Boston College hockey’s summer of attrition started before the team was off the plane back from Tampa. It has continued straight through July. According to The BC Hockey Blog, Zach Sanford is set to become the offseason’s seventh early departure, as he’s reportedly told BC staff he intends to sign with the Washington Capitals.
This comes as a pretty big surprise. Early departures tend to happen much earlier in the offseason, and Sanford, who was set to be a rising junior, had given no indication he intended to leave. Clearly, something changed over the course of last week’s Washington development camp, which Sanford participated in.
It’s also a devastating blow to BC’s chances of keeping up with the top teams in Hockey East next season. Despite all the attrition, BC looked poised to roll out top two centers of Colin White and Zach Sanford. That would likely have been the best 1-2 Center combination in the league. Without Sanford, BC only really has maybe 3-4 proven forwards who we can expect to put up legitimate top-6 numbers - not unlike the situation the Eagles were in in the 2014-15 season.
The departure of Sanford puts a spotlight on the “lost generation” of BC hockey. There will be no juniors on this year’s team, which means in 2018, barring an incoming transfer or walk-on, there will be no seniors to honor on senior day. I doubt that’s ever happened in BC history.
From about 2006-2013, BC experienced a “golden generation” of players who racked up trophies and largely stayed in the program for 3-4 years. For evidence of how deep of a bond was built between these players and the school, you need to look no further than the upcoming ALS charity game on Friday. BC’s alumni roster will be jam packed with players who won championships and earned degrees at BC, and who have made their love for BC well known throughout their careers.
Now, BC’s in the midst of a lost generation. They’ve blown away all other programs in terms of early departures.
Now it’s up to the staff to assess what went wrong. Were the wrong players identified during the recruiting process? Was something different about the environment in the program the last few years that prevented BC from retaining recruits and talent?
Obviously, you can’t begrudge players for taking the opportunity to go pro. We can debate whether certain players were ready to make the jump or not, but ultimately the decision is up to them and their camp.
But it’s ultimately BC hockey’s job to win trophies, not put players in the NHL. When you literally have an entire class year with nobody left, it’s going to be hard to do that.
As we’ve discussed, it looks like this year’s recruiting class is built on less-heralded players who will hopefully develop as contributors over the course of their college careers. The incoming classes of 2017-2019 seem to have more star power, but that will have to be balanced with reliable players who will go the distance at BC. That’s the only way BC is going to add to the trophy case.
For now, we’re staring down a season where we’re hoping to be on the bubble.