Hockey East Buy Or Sell: Preseason Edition

Eric Kilby

In this new series, we take a look at each Hockey East program and decide if their stock is rising or falling.

Joseph Gravellese: Welcome to Hockey East Buy or Sell. In this monthly segment, we will take a look at where Hockey East teams are and decide to buy if we think their stock is about to rise, or sell if they're about to fall. For our preseason edition, we'll buy or sell based on last year's finishing order.

Ready cap'n?

Grant Salzano: Oh so ready.

JG: #1: Boston College. Buy or sell to repeat as tops in Hockey East?

GS: Buy, all day, obviously. We lost some but picked up a lot of good freshman talent, and there's some serious depth. And we have MILNA, kehd!

JG: Agreed. As in the past two seasons I just don't see anyone else in Hockey East really being a part of the national championship conversation. As such we won't know much about BC based on conference schedule alone. We'll have our bumps in the road but should solidly top the league.

#2: UMass-Lowell, coming off of their surprising run to the NCAA quarterfinals. Buy or sell Lowell at #2?

GS: I'm all aboard the UML bandwagon here. Surprising run last year, yes, but it was a sustained run, and they didn't lose much at all.

There's a big drop from #2 to #3 I think.

JG: They're very much for real, and unlike their very good '09 team this team was built on a foundation of young talent that's built to last. And they have a tremendous coach. They will make the NCAA tournament this year. That said, I'm selling on them as #2.

#3 BU. After an offseason of tumult, buy or sell on BU? Do they challenge for a top spot or fall back into the home-ice bubble zone?

GS: This is oh so predictable from me but I'm selling at #3. I don't think very much of BU this year and feel they've lost a lot. They're going to need to get lucky with whoever their new goalie is going to be. I don't think they'll be terrible, but I don't have them hanging around in the top 3.

JG: I'm buying, only because I think there's enough mediocrity in Hockey East this year that their talent should win out and squeeze them into #2. College Hockey News ranked their recruiting class #1 in the conference and it's hard to argue. They bring in 10 freshmen, which is good for them as they need to wash the stench out of their program. Matt Grzelcyk will be a star on the blue line and Sam Kurker should be an elite player too, as long as he sticks around at BU for a while. Which the last few years tells us probably won't be long.

Goalie is a big question mark though.

GS: Buying BU?

And that concludes Joe Gravellese's time writing here at BC Interruption. Let's all wish him well on his future endeavors.

...I'm being told I don't make those decisions around here.

Moving on... are you buying or selling the Black Bears at #4?

JG: This is a tough call. Everyone is down on Maine going into this year. They've lost a lot --- their incredible top line of Abbott, flynn and Diamond was so good that you couldn't take your eyes off the ice for a second while they were out there, and they've lost 2/3 of that line. But I also really liked the way Maine played overall late in the season.

There are just too many question marks all over the Maine roster, though, so I'm going to sell on Maine at #4. But only after some hesitation.

GS: This is a tough one for sure. That top line was insanity. But I'm going to buy for the same reason you bought BU, which is that there's just so much mediocrity in the middle here.

JG: Reasonable.

GS: How about the Mack; how do you feel about them at #5 this year?

JG: [Blows a raspberry] SELL SELL SELL.

Nothing to see here. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Merrimack. I don't mean to bash on fellow BC Guy Mark Dennehy, but he's going to look like a lot less of a coaching mastermind without Joe Cannata, and two years removed from Da Costa (they really weren't even that good last year and only had their reputation inflated by a ludicrously weak early-season schedule).

GS: This is all you need to know about Merrimack. They were #1 in the nation at one point last year (WHAT?!). Then began a fall from grace that was so monumental that even Lance Armstrong was impressed. And they are MUCH worse this year.

JG: That being said, Dennehy has turned them into a real program with real recruits, rather than an approximation of the gooned-up Syracuse team from Slap Shot that Merrimack regularly resembled six or seven years ago. And they return Kyle Bigos, who is somehow still NCAA eligible despite being like 34 years old and entering his 15th season in college hockey.

Seriously, wasn't he a senior when we were freshmen? It definitely feels that way.

GS: SELL, SELL, SELL, for God's sake, sell.

JG: At #6, the UNH Wildcats. Lots of folks buyin' what Coach Umile's sellin' this year. You one of 'em?

GS: Well Jerry York is buyin', so I am too. Coach gave them his first place vote in the coaches poll, so how can you not? Plus, apropos of nothing, they'll probably be inexplicably good in the regular season and then be nowhere to be found in the postseason. "We now return you to your regularly scheduled UNH," as it were.

