Jim Montgomery said he'll never forget the caliber of talent he had skating alongside him as a senior at the University of Maine two decades ago.
It was 1992-93, and the Black Bears had one heck of a freshmen class, with New York natives Chris and Peter Ferraro and 5-foot-11, 180-pound Vancouver native Paul Kariya in the fold.
"Paul was special because here's a guy coming in who played for Canada at the World Junior Championship the year before on a line with Eric Lindros, so everybody knew of the talent," Montgomery said. "But you don't know how talented a player is until you see him on the ice."
Montgomery, now coach at the University of Denver, didn't need to watch many line rushes during practice to conclude Kariya was pretty unique.
A similar scenario took place at Boston University this season when freshman Jack Eichel walked on campus after representing the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship. Eichel, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, had a similar presence, demeanor and impact in his first collegiate season.
"I jokingly say he's kind of like the Secretariat of a hockey player," Boston University coach David Quinn said. "If you ever watch Secretariat run, he just looks so different than all the other horses.
"Jack is very much in that mold."