Continuing on from Part I...
Joseph Gravellese: One other thing I wanted to touch on: Mike Matheson. Well, you made your thoughts known last week about how annoying it was to read him talking about his days being numbered at BC. But in the short-term, what matters is: does he keep up his second half improvement in terms of discipline and combine that with his physical gifts to be an anchor player for BC?
To me, this one's an emphatic yes. He's one of the most physically skilled defensemen I've seen in Hockey East. There's a reason why he's probably gone soon, and it's that he'd probably already be a borderline player for the Panthers. I look for him to do big things this year, and hopefully stay out of the box.
Grant Salzano: I would be surprised if he didn't continue the improvement. Sometimes it's easy to forget the dude was a *freshman* last year. Like, holy hell.
JG: He's going to be in Canadian world junior camp, which will be an interesting storyline, but he won't make the team, because they don't take college players, pretty much ever. But that should be even more great experience for him to prep for a hopeful tournament run.
GS: He's exactly the type of guy you'd describe as "unpolished." The raw skill is just incredible. It does take a bit of adjustment to get used to the refereeing of Hockey East as a big player. But maybe that's what we were starting to see at the end of the year.
JG: Related to Matheson, we know he's a flight risk. Think anyone else is?
GS: Gaudreau, of course. But interestingly, there seems to be a chance he actually might stay 4 years. How nuts is that?
JG: Well, other than Gaudreau. I kind of forget that he's going to be a junior and not a senior. Not only because he's been so prominent for so long, but also because he's sort of expected to be a three year guy.
Looking at the roster though, honestly, unless one of the freshmen is even better than we think (and Ian McCoshen might be), I don't see anyone else as a flight risk this year, which is weird.
GS: Other than Gaudreau, there is literally No One. Arnold's going to be a senior, and Hayes obviously as well... but there isn't even anyone even remotely on the radar, from what I can tell. Unless someone goes all Philip Samuelsson on us.
JG: Man, Arnold. There's another guy who has always seemed on the Verge of Dominance, but not quite there. And I honestly sometimes forget he's coming back, too. He might be the #1 candidate for that fourth year jump.
GS: Arnold, to me, has never seemed like he was going to be a guy that would dominate a game. Instead, he seems like the guy who makes it all work. He is quite an all-around player.
Maybe the best on the team.
There were a bunch of other topics I wanted to get to this week, but since we (shockingly) went all tl;dr, let's do this quick-hit style.
GS: Alright, hit me.
JG: If Alex Carpenter makes the US Olympic team, can a BC women's hockey player win the Patty Kaz this year?
I'm going to say No, but Skarupa could put up one of the highest scoring seasons in BC history if she's the primary goalscorer.
GS: I say no as well, but mostly because if we're successful this year it'll be because of depth. Skarupa is the obvious candidate but I think you're going to see her spread around a lot of the scoring with Field, Trivigno, and a couple of the others.
*Especially* with Carpenter not around this year.
I'm going to say Schneider is too deep in the depth chart to make an impact, but thankfully for him, he's finally been traded out of Vancouver and should soon emerge as the long term #1 for New Jersey, so that bodes well for him going forward, maybe with an eye toward 2018.
Orpik could be a rock for the US. I kind of thought Scuderi might get a look, because dude's been such a WINNAH. But that might have just been the homer in me.
GS: You might see Schneider make more of an impact depending on what happens with the goaltending situation. If Orpik makes the team you won't hear much about him because he's such a defensive defenseman.
Not that that's a bad thing at all. He just won't get much talk.
JG: World Juniors has been on the mind as the US just wrapped up evaluation camp. They struggled a bit against Sweden and Finland before absolutely rocking Canada in the camp finale. Thatcher Demko acquitted himself well, but Jon Gillies of PC is the clear #1 goalie. The BC storyline is that Ian McCoshen seemed to score in every game in camp.
Not only is McCoshen looking like a lock to make the team, I'm starting to really get pumped about seeing what he can do for a D corps that really struggled to get the puck out of its own end last year.
GS: All I can really add to that is "Thank God."
JG: Ha, yep.
The US U-18s took silver at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, which is a real thing. The US continues to improve at the youth level, with U17 and U18 success being reflected in the US medaling in three of the last four WJCs. The expanding US talent pool will certainly be a college hockey storyline going forward.
GS: As long as they don't all go to the Q...
JG: Sahir Gill said "au revoir," or whatever it is that Canadians say, to BU last week, departing after his junior season for Destination Unknown. Good move, kid.
GS: There were rumblings that it wasn't entirely a one-sided decision. Hopefully it takes BU a couple years of new players to really get on their feet with the new coaching staff.
Or not on their feet at all.
JG: And finally, UML signed Norm Bazin to an extension through 2017-18. While college coaching contracts are generally not worth the paper they're written on, it's safe to say that Lowell isn't going away any time soon, kids.
GS: I'm fine with this, mostly because Lowell's new-found success has meant a retreat from their horrifyingly boring style of hockey into a more physical and entertaining game.
And that's good for all of us, because we no longer want to gauge our eyes out 3 times a year.
Well, 2 now. Sad face.
JG: Womp womp.
Join us next week for a very special edition in which we look into the crystal ball and predict what we think Hockey East will look like in ten years. So all you high school seniors out there thinking about playing for Merrimack in 8 or 9 years, pay attention.
GS: I see what you did there.