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Boston College Men’s Hockey 2019-20 Preseason Roundtable

Hear our writers’ thoughts on this year’s MIH team and share yours in the comments!

Connecticut v Boston College Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

Men’s hockey season is almost here! The Eagles are set to play New Brunswick in an exhibition game this Saturday at 2 PM, and the regular season starts the following week. Here is what the BCI writers expect out of the team this year...

What is your overall prediction for this year’s team?

Laura: I’m always optimistic heading into the season, and this year is no different. This team should be quite good - the Eagles have top returning talent in David Cotton and Logan Hutsko (among others) and a highly touted freshman class that includes multiple first round draft picks. I think whether or not this team succeeds largely will depend on a) whether or not any of the star players have egos and b) coaching.

Steve: I honestly have no idea. I got burned by being way too high on last year’s team and while I think they should at least be a little bit better this year, I was surprised when they were ranked as high as 7 and 11 in some of the recent polls and selected by the Hockey East coaches as league favorites by a pretty wide margin. I think there is a path for this year’s BC team to be pretty good, especially with a strong freshman class coming in, but I’m certainly not putting them down as a lock for an NCAA Tournament bid at this point.

Grant: I think it’s possible we might actually maybe for real be Back™, finally. We looked pretty decent toward the end of last year, and really should have the right pieces to make a run at a title this season. As far as a prediction of how far of a run will that be? That’s tougher to nail down, because the NCAA tournament is such a roll of the dice. But BC should certainly make the national tournament again, finally, and then they’ll definitely be good enough to win two to make it to the Frozen Four. They may not actually do it, but they’ll be good enough to do it.

Arthur: I am really encouraged by this team. There is a lot of really good talent coming in, and a lot of the pieces from last season that made BC competitive are back (see: Cotton, David, Hutsko, Logan and Mattila, Julius). With that said, last year was such a down year that it’s hard to get a pulse on this team. I think we’re probably a tournament bubble team, probably getting in on the last sport or something.

Maithri: I... honestly am really excited for this team. There’s a lot of talent spread throughout the roster, whether it’s the incoming freshmen or the returning players that were a bright spot on last year’s team. That being said, I feel like this year depends on 1) how quickly the freshmen can acclimate themselves to NCAA play and 2) how quickly the older players can shake off last season’s losing record.

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

Laura: Based on the talent that this team has on paper, I think the Eagles need to win the Beanpot or the Hockey East Tournament and need to make it to the second night of NCAA Regionals at a minimum to be considered successful.

Steve: Stylistically, I hope this team is able to play a faster, more exciting brand of hockey than we’ve seen in the past few years. In terms of results, just some kind of trophy. Just give me a Beanpot at this point, please.

Grant: I’m so beaten down over the last few years that I’ll just be happy finally making the tournament. They’re better than “just making the tournament” quality, I think (I effing hope...), but if they just make it, I’ll probably be more relieved than anything. Maybe “relieved” isn’t the same as happy. So I’ll tack on winning Hockey East to that for a true “happy” feeling on the season. ...And maybe a Beanpot.

Arthur: If BC gets some hardware, that’d be lovely. The Beanpot is very attainable, so I’d like to see the Eagles hang their name up in the TD Garden rafters (assuming they’re still doing that after the renovation). Other than that, I’m not really expecting anything outside of a tournament bid.

Maithri: I’ll be happy if the team finally makes the NCAA tournament at large. But also I obviously would be very happy if they’re able to win a Beanpot and Hockey East on their way there!

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

Laura: Defense. Defense has been a struggle in recent years, and I think that is where this team needs to really put in the work, especially considering Casey Fitzgerald and Michael Kim have graduated. Also staying out of the penalty box will be huge.
If Spencer Knight is as good as he’s projected to be goaltending won’t be a problem, and between the incoming freshmen and returning top scorers, offense should improve.

Steve: I have no idea what the blue line is going to look like this season. Michael Kim and Casey Fitzgerald logged a ton of minutes for BC throughout their careers, and with both gone, we’re left with a whole bunch of guys who may be asked to play in roles that they aren’t quite suited for. There may well be some growing pains on defense in the first part of the season.

Grant: Kind of a weird answer here maybe, but I want to go with “the freshmen meeting their astronomically high expectation.” We have so many rookies who are supposed to be huge impact players, and it’s pretty unlikely that all of them play as well as we hope they do. If they do, well, we’ll be a Top 4 team, no question. But freshmen are always huge question marks no matter how highly touted they are and BC will go as far as those freshmen take them. It’s a lot of pressure.

