Clayton Keller signs with Arizona Coyotes, leaves BU program

keller_maddiemalhotra_online-1-of-1-1600x1109Speculation has become reality.

Clayton Keller, Boston University’s star freshman forward, has made his NHL dreams come true. On Sunday morning, the seventh overall pick of the 2016 Entry Draft signed with the Arizona Coyotes, marking BU’s first early departure of the offseason.

The 18-year-old penned a three-year, entry-level deal and will play on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.

With the move, Keller closes the book on a scarlet-and-white career that included a Hockey East Rookie of the Year award, 45 total points, a 15-game point streak and a gold medal with Team USA at the World Junior Championships.

Suffice it say that head coach David Quinn won’t easily replace Keller. We’ll keep you update as more Terriers head to the NHL early, as Charlie McAvoy, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Jordan Greenway are all strong candidates.





  1. Good luck Clayton! It’s pretty cool to see another Terrier freshman sensation become a face-of-an-NHL-franchise. Having said that, it’s a huge (albeit expected) loss for BU Hockey.

  2. Not a good move for Clayton Keller, IMO. Terrific talent and has a whole hockey world ahead of him.
    But he is too young and lightweight at this point for the NHL.
    Another year in college working on strength and conditioning, getting him bigger and stronger, would have been better for his overall development.
    He has all of the skills and vision to make a great pro. I hope it does not get hindered by too much a little too soon.
    I wish him the best.

  3. Son of Caesar Carlaci

    “Harry” is right that Keller is not quite ready for the NHL. He was the most talented of all the BU players. That said, why do we always lose players so early from the BU “Program”? I was listening to a couple of Lowell players on TV last night and they stayed at Lowell and talked of their academic life. When EVER does a BU student talk at his academic life ? Almost never. When I was at BU and knew a few of the players they all talked about a career outside of hockey. One was quite a star but knew hockey is only, for almost all, for a short time. I remember the Globe article a short time ago, a long story, talking about the life a former BU star stat went pro early. He was out of hockey and having trouble getting a job. I remember his quote. “This is all I know how to do”. How sad a thing to say. He had a full boat to one of the great Universities in the world and threw away a chance to learn something for later life. There have been a lot more of them. As I am retired now I take a walk through my city and wind up at lunch after three miles. On the way I met my friend who helps me when my computer is down. He is a great friend of a former great BU hockey player who left early. That player has stated it was the worst decision of his life. He has struggled since he left BU an did not get his teaching degree as he wanted in the first place. Keller will probably make a lot of money but what if he is hurt ? Contracts are not like the baseball and B ball ones and players are washed up many times from pro hockey. Quinn acknowledged that there is a problem in having young teams all the time in a national interview this week. Many will disagree with me but BU has to completely rethink its recruiting. We had one of the most talented teams ever but have no Beanpot, no HE title, no National Championship and next year we will be as young almost and not as good. Something is wrong.

    • SoCC, in general you are spot on. But on a case by case basis, you can’t say leaving school early is the wrong decision. Keller may be slightly undersized, but now he will have a full off-season with an NHL strength & conditioning crew to bulk up. His talent always meant he was destined to be a “one and done” player, no matter the school he went to.

      And as far as the change in recruiting style, I see this comment a lot on BU forums, but I’m not sure I agree. Sure, we haven’t won a championship in a few years, but Quinn is still relatively new and needs to grasp how to deal with these stellar, but young, recruiting classes. It certainly is not impossible to win with the best young talent in the country. We nearly did it 2 years ago, and would’ve walked away with a Beanpot and Natty Championship if not for some flukey goaltending. BC did it for years and had 3 championships in short succession. I just don’t know if we need to “completely rethink our recruiting.” That might be a little of an overreaction.

  4. IIRC Both Hickey and Fabbro have been featured in College Hockey Inc promos about the value of a college education. Shattenkirk was another who spoke about its importance to him.

  5. Keller is ready and I don’t blame him. On the other hand if McAvoy, Greenway and JFK think they are ready they better look in the mirror. All three a very talented but not ready for the NHL at this point.

  6. Son of CC,
    Spot on, brother! You forgot to include no frozen four appearance as well. All we earned was a 3 way tie for the league title. Expectations vs, reality is always tough to reconcile. I am still vexed by their underwhelming effort against BC in the semis. they came out strong (10 minutes) and then went into a shell under we pulled the goalie. UNACCEPTABLE

    And Go BU,
    i do think we need to reassess our recruiting philosophy; otherwise we are going to continually face the “too immature, too inexperienced” scenario. i do NOT think we need to do a drastic overhaul but we do need to find some older skilled guys who are not pro material, but real good college players. we need some zach cohens, nik olssons (when he is not hurt) etc. but it seems our 4 year guys are often marginal players at best. easy for me to say, but hard to do. overall, i love the job DQ and his staff are doing. i am hoping this incoming, freshman class has some real good 3/4 year guys because it seems that more and more the teams that win the national championship have a real strong representation of older, skilled guys like we did in 2009

  7. This freshman class is full of draft picks and guys who have not been drafted . I like the balance I think the coaching staff likes the balance. Guys like Curry Chabot are four year guys . You get good quality hi charcter guys who will be leaders in the future. I also think krys and bellows might be around for a few years. Also McDermott was very good and he did not get much ice time. You can not say no to a player because he may want to leave to fulfill a child hood dream. Clayton played hard for us all season next year we will have to fill his role with a new player. Coach OConnell knows how this works he is the best recruiter in college hockey. Next year will be just as special as this year. Is it October yet?

