Men's Hockey, Hockey, Sports

Professional Hockey’s Newest Eagles Make Immediate Impacts

Just under one month ago, Boston College Men’s hockey’s season came to an end with a heartbreaking loss in the NCAA Regional Final against St. Cloud State. While it marked the end of the road for the majority of the team, it was the beginning of a new chapter for a quartet of sophomore Eagles. Forwards Mike Hardman, Matt Boldy, and Alex Newhook, along with goaltender Spencer Knight, all departed the Heights to sign professional contracts in the week following the crushing defeat.

In the short time they’ve been away from BC, the four former Eagles have made an immediate impact. 

Spencer Knight

Knight was the first goaltender taken in the 2019 NHL Draft, selected by the Florida Panthers at No. 13 overall. After a sophomore campaign in which he was named the Hockey East Player of the Year and a finalist for both the Mike Richter and Hobey Baker Awards, Knight made it clear he was ready for the next step. The Panthers inked Knight to a three-year entry-level contract on March 31.

Upon signing his contract, the Panthers made it clear to Knight that he was in their plans for this current season. He spent a few weeks on the taxi squad and dressed as the backup netminder before making his NHL debut on April 20.

Despite not playing in a game since the loss to St. Cloud State, the 20-year-old Knight looked like a seasoned veteran in goal, stopping 33 of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ 34 shots en route to a 5-1 victory for the surging Panthers, who are currently second in the Central Division and on a three-game win streak. Knight was named the first star of the game for his efforts.

Knight and veteran netminder Sergei Bobrovsky give Florida one of the league’s top goaltending tandems. The Panthers will rely on this partnership mightily as they seek a playoff berth and their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Mike Hardman

Unlike the rest of the Eagles’ 2020-21 sophomore group, Hardman was an undrafted free agent, meaning no professional club had exclusive rights to his services. After his 19-point sophomore campaign, however, the winger had begun to turn heads.

On March 30, Hardman signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. Even though he has yet to appear in a professional hockey game, Hardman has been skating and training with the Blackhawks, serving as a member of the team’s taxi squad since April 7. As he adapts to the NHL game, Hardman will hope to make his NHL debut before the Blackhawks’ season comes to a close in a few weeks.

Matt Boldy

Prior to lacing up for the Eagles, Boldy was selected 12th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Minnesota Wild, just ahead of Knight and Newhook. After averaging over a point per game in his first two seasons with the Eagles, Boldy made the transition to the pros. He and the Wild agreed on a three-year entry-level deal on March 30.

The Wild assigned Boldy to its AHL affiliate team, the Iowa Wild. In his first game with Iowa, Boldy picked up right where he left off with the Eagles. He scored a goal and was credited with an assist in his professional debut on April 9, a win for the Wild over the Chicago Wolves, one of the AHL’s top teams. Boldy has now played five games with the Iowa Wild, and in Boldy-like fashion, he has five points.

It is unknown whether Boldy will make his NHL debut this season. Rookies signed to entry-level contracts can play up to six games before their contracts go into effect in July without losing any eligibility. 

Alex Newhook

Newhook was drafted 16th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. The reigning 2020 National Rookie of the Year for his play as a freshman continued to display his greatness in his second season. Newhook and the Avalanche agreed to a three-year entry-level contract on March 31.

The Avalanche assigned Newhook to its AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. Newhook made his AHL debut on April 14, and he has tallied a goal and an assist in two games played thus far with Colorado.  

With the Avalanche seen as a favorite to win the Stanley Cup, general manager Joe Sakic may very well call Newhook up to the NHL to give his team a boost and potentially be that final piece to get this Avalanche team over the hump.

Featured Image by Jess Rivilis / Heights Senior Staff

April 21, 2021