Beginning on Monday evening, the Boston hockey tradition that is the BeanPot will once again emanate from the confines of the TD Garden. For the 60th consecutive year four of Boston’s finest college hockey programs will meet for two Mondays in February in an attempt to earn city-wide bragging rights for the next year to come. In anticipation of Monday’s first round match-ups between Boston University and Harvard and the nightcap between Boston College and Northeastern, I’m going to take a look at five players with NHL futures that fans should look out for during the tournament.
5.) Tommy Cross (D) #4 Boston College (Boston Bruins)
– The captain of the Boston College Eagles, senior defenseman Tommy Cross will be playing in his final BeanPot tournament this month after spending four seasons under legendary coach Jerry York in Chestnut Hill. Taken in the second round of the 2007 Entry draft by the Boston Bruins, Cross is a card-carrying veteran of the B’s summer development camp. The 6’3″ blueliner is strong in his own end and often shows great puck-handling abilities. If he can avoid the injury bug, it wouldn’t be farfetched to suggest that Cross could project as a Dan Girardi-type player in the NHL.
4.) Alex Killorn (F) #19 Harvard (Tampa Bay Lightning)
– Also taken in the 2007 Entry Draft, Killorn was selected 77th overall (3rd Round) by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The 6’2″ senior has always been skilled with the puck and been able to put the puck in the net, but he biggest knock against the Montreal native has been his deficiencies in his own end of the ice. From all reports, Killorn has done nothing but impress during their annual summer development camps and is expected to compete for a roster spot with the big club next season.
3.) Kevin Hayes (C) #12 Boston College (Chicago Blackhawks)
– Spending much of his freshman season on the shelf after suffering an early-season knee injury, Hayes has truly emerged as an offensive force this season, contributing 19 points (5G/14A) in 27 games played thus far. Hayes was taken in the first round of the 2010 draft because of his rare combination of size and speed. The Dorchester, MA native plays more of a finesse type game and his best asset is his uncanny awareness in the offensive zone.
2.) Adam Clendening (D) #5 Boston University (Chicago Blackhawks)
– The undersized, offensive defenseman from Niagara Falls, NY may be the most exciting player to watch in this entire tournament. Leading the charge on the Terrier blueline, Clendening has posted two goals and added twenty assists in only 23 games this season. Taken early in the second round of the 2011 Entry Draft, Clendening has proven that he has the talent to make a serious bid for a roster spot in Chicago sooner rather than later.
1.) Chris Kreider (F) #19 Boston College (New York Rangers)
– Taken with the 19th overall selection in the 2009 draft, the offensively gifted Kreider has done it all at Boston College and could be playing in his final BeanPot tournament this year. A prototypical power forward with speed, Kreider has reportedly contemplated forgoing his senior season for a chance to go pro with the Rangers next fall. The 6’3″ Boxford, MA native has scored 16 goals and added 14 assists in 27 games this year.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.