This is part two of Mook's summer update. In this portion he gets us up to speed on the new faces.
ATL_eagle: What about the incoming players. Who will make an impact right away?
Mook Williams: What additions are coming in? Well, let's start with an unusual one - Brock Bradford. Now here's a guy who really fell on hard luck in 07-08. Brock suffered from not one, but TWO distinct and unrelated broken arm injuries. Together, these injuries took Brock from being a guy who was expected to be one of the team leaders in 07-08 and transformed him into a guy who was forced to contribute off the ice only. BC was able to obtain a medical redshirt for Bradford for 07-08, thereby saving a year of eligibility in case Brock wanted to play for BC in 2009-10 (just a hunch, but I would be surprised to see the Bruins property playing for BC beyond this season). More newsworthy than the red shirt, however, was the fact that the team elected Bradford as its Captain for 08-09. There's no question that Bradford is a highly skilled two-way player, but to be voted Captain after missing most of the previous season certainly is something special, and HAS to tell you something about this guy. It's tough to guarantee anything for a guy coming off serious injuries, and he'll have to re-adjust, but I look at Bradford as a major addition to the 08-09 squad, and quite frankly, I expect him to be in the top 10 of most / all Hockey East offensive stat categories, in addition to +/- .
Now what about the freshman class? If you didn't know anything about BC's incoming freshman class, and only read the above, you'd already think BC was in good shape for 08-09. Here's the great news - by all accounts (and I certainly am no "recruit-nik" so none of the accounts are mine) BC has a stellar incoming freshman class. Here are the guys coming in:
Tommy Cross - 6'3, 210# - D - Simsbury, CT
Ed Shea - 6'0, 180# - D - Shrewsbury, MA
Barry Almeida - 5'9, 185# - F - Springfield, MA
Jimmy Hayes - 6'5, 210# - F - Dorchester, MA
Paul Carey - 6'1, 190# - F - Weymouth, MA
Malcolm Lyles - 5'10, 177# - D - Miami Gardens, FLA (yes you read that right)
Cam Atkinson - 5'8, 165# - F - Greenwich, CT
Tommy Atkinson - 5'8, 165# - F - Greenwich, CT
Chris Venti - 6'0, 170# - G - Needham, MA
Three of these guys have already been drafted by NHL teams: Cross, Hayes, and C. Atkinson, while most of the rest are highly regarded. Comparing the incoming guys with the outgoing guys...the numbers don't match up, do they? There are far more guys coming in than leaving. This can only mean the following: an every-week competition for some guys to play themselves onto the ice on Friday and Saturday night and out of the stands in a suit-and-tie. If even half of the new guys coming in play solid hockey, you are going to have good hockey players on the sideline for each and every game this season. DEPTH is going to be one of BC's best attributes this season, save for the goaltending position. Injuries happen, and when they do, BC will be one of the best, if not the best, teams in the NCAA to deal with them. Heck, their own captain already has successfully fought through two serious ones in the same season himself.
ATL_eagle: Anything else we should know?
Mook Williams: Two other random notes: the NCAA championship banner will be raised prior to BC's first home game on October 10 against Wisconsin, and BC will be playing two exhibition games in Canada over winter break due to a too-long gameless stretch on the schedule, If Nathan Gerbe stayed on for his senior season, I would have said that there's no way that BC loses more than 5 games in 08-09. With Gerbe gone, this team will be more "normal," for sure, but still one of the top five teams in all the land. I look for this team to be there in the Frozen Four in Washington DC come April 2009, and be the favorite to win it all.
NOTE TO ALL CHICKEN LITTLES: Hopefully, after three successive seasons in a row where BC slumped somewhere in the middle but turned it on at the end to reach the national title game, the pattern of bashing the team in early February and no-showing games (ahem, "Super"fans) will go by the wayside. The talent and heart on this 08-09 BC team guarantees them to be a threat to win it all, even if they just sneak into the NCAA tournament as the last at-large bid. From both a talent and intangibles perspective, this team should never be counted out. I apologize for the "fluff piece" tone of this article, but apart from the usual issues of chemistry and balanced play that all championship-caliber teams experience, and the minor questions surrounding Bradford's comeback, I see very few weaknesses for this squad. This lack of cynicism is very non-attorney-like, but I have to call 'em as I see 'em. To those expecting more negativity, I apologize - maybe try me next time.