Hockey Banter: Early Departures and Other Offseason Topics

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

The first Hockey Banter of the offseason.

Joseph Gravellese: As we peer into the offseason abyss, there are a few topics for immediate discussion. As always at BC, potential early departures are the first thing to discuss when the season ends. While we're not quite in the position Minnesota's in, where half of their roster might leave, we run the risk of losing some key players.

The first splash came soon after Saturday night's game when a rumor was floated out there by Florida Panthers GM Dave Tallon that he may have Nick Bjugstad and Mike Matheson on the roster by the end of the month.

Obviously, this would be a huge blow. But I just don't see it happening. Matheson would be crazy to leave right now. Unlessss the Panthers were going to start him in the NHL. In which case, the Panthers would be the crazy ones. Can't discount that possibility, I guess.

Grant Salzano: I don't know. I actually think he DOES go. Usually where there's smoke, there's fire with these things.

And I don't think he would be crazy, either. As my wife pointed out -- all credit to her on this -- the smaller competition and tight refereeing in Hockey East kind of stifles his development.

JG: As dumb as many GMs in the NHL seem to be these days, I really don't think Florida would put someone so raw into the NHL right away. And I do think Matheson's better served by another year in college than by the AHL right now. His game is fantastic but has a lot of holes. He has some physical development that needs to happen before he's ready to play against professionals. This isn't a Petrecki situation. Matheson doesn't have Petrecki's size. His tools need more time to develop. He would be nuts to leave. I just wouldn't blame him for taking NHL playing time and money. But again... I don't see it happening.

I'm calling this 80-20 he stays. That's my gut prediction.

GS: I'm the opposite. I'm 80-20 he goes. But God, I hope not.

JG: Hopefully this prediction is better than my NCAA bracket.

Next on the list, obviously, is Gaudreau. We've read time and time again that he's likely to stay for (at least) his third year. I still think that's what happens. But so much will be based on how far the Flames are willing to go. What do you think?

GS: Like you I keep hearing he will stay. But just recently, the tiniest hint that he might go has come up. But I do think he stays.

He's just too small. He's targeted as it is in Hockey East. He would get knocked around in the pros I think.

As silly as it is to say, he still has some growing to do physically.

JG: I don't know how much more growing he's going to do at this point, haha. But I agree. He could use another year. I also don't think he's at the top of his game yet. Gerbe went out doing everything he could possibly do at the college level. I don't feel that way about Gaudreau. I think he stays and finishes his third year so he's in position to get his degree even if he leaves after next season. Call it 90-10.

GS: I agree with you here. 90/10. And as good as Gerbe was, he definitely made a big jump from his 2nd to 3rd year.

Maybe he'll want a second Hobey...

That would be nuts. But let's not get carried away (yet).

JG: For a player of Gaudreau's size, the path to an NHL career is long and hard. Gerbe put in quite a few years of AHL time and up-and-down time before establishing himself as a roster player. I think Gaudreau and his advisors need to look at that and realize another year at the college level, getting consistent top-line playing time and developing his high-end abilities, will be beneficial.

Next up: Billy Arnold. I don't think anyone's heard rumblings of him leaving. Though ironically, in my opinion, I see him as one of the better pro prospects, long term. But he was just elected alternate captain and by all indications will be staying. Call it 98-2%.

GS: Yes. I'm not sure he'd have been handed the "A" if he was heading out.

It's funny, as much of a "college" vs "pro" player as Gaudreau is, and how "pro" Arnold is, you don't hear a peep out of the Flames about Arnold.

JG: He's a quieter player, but I do think Arnold ends up having a long pro career.

We'll get into this more during the summer, I think. Kevin Hayes is a guy who, like Kreider, I initially figured you might as well just honor him on senior night after his third year. But with the unsatisfying ending to his 2013 season, and the fact that he's coming off a major injury... he may well be back. I'm kind of starting to think he's likely to be back. 60-40ish. Coming off the injury he suffered and starting in the AHL in October or November is a very difficult proposition.

Maybe that's just the optimist in me, though.

