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Will Boston College men’s hockey’s roster be impacted by the Olympics?

Boston College v Massachusetts-Lowell Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images

After it was announced last month that NHL players will not be going to the Olympics, speculation began to swirl about how the US and Canada would fill out their men’s hockey rosters.

In the 2018 Olympics, the US largely relied on professionals based in European leagues.

However, the standout players on the team were college players like Troy Terry, leading many to speculate that USA Hockey would tap more college players for this year’s roster.

In addition, the cancellation of the World Juniors may provide more reason for USA and Canada to want to give some of their top U20 players elite international experience. It’s already been confirmed that the University of Michigan’s star Owen Power will be playing for Team Canada at the Olympics.

This is all a long-winded way of saying that there’s a chance Boston College men’s hockey will be impacted by the upcoming Olympics, though it will be hard to know for sure until we have more details about roster construction.

The impact

The Olympic men’s hockey tournament runs from February 3-February 20, so at a bare minimum players selected would miss several weeks of games, not to mention additional time due to normal travel as well as potential quarantine requirements.

For a BC player, this would mean missing the entirety of the Beanpot, and much of the stretch run as BC tries to push up in the Pairwise rankings.

Of course it would be tremendously exciting to see BC players in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament and we would all be rooting for them, and not begrudge them the opportunity - but undoubtedly Jerry York will want to begin gameplanning for how he might handle losing players.

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Let’s take a look at some possibilities:

Canada

The likeliest departure the Olympics is probably Jack McBain, whose name is the only one among BC players to be formally linked to an Olympic roster at this point in major media reports.

The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler has confirmed a list of names being considered for Canada, and they range from college and junior players to international pros, as well as players like Eric Staal (a NHL veteran who is currently a free agent). Jack McBain is on the list:

It’s easy to see why McBain is on the list, as he’s been one of the best players in college hockey this season.

The Toronto native has some experience playing for Canada - he competed for Team Canada East in the World Junior A Challenge in 2017 and 2018, and played on Canada’s team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup U18 tournament in 2018.

McBain is one of at least 30 players reported as being under consideration, and given how hard it is to compare players across leagues it’s tough to say where he might stand. We also have not received any update on McBain’s status for this coming weekend after he left last Friday’s game with an apparent injury.

Northeastern’s star goalie Devon Levi is also on the list, which could impact Hockey East and BC down the stretch.

USA

A litany of Eagles have experience playing for USA Hockey at various levels, so there may be some names who get floated for the US team depending on the Americans’ balance of youth vs experience.

Various roster projections are all over the map.

For instance, ESPN floats some names in the KHL and other European leagues, including very brief Eagle and former US National Development Team All-Time Assists Leader Jeremy Bracco, and former BU Terrier David Warsofsky, who currently play in Germany. The only College players mentioned are Minnesota’s Brock Faber, North Dakota’s Jake Sanderson, and Brendan Brisson and Matty Beniers of Michigan.

There are various social media rumors of other college names being in the mix, and the most prominent among BC names is Drew Helleson.

Helleson, a leading d-man for BC, played for the US WJC team in 2021 - a great team that USA Hockey would probably be smart to tap in to for championship experience and talent. He’s got a 2-12—14 stat line and has been very good on both ends of the ice during his career with the Eagles.

Marshall Warren, another defenseman, would probably be the second likeliest to get a look as he also has extensive US National Development Program experience, though he was not called upon for World Juniors last year.

Patrick Giles’ time at the USNTDP was a long while ago now, but much like McBain he has emerged in his senior year as one of BC’s top players, and one of the best players in Hockey East. His name hasn’t come up in many rumors at this point but it wouldn’t be a stretch to see him be on the radar depending on what direction USA Hockey goes with the team.

Don’t expect to know for a few weeks

A confounding factor in speculating about rosterbuilding for the Olympics is we also don’t know what percentage of players will turn down the opportunity, as it would take them away for their pro/amateur teams for a month, run the risk of extended quarantine time — and also the risk of perhaps the whole thing falling apart the way World Juniors did.

Stay tuned for more as we try to learn what impact if any the Olympics will have on BC men’s hockey’s stretch run.