  8. colin

    i have no complaints about keller. excellent player and i wish him the best

    but when you say ” Next year will be just as special as this year”, i scratch my head. special means you win at least one trophy. they got zilch

  9. I think that Bobo Carpenter is someone to be very thankful for and excited about. He came to us undrafted … despite some highly impressive goal scoring in prep school and the USHL. He just doubled his point production from his freshman year.

  10. We all knew Keller was one and done. Good Luck to him. Not many players are exactly NHL ready upon leaving school (except Eichel and few others). Most could benefit greatly from another college season but who can blame them for chasing their dream and fortune? Water does truly seek it’s own level and I think the Terriers finished where they should have. I am not so blindly optimistic about next season as others. Hopefully, They will be fine. Many rumors about Quinn leaving also.

  11. There are rumors about all college coaches leaving … but they usually have no validity. Yes, good luck to Clayton. If we had other one-and-done players like him, it wouldn’t matter how long our student athletes stayed with our program. We’d win NCAA championships quite often. Anyway, I am excited to see how Clayton does in his debut this evening. I hope to see/hear them gushing about him when I watch the NHL Network tomorrow morning.

  12. We almost won everything a couple of years ago with Eichel because beside him we also had a lot of returning players like , O’Regan, Oksanen, Greslyck, Rodrigues(himself a superstar), Hohnman, ect who could SCORE GOALS, and decent 3rd and fourth lines. It was similar in 2009 when the seniors from an already successful 2006 team(Beanpot and HE championship) were primed and mature to win everything. That year the one and done star to put us over the top was Colin Wilson ( a men among boys as one ESPN sportscaster put it), and he stayed 2 years.. Team had a fourth line of Connelly, Trivino, and Bonino and 3rd line only a frosh who could have easily turned pro and stayed 3 years.)
    My point is its ok to get the one and done guy IF you already have a team in place to win a lot( which was ok in 2009 when they did it and in 2015 when they almost did it). this years team was really an anomaly for B.U squads that I can remember for over 40 years) trying to win trophies with predominantly a frosh and sophomore class( even though with 11 draft picks and 4 first rounders it was unprecedented), and no returning leaders and GOALSCORERS to help out( we lost all the last 2 years). I don’t think this has been done before and you risk going WAY DOWN if you lose all these underclassmen which just might happen, because now you don’t have the numbers to fill out the upperclass and therefore improve the quality of the program. That said the Terriers still had a pretty good year with this “formula” but of course risk setting the program back for some years if there is a mass exodus which has already started with Keller.

  13. Ok, all you “we need to rethink our recruiting strategy”….what do you suggest then? Lots of criticisms here but no solutions. Go get mediocre players and MAYBE a one and done? Trophy-wise, yes this was a disappointing year and no doubt the one who felt it the worst was Quinn and his coaching staff. He warned everyone from day ONE, not to listen to the hype. I myself ignored him and was SURE we would take it all. But again, the puck didn’t bounce our way. You ALL know if that puck didn’t go in our own net 2 yrs ago, we’d have won the championship. We ALL know IF Bobo didn’t take that penalty, we’d be going to Chicago. Sometimes, it’s just Sh*t luck. There is NO way you can tell me that NOT going after the best players in the country is the wrong approach. Wait, maybe we should just recruit the 25 and 26 year olds like they do out West? Sorry, I say year 5 is going to be THE year. Every kid on the roster will be this coaching staff’s pick….same as it was in 2009…they won that championship after Quinn’s 5th year. Stay tuned Terriers…..

    • Yeah, that’s sort of what I was saying above too. I’m not sure how running away from recruiting the best players in the country makes any sense. Are people expecting BU to recruit only one superstar every 4 years and then purposely leave the rest for other teams? I’m not sure how changing recruiting makes any difference.

      Now, if they were to say BU needs to change their “retention” efforts, then I’d agree with them. But I have no idea how you can convince a young kid to hold off realizing his dream of playing in the big leagues and making the big money. I suppose that’s a reason why I’m not on the coaching staff.

  14. Hold off a kid from realizing his dream of playing in the NHL? Some programs like B.C have done it better than the Terriers coaching staff has, and of course this began with Jack years ago. He always said he would not hold a player back if he felt the player needed it economically to depart early and sign. Mumbles York does a better job of getting recruits to buy into the whole package of the program and education stay for at least 2 or 3 years. For example, Johnny Hockey, arguably as good for B.C as Keller and Eichel were for the Terriers helped them win 2 NCAA championships, but they had him for THREE YEARS.
    I don’t have a problem with the way the Terriers are recruiting today, the players are enormously talented and much better overall than the period 2009-2013 when Quinn left. What they have to work on is selling the total package to the player, regardless of his NHL draft status, to take advantage of the educational opportunity so they build the program steadily like B.C or Harvard has done, No expects a National Championship every year. Maybe you draft a Keller just to keep him away from another program for a year, maybe that’s part of the plan, I don’t know.
    Let’s wait and see what happens. we know Clayton and Charlie are gone. If JFK, Greenway, Harper, and Bellows remain we’re still in good shape for our top 2 lines. The latter 2 should improve next year and we get new forward recruits like Crone and tkachuk as well. Defensively if we retain what we have now Krys, Fabbro, Hickey,Diffley , McLeod, we remain strong there, but I’m not sure if they all will stay. We have a very good goalie. Usually very good teams come together by accident and with our strong recruiting talents I’m sure the Terrier staff will come up with more super talents in the future to compliment this group.

  15. Congrats to Clayton on earning his first NHL point last night in Arizona!

  16. I am puzzled as to why Clayton has been scratched for these last two games … against the Caps and Kings.