After previewing the goaltenders, the second part of our look-ahead series to the 2022-23 series continues with the new defensemen who will skate for Northeastern this season. The Huskies will be tasked with replacing heavy minutes and production logged by Jordan Harris, Tommy Miller, and Julian Kislin, two of whom were four year starters at Northeastern and the third, Miller, who came in after four successful years at Michigan State and became a stalwart in the top four for Northeastern. Harris’ offensive production and the defensive acumen and responsibility of all three players will be missed, but Jerry Keefe’s staff is bringing in five new players to help fill the voids and keep the Huskies at the peak of the mountain.
Incumbents (listed by seniority): Jayden Struble, Jeremie Bucheler, Tyler Spott, James Davenport, Cam Gaudette
New Players– Northeastern brings in four freshmen and one transfer to round our their defensive corps.
Hunter McDonald– Our first freshman, Big Mac comes out of the USHL having played for the Chicago Steel and Omaha Lancers. Standing 6’3″, weighing 207 pounds, and having 14 points (4 goals) in 54 games last year, the lefty is a true defensive-minded defenseman who specializes in the shutdown role. Recently profiled in the New York Hockey Journal, where we learned Northeastern beat out BU and Providence for his commitment after he decided to switch from RPI, McDonald has an incredible work ethic and is both responsible in his own zone and can make the outlet pass needed to jumpstart offense. Drafted in the sixth round of the 2022 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, expect McDonald to get starter minutes early and often on either the second or third pairings, and likely time on the penalty kill time as well. While in the USHL he also had time playing right defense, so his flexibility could also help get him into the lineup.
Jackson Dorrington– A local product from North Reading, MA, Dorrington is another big, physical left-shot defenseman who has been in the Northeastern pipeline for nearly two years. Dorrington stands 6’2″, 200 pounds, and comes from the Des Moines Buccaneers program in the USHL. While Des Moines did not have a great year, Dorrington got the chance to play high-end minutes and situations, scoring 11 points (3 goals) in 41 games. Similar to McDonald, Dorrington is a defense-first player who uses a good stick and his large frame to mitigate chances, and he can make the outlet passes needed to turn the puck around. He brings a physical element to the game- one evaluator commented to me that his physicality is just a couple notches below Jayden Struble, whose bone-crushing hits and uber-athletic play has show flashes in three years at Northeastern. Another note on Dorrington is he tends to “make the simple play” which is exactly what we want to see from a freshman- have the ability to make the spectacular play but also the smarts to make the easy one if it’s in front of you. A sixth round pick in 2022 by the Vancouver Canucks, Dorrington will compete for playing time right away.
Braden Doyle– The lone transfer among the defensemen, Doyle played one semester at Boston University before leaving and playing half a season for the Penticton Vees of the BCHL, helping the Vees capture the BCHL Championship while scoring 27 points (3 goals) in 27 games. An offensive defenseman, Doyle is a 2019 sixth round pick by Los Angeles. Standing 5’11” and also a left shot, Doyle’s offensive playmaking and puck-moving abilities have been lauded for years. Since being drafted he’s been candid about working on his defensive game and we can expect a more fully fleshed out player when he suits up for Northeastern. I’ve heard evaluators liken his abilities to a Torey Krug type player for Northeastern, and I could see Doyle entrusted to help replace some of the lost production from Jordan Harris, particularly on the powerplay.
Vinny Borgesi– a right-handed offensive defenseman out of the Tri-City Storm of the USHL, Borgesi originally committed to Northeastern three years ago in September 2019. Since then he dominated at Selects Academy before playing two USHL seasons and seeing his production double in his second year with more experience and responsibility. The offensive dynamo stands only 5’8″ but he proves that size is not the be-all end-all for production. Putting up 38 points (5 goals) in 57 games, Borgesi is primed to be the next great puck-moving defenseman at Northeastern, following the legacy of Harris, Shea, Davies, Benning, and Saucerman before him. Expect Borgesi to slide into the right side of the pairings and get opportunities early, particularly on the powerplay similar to Doyle. Borgesi was undrafted in 2022 but did attend Development Camp with the Colorado Avalanche, an organization that knows a thing or two about identifying and developing offensive defensemen.
Kyle Furey– the elder statesman among the four freshmen defensemen, Furey comes to Northeastern out of the Lone Star Brahmas program in the NAHL, one of the top teams in the league last season. A right handed shot at an even 6 feet tall, Furey put up 34 points (7 goals) in 48 games to lead the Brahmas in defenseman scoring. He also played a season in the USHL with Youngstown where he put up 10 points (1 goal) in 46 games. I expect Furey to start his career as depth at the position but with the potential to move up the chart into the bottom pairing particularly as an offensive-minded right-shot player to compliment the defense-first tendencies abundant in the lineup.
Five new players for the defense, with many of them expected to contribute from the starting gate. With the NCAA now allowing an extra skater every night, there is a real possibility that Northeastern will have seven top four quality defensemen in their lineup each night. The youth of the new group will have to be balanced by the experience both of the returning defensemen and by the defensive responsibility of their older and experienced forward counterparts. As with any young team, expect growing pains here and there for the first month or two but this group has all the talent needed to make a run at championships, plural, if they can get up to NCAA speed quickly and get acclimated to the new level of competition.
Catch our final edition of New at Northeastern where we look at the forward group in the next week, and then our final preseason look-ahead as we look at the team as a whole and what our expectations are for the 2022-23 season!
As always, go Huskies!