Preseason Top 16: #15 Boston College


It’s that time of year again! Each day (or so) for the next two weeks, TCHB will be rolling out its preseason top 16 teams in the country. 16 of course because the NCAA tournament field is comprised of 16 teams. Today’s team is the #15 Boston College Eagles

I imagine BC will be ranked higher than this in the major polls, simply because of their name. And they have earned that right: BC is one of the best current programs in the country and one of the better ones all time. But I have some serious doubts about the 2011-12 group assembled. They lose their best player, Cam Atkinson, a two time national champion goalie, and a host of lesser known but very good role players.

Forwards: Obviously Atkinson is the big loss. His .89 goals in conference play led Hockey East and were second nationally only to Niagara’s Bryan Haczyk. But they also lost Brian Gibbons, who tied for third in Hockey East in ppg, and Joe Whitney, who tied for 20th. Three double digit scorers return for the Eagles; the big key for me is Junior Chris Kreider, who has resisted overtures from the Rangers to sign. Kreider is one of the most talented players in college hockey and one of my favorites.

The Eagles had the best offense in the league last year, boosted by their conference best 24.2% on the power play. Can they continue that without a driving force like Atkinson? Or will Kreider fill those shoes?

Defensemen: Brian Dumoulin returns after an All-American season last year. I expect to see him on many preseason All-American teams as well as Hobey watch lists this year. He had 3 goals and 33 points last year, but is one of the better defensive defensemen around as well.

One defensive defenseman who is not back is Phil Samuelsson, who is playing for his father Ulf (yes, that Ulf) in Sweden this year. Samuelsson didn’t do much offensively but he was one of the best and most unheralded guys defensively, not only on that team but probably in the entire country. Senior Tommy Cross provides great leadership and Patrick Wey is a very similar player to Samuelsson, so while his departure is big I don’t think it will leave a big hole.

Goalies: The big key, obviously, is the graduation of John Muse. He had a very good .920 save% last year and was in my final three for Hockey East player of the year. Parker Milner had just a .899 save percentage last year, but as a Freshman he posted a .909 mark so BC isn’t totally lost in goal. A pair of ECHL (oops. EJHL obviously) goalies, Brad Barone and Brian Billett, will compete for the job.

Jerry York has done more with less, so it wouldn’t shock me at all if BC ends up Hockey East champions again, but for now I have questions about them replacing Atkinson and Jimmy Hayes, as well as their situation in net.