After seasons ended for Johnny Gaudreau and Bill Arnold at Boston College, the duo headed for Calgary to start their professional career. Several New England college hockey stars were in similar scenarios as the season came to a close and already have found themselves on rosters in pro hockey. Here’s a look at a half-dozen local collegians to watch as they further their transitions to the next level:
1. Johnny Gaudreau, Boston College/Calgary Flames
The National Hockey League got a taste of “Johnny Hockey” in his first game on April 13 as he scored the Calgary Flames’ lone goal in a loss to Vancouver. Gaudreau added the Hobey Baker Award to his trophy case to conclude his collegiate career after collecting 80 points during his junior season — the most by Division 1 player since 2002-03. The Eagles’ season ended with a loss to Union in the Frozen Four semifinal on April 10, a day before Gaudreau and BC teammate Bill Arnold (Needham, Mass.) went to work on signing professional contracts with the Flames. Gaudreau is undersized but can make a name for himself at the next level — as he did in college — with a little added bulk.
2. Kenny Agostino, Yale University/Calgary Flames
Agostino, a key member of Yale’s 2013 national championship team, shares a lot in common with Gaudreau as a fellow New Jersey native and Calgary Flame who signed his professional deal just after his collegiate season ended. Delbarton Prep’s all-time leading scorer concluded his career with the Elis among the top-10 scorers in program history with 132 points and was twice named an All-ECAC team member. Many would consider his senior season a down one, but his 14 goals led a Yale team that fell short of another trip to the ECAC final four with a loss to rival Quinnipiac. Agostino, a player who showed a knack for being a big-time goal scorer, left New Haven and headed north of the border to the Flames, producing his first pro goal on April 4 in Florida.
3. Bill Arnold, Boston College/Calgary Flames
Once Arnold was paired with Gaudreau and fellow prospect Kevin Hayes (Dorchester, Mass.) on Boston College’s top line, the Eagles took off, and so did the Needham, Mass., native’s point total. He scored fewer goals (14) than in his sophomore and junior seasons, but it was setting up Gaudreau and Hayes that made his senior year marks of 39 assists and 53 points exceptional. Arnold also was regarded as one of the top faceoff men in Hockey East, something that will definitely give him value as a professional player. The U.S. National Team Development Program and Nobles product won more than 55 percent of his draws as a senior.
4. Chris McCarthy, University of Vermont/New York Rangers
One of the top undrafted prospects in college hockey this season, McCarthy led the Catamounts to the NCAA tournament this season for the first time since 2010. The Collegeville, Pa., native recorded 13 goals and 31 points as a junior after missing much of the 2011-12 season with a shoulder injury. He saved his best for last, setting a career-high with 18 goals in 38 games and serving as a prominent playmaker on the Catamounts’ top line. He dished out 24 assists for 42 points and had a hand in eight game-winning goals. He scored both UVM goals in the NCAA regional opener, a 5-2 defeat to Union. The Hockey East second-team All-Star moved quickly to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and notched his first professional point on April 13.
5. Bryce Van Brabant, Quinnipiac University/Calgary Flames
Another New England collegian who left for the Calgary Flames is Quinnipiac’s physical forward from Morinville, Alberta. On April 1 in Toronto, Van Brabant became the first QU product to skate in a National Hockey League game after becoming the second player from the school in as many years to sign professionally (goaltender Eric Hartzell with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013). On the Bobcats’ second unit to Connor and Kellen Jones and national Rookie of the Year Sam Anas, Van Brabant was active on the offensive in his junior season with 15 goals after combining for just nine in his first two years. At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, it’s the little things and physicality that will serve him well long term in the NHL.
6. Josh Manson, Northeastern University/Anaheim Ducks
On a Northeastern team where defense and goaltending were major question marks entering 2013-14, Manson stepped up and logged a lot of minutes as the Huskies’ junior captain. Hockey East’s Best Defensive Defenseman award winner and a second-team All-Star packs a punch that can translate to the professional level. Because of his size (6-foot-3), physical strength and shot-blocking ability, he will get a look to play a role on the Anaheim Ducks defense. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, native is not a major offensive producer but managed a career-best four-game point streak midway through the season that helped NU at a key time, including a shorthanded goal against UMass-Lowell at Frozen Fenway for a crucial two league points.
This article originally appeared in the May edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to access the FREE digital edition.