Men’s Hockey: Curry, Harper and Zegras take leap, sign pro deals

The Boston University Terriers’ three top scoring forwards from the 2019-20 season will not return in the fall, as Patrick Curry, Patrick Harper and Trevor Zegras have signed professional deals.

Curry and Harper’s departures were a given, as both were seniors, while there was less certainty about Zegras, the 2019 ninth overall pick of the Anaheim Ducks who departs after just one season on Comm. Ave.

Curry, last season’s captain, had the least certain professional future of the three, as he was the only one who had not been selected in the NHL draft. However, the 2019-20 Hockey East Best Defensive Forward found a professional home, signing a two-year deal with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League (AHL) last Thursday, March 26.

The Griffins are an affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, who likely saw plenty of Curry in college as they hold the rights to a couple of his BU teammates: forwards Robert Mastrosimone and Ethan Phillips as well as defenseman Kasper Kotkansalo.

Harper, a 2016 fifth-round pick to the Nashville Predators, signed a two-year entry level contract on March 20. The Hockey East Third Team All-Star led Terrier forwards in points this season with 37 (14g, 23a), and was second on the team behind defenseman (and Hobey Baker finalist) David Farrance, who finished with 43 (14g, 29a).

Harper joins an organization loaded with former Terriers. His former teammate and captain Dante Fabbro is a second-pair defenseman after signing his entry-level contract just over a year ago, and Nick Bonino, the third-line center, helped BU win a national championship in 2009. Nashville also owns the rights to Farrance, and is even coached by former Terrier forward John Hynes, who won the 1995 national championship at BU.

Zegras, meanwhile, inked his three-year entry-level deal with the Ducks on Mar. 27. The Hockey East Third Team All-Star and Hockey East All-Rookie Team member finished third on the team in points with 36 (11g, 25a). Zegras led all Hockey East rookies in assists.

It is worth noting that one of Zegras’s contemporaries, Boston College’s Alex Newhook, chose to stay in the NCAA for his sophomore season. The BC forward also earned Third Team and All-Rookie honors in Hockey East, and even won Rookie of the Year. With 42 points on the year (19g, 23a), the 2019 16th overall pick to the Colorado Avalanche co-led the Eagles in points with Julius Matilla, and helped BC win the Hockey East regular season.

Newhook will return next season to further develop his game, and possibly contend for the 2021 Hobey Baker, whereas Zegras will move on the next phase of his career. Context is important here, as the Avalanche are a top team in the Western Conference and can afford to let Newhook take his time to develop in college before forcing him into the pros. Zegras’s Ducks, meanwhile, are a non-playoff team who may be eager to infuse Zegras’s play-making ability onto their team as soon as possible. Obviously, more factors come into play, but the outcomes of each decision are worth evaluating.

Looking at the Terriers as a whole, the team will need to find a way to make up for such a profound loss in offensive production, especially if Farrance leaves as well. Mastrosimone was the fifth-highest scorer on the team last season, albeit with 17 (7g, 10a) compared to Curry’s fourth-highest 32 (19g, 13a), and defenseman Domenick Fensore was right behind with 16 (3g, 13a).

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