Happy Friday everyone! Sorry that I'm about to be a Debbie Downer.
It's now been about a month since the Toronto Maple Leafs drafted Jeremy Bracco in the 2nd round of this year's NHL Draft. It's also been over a week since their prospect camp wrapped up, and we're at the end of the week where Jeremy Bracco was expected to announce his decision to either honor his commitment to Boston College, or sign with the OHL's Kitchener Rangers, who retain his rights up north. That announcement could well happen today by the time this posts - but most observers expected to have heard by now. And yet, we still wait.
It's hard to read much from the delay as most people are working off of conjecture more than any actual direct knowledge of the situation. However, the general consensus among media types is that Kitchener is the strong favorite for his services.
You may recall that last July, Sonny Milano reaffirmed his commitment to BC and even attended orientation at the school before pulling the switcheroo in August. So it's certainly preferable for both the staff and for fans if Bracco takes his time and makes one pronouncement about what's he's doing once he's sure. But as the summer creeps along and Bracco continues to hold out on announcing his decision for the upcoming year, I'm becoming increasingly convinced that there's, at best, a very small chance Bracco comes to BC.
To me, there are two ways to read the delay in the news:
1. He's genuinely torn
I guess it's a sign of how skeptical sports fandom makes you that I consider this to be unlikely. He and his family and his camp have had a long time to weigh the pros and cons of the college and junior routes. However, he is a young guy trying to make a decision that's going to impact the rest of his life, so he could be still working through it.
Another similar possibility is that perhaps the Maple Leafs are pushing him in a certain direction that runs counter to what he and/or his family want. That's probably a little more likely than the previous scenario. However, the Leafs have already had ample opportunity to communicate their intentions to Bracco.
2. He's negotiating
Ah, yes, there's what the skeptical/cynical me is looking for. For some players - and I'm not saying this is definitely the case for Bracco - the college commitment in the back pocket is a solid negotiating ploy for getting favorable terms out of their Canadian junior team - whether it be asking for a trade to a team they'd rather play for, asking for certain playing time or role guarantees, or simply negotiating the size of their stipend and any other benefits the program might offer to the family. Having the leverage of having BC to go to should he not get what he's looking for up North is a powerful negotiating tool.
There were some rumors swirling around the other day that Bracco's rights had been traded away from Kitchener, but as of now, our sources at BCI believe this not to be the case.
But don't rule out Door #3
The other complicating factor here - and one that might benefit BC - is the fact that the Toronto Maple Leafs just had a major shakeup in their front office, hiring longtime New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello as their new general manager. Perhaps the news of an impending GM change was signaled to Leafs draftees, telling them to wait until the new GM was hired and settled in before making any decisions.
If that's the case, it could be good for BC, as Lamoriello is famously positive toward college hockey and would be unlikely to pressure a prospect to go to the CHL the way some organizations do - particularly in Canada. If the reason for Bracco's delay is waiting to see what the new GM and staff want, BC's odds of landing Bracco increase.
I do still believe that where there's smoke there's fire, and that signs seem to point to Bracco ending up in Canada. However, I don't know that and neither does anyone else, so there's still time to hold out hope that the dynamic forward makes his way to Chestnut Hill this fall. It would certainly impact BC's outlook for the season ahead.
As always, we'll keep you posted with any new developments.