JG: I'm buying too, but cautiously. They're a young team that seemed to be coming together nicely at the end of last year. They pushed BU to triple overtime in game 3 of the Hockey East quarterfinals at Agganis and damn near backed their way into a trip to the Garden. And this year they bring in a bunch of solid recruits, though none jump out as superstars.

They will have growing pains as a young team, and I'm not totally sold on DeSmith as a #1 goalie. So, a cautious buy as UNH moves up one or two spots.

GS: I've been waiting for this one. Providence: Buy or Sell?

JG: Buy. I'm not as bullish on PC as some of the pundits are but I think they're definitely in a position to bypass a few of the falling teams. They have some darn good freshmen coming in, highlighted by Mark Jankowski, who was picked in the first round of the NHL draft.

They return most of their top scorers, though they do lose their goalie, Beaudry, to graduation. But they also picked up hotshot goalie recruit Jon Gillies, who decommitted from NU and bolstered PC's ranks this summer. If he's anywhere near as good as the NU fans hoped he'd be, Providence will be a strong team to contend with this year. Buy.

GS: Decommited Northeastern recruits tend to do pretty decently, huh? *Cough buy your Gaudreaubey Baker shirt today cough*.

I'm one of those very bullish on Providence. I don't think they'll be world-beaters or have a Lowell-like meteoric rise, but I do think their top-tier recruiting class and many returning scorers will firmly separate them from the bottom of the conference and into the murky realm of middle-of-the-road programs in conference. I will go so far as to predict they'll get home ice this year. There, I said it.

JG: Well then.

At #8 last year, BC's perpetual playoff opponent UMass-Amherst. Buy or sell?

GS: Buy. But they're not moving anywhere this year. They are solidly in the bottom three, but definitely above bottom 2. This is an 8th place team if there ever was one.

It will be interesting to see what the new coach can do over the next several years, because I think you and I both believe this is a team that can hang in the middle of the conference in most years.

...But not this year.

JG: I'm in the same boat as you on this one all around. I see the long-term potential for UMass to rise into the mid-level of the conference, but I'm Buying them as finishing exactly in 8th this year and returning to Conte for yet another two game series in March. Maybe we'll even have another power outage. Why mess with tradition?

GS: I can't believe how many times we've played these guys the last few years.

JG: Yeah, it's nuts...

They will probably be a little better than they were last year if they can sort out the goaltending situation. KJ Tiefenwerth joins the all-star team you could make up of guys who decommitted from BC and should bring a lot to Amherst. But positionally they'll end up 8th.

GS: They'll probably be better on the whole, but I think we can safely chalk up their bizarre winning record against teams that are #1 in the nation to Small Sample Size.

JG: Si.

At #9, Northeastern. Buying? Selling?

GS: These poor guys can't get out of their own way. I bought UMass to stay at #8 because they'll probably improve a bit. But I'm selling Northeastern despite having them stay at #9 because they're going the complete wrong direction as a program.

Can we have their hockey arena and we'll trade them, I don't know, our sweet scoreboards?

JG: Ha. Yes. Nothing like a game at Matthews anywhere in college hockey. And their fanbase is loyal, if driven completely insane by the painful hockey they're forced to consume each year. So I've always wanted to see them succeed a little bit. But they deserve what they're getting right now. They full-out Spazzed their head coach hire with Madigan, picking the loyal-to-the-school guy instead of thinking outside of the box and going for a guy like Cavanaugh who could have built a winning program on Huntington Ave.

I'm Buying, but I could easily see this whole thing blowing up. They are very unpredictable this year. They'll have a ton of offense and no defense. We know exactly what to expect between the pipes, but the problem is, it's Rawlings.

No program has been more impacted by late arrivals and departures than NU. They pulled in the Roy brothers late after they decommitted from Brown, but that won't alleviate the pain of missing out on John Gaudreau and Jon Gillies.

And this one should be easy: Vermont. Discuss.

GS: Hahahahaha... Vermont.

JG: They are imploding like... like... like Tim Thomas.

GS: AW AWW...

I thought Vermont was relegated to the AHA when UConn was promoted?

JG: Sebastian Stalberg jumped to the pros, Madore graduated, and their top recruit Zemgus Girgensons bolted for an NHL contract even though there's no NHL for him to bolt to.

Sad times in Burlington. Sell.

GS: Zemgus Girgensons... that's probably not even a real name, and just a figment of someones imagination created to further torture their horrible fans.

JG: Lots of things are figment of Vermont fans' imaginations, if you know what I mean.

GS: Not that Frozen Four banner! THAT HAPPENED!

JG: It did, it really did.

Until next time...

GS: Hockey soon!

Go Eagles.

JG: Buy BC. And sell your Apple stock. To me.

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