Off-Ice News

2023 NHL Draft: BU scouting report

By Gracie Davenport
Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Boston University men’s hockey was well represented at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville, Tenn. Five BU commits were selected over the course of seven rounds, including four of this fall’s incoming freshman class.

Tom Willander | RD | Round 1, Pick 11 | 11th Overall | Vancouver Canucks 

Hockey East dominated this year’s opening round with a record six first-round selections. The lone Terrier pick came at No. 11 as the Vancouver Canucks selected defenseman Tom Willander. 

“The character as a person is phenomenal. [Willander] doesn’t give you the ole hockey player answers,” Todd Harvey, Canucks Director of Amateur Scouting said to the NHL. “He’s a really intriguing person to start with, but he’s going to be a heck of a player for us.”

The Canucks went into this draft hungry for young defensive talent, and picking up Willander checks all their boxes. Known for his elite skating and strong transition game, the Stockholm native can explode up the ice and hold down the fort defensively. 

Willander led all Rogle BK under-20 blueliners in offense last season with 25 points in 39 games. 

However, the hype around the prospect really started taking off after his impressive U18 World Championship showing this spring. Willander’s Team Sweden eventually fell to Team USA in overtime of the gold medal game, but he managed to log over 30 meaningful minutes. 

Given that all three of Team USA’s top tournament scorers are committed to BU’s rival Boston College for next season, the Swede will be eager for revenge this fall. 

Instead of signing a contract with Rogle BK’s professional club, Willander is opting to make the jump to the NCAA. He hopes to play a bigger role that otherwise would not be available to him in the SHL.

“I have a lot of development left to do — getting a bit heavier and skillswise,” Willander said to the NHL. “I feel like that was a good move for me.” 


Brandon Svoboda | C | Round 3, Pick 7 | 71st Overall | San Jose Sharks

Courtesy of MS FILMS

On day two, Brandon Svoboda was the next Terrier off the draft board. BU alum and San Jose Sharks GM Mike Grier was high on the centerman — trading picks No. 94 and 100 to Carolina to take him at No. 71. 

Svoboda stands at 6-foot-3 and models his game after Buffalo Sabres winger and BU Assistant Captain Luke Tuch’s older brother, Alex. 

“I’m a 200-foot centerman that plays the game the right way,” Svoboda said to the NHL. “I have a strong shot, I love to compete and I love to win.”

The Pennsylvania native spent last season with the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. Regularly slotting in as second-line center, Svoboda posted 26 points (10g, 16a) over 59 games. 

Svoboda shared the ice with fellow Terrier commit Shane Lachance, and the two led the Phantoms to the organization’s first Clark Cup Championship last spring. 

However, while Lachance will arrive on Comm. Ave this fall, Svoboda’s college debut will be postponed until 2024 as he heads back to Youngstown for one more season. 

“Boston is a pretty high-end school; they put a lot of guys in the NHL,” Svoboda said. “Obviously, [Pandolfo] and [Pereira] — I’m super excited to get to work with them.”


Gavin McCarthy | RD | Round 3, Pick 22 | 86th Overall | Buffalo Sabres

Courtesy of NHL

The next Terrier selected holds a familiar name in the BU fanbase. The Buffalo Sabres used pick No. 86 to draft Gavin McCarthy — younger brother to BU Captain Case McCarthy. 

This pick rings extra special for McCarthy who lives just 20 miles from the KeyBank Center and grew up playing for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres. The hometown kid remembers cheering on former Terrier Jack Eichel and will have the opportunity to one day bear the royal blue and gold crest again.  

McCarthy is a mobile, two-way defenseman who eats heavy minutes and can be relied on in all situations. He played for the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks last season and led the team’s defensemen in points per game. 

In 42 games played, McCarthy produced eight goals and 19 assists — four of the tucks coming on the man-advantage. He is also not afraid to bring a physical edge to his game, racking up 88 penalty minutes. 

McCarthy suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for eight weeks last December, but the then-17-year-old remained focused on returning to full health. 

“That was my first real injury,” McCarthy said to the NHL. “Coming back from the injury was pretty hard … I think I learned a ton from it.”

The Sabres prospect was selected 32 spots ahead of his older brother Case, but the pair will unite on BU’s blue line this fall.  


Aiden Celebrini | RD | Round 6, Pick 11 | 171st Overall | Vancouver Canucks

Courtesy of Neutral Zone

With pick No. 171, the Canucks continued their trend of stocking up defensively by taking Aiden Celebrini, who joins Willander.

Celebrini put up five goals and 16 assists over 47 games with the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits last season. Adding three more assists in the postseason, the BC native helped his team capture this year’s Centennial Cup. 

Celebrini uses his size and physicality to play a shutdown style but can also bury the puck when needed. 

Aiden’s younger brother Macklin is projected to go first overall in next year’s draft. The pair will be part of three brother duos in the BU locker room next season: Case and Gavin McCarthy, Quinn and Lane Hutson and Aiden and Macklin Celebrini. 

Celebrini is joining a deep defensive pool at BU, as the Terriers will house seven drafted defensemen this fall. 


Jack Harvey | LW | Round 7, Pick 1 | 193rd Overall | Tampa Bay Lightning 

Courtesy of Instagram

After being passed over in the two previous entry drafts, forward Jack Harvey was selected this year with pick No. 193 by the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The double overager uses his above-average puck handling and high hockey IQ to set up creative plays. 

Harvey played a key role on the USHL’s Chicago Steel last season. Although his future BU teammates in Youngstown eventually ended his team’s postseason, the Lightning prospect had a breakout year. 

Playing alongside Macklin Celebrini, Harvey ranked fourth in USHL offense — potting 40 goals and 74 points in 62 games. 

The future Terrier will attempt to translate his newfound game at the college level as he proves his long-term worth. 

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