Arthur: I think shaking off last season is going to be huge. Last year was a huge struggle, and it’s probably very much on the minds of the returners. Let last season be fuel rather than an anchor.

Maithri: I think the defense - there were long stretches last season where there were too many defensive breakdowns which often resulted in either early holes that the team couldn’t dig themselves out of or surrendered leads that they couldn’t regain. If this isn’t addressed adequately this year, it could be worrisome.

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

Laura: David Cotton is definitely my MVP pick for the season. He was by far the most consistent player last season, and managed to score 23 goals despite BC’s mediocre records. With the extra talent the freshmen are bringing in, I expect to see him putting up even bigger numbers and being a real Hobey contender. I also think Spencer Knight should make a pretty big impact, since he is supposed to be a “once in a lifetime talent” in net.

Steve: David Cotton is my chalk pick for MVP, but the big name freshmen will have a huge impact on how good this team can be this season. Spencer Knight has some huge shoes to fill in net with the departure of Joe Woll, but he was the highest drafted goalie in seven years, so the high expectations are warranted. Meanwhile, Alex Newhook and Matthew Boldy will have a chance to spark an offense that scored just 2.3 goals per game and relied heavily on its first line last season. All three will need to hit the ground running for BC to have a bounce back season.

Grant: David Cotton’s going to be a big pick here, but it’s going to be a freshman who leads the team in scoring. I’m partial to Alex Newhook, whose sister is a BC Women’s Hockey commit, so I’ll go with him. In addition to having a sister who is better than him at hockey, he’s also known as being a “blinding fast skater.” That gives me good thoughts right in the ol’ historical feels.

Arthur: I mean obviously David Cotton, but I’d like to see Logan Hutsko add scoring back into his game to complement his facilitating role.

Maithri: If last season is anything to go by, David Cotton is my MVP prediction. I think his game takes another step up from last year as he steps into a leadership role for the Eagles this year. I think he also has the biggest impact this year, though I also think that Logan Hutsko will have a big impact this year.

Which freshman are you most excited to watch?

Laura: Most of them? I guess if I had to pick one it would be Spencer Knight, but we have a bunch of exciting freshmen this season.

Steve: Gotta be Spencer Knight.

Grant: Obviously Newhook.

Maithri: I’m really excited about Alex Newhook. He’s a fast skater and he can score, so I feel like it’ll be extremely fun to watch him throughout the year!

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

Laura: Marc McLaughlin really started to come into his own at the end of last year, so I think we’ll see a big jump from him this year.

Steve: I though Jack McBain really flashed at times last season on his way to a 6-7-13 final line. With (hopefully) a deeper forward group and some higher scoring line mates, McBain can bump those numbers and be a serious contributor up front.

Grant: Logan Hutsko. There is no question. Six goals last year? Oh, no sir. This man will go off this year. There’s going to be so much offensive talent, and Hutsko is such a great playmaker, that his numbers are almost certain to balloon this season. He played most of the year with Mattila and Cotton, and that was where pretty much all of BC’s scoring came from. If that line sticks together, they won’t be getting everyone’s #1 D unit every time they’re on the ice. And if they don’t, he might be playing wing for Newhook or something. One way or another, Hutsko is going to be one of those guys that really makes a jump.

Arthur: Darn it, Grant took mine. Connor Moore has struggled somewhat during his time here. He’s shown signs of good play but he’s been prone to mistakes. Let’s say this is the year everything starts clicking.

Maithri: Logan Hutsko. Like Grant said, “this man will go off this year.” I’m excited.

Please link to a song that describes your feelings about this hockey season:

Laura: The Eagles are going to leave the drama and struggles in the past and this season will be a good one.

Steve: -

Grant: In honor of Laura suddenly being super into WWE for some reason...

Arthur: They used to play this before every opening face-off back when I was at BC. There’s a lot of hype going into this season, but in the end, it’s all about the game and how the Eagles play it, all about control and if the Eagles can take it, all about the Eagles’ debts in terms of getting better and if the team can pay it, and all about the pain of the season and if the Eagles can make it.

Maithri: I don’t know any WWE songs and also I have like no music taste so here’s High Hopes