Last weekend, the Boston University Terriers made a splash at the 2016 NHL draft. A combination of six current and incoming Terriers were drafted, four in the first round which ties a record set back in 2006 with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers. At the center of it all sits Coach David Quinn, who caught all of the action live at the First Niagara Center. “It’s a lot of fun watching these kids achieve one of their goals,” Quinn said. “To watch how happy they were and watch them go through the experience of getting drafted, it was a lot of fun for us as coaches to watch that, and obviously it was a proud moment for our program.”
Of the six drafted, only one has actually played in the scarlet and white, rising sophomore defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who was taken 14th overall by the hometown Boston Bruins. Quinn recognized the growth McAvoy had to make as an offensive defenseman as “A lot of times when an offensively gifted defenseman gets to college, there are areas they need to work on with defensive play and just letting the game come to them, not try to do to much, and as the year went on, Charlie certainly improved dramatically from the defensive side,” Quinn said. “I thought he was a lot more patient, I thought he was not forcing plays and he just played a much better all around game as the year went on.”
Clayton Keller went the highest of any of the Terriers drafted, 7th overall to the Arizona Coyotes. Keller holds the US National Team Development Program record with 189 career points, higher than current NHLers Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel. That type of offense is something Quinn is excited for Keller to bring to Comm Ave. “I don’t think there’s been many players that I’ve ever seen that have been able to create offense off the rush the way Clayton can. He makes everybody on the ice better, he’s a dynamic player, he’s got a competitive side to him, he’s got an edge to him, I think people are gonna really enjoy watching him play,” Quinn said.
Keller’s NTDP linemate, Kieffer Bellows, was also one of the first round picks, taken 19th overall by the New York Islanders. While Bellows has a touted NHL-ready shot, there are other aspects of his game that Quinn recognizes and appreciates. He said, “I thought his overall game continued to improve, he’s a smart player, he makes guys around him better, he’s got a physical element to his game, and we’re really excited about him coming.”
The other three BU players taken in the draft were Penticton (BCHL) defenseman Dante Fabbro, a guy the Bruins were going back and forth on before picking McAvoy and was eventually taken at No. 17 by the Nashville Predators, Chad Krys, taken in the second round by the Chicago Blackhawks, and Patrick Harper, a 5th round Predators pick.
At the end of the draft, more than 20% of the first 20 picks ended up in Coach Quinn’s hands. With that, there’s a lot of chatter that the Terriers are a national championship caliber team, but Quinn is quick to put those notions to rest for now. “Obviously when you have guys drafted as high as we do, people like to talk and speculate but as we all know, you gotta perform and people certainly are gonna be reactionary after Friday night, but when everybody gets on the ice on October 1st, it’s a level playing field,” Quinn said.
Many people think to credit Quinn for the program’s success but when asked, he points to a very different group of people. Quinn said, “more than anything, it talks about the job that Steve Greeley, Albie O’Connell, Scott Young and Buddy Powers have done. These guys have spent a lot of time and worked awfully hard on the road identifying talent at a young age, cultivating relationships with these guys, getting them committed to BU, maintaining the relationship with them, I know as the head coach, people call me about it, but they should be calling these guys because they’re the ones that do all the leg work and they do a phenomenal job recruiting. Without their hard work and keen eyes for talent, we wouldn’t be getting players like this.”
For now, Quinn plans to enjoy whatever relaxation he can this summer before gearing up for the season. “There’s really not a lot of down time in this position, you’re constantly recruiting and doing things to improve your program so it gets a little less stressful in the summer, but all our freshman will be here and it’ll be a fun summer.”