(Photo Credit: Brody Hannon/BC Athletics)

By Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis

It may not have been easy, but the Boston College Eagles are advancing to the Frozen Four. After a hard-fought affair against Michigan Tech and an overtime battle against Quinnipiac, the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament is ready to chase a title, and one of the biggest reasons is Oskar Jellvik.

Boston’s 149th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft came into the 2023-24 season following an up-and-down start to his college hockey career. The Taby, Sweden native had some flashes of brilliance during his freshman campaign but ended the season with only four goals and 17 points in 34 games. His season totals, combined with the incoming first-year class of first-round draft picks Ryan Leonard, Will Smith, and Gabe Perrault, forced Jellvik down to BC’s third line to start his sophomore season.

How did he respond? Jellvik posted five goals, three assists, and eight points across his first eight games while playing with senior Colby Ambrosio as his center and freshman Will Vote as his opposite wing. The hot start earned Jellvik a promotion to BC’s second-line alongside fellow Bruins prospect Andre Gasseasu and 2022 fifth-overall pick Cutter Gauthier.

The trio of sophomores would spend the rest of the season together, operating as the school’s first line en route to a 31-5-1 regular season and a Hockey East Title, and being the number one overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. For Jellvik’s part, he finished the regular season with 12 goals, 25 assists, and 37 points across 37 games.

Fast-forward to the opening round of the NCAA Tournament, when the lights are brightest, and pressure is ratcheted up to its highest degree, and Oskar Jellvik has shown himself to be one of the best players on the nation’s best roster. BC’s ‘sophomore line’ got the scoring started early in their team’s opening-round matchup against Michigan Tech, when Jellvik streaked down the right side of the rink and curled at the top of the circle, finding Cutter Gauthier for a breakaway goal. Jellvik’s speed, edgework, and pinpoint passing were on display as he flew up the ice, stopped on a dime, and hit Gauthier in stride only 30 seconds into the contest.

Michigan Tech answered with a shorthanded goal, and the teams went into the dressing room tied after one. In the second period, Ryan Leonard gave BC the lead, and then a potential season-altering play occurred. BC winger Gabe Perrault launched himself into the head of a Michigan Tech player, resulting in an ejection for the Rangers draft pick and a five-minute power play for the opposition. The Eagles were able to kill off the man advantage and ended the second period, clinging to a two-goal lead.

With Perrault done for the day, BC head coach Greg Brown elevated Oskar Jellvik, skating him alongside Hobey Baker nominee Will Smith and World Juniors standout Ryan Leonard. The period that proceeded could be described as the best hockey of Jellvik’s career.

In his first shift with the freshman stars, Jellvik sprung Smith and Leonard on a two-on-one, found Leonard for a partial breakaway (which should’ve been a tap-in goal for Will Smith had Leonard seen him earlier), and made a clever defensive play behind his own net to start the breakout while his linemates went off for a change.

On his second shift with his new linemates, Jellvik won a faceoff (one of the three he prevailed on in three tries), outbattled the opposing center, and found Will Smith in the slot for a golden scoring opportunity that was thwarted by a defender’s stick. The trio broke through after BC extended the lead to 3-1 when Leonard took a hit to spring Will Smith, who hit Jellvik at the opposing blueline, where he walked in on a breakaway and beat the goaltender cleanly through the five-hole. Jellvik would add a power-play assist on a gorgeous no-look pass to Gauthier at the end of the game to pile on and make the score 6-1. He finished the night second on the team in scoring with a goal and two assists.

I’ve watched a lot of Boston College hockey this season, and one of the few constants on their squad is Perrault, Smith, and Leonard. All three are top six scorers in the NCAA, were first-round picks in last year’s draft, and have lofty expectations waiting for them when they graduate to the NHL. The fact that Jellvik was elevated to Perrault’s spot after his ejection speaks volumes about his growth as a player and his skill and talent level.

It also shows how elite Jellvik can be as a prospect. BC’s freshman line was stymied early in the game by Michigan Tech, failing to produce offense and unable to generate scoring chances. When Jellvik was promoted, the trio created more frequent high-danger chances and was a more cohesive unit as a whole. And make no mistake, Jellvik was by no means a passenger on this line. As you can see in the video clips above, Boston’s prospect drove the play and acted as the primary facilitator for many of their chances.

After taking care of Michigan Tech, Boston College took on last year’s National Champion, Quinnipiac, in the Regional Semifinal of the NCAA Tournament with a trip to the Frozen Four on the line. It was another uneven effort from the Eagles, but when the chips were down, and the team needed him most, Jellvik was there.

After BC cut an early 2-0 deficit to one, the Eagles sent out their top power-play unit with a chance to tie the game. After its top players failed to knot things up, Jellvik and the second power-play unit got to work. As the Quinnipiac offender exited the box, Jellvik showed great poise while looking off a defender and setting up Andre Gasseau for a rocket of a one-timer to tie the game.

Then, with less than five minutes remaining in the game and the Eagles down one, Jellvik got to work again. This time, he and Cutter Gauthier generated a beautiful neutral zone give-and-go, with the duo exchanging touch passes before Jellvik gained the zone, dropped the puck to Gauthier, and sent it over to Arm Minnetian who sent the game to overtime. The play won’t garner much attention, but Jellvik’s change of pace, timing, and spatial awareness were sublime in this play. A split second early on his strides, and you risk going offside or overskating your partner; a pass too far or too short and you spring the opponent on an odd-man rush. It was just such a finesse play that further indicates how much talent Jellvik has.

I’m here to tell casual Bruins fans that Oskar Jellvik’s stats don’t tell the whole story. The sophomore has now spent time with three different lines this season, and he’s been able to put up points with each of them. He’s showcased his vision, playmaking, and distribution skills while proving he can light up the scoresheet regardless of who he plays with. This ability to chameleon his game based on who he skates with, adapt to new linemates on the fly, and facilitate at all levels makes me excited about Jellvik’s future.

Jellvik is second on Boston College through two NCAA Tournament games with one goal, four assists, and five points. His team will take on Michigan in the Frozen Four on Thursday night, with a chance to go to the National Title Game on the line.