Boston College is similar to UNH in a number of ways. They lose a lot of their top scorers, but retains so much secondary scoring and a deep defensive corp that they will be competitive. Moreover, BC brings in solid recruiting classes every year filled with top talent. BC is one of the schools that is known for “reloading, not rebuilding”- every year despite losing top players they bring in players who can step right in and play solidly immediately.
Their forward corp takes a hit with the loss of Cam Atkinson and Jimmy Hayes to early signings to Columbus and Chicago respectively. They also lose seniors Brian Gibbons and Joe Whitney. These 4 players accounted for a whopping 75 of BC’s 153 goals last year. In short, a lot of offense came from these players, offense that may be hard to replace immediately. BC will look for Chris Kreider (a 1st round pick of the Ranger’s), Paul Carey, and Pat Mullane to step up to fill the hole. Incoming freshman John Gaudreau from the USHL, who decommitted from Northeastern back in August will likely be put to use immediately, along with Destry Straight, who comes from the BCHL and was his division’s Rookie of the Year. Look for these two freshmen to play some solid minutes right off the bat.
Defense-wise, BC loses only Philip Samuelsson, who signed with Modo of the Swedish Elite League after the Pittsburgh Penguins (who drafted him) encouraged him to stay in college longer. despite the loss, BC returns 6 defensemen who all put in solid time last year. Look for Isaac MacLeod, a San Jose draft pick to be given more time, as he was the 7th D-man. Unless BC loses players to injury, their D-corp is likely the all-around strongest in the league and will be a strength for them.
In the net is the biggest worry for BC. John Muse, who won them 2 national championships and had an impressive record overall, graduated this past year. The goalie position will likely fall to Parker Milner, who has limited experience in Hockey East. Milner didn’t put up impressive numbers this past year, with a .899 save percentage and 2.68 GAA. Again, however, Milner didn’t have a lot of experience, and a full season will likely see him out up better numbers. It will likely help that Milner is protected by a very good defensive group. Incoming freshmen Brian Billett will likely challenge him for the spot, and will likley play at least a few games to test him out. Also incoming is Brad Barone, who was an overager in the EJHL, and will likely be the 3rd-string goalie at best.
The real mystery for BC is their goaltending. If they find a solution quickly they could challenge for the top spot again, with a great blueline and pretty good set of forwards. If not, they struggle for a while until a solution is figured out. I’d say BC struggles for the first few weeks while their forwards and goalie step up, but then power through Hockey East the rest of the way.