Logan Hutsko has some unfinished business to take care of.
Following a premature ending to his junior season due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Florida Panthers prospect waited only a few weeks before announcing that he would be putting his professional career on hold in order to return to Boston College and chase down a national championship as a senior.
"I thought about it a lot," Hutsko recently told FloridaPanthers.com of the decision. "It was definitely a tough decision, but the decision I made to go back to school was based on the fact we had a really special team this year. We weren't able to get an opportunity to show how special we could've been.
"Just not being able to see what our team could've been definitely hurt. We have a really great group coming back next year. Everyone is kind of sticking around and coming back. I think we have a group that can have a really special year and win some trophies. That was a big part of my decision."
Taken in the third round (89th overall) by the Panthers in the 2018 NHL Draft, Hutsko is coming off the best season of his budding career in 2019-20. A top-line winger for the Eagles, the 21-year-old set new career-highs in goals (19) and points (33) in 30 games, with his 19 goals being tied for the team-lead.
Overall, his 3.7 goals per game led the team and ranked seventh in Men's Division I Hockey.
"As you get older in college, you start to gain more confidence each year," Hutsko said of his year-over-year growth. "You develop each year. I think just finally having some more confidence this year in my scoring abilities and that sense. You just keep trying to grow each year and becoming a better player."
While breaking down his junior campaign, Hutsko said that consistency was "kind of the biggest thing" behind his scoring surge. Looking at the numbers, he's not wrong. Of the 30 games he suited up in, he picked up at least one point in 26 of them, including starting the year on a torrid 12-game point streak.
He also posted multi-point performances on seven different occasions.
"You try to not be a streaky player," said Hutsko, who also had a separate seven-game point streak. "You try and bring it every night. Sometimes things don't go your way and there's things that are out of your control, so it's really all about just showing up every single night and playing to the best of your ability."
In addition to increasing his goal total, Hutsko's continued hard work also resulted in a social media spike.
In December, multi-platinum recording artist Justin Bieber shared a video of Hutsko's curl-and-snipe goal from a 6-2 victory over Yale on Nov. 26 to his 120-plus million followers on Instagram. Tagging Hutsko's personal account with the post, he captioned the clip with: "This kid is the truth @lhutsko9."
"It was pretty cool," Hutsko said of the moment. "He posted the clip and reached out to me. We had a little conversation on Instagram's direct messaging service. It was just crazy, a crazy scenario. It was nice to get some recognition from him given who he is. All that came out of it was some more followers."
How many more followers?
"Over 10,000," he said. "Yeah, that was crazy."
While his increased follower count likely comes with some bragging rights among teammates, the only metric Hutsko is focusing on right now is wins. After closing out this past season as the fourth-ranked team in the nation, Boston College is poised to make a championship run whenever play does resume.
Although he'll soon be losing seniors such as David Cotton, Julius Mattila and Ben Finkelstein (a fellow Panthers prospect) to graduation, Hutsko expects the team's dynamic freshman class, which included a trio of 2019 first-round picks, to fill the void and take a big step forward as sophomores.
"We have a great core group coming back," Hutsko said. "I think the biggest jump that people have is from their freshman to their sophomore year. They learn the college game. They know what they have to do to be successful so that they can then bring it for a full season. Your freshman year has so much learning in it in terms of who you are. We had a young team this year with a lot of freshman."
Among those soon-to-be sophomores, Hutsko offered some added praise for goaltender Spencer Knight, who the Panthers selected with the 13th overall pick in this past summer's draft. In 33 games this season, the 19-year-old owned a 23-8-2 record with a 1.97 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and five shutouts.
"He's unbelievable, from his composure to just his work habits," Hutsko said of Knight. "I think that's one person that might not have had a lot of freshman growing pains. He showed that he's wise beyond his years. He works super hard. He's so composed at all times."
With players like Knight at his side, Hutsko hopes his senior season will end up being one for the ages.
"It was a dream come true to be able to attend such an incredible university like Boston College," he said. "To make some of the friends that I've been able to make over the years has been really special. It's one last year with my best friends playing the sport I love. I'm going to cherish the entire year."