Shortly after the college hockey season ends comes the saddest moments for any program: the day the boys grow up and sign deals with professional teams. For Boston College men’s hockey, the attrition happened almost immediately. And when the dust settles, it could mean trouble for the program’s immediate future.
Five members of the Eagles have begun the next stage of their careers. On Saturday, Teddy Doherty—the team’s best senior—signed with the Missouri Mavericks of the ECHL, a minor league affiliate of the New York Islanders. An undrafted free agent, Doherty was BC’s captain in 2015-16. Over his career, he switched between defense and forward, and amassed 22 goals and 58 assists as a four-year starter.
“Doherty is a true two-way player with a good eye for the ice,” Richard Matvichuk, head coach and director of hockey operations for the Mavericks, said in a statement on the team’s website. “He’s coming to us fresh from a great season with Boston College, and we are excited to bring him into our locker room.” Days later, Doherty announced the signing himself on Twitter.
Unbelievable 4 years @BCHockeyNews. Can't thank coaches, staff, family, and especially teammates enough. Best 4 years of my life #eags
— Teddy Doherty (@tdoherty4) April 12, 2016
The other four, however, have left BC early, some much earlier than expected.
On Friday, junior Steve Santini and freshman Miles Wood joined the New Jersey Devils, the team that drafted them. The Devils faced the prospect of having both players become undrafted free agents next season—Wood would have become one despite being a freshman because of his two years in prep school—thereby increasing their need to sign both as soon as possible. The two signed three-year entry-level contracts (ELC) that will pay them $925,000 per season. Given the NHL’s rules on ELCs, their first years began in Saturday’s season finale against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., a 5-1 win for the Devils. Neither recorded a point, though Santini spent two minutes in the penalty box.
We know the game's underway, but best of luck to Steve Santini & Miles Wood in their pro debut w/ the @NJDevils pic.twitter.com/sDGvWIz5rX
— BC Hockey (@BCHockey) April 10, 2016
The two spoke to nj.com about their decisions to join the NHL’s “BC Alumni Team”—former Eagles Stephen Gionta and Cory Schneider currently play in Newark. Neither stated that he anticipated joining the Devils at the season’s outset. Yet once BC’s year ended with a 3-2 loss to Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four, the serious discussions began.
“I was fully committed to this Boston College season,” Santini told nj.com. “We wanted to win the national championship. When we didn’t, my family and I talked yesterday morning and we felt it would be best for my career to come down here and make the step to pro hockey. That’s a decision I’m fully comfortable with, and I’m ready for this journey.”
Santini had one goal and 18 assists in all 41 games for BC this season. Wood was BC’s fifth-leading scorer, with 10 goals and 25 assists in 37 games. He was also one of the nation’s most undisciplined players—Wood had 23 penalties for 78 minutes, including two suspensions from the Hockey East league offices.
While the Devils struck quickly, the Minnesota Wild took a couple of days before pillaging the Eagles. Adam Gilmour and Alex Tuch, the longtime linemates and integral parts to BC’s offense in 2016, will join the team for practices throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but are not eligible to play. It had not been a surprise that Gilmour, a player who has put up steady albeit not mind-boggling numbers at BC, accepted an ELC. Tuch’s decision, however, was a huge and unexpected blow to the Eagles, as many close to the program had expected he would stay for his junior year or at least wait until the summer to make his decision. Yet the Wild had made a convincing push for the sophomore from Baldwinsville, N.Y., and must have struck all the right chords.
“He’s a big power winger with quality hands and an NHL shot,” Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr told the Star Tribune. “He had a strong finish to the season and was eager to get his pro career going. We are very excited to have him in the organization and look forward to working with him in his development process.”
I am proud to announce that I have signed my first pro contract with the @mnwild. Thanks to my family and everyone who has supported me.
— Alex Tuch (@alextuch89) April 13, 2016
Over his three-year career at BC, Gilmour compiled 28 goals and 45 assists. Tuch had 32 goals and 30 assists in a two-year career on the Heights. His overtime goal against Boston University in the Beanpot final provided the Eagles with their most exciting moment—and only tournament trophy—of the season.
The Eagles are now awaiting the decisions of several other key players on the roster. Defenseman Ian McCoshen is expected to sign with the Florida Panthers after projecting to graduate in three years. Freshman forward Colin White, a first-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, was also expected to sign, yet may hold off with the decision given the Sens’ changes in the front office. The biggest watch will be starting goaltender Thatcher Demko, who has been repeatedly courted by the Vancouver Canucks. Though general manager Jim Benning joined Demko and his family in Tampa, Fla., for the Mike Richter Award ceremony, Demko has not signed an ELC and may remain at BC to become an unrestricted free agent next year.
BC is also waiting the decisions of juniors Chris Calnan and Ryan Fitzgerald, and sophomore Zach Sanford, the latter of who is the only remaining sophomore at BC. Though those three are expected to stay, the quick and massive departure of BC’s key contributors may lead to the fringe players that were previously not expected to leave to accept ELC offers as well.
Featured Image by Julia Hopkins / Heights Editor
Disappointing. Felt almost all of them needed more seasoning at the college level, except perhaps Santini.