With the roster as it right now, BC has just 13 forwards for next year and a good number of them won't contribute much to the score sheet. I'm just thinking about this in a common sense sort of way. The staff knows they need not just talent, but they need bodies.

Chance this happen- High

Option #2- Bring Miles Wood in. 

You know my opinion on this. He's ready.

Chance this happens- Zero

Option #3- Bring Joey Dudek in

The reason Dudek isn't coming this year is because they thought he needed one more year to develop and become a "smarter" hockey player. He has some talent (6th round pick by NJD) but I think if he came this year, it would take him a long time to get used to the speed and skill that he will see night in and night out in Hockey East.

Chance this happens- A lot higher than Wood.

Option #4- Bring Colin White and or Jeremy Bracco in. 

Call me crazy but I'm convinced that Colin White could come in here right now and be a top three forward for us by the end of the year. The kid is an all around animal. He has all the tools necessary to become a star player @ BC. Bracco, while not quiet the physical specimen that White is, has the creativity and skill to be a freshman that plays top nine minutes right of the bat. Personally, I think they should hold off on Bracco because one more year of development would do him just a little bit more than it would for White. I do believe White would be an instant impact type of guy.

Chances they come- Slim

I'm sure there are other options and as I learn more, I will add to the blog. It's going to be a trying couple of weeks for the staff.

Tough day. Go Eagles.

Panic Mode. Milano Gone.

Sonny Milano informed Coach York this afternoon that he will sign with the Columbus Blue Jackets and become a professional hockey player. He will no longer be attending Boston College this fall.

I'm speechless. I'll have more later.