In case you needed more reasons to watch Hockey East on FloHockey this upcoming season, the National Hockey League provided an unprecedented number of them this past weekend.
A record-breaking 27 current players and recruits committed to Hockey East schools were selected in the 2019 NHL Draft, with seven of the 11 teams represented.
“It’s exciting to see Hockey East lead the country at the NHL Draft once again,” Hockey East associate commissioner Brian Smith told FloHockey.
“Hockey East has proven to be an exceptional training ground for prospects at all levels and it's evident that having the best players play against each other night in and night out in the league pays off when you look at the number of alumni in the NHL. It's particularly great that fans get to see such elite talent all within driving distance on a weekly basis thanks to one of the most unique aspects that Hockey East provides for fans and players alike."
In a draft in which 71 college players were taken, the most since 2007, Hockey East led all conferences in players getting picked, including three of the four “active” players who played in the NCAA last season. All three—Tyce Thompson (Providence), Marc Del Gaizo (UMass), and Filip Lindberg (UMass)—played in the most recent Frozen Four.
Of the 27 players selected, 12 were forwards, 12 were defensemen, and only three were goaltenders. The Boston University Terriers accounted for eight of the 27, with the Boston College Eagles not far behind with five, including a record three first rounders. Providence saw four players selected, UConn and UMass each had three, while UMass-Lowell and Northeastern each had two players drafted.
Although certainly not all of the players taken will reach the National Hockey League, the odds are better coming out of Hockey East than they are any other conference; HEA boasted the most alumni who played in the NHL this season with a whopping 96, including Zach Sanford, who just won the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues and was an NCAA-record 20th Eagles alum to have done so.
The following is a look at each Hockey East player selected, complete with background information:
Trevor Zegras, F, Boston University
9th overall, Anaheim Ducks
Zegras slipped a bit in the draft, but should have a top-six role with the Terriers that will allow him to really flourish in what may be his only collegiate season. A skilled playmaker who was trusted to play with first overall pick Jack Hughes with the U.S. National Team Development Program, he figures to be in the Ducks plans sooner rather than later.
Matthew Boldy, F, Boston College
12th overall, Minnesota Wild
A Massachusetts native, Boldy is nearly universally praised for his hockey sense and pro-ready size, and should be a great fit on Jerry York’s squad for as long as he has him. He potted 81 points for the USNTDP in 64 games between exhibition games and USHL contests and could produce at a similar pace while earning big minutes with the Eagles.
Spencer Knight, G, Boston College
13th overall, Florida Panthers
Things are looking pretty good these days for Spencer Knight. One of only a handful of goaltenders picked in the first round of the draft over the last few years—just five had been selected that high since 2010, and Knight was the earliest taken since Jack Campbell (10th) that year—but the USNTDP standout broke the mold and finds himself in an organization where he has a clear path to the net in a few years.
With Joe Woll having left the Eagles to pursue his pro career in the Maple Leafs organization, that also paves the way for Knight to take the reins between the pipes at Conte Forum, where he’ll hope to follow in the footsteps of another heavily hyped goaltending prospect, Thatcher Demko, in going from BC to a likely starting role in the NHL.
Alex Newhook, F, Boston College
16th overall, Colorado Avalanche
Newhook rounds out the trio of Eagles taken in the first round and should play a big part in bringing BC back to prominence after a disappointing ending to the 2018-19 season. Known primarily for his slick skating, Newhook should bring an electrifying style of play to Hockey East; he tallied an incredible 102 points in just 53 regular season games last year with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies and posted a whopping 13-11-24 line in just 15 playoff contests as well.
Vladislav Firstov, F, UConn
42nd overall, Minnesota Wild
The Wild went back-to-back with Hockey East players, taking Firstov one round after they selected Boldy. The Russian-born forward was considered the best player available and is best known for a quick, accurate shot. However, some elements of his game are said to need some work—notably his skating and strength—and the Huskies program should be the perfect place to do just that. Some projections have Firstov spending as much as all four years with UConn, so his development may be slow, but it should be fascinating to watch his progression in Hockey East.
