July 19, 2011
The NCAA exodus to the CHL appears like it might continue this month, as rumours abound that Brandon Shea could de-commit from Boston College and join the Moncton Wildcats.
At the moment, however, Wildcats head coach and director of hockey operations, Danny Flynn, says he has nothing official from the Shea family.
"We think this is a great opportunity for him both hockey-wise and academically and we're trying to convince he and his family that this is the best place for him to pursue his NHL dream," said Flynn on Tuesday morning. "But that's where it's at …There's been no commitment from him or his family that they're headed to Moncton at this point."
Shea's father, Neil, is a scout for the NHL's Colorado Avalanche and played four seasons of NCAA hockey with the Boston College Eagles. The optics of losing the son of a noted alumnus wouldn't be good for Eagles head coach Jerry York. An interview request for York was not returned by the time of publication.
Flynn says he's been in regular contact with the family since the QMJHL draft when the 16-year-old Shea was selected in the first round, 13th overall.
"I think the fact that his dad has worked in pro hockey for almost 20 years now, he's not your typical hockey father in that he has a much better sense of the hockey world and a much better sense of where his son fits in terms of his future," said Flynn. "They'll make a very informed decision."
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound forward scored 16 goals and 34 points in 27 games at the Nobel and Greenough prep school in Dedham, Mass. If Shea, a native of Marshfield, Mass., does make the jump to the QMJHL, he would be the latest player in recent weeks to forgo his NCAA eligibility.
Earlier this month, the Quebec Remparts landed the rights to forward Adam Erne from the Halifax Mooseheads. Erne, a highly rated American prospect, had committed to Boston University but will instead play for Patrick Roy's Remparts this season.
The Mooseheads used the picks acquired in the Erne deal to help land 15-year-old phenom Nathan MacKinnon from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, who had been weighing his NCAA options.
Last week, recently drafted New York Rangers prospect J.T. Miller announced he would not be joining the University of North Dakota and would likely be heading to the OHL's Plymouth Whalers -- though the Whalers nothing is official yet.
According to Flynn, landing a player of Shea's caliber would not only be a boon for the Wildcats, but for the QMJHL in general.
"Anytime you can add a talented young player to your lineup it makes you a better team now and moving forward," said Flynn.
"It would also be great for our league. The Eastern U.S. market is an area that as a league we're trying to make in-roads to try and get more American kids to play in our league. Adam Erne, another top U.S. kid from Connecticut, is committed to play in Quebec and we're optimistic that we can convince Brandon that this is a great place for him to get ready to play in the (NHL)."
One of the issues the QMJHL faces is trying to tap into that U.S. market without having a presence south of the border now that the Lewiston Maineiacs folded at the end of May.
"The fact that we don't have a team in the U.S. at this time is something that I would like to see remedied," said Flynn. "But I think that (Maineiacs owner Mark Just) and his group were extremely patient and lost a great deal of money trying to make it work there.
"I was disappointed to see that franchise dissolve. ... The people there had really patiently built a team that was going to have a chance to really run at it this year and it was disappointing to see a potential championship team disbanded."