One of the most exciting weekends of the hockey year could become a very exciting one for Boston University hockey as well. It’s far removed from the confines of Agganis Arena, but the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, home of the Florida Panthers, will act as a gateway of new beginnings come Friday and Saturday.
The 2015 NHL Entry Draft has been the topic of conversation for a while now, due to the fact that it’s one of the deepest in recent memory, and the top two players have been lauded as the most potent one-two punch since Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin in 2004. With a handful of Terriers eligible to be selected, it certainly makes it all the more interesting for those concerned with the happenings on Comm Ave.
We’ll be liveblogging the first round of the draft beginning at 6:30 p.m., so check back later on Friday to hang out and talk some hockey.
While anything can happen at the draft, a phrase forward Jack Eichel has become accustomed to uttering since the draft lottery, chances are Buffalo will take the center at No. 2 after the Oilers select Canadian wunderkind Connor McDavid first overall. That would make Eichel the highest drafted American player since Patrick Kane and University of New Hampshire product James van Riemsdyk went first and second overall in 2007.
Listed as the No. 2 draft prospect and predicted to be selected in that slot in nearly every major ranking, Eichel submitted the best freshman campaign since Paul Kariya’s 100-point season in 1992-93. The 6-foot-2 playmaker tallied 71 points over 40 games this year and was named both Hockey East Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year in addition to winning the Hobey Baker Award given to the best NCAA men’s ice hockey player. He also led the nation in points, points per game (1.77), assists (45) and plus-minus (plus-51), while tied for fourth in goals (26).
Most likely to be selected next are rising freshman forwards Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Jordan Greenway. JFK would plausibly go before his teammate, as he’s No. 31 in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings for best North American skaters in the draft, No. 55 on ISS Hockey’s list and No. 52 on TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie’s final billing. The center put up 15 goals and 38 assists in 50 games for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL this season and will probably fall somewhere in the second or early third round.
Tabbed as No. 47 in Central Scouting and No. 62 on McKenzie’s list, Greenway’s fate, in all likelihood, won’t be decided until late in the second round or during the third. Even so, TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button has him all the way at No. 90 on his list, but ISS Hockey has him at 31. In the 2014-15 season, the 6-foot-4, 222-pound winger tallied 44 points (9g, 35a) in 53 games for the U-18s of the USNTDP, though by year’s end, he had fallen 25 spots from his Central Scouting midterm ranking of 22.
Rising sophomore A.J. Greer is another option for teams looking for a pick anywhere from the late-second round to the early fourth round, earning No. 69 in Central Scouting and No. 57 in ISS Hockey. Greer spent most of his time in the bottom six this season before managing to work his way up to the second line for the NCAA tournament. In his 37 games so far for the Terriers, Greer has tallied seven points, the most notable of which came in the form of a goal that was one-timed from the right circle during BU’s Frozen Four semifinal victory over the University of North Dakota on April 9.
Another rising sophomore in Brien Diffley has a chance to be drafted the weekend, as ISS Hockey has him at No. 150 and Central Scouting lists him at No. 136. The defenseman showed steady improvement over his rookie season with BU and was a third-pairing fixture on a Terrier blue line that boasted the 15th-best goals against per game average in the country, registering 11 points in the process. Diffley’s stock has him probably going, if at all, in the fifth or sixth round with the potential to fall to seven.
Similarly, newcomer Robert “Bobo” Carpenter, brother of Patty Kazmaier Award winner and Boston College women’s hockey star Alex Carpenter, is No. 155 in ISS Hockey’s poll, which translates to one of the later rounds as well. The forward was seventh in USHL scoring this season with 35 goals, 28 assists and 63 total points in 60 games for the Sioux City Musketeers.
Also with a chance to end up as a sixth or seventh round pick are sophomore forward Chase Phelps and defenseman Brandon Fortunato. The two are eligible for the draft this year but are not ranked by any major scouting source. However, Fortunato was recently invited to partake in the Team USA’s World Junior Championship Evaluation Camp this August along with Eichel, Greenway, sophomore defenseman John MacLeod and freshman blue liner Charlie McAvoy.