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.
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)
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.
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)
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-
White/Bracco- Under 10% (a miracle would need to happen)
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.
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.
Before I get to the lineup, there a few minimal notes we should touch upon.
It appears the staff is done looking for another forward to join the roster next season, which is the primary reason I am doing my first lineup preview tonight. The Wood ship sailed long ago but they made a couple of other attempts on other guys but because of the timing and the fact they couldn't get anyone they thought really fit the system, they're going to go with what they got and that isn't half bad. There's always that slight chance things change but it doesn't look good.
Speaking of Miles Wood, he will play for the South Shore Kings half season team next fall before taking the ice for Nobles.
The schedule is pretty much set in stone, we are just waiting on two games vs UMass-Amherst. I think the Minutemen could possibly be BC's home opener either Saturday October 11th but that remains a question mark. As for when we travel out to Amherst, possibly the very next weekend, Saturday the 25th after we host Colorado College on Friday the 24th. Hopefully that will be figured out soon.
Not much to report on the recruiting trail. They're still awaiting word on Krys but who knows when that will be. 2016 recruit David Cotton participated in the Beantown Classic in Marlborough this week, not a real inspiring performance from his team tonight, they got smoked like 5-1, Cotton seemed to struggle for large portions of the game but it could just be fatigue.
Anyways, here is my first lineup projection of the year because when I walked into Kelly Rink today, the ice was down and almost fainted. I'll try and do a couple others before the season starts.
Ryan Fitzgerald- Adam Gilmour- Chris Calnan
I thought Ryan and Adam played really well towards the end of last season, as Fitzgerald was without a doubt BC's best player in the Frozen Four game vs Union (besides the penalty). If they continue to progress like they have been, then they'll be two consistent players this year. I would expect that they also both play first power play unit. Calnan is the one question mark. He struggled for the first three quarters of last winter but like the other two, he became more of a factor out there as the year grew older. The issue for me is whether or not he is ready to become a first line guy that can put points on the board. Sure, he can be the meat and potatoes guy on this line but he also has to find a way to put the puck in the net.
Sonny Milano- Alex Tuch- Austin Cangelosi
This line has the potential to be really special by Beanpot time (if they're even a line). The staff has big expectations for Austin Cangelosi this season, they think he could be the team's best offensive player and one of the top point getters in the league. He certainly showed his value in some big games (Beanpot final) last season. Obviously, everyone has some expectations for the two incoming first round picks but I think we need to separate them a little bit because they're different players. Milano, if the right pieces fall into place, could be the most talented freshman of the Coach York era besides some guy from New Jersey but Tuch is a bit of a different animal. He is a really big, a good skater for his size, and has a booming shot. They went together really well in Ann Arbor so I think the staff should at least give them a shot at playing together from the get-go in Chestnut Hill.
Matty Gaudreau-Zach Sanford-Brendan Silk
Now that I think about it, pretty much every freshman got better as the season went on, including Matty Gaudreau who I also thought was solid in the NCAA tournament. I don't see any reason why he should be benched behind any of the four senior forwards. Brendan Silk was the most improved player on the team from 2013 to 2014 and hopefully he continue to be somewhat of a physical presence out there. Sanford is the big key for me when it comes to this line. Personally, I have never seen him play but the scouts say he is a big forward (6'3), that has a knack for moving the puck. He was a second round draft pick of the Washington Capitals so he must be pretty darn good. He is, by far, the most underrated prospect in the incoming class.
Quinn Smith- Mike Sit- Danny Linell
For a fourth line, I don't think they're all that bad but that's only assuming they find a way to take their games up a notch. Look, I'm certainly not one to sit here and talk about their performance on the ice but I think everyone expects a little more from these guys. It seems to me that Smith and Sit are out there every shift battling but they just never seem to put the puck in the net. Ever. This is BC. We don't bring guys in to dump pucks in the zone and stand around. They're expected to contribute to the scoresheet. They have got to find a way to play some good hockey this season. They have to.
Defense (it's scary good)
Mike Matheson- Scott Savage
I'm a big fan of these two players. Coaches are not allowed to have favorites. Bloggers are. I think both of these guys have tremendous upsides in the offensive end and because of our depth @ D, they don't need to be out there with a minute left in a game in which we're up a goal. Mike Matheson is coming back with a C on his shoulder. You don't just get named the captain @ BC and you're expected to be one of the outstanding leaders and in Mike's case, one of the outstanding players in all of college hockey. Really high expectations for these two.
Ian McCoshen- Noah Hanifin
Talk about Eichel all you want. He may be the next Mike Modano. He may be the next Patrick Kane. I don't know. But I am telling you this right now, Noah Hanifin has a chance to be one of the top defenseman in the NHL four or five years from now. If I could put together a perfect defenseman, he would be big in size, an obvious ability to take the puck end to end with a fluent skating motion, has keen awareness in his own end, and a booming shot. Ever watch Nick Lidstrom play? Yea, this kid reminds me of him. I think by the end of the season, he will be the most valuable player on our team outside of maybe Demko. As for McCoshen, he just has to find a way to stay healthy. He is great in his own end, isn't a stiff when it comes to offensive zone, and has perhaps the best shot on the team. When Eichel is on the ice, I want McCoshen, and of course Santini, out against him. That should be the shutdown pair.
Steve Santini- Teddy Doherty
Remember the 2013 NCAA playoffs when we had Colin Sullivan playing forward and played like four defenseman the whole entire game? Things have changed in a big way. While Teddy Doherty might be the least heralded out of these six guys, he has clearly proven his worth over the course of his first two years here. Yes, he struggles in his own end and has a weak shot but I love the way he skates, moves the puck up the ice and finds the open man. His "risky" style of play fits perfectly with the best defensive defenseman BC has had since Andrew Alberts, Steve Santini. I mean if I'm coaching against the Pittsburgh Penguins and I'm the Bruins, screw Chara and Boychuck, I want Santini out there (remember, Pens fan here). I was talking to a team member a few weeks back and asked how the heck we were going to stop Eichel, he replied "we can only do one thing, put Santini out there". What a battle that will be.
Goalie- obviously Demko.
Anyways, that sucked the wind out of me. Enjoy. Have a good night.