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Boston College at the World Juniors: A Q&A With NHL Draft & Prospect Analyst Chris Peters

COLLEGE HOCKEY: DEC 02 U.S. Under-18 Team at Wisconsin Photo by Lawrence Iles/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week, Boston College freshman Cutter Gauthier was named to the United States National Junior team, and he will aim to help lead the United States to gold in the World Junior Championship.

While we wait for the group stage of the tournament to begin, we checked in with NHL Draft & Prospect Analyst Chris Peters from FloHockey about what to expect from the United States, what he envisions Gauthier’s role might be, and his thoughts about some future Eagles.

In a broad sense, how does this USA roster stack up (to previous USA teams/other teams in the tournament)?

Compared to other teams of the past, this U.S. team looks fairly similar in terms of talent and style. They might be lacking a few higher-end players compared to previous years and their blue line is on the smaller side, but it’s a skilled group. The thing is, in the years the U.S. has won this tournament, they’ve had higher-end goaltending, and [now] they’ve got a trio of undrafted (one who is first-year eligible this year) goalies. So it’s not a strength this year as it has been in previous years. In terms of the other teams of the tournament, I think the U.S. is in the upper tier, with perhaps only Canada boasting a deeper lineup.

What do you envision Cutter Gauthier’s role to be on this US team?

It could change over the course of the event, but I believe he will play on the top line with Logan Cooley and Jimmy Snuggerud. That would put Cutter on the left wing where he was so good at the NTDP last year. I think there could be a chance he goes back to center if the U.S. needs to spread out their size and offense a little bit. Regardless, Cutter is poised to play a big offensive role for Team USA.

How do scouts & analysts feel about Gauthier’s season so far?

I think everyone has been largely impressed with his play to date. Going back to center and proving he can still drive offense despite all of the other responsibilities of the position was a big question for him and I think he’s answered that. He still has more rounding out to do, but the tools he possesses are excellent.

Although future Eagles Will Smith and Ryan Leonard, and current Eagle Aidan Hreschuk were cut from camp, any word on how they looked? I know Smith was sick for most of it, but not sure if he saw any ice time at the very beginning?

I haven’t really heard how they looked. Smith being sick knocked him out and that’s unfortunate because I think the U.S. could have used his dynamic skill. Hreschuk was in [a tough position] to make the team because he plays so similarly to all of the other guys they have in camp, but hasn’t necessarily had the success offensively of the guys they brought. Leonard I think just got pushed out because of numbers. He’s a good scorer, but they have guys that play a lot like him that are older and when it’s close, go with the older player.

Any other insights into this tournament in terms of teams and players to watch?

Canada is always interesting to watch because they’re going to have a great team, but it’s also interesting because the #1 and #2 prospects for the upcoming draft will be on their roster and apparently part of their top six. Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli are going to have so many eyes on them throughout the tournament. It should be great to see them. Leo Carlsson from Sweden is another high-end prospect for the next draft, too. This tournament has a lot of talent across the board and I think even Czechia and Slovakia could push some of the better teams here.

Not a World Juniors question, but any thoughts on BC’s recruiting & Greg Brown’s tenure so far?

You always wonder if a coaching change is going to impact recruiting one way or another and when you replace a legend it’s a lot to ask. But I think BC’s class coming in next year might be the best recruiting haul in the country. You’ve got the entire top line from the NTDP coming and Will Smith is a very special player. Leonard and Gabe Perreault are going to produce. Nabbing Jacob Fowler late in the game as a goalie should be really solid too. I think he’ll be a mid-round pick in the draft and he’s played well in a tough situation in Youngstown.

Greg Brown has such a strong reputation in the hockey world and everyone knows he can recruit. His assistants deserve a ton of credit too because a lot of that class was lined up before the coaching change. But Brown’s NHL experience is going to go a long way with players. They want to go to a place where they feel they’ll be prepared for the next level and Greg Brown has plenty of evidence that he knows what it takes and how to get them there.

A huge thank you to Chris for taking the time to answer our questions! Give him a follow on Twitter (@chrismpeters) for more valuable World Juniors insights as the tournament gets underway.