Christian Hanson’s getting ready to make his NHL debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tyler Bozak is pretty much signed, sealed and delivered. But according to multiple news outlets, Brian Burke‘s just getting warmed up. Next on his list: Boston University’s Matt Gilroy and Northeastern University’s Brad Thiessen.
On the same day that the Toronto Maple Leafs have just locked up the most coveted young player currently available, Bob Mckenzie and Darren Dreger are both reporting that the Leafs are now switching their attention over to another pair of highly touted youngsters. Boston defenseman Matt Gilroy is one name we’ve been throwing around for a little while now as the prize of this year’s college free agent crop. Matt is one of the 3 finalists for the NCAA’s Hobey Baker trophy for the best player in college hockey. Just to refresh your memories, here’s a little excerpt from the College Free Agency Preview piece I did a few weeks back:
Hereâ€™s what Mckeenâ€™s Hockey had to say about Gilroyâ€™s skillset:
â€œGilroy is primed to be a star and could dramatically uplift the franchise that is fortunate to land him equally as much as a lottery pick. Heâ€™s smooth as they come with the puck, as he boasts unrivaled vision and passing skills. His ability to escape dangerous situations and orchestrate beautiful plays coming out of his own end has our scouts believing he could be special. Gilroy fits the prototype of a modern NHL defenseman and will be a mature 25-year old when he enters his rookie NHL season next fall. â€¦While the hype over the John Tavares lottery is deafening, the courtship for Gilroyâ€™s services could be just as fascinating and fruitful.â€
So we all know Matt pretty well. But now let’s talk about the other name that’s recently started to make the rounds, and that’s goaltender Brad Thiessen of Northeastern University. Brad is a 23 year old from Aldergrove, British Columbia, who like Bozak, came out of the BCHL to go through the NCAA route. This season, Thiessen boasts an outstanding stat line that includes a 25-12-4 record, a 2.12 GAA, and a .931 SV%, all career bests. The kid is a workhorse, playing every single minute for Northeastern this past season. His accomplishments include being named Northeastern’s first ever Hockey East Player of the Year and being the only unanimous selection for the Hockey East All-Star team. All of this has led to Brad becoming the top goalie in college hockey, and currently sits with Matt Gilroy and Nashville top prospect Colin Wilson as one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker trophy.
According to Bob Mckenzie:
“Now the Leafs are targeting a pair of Boston collegians â€“ Boston University defenceman and captain Matt Gilroy and Northeastern University goalie Brad Thiessen.
Maple Leaf front office executive Joe Niuewendyk has been leading the charge on behalf of the Leafs in the U.S. college ranks. It has been Nieuwendyk who has been spending a lot of time in college arenas this season. But in the case of both Gilroy and Thiessen, Maple Leaf GM Brian Burke has also been directly involved since he spends so much time in Boston.
Thiessen is eligible to turn pro at any time and it’s believed the Maple Leafs are on a short list of two or three teams he’s considering.”
Thiessen seems to be quite the popular player, with a website (www.thiessen39.com) going up to promote Brad and his push for the Hobey Baker trophy. There are a few quality videos on there including a highlight compilation as well as a short interview. He certainly comes off as a well-spoken, mature young man.
Between Hanson, Bozak, and possibly even Gilroy and Thiessen, the Leafs will have managed to add considerable quality and depth with two forwards, a young goalie, and a blue-chip young blueliner, all either near or NHL-ready. Without even shedding a single draft pick. My hat’s off to Brian Burke.
“Update: The Penguins have signed Brad Thiessen to a two year entry level contract. Thiessen played all 41 games for the Northeastern Huskies this season, finishing with a record of 25-12-4. He recorded a 2.12 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage while collecting three assists for the Huskies. His 2.09 goals-against average and .932 save percentage were a personal best during the Hockey East 2008-09 campaign.
Thiessen is a top three finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and just the second Huskies player to ever achieve that honor.”
Update #2: Contract details coming out per TSN. Bozak could stand to make nearly $4M/season if he hits all his bonuses.
Update #3: The Leafs and Canucks are the frontrunners to land Matt Gilroy per The Hockey News. Rumored asking price around $3M plus bonuses.
Always a pleasure,