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Boston College Men’s Hockey 2017-18 Preseason Roundtable

(Some of) our hockey writers give their thoughts on the upcoming MIH season

2007 Men's Frozen Four Tournament Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

It’s hockey season and BC Hockeyruption is back in full force! In preparation for tomorrow’s MIH home opener, we’re giving our thoughts on this upcoming season.

What is your prediction for this year's team?

Laura: I think this BC team is going to be a bit better than people expect, but I’d still expect them to be a bubble NCAA Tournament team. So much of how this season goes rests on a) how quickly the freshmen are able to adjust to NCAA play and b) how capable the players are of shaking off losses.

Grant: This year’s team outlook feels… pretty similar to last year’s team. I don’t think they’ll be bad, and I don’t think they’ll be a top team, but they seem to have a decent amount of talent to spread through the lines, even if that talent is exceptionally young. I have a feeling they’re going to end up right about where they were last year, which is just outside the tournament.
As is always the case, there’s going to be a mass of teams on the Pairwise bubble all within about a game or two of each other at the end of the year. What’s going to be important is not going on a prolonged losing streak that gives us a PWR hole to dig ourselves out of. And sort of to go along with that, I think if we can put together a nice winning streak at some point, that alone may be enough to put us over that bubble.

Steven: The preseason coaches’ poll has BC ranked fourth in Hockey East and that seems… fine? I can nitpick and say I may have BC ranked ahead of Providence but a top four finish in the conference is a very attainable goal. Outside of that, I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about this year’s team. I’ll say they surprise some people and sneak into the tournament as an at large bid and leave us very excited for next season.

What outcome would you be happy with for this year's team?

Laura: I’d be happy if this team makes the NCAA Tournament, the Hockey East Tournament semi-finals, and the Beanpot final.

Grant: I think it’s pretty obvious that “making the NCAA tournament” is that threshold. Winning the Beanpot isn’t going to be a mark at which we’re going to be happy with the success of the season. Last year’s making-the-HEA-final-and-then-missing-the-NCAA-tournament-bubble was pretty much by definition the best season we could have without actually making the tournament, and that was clearly a disappointment, regardless of talent level. Make the NCAA tournament and see where things fall – but at that point we’ll probably be happy to be along for the ride.

Steven: I said I think they’ll do it, but I don’t need this year’s team to make the NCAA Tournament for me to call the season a success. I want to see some of the sophomores take the next step in their development and look like top six players and I want the freshmen to show that they can play at this level. Be in contention for a spot in the tournament in the last weeks of the season and I’ll be happy.
Oh and please don’t play Vermont in the Hockey East Tournament. They’re boring to watch and I get my fill of them in the two regular season games.

Which player(s) do you think will have the biggest impact? Who is your MVP prediction going into the season?

Laura: I think Joe Woll is going to be the player that really keeps BC in games, so he would be my MVP prediction. In terms of impact players, I think Jacob Tortora and David Cotton will be guys to watch.

Grant: It’s too obvious to pick Joe Woll. If BC is going to be successful they’re going to have to score.
I’ll say David Cotton. We don’t have anyone game-breaking on offense, and really anyone from the set of Brown-Cotton-Dudek-Mattila- could be the one that breaks out, but I like Cotton to be that guy. He was the one who I most noticed on the ice toward the end of the season and I like his spark.

Steven: If the Eagles are going to have a strong season, the MVP has to be Joe Woll. There are going to be defensive breakdowns this year and BC doesn’t have the same scoring power as in years past. Woll is going to need to put up big numbers to keep the team in some of these games, especially early on. Outside of him, Casey Fitzgerald has to get the power play back on track. They man advantage converted at 16.3 percent last year. With some of the bigger five-on-five scorers gone, that number needs to go way up.

Which rookie are you most looking forward to watching?

Laura: Tortora is the obvious choice, but I’m really excited to watch Aapeli Räsänen. I think he got a bit overshadowed by Tolvanen, but from what I saw from him at the WJC last winter, he’s a great player in his own right.

Grant: For me it’s my man Mr. Copy-Paste, Aapeli Räsänen. I really like the solid all-around game both Julius and Jesper Mattila brought as freshmen, and my extensive knowledge of world events tell me that all Finns are cool and great. Having Räsänen some in and have a successful season would pretty much officially cement us as the destination college hockey program for people from Finland, which was recently named the Greatest Country in Northern Europe in a recent survey of BC Interruption writers.

Steven: Logan Hustko scored 109 points at Shattuck St, Mary’s in 2013-14, moved up a league, and then scored 90 the next season. He’s had some injury problems sure, but BC is going to need at least a few freshmen to step up and score on the top two lines this season. If he can stay healthy, I fully expect he’ll be among the freshmen leaders in points for the season.

Who will be BC's most improved player this season?

Laura: David Cotton looks like he’s made a lot of improvement in terms of his conditioning and his skating. I also think Graham McPhee looks like he’s going to be much better this season.

Grant: This question is basically impossible. There are at least like 30 guys on the team who did decent or better as freshmen or sophomores last year who seemed to me to have the talent to make an impact over four years. Do you go with one of the juniors, who will be forced into a team-leader role, or do you go with one of the sophomores who might be in line for a good second-year jump?
I’ll pick the latter and say – as I sort of mentioned earlier – David Cotton. He’s my guy this year.

Steven: Outside of Woll, I think that David Cotton was the team’s best freshman last season. He put up 24 points in 40 games and has a deceptively strong skillset to go along with his 6’3” frame. I think he’s going to be right up there among the team leaders in goals this season.

What do you think will be the biggest struggle for this year's team?

Laura: Scoring. BC has terrific goaltending from first string to third string, and some solid defenders, but this team does not have as much scoring depth as many of the other top teams. Defenders are definitely going to have to get involved in offense this year, so it was good to see a couple goals from defenders in the exhibition game.

Grant: It’s going to be scoring clearly, because you don’t lose your top 5 scorers and not struggle, although the fact that the Eagles top scorer only put up 35 points means that you’ll probably see those second level guys rise to a similar level of scoring proficiency in their place.
If BC can put together a top line that really clicks, that’ll go a long way, because at this level it feels like unless you have that go-to line, you’re going to struggle to get those big goals when you need them.

Steven: This isn’t going to be a BC team that comes out and scores four or five goals a night, at least not from the very beginning. There are so many new players that are going to have to make the jump to college hockey and generally speaking, that takes some time. Chris Brown was a promising player when he was a freshman and did a lot of things that made you excited about what he could turn into during his time at BC. He had 11 points that year. There are going to be growing pains for the Eagles to start the season, and the start to their schedule doesn’t do them any favors.

Please include a GIF that describes how you feel this season will go:

Laura:

Grant:

Steven: