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Boston College Hockey Season Post-Mortem, Part 3: What Could Have Been?

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A look at some factors who could have changed this season

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Having a run of success like Jerry York has had at Boston College requires both skill and a fair bit of luck—not only on the ice, but in program-building. The fact that York has been able to build a program whose elite players consistently stay in school for 3-4 years is, for the most part, not luck; it's based on recruiting strategy and ability to sell the program.

That said, there are all kinds of things that can derail a season. Players leaving early to go pro; players jumping to the Canadian Hockey League; disciplinary issues; transfers; injuries...BC has had a long run of good fortune with not a lot of these things happening, but that luck ran out a little bit lately.

We're not even going to consider the fact there that Johnny Gaudreau theoretically could have been a senior on this team, which obviously would have changed things; Gaudreau's NHL rookie of the year candidacy indicates that there would have been no point to him sticking around.

Here's a look at some "what might have beens."

Sonny Milano

I mean, yeah, we had to go there. Sonny Milano's will-he-or-won't-he tale was the story of last summer; as of July he had gone to BC orientation, the staff issued him #13, and all systems seemed to be go for Milano. But as we know, that didn't happen; Milano elected to play in the OHL instead, signing with the Plymouth Whalers.

Things worked out pretty well for Milano, who scored 68 points in 50 games for Plymouth. Once the Whalers' season ended, Milano was added to the roster of the AHL Springfield Falcons. As upset as many BC fans (myself included) were about the way he strung the school along over the summer, he obviously is doing well and seems to be on the path to the NHL.

You can argue that the staff should have allocated their scholarship and their recruiting focus elsewhere, given that Milano was always a noted flight risk, but I think they took a calculated risk on someone who really could have been a game-changer for BC and hoped their run of successfully getting their recruits to campus would continue. If he did arrive, he would have been a first line player for BC, and certainly would have reduced the burden on a lot of the other forwards.

He wouldn't have single-handedly transformed BC in to a championship team, but he might have been worth another win or two, which means a lot in the tighly contested world of college hockey. The Eagles lacked players with game breaking ability this year, and that's what they were hoping for Milano to be.

Frank Vatrano

While this year's junior and senior classes don't look great on paper, they would look a little better if you think about the fact that Frank Vatrano was supposed to be a part of it.

The circumstances surrounding Vatrano's abrupt departure from BC two seasons ago are still a little unclear. There was some sort of issue with meeting the academic requirements in the NCAA Clearinghouse to become eligible to play, and Vatrano never ended up playing a game at BC.

Vatrano returned to junior hockey for the rest of the 2012-13 season, then committed to UMass, where he had to sit out the entire 2013-14 season before becoming eligible to play in the playoffs. This year was his first full season for the Minutemen, and he was very good, scoring 18 goals adding 10 assists in 36 games for a pretty bad UMass team.

He did enough to impress the Boston Bruins, who signed him to an entry-level free agent contract following the season. Vatrano is another player who certainly could have added depth and scoring talent to BC over the past few years.

Tanner MacMaster

Tanner MacMaster was supposed to be a depth addition to this year's class, but he was released from his LOI last February and committed to Quinnipiac instead. MacMaster posted a modest 5-7--12 line in his freshman season, which doesn't sound like much until you realize it's more points than 4-5 regular BC forwards posted this year (depending on whether you count Linell as a forward or a defenseman).

Miles Wood

Miles Wood will be arriving at BC this fall. He's a highly touted, big, fast winger who is expected to be an impact player right away. This season, he was the only prep school player on the US World Junior roster. BC had hoped to bring Wood in for this past season, first exploring the possibility shortly after Wood decommitted from Brown and flipped to BC, then intensifying efforts to get him to campus after Milano's departure.

This is another one where the circumstances are a little vague, but according to our sources Wood's camp did not feel that it was in his interests to head to college this past season; whether those interests are primarily hockey related, academic, or personal, I don't know. But he certainly would have been helpful to a team crying out for playmakers and scoring depth.

The good news about Wood compared to the other guys on this list is that we'll eventually get to see him suit up for the maroon and gold. It's only about 6 months away!