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Boston College 2016-2017 Hockey Preview: Projecting The Depth Chart

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What will the lineup look like in a couple of weeks?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It sort of snuck up on us, but Boston College hockey season is just over two weeks away! The Eagles travel to Denver on October 7-8 for the IceBreaker invitational, and thanks to all the early departures and a massive freshman class, the team will look a lot different in Denver than it did in Tampa in April. As the team gets ready for their opener, what might the lineup look like on Day 1? I'll take a stab at projecting it here.

A couple caveats:

-I'm not at practice sessions and not seeing how they're using players right now in preseason camp.

-Additionally, most of the information I have on the freshmen and where they might fall in the lineup is second-hand.

-A number of BC's players are capable of shifting between center and the wing, and York could adjust his lineups accordingly depending on where he sees needs.

Let's take a crack at it!

Forwards

Graham McPhee - Colin White - Ryan Fitzgerald

There's not a lot you can say for sure about this year's BC lineup, but I think one thing I'm pretty confident in is that on opening night you'll see White and Fitzgerald as C & RW on the top line. And instantly, this will be one of the best lines in Hockey East. White is poised to do big things with a year of experience under his belt, and Fitzgerald at this point is a proven scorer.

While BC could go in a number of different directions to fill out this line, my thinking is this is a good spot for a freshman to give him confidence right away by playing him with two guys who are going to put up a lot of points. As al left handed shot with experience playing LW, McPhee could slot in nicely here.

Chris Brown - Austin Cangelosi - Chris Calnan

Austin Cangelosi and Chris Calnan is another center/wing duo you're likely to see stay together from last season, with these guys anchoring line two. The question mark with Calnan is health; he's struggled with it throughout his time but when healthy he's a very good player who combines the size, strength and skill.

Chris Brown showed flashes of excellence last year. He's a versatile player who could help the Eagles at center or at wing. It comes down to whether York would rather "lengthen" the lineup by making it deeper down the middle, or try to load up his top lines with a little more experience.

Matt Gaudreau - David Cotton - Zach Walker

David Cotton is one of BC's most intriguing prospects. He comes in a little older at 19, and he's a big player at 6'1. A 6th round pick of the Carolina Hurricanes, Cotton comes in with some pedigree and expectation. His scouting report suggests he does well combining his size with high-end speed and good hands. His adjustment to Waterloo last year after stepping up from Cushing Academy was good, but not great, scoring 30 points in 48 games. Given his skillset and his age, I suspect he'll be a contributor, but it may take him a while to score enough for a top-six role.

Matt Gaudreau is a guy who's been Mr. Everywhere for BC, playing in a number of different roles. As a senior, it looks like he'll probably be called upon again to be in a top-9 role.

Zach Walker is another one of the freshmen BC is hopeful can contribute early. A big, 6'0'' right wing, Walker spent last year with the USNTDP and played at the U18 World Championships. Putting him on a line with Cotton would give this group a lot of size.

JD Dudek - Julius Matilla - Michael Booth

Julius Matilla could be a real x-factor player for BC this season. By all accounts he was a great under-the-radar pickup for the Eagles. He's worked his way through the Ilves ranks, a very good club team in Finland, and was very productive at the U20 level for them last year, scoring 56 points in 46 games. Rumblings out of camp suggest he could be an important contributor. We don't know much about him yet, but we'll learn.

JD Dudek proved himself to be a steady and reliable presence in the BC lineup last year, coming on strong down the stretch and showing some offensive ability. We'll see if he's in line for a bigger role this year.

Booth is an older player (20) who originally was committed to Cornell, struggled in the USHL, then went to the USPHL and really came on strong, putting up 42 points in 44 games last year for the South Shore Kings. There's a bit of a learning curve moving from the USPHL to the NCAA but Booth is a player with upside who I'd expect to be given his chances.

Extra Forwards: Michael Merulla, Chris Shero, Ron Greco

Ron Greco was a commit added this summer who could also possibly be a late bloomer who could contribute this season. He had 57 points in 44 games last year at the USPHL level for Philadelphia Flyers Elite. He's been a point-per-game player at that level over the course of three seasons.

Merulla was also a late add, who put up big numbers at the Tier II North American Hockey League with the Aston Rebels. Described as a physical and intense player, Merulla could be in the mix for fourth line minutes early on.

Shero did not play much as a freshman last year, but his year in the system could give him a leg up on freshmen if the need for depth arises.

Defense

Casey Fitzgerald
Scott Savage
Michael Kim
Jesper Matilla
Michael Campoli
Connor Moore
Luke McInnis

Jerry York is going to have a decision to make as four freshman defensemen with upside battle for lineup spots along with three guys who return from last year's team.

Casey Fitzgerald is going to be asked to play a very important role after a highly productive freshman season. Savage will be relied upon as the rock, someone who can be a defense-first blueliner and play with physicality against opponents' top players

Kim proved himself to be reliable to coach Jerry York, earning himself playing time in important games despite coming in in January.

With the freshmen, they're bringing different skillsets to the table. Moore and McInnis are quick skating, puck-moving defensemen, sort of in the mold of Casey Fitzgerald in that way. Jesper Matilla, brother of Julius, has experience playing for a very good Ilves U20 team and with the Finland U20 national team at world juniors. Expect him to play. Michael Campoli is more of a bigger, shut-down D mold type player at 6'2''. Whether he gets the nod over one of the other freshmen will likely defend on what York is looking for as he fills out his defensive depth chart.

Goalies

Joe Woll
Ryan Edquist/ Ian Milosz

Given his pedigree with the USNTDP I expect Joe Woll to be groomed as the starter and start most games for BC this fall. But the Eagles have options depending on how things are looking. Ryan Edquist is a top goaltending prospect from Minnesota who was originally slated to go to the Gophers; and with Milosz, BC knows what they're getting from a guy who's been in their system and played well in two crucial games against Providence last year.