Led by goaltender Spencer Knight, Boston College is hoping that a trio of Florida Panthers prospects will help the program return to the NCAA tournament during the 2019-20 season.
Come the fall, Knight, the 13th overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, will be entering his freshman season with the Eagles, joining fellow Panthers draftees Logan Hutsko (89th overall, 2018) and Benjamin Finkelstein (195th overall, 2016) at one of college hockey's most-prestigious schools.
In June, all three prospects convened at Florida's annual development camp in Coral Springs.
"I've been giving him the rundown," Hutsko said when asked about his first meeting with Knight. "Freshman orientation is soon. I'll be up there, so I'll say definitely be saying hi. I've been giving him all the details. He's been asking a lot of questions, which is good. It means he's excited."
Despite their 14-22-3 record, the Eagles showed a lot of fight toward the tail-end of last season. In the Hockey East tournament, they pieced together a pair of stunning upsets over top-seeded teams Providence and UMass before being eliminated by Northeastern in the conference final.
With that defeat, BC failed to earn a trip to the NCAA tournament for the third straight season.
"I'm heading to Boston College this season, and I'm just going to play BC hockey. I'm not going to really look past that," Knight said of his expectations. "When I'm at BC, I'm only going to worry about playing hockey at BC. I'm going to enjoy it. I really want to win a national championship."
Prior to being drafted by the Panthers, Knight won a record 59 games over two seasons with USA Hockey's National Team Developmental Program U-18 team. During his final campaign with the NTDP in 2018-19, the 18-year-old netminder posted a nearly-flawless 32-4-1 record with a 2.36 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and a pair of shutouts in 39 games.
With Knight's arrival, Hutsko believes the Eagles can make some noise next season.
"We're really, really lucky to get him," Hutsko said. "I've read a lot of stuff on the internet, like that he's one of the best goalie prospects of all-time. The coaching staff did a great job recruiting a really good freshman class to come in this year. He's a great player from what I've seen. It's been great getting to know him this week. I'm really excited to play with him this year."
Entering his junior season at BC, Hutsko will look to provide Knight with plenty of goal support.
After leading BC in scoring and earning Rookie of the Year honors in the Hockey East as a freshman in 2017-18, the 20-year-old went on to finish second on the Eagles in scoring as a sophomore this past season, registering six goals and a team-high 20 assists in 36 contests.
"I'm just doing everything I can to show what I can do," Hutsko said.
As for Finkelstein, the senior blueliner will attempt to build off a solid debut season at BC.
Following a transfer from St. Lawrence University, the 21-year-old was unable to take the ice with the Eagles until midway through the 2018-19 campaign. But upon entering the lineup, he immediately contributed at both ends of the ice, posting one goal and nine assists in 22 games.
"It was definitely a bit of an adjustment," said, Finkelstein, who was named the 2017-18 USHL Defenseman of the Year in the time between his transfer from St. Lawrence and BC. "I'm in a great spot with great coaches and great teammates. I'm looking forward to my senior year."
Like Hutsko, Finkelstein believes Knight will provide a spark from in between the pipes.
"He's a great player and a great kid. I'm looking forward to it," Finkelstein said. "You can always tell with that caliber of a player. He's so mature for his age. When you look at him off the ice, he takes care of himself like a pro already. When you look at his age, that's pretty impressive."
For the Panthers, there's also a huge benefit to having three prospects in the same place.
"Travel-wise, it's the best thing in the world," said Panthers Director of Player Personnel Bryan McCabe, who noted the team has multiple scouts in the area. "We're going to be able to get plenty of eyes and plenty of touches on those guys this year, which is huge for development. We're going to see where their game's heading and what they need to be improving on."
The Eagles will open their regular season on Oct. 11 at home against the Wisconsin Badgers.