By: Chris Picher
Highly touted recruited classes, specifically at Boston University, normally translate to abbreviated college hockey careers. After a up-and-down season on Commonwealth Avenue where BU was one bounce of the puck from reaching the Frozen Four in Chicago, their focus is now on the offseason.
Less than 48 hours after the heartbreaking overtime loss to Minnesota Duluth, Clayton Keller, the leading point-scorer on BU played in his first NHL game. Within the next week sophomores Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson also turned professional. These two Boston Bruins draft picks are expected to appear in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with the Bruins this week.
The offseason truly starts immediately for coach David Quinn and BU because of how much roster overturn the team experiences year-to-year. In addition to the three early departures the Terriers lose three seniors, captain Doyle Somerby and forwards Nick Roberto and Tommy Kelley. These three losses will hurt the Terriers much less going forward than the aforementioned departures. Nonetheless, Somerby played a crucial role for BU on the blue line the last few seasons.
In addition to those six, the most feasible early departure would be Jordan Greenway. The Minnesota Wild drafted the six-foot-five forward in the second round in 2015 and the Wild organization will most likely try to convince Greenway in the coming months to move on from BU. Brandon Hickey could depart for the NHL as well, but it appears more likely than not that he will return for his senior season.
The rest of the team should stay intact, which would give BU a very young, but talented cast of returners. Talented and young are two words that would best describe the teams under Quinn in his four years. BU will have another young and talented recruiting class coming in next season, and of the eight players at least five should have an impact on the line as early as October of next season.
The third recruiting class under Quinn will feature five forwards and three blue-liners. BU will take all the forward depth they can get because there will be plenty of question marks surrounding the forward lines next year.
The forwards: Hank Crone (USHL, Fargo Force), Brady Tkachuk (U.S. U-18), Logan Cockerill (U.S. U-18), Ty Amonte (BCHL, Penticton Vees) and Shane Bowers (USHL, Waterloo). The defenseman: David Farrance (U.S. U-18), Kasper Kotkansalo (USHL, Sioux Falls) and Cameron Crotty (CCHL, Brockville).
“[Kotkansalo] is a kid who’s going to be captain of the Finnish World Juniors team. He’s not only a great play but he’s a man too. Crotty’s a big kid, Tkachuk is a big kid, Bowers is a good-sized kid. Crone, Cockerill and Amonte are more smaller, skilled players. It’s a good balance, a really good balance,” said Coach Quinn this offseason on his incoming recruits.
Defenseman will really have to battle for ice time again next season. Assuming Hickey returns, he and Dante Fabbro could be the first defensive pairing.
BU’s best returning defensemen after that are sophomore Chad Kyrs and senior John Macleod. The two played together at the end of last year and were very effective, but you could see Quinn put Krys with Kotkansalo and then Macleod with Farrance.
That still leaves out Brien Diffley, Shane Switzer and Cameron Crotty. It will be very crowded back there, but for the second season in a row the strength of this team will be on the blue line.
It is really hard to predict forward lines because so much of it is predicated on how players mesh together during the preseason and whether or not Quinn decides to stack his top line. If this past season is any indication we could see balance up top to pair underclassmen with returners.
Up top the first line very well could be Bowers, Patrick Harper and Kieffer Bellows. That would most likely make the second line Bobo Carpenter at center with Jordan Greenway and Tkachuk on the wings. Third line could then be Ryan Cloonan at center with Cockerill and Nikolas Olsson on the wings. Fourth line would most likely feature Chase Phelps, Patrick Curry and Crone or Gabe Chabot.
Again, these are just predictions, but what you can see is that there are more question marks in the forward lines, but there should be plenty of depth again on this BU team.
The Terriers will again be talented and rather inexperienced, but I expect them to be in the mix again for making a trip to the Frozen Four.