In a shock to the the denizens of Twitter and to the population of Quebec earlier this week, NU defenseman and 2018 Montreal Canadiens pick Jordan Harris announced jointly with the Canadiens that he will be returning to Northeastern for his senior season, following through on the statement he made 20 minutes after his selection in the draft that his priority was to finish his degree before moving on to his pro career. Northeastern and Harris followed up with this announcement with one of their own on Wednesday, naming Harris the captain of the 2021-22 team and the 88th captain in the history of Northeastern Hockey
For most of the season the working assumption was that Harris would turn pro following the end of the Huskies’ campaign, so long as he continued his development and put together a solid third season on Huntington Avenue. Harris more than lived up to his end of the bargain, leading Hockey East defensemen in points scored in the regular season while also driving the Huskies first power play unit from the point and anchoring the first defensive pairing. Reports out of Montreal over the past few weeks indicate that Harris was rewarded by the team for those achievements, with offers to sign a maximum ELC, burn a year off his contract immediately, and jump directly into NHL game action this spring with Le Bleu–Blanc–Rouge. When all was said and done Harris declined the offer though, electing to instead lead one of the most-hyped NU teams in recent history this fall, with the core of last year’s team returning healthy and the addition of a number of talented forwards, including a pair from the USNTDP in Ryan St. Louis, son of Hockey Fall of Famer Martin, and Jack Hughes, a surefire first round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and brother of the Huskies’ Riley Hughes.
While Harris’ signing seemed to be a sure thing and was reported as such north of the border, we would remiss to not mention that we had heard rumblings throughout the season that the decision wasn’t as set in stone as it appeared to be at first glance. Harris is a Massachusetts local, the hero of the 2020 Beanpot, and by all accounts a devoted student. The NHL will certainly come calling for him again next spring, but the chance to lead his local team to glory after the team underperformed down the stretch in each of the last two seasons is one that can never be replicated. Had Harris signed, nobody could have blamed him and we certainly would have celebrated with him, he deserved and received a contract offer that is usually extended to only the stars of collegiate hockey whose NHL teams are desperate to get them into the fold, recent entries to the list from Comm Ave include players the likes of Johnny Gaudreau and Charlie McAvoy. But instead Jordan Harris takes his place as captain of Northeastern hockey and will lead the team on and off the ice, mentoring the heralded class of freshmen and continuing to be a force on the blue line.
From a team standpoint, the 2021-22 Northeastern team vaults to the top of the list of potential title contenders with Harris’ return. With Harris and fellow Canadiens pick Jayden Struble manning the blue line, they’ll be leading an experienced group, with seniors Julian Kislin and Johnny DeRoche and juniors Jeremie Bucheler and Tyler Spott opening the possibility that the entire Huskies’ starting six on defense will be made up of upperclassmen next season. In goal, the long-awaited debut of 2021 World Juniors IIHF Top Goaltender Devon Levi should finally take place and bring the team to another level between the pipes, while at forward NU supplements star scorer Aidan McDonough and the dynamic sophomore trio of Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and twins Ty and Dylan Jackson with a number of proven USHL talents who are expected to contribute in the top six in addition to the duo of National Team Alumni.
Harris will, much like David Farrance for BU this year, enter the season as his team’s heralded captain and an early dark-horse Hobey Baker candidate. His candidacy as a defenseman will rely not only on his individual success next season but on the success he leads his team to as well, much like Will Butcher’s Hobey win over Zach Aston-Reese in 2018 during a National Championship campaign with Denver. After NU’s season Montreal will still have significant leverage to get Harris to sign with the club, as they will be the only team eligible to sign him to a contract, let him use up a year of his ELC, and give him NHL playing time in 2021-22. However, should Harris choose to stall his contract yet another season, he would be eligible to sign with any NHL team in August 2022 following his graduation next May. Montreal’s statement indicates that the team and player maintain a good relationship and the Huskies have a history of senior draft picks returning to lead the team then signing with their drafting team immediately following the season, including Kevin Roy with the Ducks in 2016 after leading NU to a Hockey East Championship as captain and Dylan Sikura with the Blackhawks in 2018 after leading NU to their first Beanpot Championship since 1988.
Congratulations to Jordan on his decision and on being named team captain. Even though we’ve already begun looking ahead to the next chapter in the history of Northeastern hockey with this announcement, we’ll have a final recap closing out the 2020-21 campaign coming up later this week.