Alex Vlasic, D, Boston University
43rd overall, Chicago Blackhawks
Vlasic finds himself with a strong opportunity with the Blackhawks, an organization that is doing some rebuilding on the backend behind stalwarts Duncan Keith and, to a lesser extent, Brent Seabrook. The pick was widely praised, with some hopeful that Vlasic can one day match the production of his cousin, San Jose Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic. Despite having just turned 18, Vlasic is already 6-foot-6 and should provide a unique presence on Albie O’Connell’s blueline.
Jayden Struble, D, Northeastern
46th overall, Montreal Canadiens
Struble grew up in Rhode Island as a Bruins fan, and although he was selected by the rival Montreal Canadiens in the second round, he’ll only be a 10-minute drive away from TD Garden once he sets foot inside historic Matthews Arena. At six-feet tall and 205 pounds, Struble plays a big, physical game but is still considered a puck-moving, offensive defenseman. It’s a unique style of play for someone his size and should be a good fit in the Huskies high-octane offense.
Drew Helleson, D, Boston College
47th overall, Colorado Avalanche
Another big blueliner, Helleson was regarded by some to be the “shutdown defender” on the USNTDP team and is considered to be more of a defensive defenseman by most. He’ll join fellow Avalanche prospect and BC commit Alex Newhook at Conte Forum next year.
Robert Mastrosimone, F, Boston University
54th overall, Detroit Red Wings
Robert Mastrosimone of East Islip, New York, turned two years of nearly point-per-game production with the USHL’s Chicago Steel into a second-round selection by the Detroit Red Wings. A skilled forward known for some of his stickhandling in traffic, he has a chance to make an impact right away with the Terriers.
Zac Jones, D, UMass
68th overall, New York Rangers
Jones is an undersized, skilled defenseman at just 5-foot-10, 176 pounds. Considered to be a solid puck-mover, he was a point-per-game player with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm last season and will possibly fill the void on Greg Carvel’s blueline left when Hobey Baker Award winner Cale Makar departed the program early to join the Colorado Avalanche for their postseason run.
Domenick Fensore, D, Boston University
90th overall, Carolina Hurricanes
Another USNTDP standout, Fensore is listed at just 5-foot-7 and 150 pounds but stands out for his elite-level speed and dynamic vision with the puck. One of the youngest draft-eligible players—he won’t turn 18 until early September—Fensore may be a bit of a project on the Terriers backend but should earn more and more ice time over the course of his collegiate career.
Tyce Thompson, F, Providence College
96th overall, New Jersey Devils
For a player selected in the fourth round, expectations are high for Tyce Thompson, who is the brother of former UConn and current Buffalo Sabres forward Tage Thompson and son of former NHL’er and current Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Brent Thompson. Now going into his sophomore season with the Friars, Thompson posted eight goals and 17 assists in his freshman campaign and finished that year with at least one shot on goal in his last 19 games. He’ll return to Nate Leaman’s team this season, and although he’s not considered to be as skilled as Tage was, he is still expected to play a significant role in Providence.
Ethan Phillips, F, Boston University
97th overall, Detroit Red Wings
Phillips joins fellow Red Wings draftee Robert Mastrosimone as a freshman on Albie O’Connell’s roster next year, although the two play somewhat different games. Phillips is listed at only 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, and while he is known more for his defensive skill, he still put up a 16-27—43 line with Sioux Falls in the USHL last season.
Cade Webber, D, Boston University
99th overall, Carolina Hurricanes
Like Alex Vlasic, Webber is listed at 6-foot-6 and will provide some significant size on the Terriers blueline…just not right away. He’s expected to return to the BCHL’s Penticton Vees for the 2019-20 season, which may ultimately be the best for his development given an already-crowded backend at Agganis Arena.
Matej Blumel, F, UConn
100th overall, Edmonton Oilers
Blumel is a Czech-born goal-scorer, coming off a breakout year with Waterloo in the USHL where he lit the lamp 30 times in just 58 games, plus another three goals in four postseason contests. He should make an impact right away with the Huskies
Carter Berger, D, UConn
106th overall, Florida Panthers
Berger went undrafted last year but made it into the fourth round this year thanks to a big year with Victoria in the BCHL in which he scored an incredible 27 goals as a defenseman. He’ll be 20 when the NCAA season gets underway and as a result may have an advantage on moving up Mike Cavanuagh’s depth chart to start the year.
