Every year it seems that Jerry York and Boston College men’s hockey have an incoming recruiting class on par with the nation’s best. On Friday night, that was displayed on the national stage, with the Eagles becoming just the fifth program in college hockey history to have three players selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft.
The program record of three first-rounders featured forward Matthew Boldy, goaltender Spencer Knight, and centre Alex Newhook. Boldy went 12th overall to the Minnesota Wild and was promptly followed by Knight, who was selected at 13th by the Florida Panthers. Three picks later, Newhook became the third first rounder, going 16th to the Colorado Avalanche.
Boldy, standing 6-foot-2, wasn’t always the most likely first-round selection. A member of the U.S National Team Developmental Program (USNTDP), Boldy was in danger of failing to make the program’s team as he entered on the bubble, standing 5-foot-10. A growth spurt paired with a unique approach as a winger translated to a surge in his stock, and he piled up three goals and nine assists in seven games at the World Junior Championships.
The Athletic’s Corey Pronman described the Millis, Mass., native as a forward with “a combination of puck skills and hockey IQ [that] are among the best in the draft.” McKeen’s Hockey covered Boldy’s shot in their breakdown by saying “his wrist shot is heavy and whippy, and simply deadly from all angles. He can score from a distance, or from in tight.” That much was evident during his time with the USNTDP, where he has averaged 1.25 points per game across 126 appearances.
Knight, the first goaltender off the board in the draft, was described by Pronman as one of the “better prospects at that position in the past decade.” Playing alongside Boldy with the USNTDP, Knight had an impressive stint at the World Juniors, leading the tournament field with a .936 save percentage and 1.51 goals against average mark in six games. Knight is an imposing 6-foot-3 and covers a lot of ground in the crease, often making hard saves look easy because of his tendency to always be in the right position.
He’ll be aiming to continue on the Eagles tradition of stellar goaltenders in net and has big shoes to fill in three-year starter Joseph Woll. Still, Knight was the highest drafted goaltender in the last nine years of the NHL Draft (Jack Campbell, 11th overall in 2010) and has the capability to arrive on campus and make an immediate impact.
Finally, Newhook rounded out BC’s draft class while becoming the first Newfoundland native to be selected in the NHL Draft since 1997. The 18-year-old has been nothing short of dominant the last few seasons in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), fresh off of a 2018-19 campaign in which he totaled 102 points with the Victoria Grizzlies and earned league MVP honors.
Newhook is “one of the most entertaining and dynamic players in the draft,” per Pronman, and he earned high marks from many for his skating, hands, and vision. Grizzlies coach Craig Didmon told The Athletic that “he can attack in a variety of ways, has great speed, a great shot on the fly and sees the ice very well.”
The trio will be called upon right away by York, as BC has seen some key pieces depart. Forward Oliver Wahlstrom—the 11th overall pick in the 2018 Draft—signed with the New York Islanders, while Woll signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Throw in the graduation of Michael Kim, Chris Brown, Casey Fitzgerald, and J.D. Dudek and there’s going to be plenty of places to make an impact.
In a stark contrast to years past, though, BC has a large senior class, anchored by the likes of David Cotton, Jesper and Julius Mattila, and Graham McPhee. That kind of talent is well suited to mentor this highly-regarded trio and the other incoming recruits, as hopes are high that the Eagles won’t come close to replicating last season’s frustrating 14-win campaign.
Images by Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP