Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Alex Tuch Signs With Minnesota
Sophomore forward Alex Tuch signed with the Minnesota Wild this evening, making him the fourth Eagle to leave early in the past week. Before getting into the meat of my post, I want to congratulate Alex on his first professional contract- from what I understand, he is a terrific kid who works extremely hard.
As for BC, well, this has been a brutal week. I expected Gilmour and Tuch to sign, Santini was 50/50, and Wood was a complete shock. Unfortunately, Tuch may not be the last guy to sign early given that Colin White, Ian McCoshen, and Thatcher Demko have yet to make their decisions. While I think White might stay, I'd be shell-shocked if either McCoshen or Demko comes back.
Tuch's departure sent off a firestorm around BC Hockey world (at least on Twitter) as many fans were quick to criticize every name in the book. Trust me, I understand the frustration, especially considering this never used to happen around here. Look at the 2008, 2010, and 2012 National Championship teams- they all consisted of guys who could have signed NHL contracts the previous year, but came back to help lead BC to the promised land. In my mind, the landscape of the sport, and the type of player that comes to a program like BC, is vastly different than it was even four years ago. It's easy to sit there and say the staff should have known when players were going to leave but what were they supposed to do? Ask them to make a decision in January? They believed most of the attrition would take place after next season because more often that not, anyone not drafted in the first or second round has stayed at BC for four years.
I think the hardest part of Coach York's job is trying to figure out the correct balance between superstar players that actually WANT to be at BC and four year guys that can play top six minutes junior and senior years. Look at the 2012 squad for a second- Barry Almeida, Paul Carey, and Tommy Cross all had varying production levels throughout their first three years but once that last campaign came around, they became some of the most reliable players on the roster. On top of that experienced core, BC had some insanely talented players that bled maroon and gold through and through- Chris Kreider, Brian Dumoulin, and Johnny Gaudreau come to mind. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure Tuch, Gilmour, Santini, and Wood enjoyed their time at BC but this did not take place a few years back. Why the sudden change in heart among BC players? I think it has less to do with the mindset of the players than it does the mindset of NHL teams. After Kevin Hayes burned Chicago in 2014, and Mike Reilly/Jimmy Vesey did the same with Columbus and Nashville, respectively, teams are trying harder than ever to get kids signed before they enter the last year of their "contracts". So, when you're a top end program like BC, who obviously tries to recruit the best players available, you run the risk of losing all those guys after one or two seasons. Look at the past five national champions (not counting BC)- North Dakota, Providence, Union, Yale, and Duluth- they were led by seniors and juniors who drastically improved from year one to year three or four. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have a club like Wisconsin that landed nearly every top recruit from 2010-2013, before being burned by early departures and the CHL. Mike Eaves, a coach that recruited the likes of Ryan McDonough, Kyle Turris, Nick Kerdiles, Christian Dvorak, Justin Schultz, Brendan Smith, and Jake McCabe was out of job less than five years after making the National Championship because either guys left after their sophomore seasons or didn't show up at all. Some (me) would counter this argument by asking what would you rather the staff do, not go after the best players? I believe there should be a middle ground reached in each class they bring in from here on out- try to get one or two, maybe three, high end players that run the risk of leaving early, but put an emphasis on finding skaters that want to be at Boston College more than anything in the world. I had a long conversation with my government teacher today (an avid college fan, but not BC) and he made a great point in saying that for players like Bill Arnold, Danny O'Regan (BU), Tommy Cross, and Matt Grzelyck (BU), nothing meant more to them than donning those famed uniforms and trying to bring home titles. I am not sure the same can be said about the players some of these top end programs are bringing in now.
So, how can BC fix this? Right now, the staff has thirteen forwards on the depth chart for next season- defense, even if McCoshen bolts, is not a problem, at least in terms of sheer numbers. Most of those recruits committed two or three years ago, in fact, Michael Booth is the only incoming forward who they snatched this winter, because they were convinced that everyone outside of Tuch would come back for another year. I heard from a couple of good sources that there was a good chance of Colin White coming back for another year but after Tuch's departure, I think he might have a change of heart. The only good news that comes out of these departures is that the staff might have some extra scholarship money to spend on potential freshmen for next season, but that begs the question of who will they go after? I'm not going to speculate but with all the holes up front, there is no way they don't bring in at least two more forwards. While this may not be want you want to hear at the moment, I think the next two recruiting classes, particularly the incoming one, consist of over nearly a dozen players that are skilled and likely to stick around (knock on wood). Outside of maybe Jacob Tortora, a 2017 recruit, there doesn't appear to be any flight risks to the CHL, which is a major change from the past two offseasons. While they may have some trouble at times next year, they will bring back a boatload of young talent that will mesh with a highly touted 2017 class. Guys like David Cotton, Connor Moore, Graham McPhee, and Luke McInnis, while not first round draft picks, are the type of players BC needs more of in order to have sustained success because they are likely to stick around for at least three seasons, if not four.
Trust me, I know it has been a tough week, but Coach York, Coach Brown, and Coach Ayers are three of the hardest workers you will find and I'm sure they will get it figured out.