With hockey still months away, we here at the NU Hockey Blog will be posting various updates as information comes in bulk. Today we will cover a variety of topics dealing with Huskies of the present, past, and future.
NHL Development Camps
All 31 National Hockey League (NHL) teams held their Development Camps over the last couple of weeks, and the Huskies were well represented. Seven members of the 2018-19 Northeastern team participated: Forwards Matt Filipe (Carolina), Zach Solow (Florida), and incoming freshman Tyler Madden (Vancouver), defensemen Ryan Shea (Chicago), Jeremy Davies (New Jersey), incoming freshman Jordan Harris (Montreal), and goaltender Cayden Primeau (Also Montreal).
Two future members of the Huskies’ hockey program attended camp as well. 2019 recruit Aidan McDonough attended Pittsburgh camp as an undrafted free agent; he will likely play for Cedar Rapids in the United States Hockey League (USHL) next season before enrolling to Northeastern. Fellow 2019 recruit Riley Hughes was the second-to-last player selected in the draft, by the New York Rangers, and he attended their development camp. He will play for Victoria in the British Colombia Hockey League (BCHL) next season before enrolling in 2019.
Former Huskies captain and forward Nolan Stevens was an attendee for the St. Louis Blues development camp.
Not to be outdone by his players, Associate Head Coach Jerry Keefe also attended development camp as a guest of the Los Angeles Kings, working with players on offensive zone play and the powerplay.
Development camps are a fantastic way for college players to get exposed to the pace of the professional game, and learn from some of the greatest minds at the highest level. The players will all benefit from these experiences, and we hope to see the fruits of their labors come hockey season. In total, the Huskies had the fourth-most players/recruits out of Hockey East schools, behind BU, Providence, and BC.
There has been substantial movement within Hockey East this offseason, with seven of the conference’s eleven teams enduring coaches coming and going. As of this writing, only Northeastern, UMass-Amherst, UConn, and Maine have withstood coaching change.
- The biggest coaching change this offseason came from the Huskies’ rivals on Commonwealth Avenue when head coach David Quinn left his alma mater to become the head coach of the NHL’s New York Rangers. In his stead, BU promoted associate head coach Albie O’Connell to their head coaching position. O’Connell is a former BU player and has previous assistant coaching stops at Northeastern and Harvard. This is his first head coaching position. To fill the associate head coach void, BU plucked Paul Pearl from Harvard, who along with assistant coach Len Quesnelle, gives BU two former head coaches to work with O’Connell. Between O’Connell staying in the program and Pearl’s reputation as an elite, tireless recruiter, we expect BU’s recruiting pipeline to stay as strong as it ever has been, and possibly get even better.
- New Hampshire replaced long-time head coach Dick Umile this offseason, promoting Mike Souza to the position. Souza was an assistant at UNH for three seasons, and is a former player for the Wildcats. Souza is tasked with trying to right a sinking ship in Durham, one year after UNH finished dead last in Hockey East for the first time in its history. To fill Souza’s spot as assistant coach, UNH tabbed former Boston College forward Jeff Giuliano, who previously coached two seasons in the ECHL with Manchester.
- Soon after the 2017-18 season ended, Merrimack cut ties with long-time head coach Mark Dennehy in a shocking move that drew negative reactions from many in college hockey. Dennehy, to whom many attribute the saving of the Merrimack hockey program, has since landed on his feet as the head coach of the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL. As his replacement, Merrimack hired Scott Borek, formerly an assistant coach at Providence for three season, an assistant at New Hampshire for thirteen, and previously a head coach at Lake Superior State in the late 1990s.
- The most recent coaching change in the conference was seen at UMass-Lowell, where associate head coach Cam Ellsworth was hired as the new head coach of Division Three powerhouse Norwich University. Ellsworth had previously been offered the head coaching position at Alaska Anchorage this offseason, but rejected the offer. He also spoke to Merrimack about their head coaching position.
- Vermont also lost their associate head coach and top recruiter in Kyle Wallack, as he was chosen to be the first head coach in the history of Albertus Magnus College. Albertus Magnus is a Division Three school that will start its first season as a program in 2019-20.