Marc Del Gaizo, D, UMass
109th overall, Nashville Predators
Del Gaizo did wonders for his stock with the Minutemen over the duration of last season, but particularly the postseason and Frozen Four where the same eyes that were there to see Cale Makar were forced to watch Del Gaizo, who was his D-partner. What they saw was a player who scored the game-winning goal in the national semifinals, as well as an overall steady two-way defenseman. With Makar now out of the picture, Del Gaizo has his best chance to shine, but he’ll also have to prove that his success wasn’t solely a result of playing with college hockey’s top talent.
Case McCarthy, D, Boston University
118th overall, New Jersey Devils
A physical, righty shot defenseman, McCarthy can still contribute offensively but is known more for his punishing style of play. He’ll join a glut of incoming blueliners at Agganis Arena and should provide plenty of highlights for FloHockey subscribers with some big hits.
Max Crozier, D, Providence College
120th overall, Tampa Bay Lightning
A steady, Canada-born blueliner, Crozier should fit Nate Leaman’s system well at Schneider Arena. He posted a 10-33—43 line in 60 games and racked up 132 penalty minutes as a two-way defenseman with Sioux Falls in the USHL.
Logan Neaton, G, UMass-Lowell
144th overall, Winnipeg Jets
Already 20 years old, Neaton will need to see some time between the pipes rather quickly to help speed up his development, but he will likely back up incumbent Tyler Wall as the Rangers prospect finishes out his senior season with the River Hawks. Neaton posted a stellar 1.92 goals against average and .914 save percentage in 47 games with Prince George of the BCHL last year.
Braden Doyle, D, Boston University
157th overall, Los Angeles Kings
A Massachusetts native, Doyle won’t have far to go when he begins his collegiate career at Agganis Arena, but, like Webber, that won’t happen this season. Doyle will join the Terriers for the 2020-21 campaign and will likely have added a bit to his six-foot, 168-pound frame by then.
Patrick Moynihan, F, Providence College
158th overall, New Jersey Devils
Patrick Moynihan—the hockey player, not the late politician—was overlooked by some on the stacked USNTDP squad but not by the Devils or Boston College, the latter of which should be enjoying the fruits of his labor for the next several seasons. The skilled forward tallied 19 goals and 27 assists in 64 games for the Development Team Program last year and somehow slid to the sixth round, despite being ranked significantly higher on most boards.
Tomas Mazura, F, Providence College
162nd overall, Edmonton Oilers
Another Czech-born forward, Mazura has been playing in the States since the 2016-17 season but only rocketed up the draft charts last year thanks to a breakout campaign with the Kimball Union Academy prep school. He won’t join the Friars until the 2020-21 season.
Marshall Warren, D, Boston College
166th overall, Minnesota Wild
Warren will begin his collegiate career with the Eagles this fall and should have an opportunity to make an immediate impact given some departures on the Boston College blueline. A left-shot D-man, he’s best known for his ability with the puck and speed.
Andre Lee, F, UMass-Lowell
188th overall, Los Angeles Kings
A big winger, the 6-foot-5, 205-pound Swede won’t be hard to find on the ice at the Tsongas Center. After spending the past four seasons at various levels with Farjestad, he made a successful transition to North America in the USHL last season, potting 20 goals with Sioux Falls in the USHL in the regular season before a breakout, point-per-game showing in the playoffs.
Aidan McDonough, F, Northeastern
195th overall, Vancouver Canucks
Although he was drafted by a team all the way across the continent, the native of Milton, Massachusetts, will play close to home when he joins Jim Madigan’s Huskies this fall. The left-winger starred for Cedar Rapids of the USHL this past season, scoring 21 goals and adding 21 assists in 50 games.
Filip Lindberg, G, UMass
197th overall, Minnesota Wild
Getting taken in the NHL Draft was just another chapter in what’s been a fascinating story for Lindberg, who only emerged late in the Minutemen’s season as a freshman to claim the starting job and then take them all the way to the Frozen Four’s title game. Although Matthew Murray may get a chance to reclaim the net, Lindberg will be someone to keep an eye on as he surely takes the reins early this upcoming season in the UMass net.