New to Northeastern- The Forwards

The NHL season is done, the NHL Draft has happened, and the buzz of NHL free agency has worn off, meaning we have a few months of summer between us and meaningful hockey again. To pass the time, we will be doing a multi-part series going over the players who will be new to the Northeastern Huskies program this season. Who are they? Where are they coming from? What can we expect? Let your friends at NHB help out, and let’s dive right in.

Jakov Novak (#10)- A transfer to Northeastern after spending three years at Bentley (AHA), Novak is a 2018 7th round pick of the Ottawa Senators. Standing 6-foot-3, weighing 215 pounds, the Canadian lefty can play left wing or center, giving head coach Jerry Keefe options on how to use him in a lineup that has been lacking forward size for a couple years. He scored 30 goals in 3 seasons at Bentley, including 16 as a sophomore. He went 7-10-17 last year in 15 games, with only 3 points coming on the powerplay, indicating he has the ability to score at even strength while also having the tools to be used as a threat on the vaunted Keefe powerplay, either as the bumper position where players such as Zach Solow and Nolan Stevens made their living, or on the half-boards to beat the goalie with his shot. Novak is a name I would expect to be in the Huskies’ top six right from the start of the season.

Keefe on Novak: “Big body down the middle that we need. He can shoot the puck, he’s got a good skillset, plays 200 feet. He’s a really good matchup guy, can use him in any situation.”

Jack Hughes (#27)- The highest-profile name in this class, and not just because he shares it with a former number one overall pick, Hughes has all the tools to be a star in his own right. A lefty center from Westwood, Hughes will be one of the youngest players in college hockey this year, as he isn’t eligible to hear his name called by an NHL team until the 2022 draft. A playmaker more than a shooter, Hughes comes from the United States National Team Development Program, and tallied 10 goals and 34 assists last year in 56 games. While it wouldn’t shock me if he started in the middle six as he got acclimated to the size, speed, and pace of the collegiate game, Hughes is someone that Huskies fans can bank on being a prime driver of offense from the onset of the season, and I could see a future where he takes over the powerplay position previously occupied by the likes of Dylan Sikura and Tyler Madden to orchestrate success with the puck on his stick.

Keefe on Hughes: “Jack has the ability to be one of the best players in college hockey. Extremely gifted with the puck, great playmaker, sees the ice really well. The one thing about Jack, he’s really competitive, so we’re looking for Jack to play a huge piece for this year.”

Ryan St. Louis (#13)- Another product of the USNTDP, St. Louis is a left winger who will be playing in all situations for the Huskies, having occupied both penalty kill and special teams roles for the NTDP while putting up 31 points (13 goals) in 55 games, boosting both his scoring totals and his responsibilities from his first year with the program. St. Louis is a 5-foot-10, 170 pound left wing, who was eligible for the first time for the 2021 NHL Draft. He will bring strong two-way play while having the vision and playmaking ability to produce points from any spot in the lineup.

Keefe on St. Louis: “Really, really smart player. High-end hockey IQ. Marty did a great job teaching Ryan how to play on both sides of the puck. He’s got great breakaway speed, a guy who can find quiet areas on the ice, and can play in all situations for us.”

Matt Choupani (#TBD)- Another Canadian, Choupani (pronounced “chew-pan-ee”) comes to Northeastern after two seasons with Des Moines of the USHL and before that, the esteemed Lac St-Louis Lions program in Quebec. An offensive dynamo and consistent goal-scorer in his career, Choupani put up 74 points across his two years with the Buccaneers, including 34 goals total and 20 coming last season in 48 games. A right shot right wing, Choupani will bring balance to the lineup, likely in the top nine, on a Huskies team that has been very left-hand heavy in the forward corps.

Keefe on Choupani: “High stick skills, he’s a shooter first, loves to score goals. Really grew as an all-around player in his second year. Can find his way all around the offensive zone, good on the powerplay, a really good offensive player.”

Justin Hryckowian (#29)- The third Canadian player in this forward group, Hryckowian also played for the Lac St-Louis Lions program in Quebec before going to the Salisbury School (prep) in Connecticut. After prep he went to Cedar Rapids in the USHL, and eventually settling in last season with Sioux City, where he was named team captain. Hryckowian put up nearly a point per game last year, finishing with 38 (17 goals) in 44 games after scoring 14 (4 goals) in 17 with Cedar Rapids before being knocked out with injury. A left-shot true center, Hryckowian’s ability to play well in all three zones, as well as in the faceoff circle, will have a role carved out for him from the moment he arrives at Northeastern. He is someone I can envision bringing both defensive reliability and scoring punch to the bottom six as a freshman, before working his way up the line chart in his four seasons at Northeastern.

Keefe on Hryckowian: “Ritzy can play the game any way you want it. He’s a guy who is very good on faceoffs, very good on the powerplay, great on the PK, he can play at the net-front. He’s a guy that can pass the puck, probably more of a pass-first player. He’s a gamer.”

Chase McInnis (#6)- A local kid from Hingham and formerly the Dexter School, McInnis is the brother of former Boston College defenseman Luke and the son of former NHL great Marty McInnis. The left-shot forward played 2 years for Victoria in the BCHL, putting up 35 points in 77 games including 11 goals. McInnis comes in as an older freshman at 20 years old, but has the ability to contribute in the Huskies’ bottom six as a winger who can play on the penalty kill, forecheck well to cause turnovers, and be an integral part of the team’s continued winning culture for four years.

Keefe on McInnis: “Played 2 years in Victoria. He’s a 200-foot player, plays in all the hard areas of the rink. He’s a guy that’s a great forechecker, he’s (like) an F1. Comes back hard. 200-foot player with a really good skillset as well.”

We will have a New to Northeastern series for the two defensemen and two goaltenders in the near-future, and any news pertaining to the Huskies as we await the start of the 2021 season.

As always, go Huskies!