- Finally, Boston College also lost its associate head coach in Greg Brown, who will join David Quinn’s staff with the New York Rangers. Brown had been tabbed as BC’s “head coach in waiting,” but there have been rumblings that Jerry York has no plans to retire any time soon, so while Brown still may have interest in becoming the head coach at Boston College some day, he may also have been tired of waiting on Jerry and took the NHL job as another way to strengthen his resume. It appears that BC will promote second assistant Mike Ayers to fill the void left by Brown, and two names linked to the opening are former Eagles defensemen JD Forrest and Brendan Buckley. Buckley is currently at UConn as an assistant coach, Forrest currently with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL.
A number of Northeastern hockey alums signed new contracts in the last month or so:
- Former defenseman Matt Benning signed a two-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers worth $1.9 million per year. Benning signed with the Oilers after his junior season at Northeastern, made their team out of training camp, and has been a fixture in their top-six since his rookie season. Last season he doubled his goals output (6 goals last season), and tallied 15 assists for 21 points in his first full NHL season.
- Former defenseman Jamie Oleksiak signed a three-year contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins last week, paying him a little more than $2.1 million per year. Oleksiak was traded to Pittsburgh last season from Dallas, and really found his stride playing for Pittsburgh, tallying 14 points in 47 games, nearly matching his entire production as a Dallas Star (22 points in 142 games).
- Former Huskies captain Kevin Roy signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Anaheim Ducks for $874,000. Roy made his NHL debut last season with Anaheim, posting 7 points (6 goals) in 25 games, while also scoring 37 points in 45 games for San Diego in the AHL.
- Former defenseman Colton Saucerman re-signed with the Manchester Monarchs of the ECHL for one season after posting a career-high 41 points with the team last season. Saucerman also got a taste of AHL action the last two seasons with a number of teams, and he will look to continue to improve in his third season in Manchester.
- In non-player alumni news, former head coach Greg Cronin, most recently an assistant coach with the New York Islanders, was named the head coach of the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League.
- As I alluded to earlier in the post, the Huskies will have some recruits playing north of the border next season as they continue to progress towards enrolling to Northeastern in Fall 2019. Forward Riley Hughes and defenseman Jeremie Bucheler will play for the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL next season. Bucheler actually committed to playing for them last month, and in their press release for his commitment, Grizzlies general manager Craig Didmon praised Bucheler as a big offensive defenseman that will held their blue line corps. He also mentioned that Bucheler had been looking to go play in the BCHL, which is interesting given that Bucheler played in the USHL last season with Chicago.Hughes, the New York Rangers draft pick, will be playing alongside projected 2019 first round NHL Draft pick Alex Newhook, who also happens to be a Boston College commit. Didmon cited Hughes as a “gifted offensive player, which is perfect for this league,” and he expects Hughes to contribute immediately and in a large way for the Grizzlies. Losing Hughes is a big blow to St. Sebastien’s in Massachusetts, where Hughes played last season and scored 36 points in 30 games.
- One of the highly-coveted and immensely talented forwards in the Huskies’ pipeline, 2002-born forward and 2020 recruit Jack Williams was selected for Five Nations Tournament, after participating in the USA Hockey Select 16 Player Development Camp. He will be a part of the U17 Team USA team that plays in the mid-August tournament in Slovakia. He will be coached by Mark Dennehy. The United States has won three consecutive Five Nations Tournaments.
If you have not heard by now, Matthews Arena will be installing a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 50-foot video board in the rafters for next season. Athletic Director Jeff Konya has hit another grand slam in his early days at the helm of the Northeastern Athletics Department, and we encourage everyone to read up on the new project HERE.
And on a final note, the 2018-19 schedule for the Northeastern Men’s Hockey Program was released earlier this month. We had speculated different dates and engagements after the Friends of NU Hockey Meeting, but now the schedule is out for all to see.
The season will open on the road with two games against Sacred Heart starting October 12th. The first home game of the season will be against ECAC foe Union on October 19th. Highlighting the out-of-conference schedule will be the date with St. Cloud State at Matthews Arena on October 27th. The homecoming game will be November 10th against UMass-Lowell.
The Huskies will participate in the Catamount Cup the weekend of New Year’s Eve, and will play RPI and Alabama-Huntsville in that tournament. We will be planning to attend that tournament, and hope other Huskies fans can attend as well.