Photo Credit Above: WTBU Sports
By Mark Allred Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277
It’s that time of the year again when the top men’s collegiate hockey teams in the Boston area do battle for the rights to call their team the city’s best until next February. The Beanpot Tournament is set to begin its 65th year of competition tonight at TD Garden with puck drop at 5 pm involving 5th ranked Harvard University Crimson and unranked Northeastern University Huskies. Later tonight at 8 pm, last year’s tournament champion and 8th ranked Boston College matchup with 3rd ranked and last year’s runner-up Boston University Terriers.
This year’s festivities will be represented by five Boston Bruins prospects playing for their respected NCAA Division 1 teams in hopes of raising the prestigious silver pot that so many current and former National Hockey League players have had the honor of winning in the past. Even local names from the past that was born and breed in Massachusetts participated in the famed tourney including forward Ted Drury (HU), goaltender Tim Marshall (NU), defenseman Jack O’Callahan (BU), forward Bob Sweeney (BC), have all had the pleasure of winning the annual collegiate hockey classic and have paved the way for future state born players to do the same.
Below are this year’s Beanpot participants that happen to have ties to the Boston Bruins organization as they continue to develop in the NCAA ranks. Players below are in alphabetical order according to school name.
— BC Hockey (@BCHockey) February 6, 2017
Ryan Fitzgerald – The 5′-11″ 185-pound center was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft is currently in his senior year with his Eagles team. Most likely will sign a free agent entry-level contract at the end of this school year and be an essential addition to the AHL’s Providence Bruins team next year. In 141 career NCAA games at Boston College, the North Reading, Massachusetts native has contributed 61-61-122 numbers, and with seven games remaining in the NCAA regular season, he has the potential to add more points before transitioning his game to the minor-pro level.
The 2016-17 season has been a difficult one for Ryan due to injuries and will most likely not come close to his NCAA career best 24-23-47 totals he contributed in his junior year. This year in 23 games played he has 7-14-21 numbers which so far are career lows. Fitzgerald is ranked fifth on the Eagles team with 21 points (Leader 26 points) and is ranked 19th in Hockey East scoring in conference games only. In his last five games, the BC Assistant Captain has two goals and two assists.
His size may be an issue as he rises through the Bruins developmental system, but his speed and creativity should not be overlooked. His vision and play in all three zones and forechecking ability is one of his better attributes. He’s got a hard shot and quick release with an uncanny knack to get a quick shot on goal while his legs are in full motion.
Boston University (2)
— Boston University (@BU_Tweets) February 6, 2017
Above Photo Credit: richimagesphotography .com
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson – A native of Stockholm, Sweden, the 6′-1″ 192-pound center is a player Boston Bruins fans should look forward to in the next few seasons. Many scouts have compared him to current Bruins center Patrice Bergeron as he plays a very defensive style game as a three-zone forward. Selected in the second round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, the creative forward has the ability to control the play with his exceptional acceleration and ability to slow the game to look for a teammate for an offensive scoring chance.
Even tho he’s a pass first type of player he also doesn’t shy away from using his outstanding hockey IQ to execute a scoring chance when the time is right. In 66 career NCAA games with BU, the 20-year-old has 20-34-54 numbers with seven regular season games remaining. This season the sophomore forward has 10-14-24 totals in 27 games and is ranked third on the team with 24 points (Leader 29). This season the crafty center is ranked third in scoring on the Terriers team and 55th in Hockey East Conference games.
Many scouts in the area have mentioned he could use a few more pounds to bulk up and his consistency can be an issue at times, but nothing Bruins fans should be concerned with at this point in his development. He’s a player that can create offensive schemes in all three zones with his vision and exceptional passing skills. With two years left of school I’d like to see him stay and get a solid education while he continues his development in the NCAA but with players like Danton Heinen, the Bruins team could come calling sooner than later with an entry-level cash offer he might not be able to refuse.
Above Photo Credit: College Hockey Inc.
Charlie McAvoy – The 2016 first round selection of the Bruins is in his sophomore year at BU and is having another outstanding season manning the blueline in Hockey East. The Long Beach, New York native is already turning heads with scouts and hockey personalities alike with his strong defensive play and progression in his continued development. McAvoy a 6′-1″ 211-pound rugged defenseman has all the making of an exceptional NHL career. In 66 career games at BU, he has 6-34-40 numbers in two years of service.
This season in 26 games, McAvoy has 3-12-15 numbers, and with time missing due to participation in a 2017 World Junior gold medal effort from him and his United States team, he could’ve broken his rookie numbers he had a year ago as a freshman with 25 points. No matter what his point production looks like from here on out, he’s working hard on other areas of his game such as body strength and being a threat to any opposing player entering the defensive zone.
McAvoy is a hybrid type of defenseman in my opinion and has the ability to be a reliable stay-at-home player with superb upside in joining the rush offensively. His one-time on the power-play is a lethal weapon at the at the center of the point or the top of the faceoff circle sneaking in unmolested. This season he’s ranked sixth in points on the Terriers team and with seven-game to go in this season could add a few more numbers even tho he currently has three points in his last ten games.
Harvard University (2)
— Harvard Men’s Hockey (@Harvard_Hockey) February 6, 2017
Ryan Donato – The 6′-1″ 181-pound sophomore forward has already tied his career high in point in his young college hockey year at 21 points. With seven games remaining for him and his Crimson team, the second round selection of the Bruins in 2014 has appeared in 55 games for Harvard and has posted 24-18-42 numbers in his time there. A native of Boston, Massachusetts and is the son of former NHL Bruins player and current head coach of the Ivy League institution Ted Donato who is also a Harvard alumni and had an eight-year tour with the B’s as a player.
This season the center is 11-10-21 in 23 games played and is ranked 5th on the teams in points and 3rd in goals scored. A good all-around player at the NCAA level he does have a few thing to work on and one of those issues is his skating with the puck while keeping possession. The other areas of his game such as speed, vision, and endurance are second to none but like all developing talent would benefit greatly by adding pounds to his frame.
Donato has a great eye around the net with his offensive abilities and can always be relied on for finding and capitalizing on loose pucks in the opposing crease. Another player with tremendous upside for his size and could be a value to the depth of the Bruins franchise as he rises to the NHL level.
Wiley Sherman – “The Shermanator.” is a rugged defenseman who was selected in the fifth round of the NHL Entry Draft in 2013 and is presently in his junior year at Harvard. A 6′-7″ 220-pound Greenwich, Connecticut blueliner has appeared in 91 career NCAA games and has contributed 19 points with his time with the Crimson. This season he had only six assists and had a career year last season where he netted 4-6-10 numbers in his sophomore year.
Wiley is another big project for this Bruins franchise as they continue to develop bigger stronger defenseman to get back to the NHL-best in all defensive categories. Sherman reminds me od a Rob O’Gara player in the AHL and Adam McQuaid in the NHL. More or less a stay at home defenseman he has the ability to deliver bone-crunching hits like MvAvoy but has a tough time recovering from getting back into the play. A continued work in progress in my opinion and could serve the Providence Bruins very well in the AHL after he finishes his senior year next season.