GS: I was completely convinced he'd be gone after this season at this point last year, but his injury changes everything I think. And he really did have a disappointing year. Would he even make the team in Rockford at this point?

JG: I don't know. It's tough to say. I think it's fair to expect he'd have some work to do in the E as he rehabs. This is a tough one because he's put in his three years and the Blackhawks have consistently shown interest in bringing him into the fold. But yeah, I do think he stays.

GS: This is a very interesting time of year. We should start a pool for each guy. "When does he go," a bunch of weeks and a "he doesn't" option. Winner take all.

JG: I've had my fill of college hockey pools, thanks.

Nice to see BU already has an early departure, in Matt Nieto, who signed with San Jose. That one will sting for BU.

GS: Have to wonder if that's the end with Parker leaving. No one really sticks out, but who knows.

JG: We shall see. They may end up losing a recruit or two, as well. Here's hoping.

Pat Brown was elected captain of the Eagles for next year -- a well-deserved honor for someone who always gives his best effort every night. Arnold and MacLeod were the "A"s. Congrats all around.

GS: Indeed. Good choices. All the talk is about Brown and Arnold but I like the MacLeod pick -- pretty highly touted D recruit who sat much of his freshman year, took his lumps, developed, and is playing good hockey.

JG: The biggest early offseason story right now is the shocking departure of head coach George Gwozdecky from Denver. Nobody really has the full story as to whether he was fired, resigned, forced out, or what. Evidently, money was an issue. Either way, this is huge news. If Denver was disappointed in his performance in any way, that's pretty shocking. Denver wins 20 games every year and Gwoz has shown the ability to win it all ,taking the title in '04 and '05.

GS: Yeah, what the heck? Not exactly a name on the Hot Seat list. He'll definitely end up somewhere else. Maine maybe? He's a hell of a coach.

JG: Gwoz, evidently, is eager to continue coaching at this level. So now there's a big prize out there for someone willing to can their coach. Also, we're on yellow alert, I think , on the Cav/Brown Warning Chart.

Maine would be interesting. I do think if there's any coach who's going to end up with a pink slip this offseason in Hockey East, it's him. (Though Madigan should be on that list.)

If I'm Maine, I make that move now. Gwoz will have his choice of destinations and if he's willing to wait a year you might see a Michigan or a Michigan State open up.

Obviously who knows if he's willing to come East, but if he is, you go make that move.

GS: Definitely. He's the top free agent right now for sure. And he's better than Whitehead.

How hot do you think Umile's seat is getting? He's not a bad coach but UNH just UNH'd *again.* Frustrations have to be running high up in Durham...

JG: I think it will be toasty after next year. This was somewhat of a retooling year for UNH. They seem to be on the upswing with some young talent. I would be shocked if he was let go this summer. Though Gwoz would be a good reason to be proactive.

Though I don't know if I'd call losing to the Best Team in the Country (Until Proven Otherwise) "UNHing."

My initial reaction to the Gwoz news was, though, "if Gwoz isn't good enough for Denver right now, how is Umile still employed?"

GS: Still, another missed shot at a Frozen Four. And that is definitely UNH'ing Until Proven Otherwise.

JG: Fair.

I would probably put him #2 on the coach hotseat ratings in Hockey East right now, but I don't see him being let go this summer. He and Sneddon I think have another year before the pressure gets overwhelming.

Northeastern's athletic director was just quoted in USA Today saying giving a coach less than five years is not okay unless he commits an NCAA violation. So, lulz, sorry Huskies.

GS: Oh Northeastern. They are the Cubs of college hockey.

JG: I said they reminded me of BC football Back When they used to have good teams that overachieved but choked whenever they had an opportunity to take the next step. It's only appropriate that they continued their BC football impression with a Spaz of their own (complete with a GDF at the helm refusing to admit his mistake).

GS: We don't speak of Spaz in BC Hockey posts.

Or GDF, for that matter.

JG: That's a good rule, which I will never violate again. That'll be all for TL;DR this week. Next week, we will preview the Frozen Four, and argue over the early semifinal. (Go Lowell!)

GS: (Go Yale!)

And Don't Go, Eagles. Pro, that is.

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