By: Matt Dresens
Boston University hockey is in a good place right now. There is no other way to look at the program at the moment. After a disappointing first half, the Terriers had a second-half charge for the ages, winning the Hockey East Championship and making the final eight in the National Tournament for the second consecutive season.
“I loved the characteristics that we showed this season and I think that will carry into next season,” voiced head coach David Quinn in the final media availability of the year.
The focus now, as it does this time every year shifts towards who’s staying and who’s going. Jordan Greenway bolted practically before the bus returned from Worcester, but his signing with the Minnesota Wild was almost a foregone conclusion. That begs the question, who else could leave?
“We are always going to be in that position,” said Quinn. “We knew we were going to lose Greenway. The other guys who are potential flight risks we have been talking with. There have been no final decisions, but we should know sooner than later.”
Dante Fabbro is certainly a possibility and so is Brady Tkachuk. Fabbro was the 17th overall pick in 2016 by Nashville, but the Predators have a solid D-core as it is. Nashville sits comfortably atop the Western Conference standings, and actually lead the charge for the Presidents Trophy at the moment.
The two-way defenseman potted nine goals and added 20 assists in 38 games played with the Terriers this winter.
Tkachuk, on the other hand, is a consensus top-five pick in the NHL draft this summer. Where he is taken and what his plans are could very well change from now and June. David Farrance is another Nashville draft pick who could possibly leave, but Quinn said he “should” be back.
If last year taught us anything, all of this has to be taken with a grain of salt. At the end of last year, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was reported to be returning for his junior year with BU. But just weeks later, he signed with the Boston Bruins and made his NHL debut. Players change their minds; agents make suggestions; things change. It’s all part of the game.
An unexpected departure like Forsbacka Karlsson has the potential to cause a number of issues at the beginning of the year.
“That was certainly a knuckleball, but no one is going to feel bad for BU,” mentioned Quinn. “That was part of our problem early, trying to find guys who would play that role. We eventually found our recipe for success.”
Let’s also not forget about Canadian major junior; that is always an option for players. It’s not uncommon at all for players to jump ship, sign with the major junior team that drafted them and play there for a year, à la Kieffer Bellows. This can also happen with recruits. Not saying that any of this is going happen, just be mindful it has in the past.
Taking The Next Step
David Farrance, Logan Cockerill and Shane Bowers all had breakout performances in the second half and seriously contributed to the team’s postseason run. Bowers, at one point, was leading the nation in goals scored by a freshman. Cockerill rolled off a 10-game point streak from mid-January to mid-March. Once David Farrance returned to the blue line during the Hockey East playoffs, the Victory, N.Y. native notched two of the biggest goals all season and racked up “All-Regional Team” honors in Worcester.
With Patrick Harper back in the fold for next year, the roster is certainly in good shape right now. Barring any unforeseen departures, the team returns seven of their eight top scorers. That includes Bobo Carpenter, who is the heir-apparent to the captaincy and leading goal-scorer.
That being said, the expectation for Quinn is for Carpenter to be even better next year, saying “I think he has another level to get to.” The coach went on to say, “We have a good core coming back. I think the taste of what they had the last few months here will drive us a little bit harder next year.”
The Curious Case of Patrick Harper
One of the more mysterious events of the season is what happened to Patrick Harper. The sophomore forward was leading the Terrier offensive charge when he played his last game of the year on January 6, a 3-0 loss to Maine at home. No one, not even the coaching staff knew it at the time, but that would be his final game of the year.
According to Quinn, Harper started to feel unwell during the day of
January 6 and actually got the flu as the Maine game played out later that night. Five days later he was fine, but still had the respiratory issues, which he had been having for a while.
“The recovery was to take the rest of the year off and he is progressing well and he’s going to be fine for next year,” Quinn said.
Next Year’s New Blood
Like most of Quinn and staff’s other recruiting classes, next year’s new crop of Terriers offers a lot of high-profile players. Forwards Joel Farabee, Jake Wise and Jack DeBoer are all members of the USA U18 team. The three Terrier recruits have all played as a line for several games with the National Development Program this year.
Farabee paces the trio offensively with 64 points on 27 goals and 37 assists in 53 games played for the U.S. In Sportsnet’s February draft projections, the Canadian sports site projected Farabee as the 12th overall pick, saying that he is a, “highly skilled forward who presents the dual threat as his hockey IQ makes him equally as dangerous a playmaker as he is a shooter.”
Brady Tkachuk was projected 4th overall in the same article.
As for Weiss, Wise (this will be fun next year) and DeBoer, they all made the list of top North American skaters ranked by the NHL Central Scouting Rankings. Weiss came in at number 71, DeBoer is ranked 197, and Wise is slotted at 221.
In addition to the top-end NHL draft prospects, the coaching staff has also made a concerted effort to bring in players who intend to say longer than one or two years.
“That’s something we have been cognizant of when we do the recruiting,” Quinn said. “I don’t want to say we have altered it, but there’s definitely been more awareness, but you never know. You think you’re bringing in a guy who’s gonna be a four-year player and he scores 50 points and leaves, then that’s good too. Its tough to project, but we are certainly aware of guys who could potentially be four-year players.”
Captains and some of next year’s scheduled will be announced at the end of the year team banquet in a few weeks.