Today’s ‘Back to School’ article checks in on yet another Carolina Hurricanes prospect who will be playing at the NCAA level for the 2017-18 season.
Matt Filipe was selected by the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. Filipe fits within a familiar draft theme as a forward with good size and speed and skating ability that also projects to be NHL-capable. At the age of 19, he is 6 feet 2 inches tall and nearly 200 pounds and covers the full 200 feet of an NHL rink well. He also stood out in the end of week scrimmage for the Hurricanes prospect camp netting a couple goals.
Interview with Joshua Kummins from the New England Hockey Journal
About the interviewee
Joshua Kummins (Twitter=JoshuaKummins) covers both the Boston Bruins and Hockey East for New England Hockey Journal. The magazine features content on all levels of the game. College hockey is a big part of sports culture in New England, and Joshua notes that he has been watching the sport for as long as he can remember. Joshua has also written for SB Nation College Hockey. When not at the rink, Joshua covers all levels of baseball in the region for sister publication, New England Baseball Journal.
Interview on Matt Filipe
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe Matt Filipe’s freshman year in 2016-17 at Northeastern University in total? What were the highlights of his season?
Joshua Kummins: Filipe played in all 38 games for Northeastern and was its top freshman forward in terms of production with nine goals and 12 assists for 21 points. The Huskies were successful when Filipe produced, going 6-1-0 in games in which he scored a goal and 11-4-1 when he scored a point. As for a season highlight, he scored two goals in a Beanpot Tournament game against Boston College in February. That win at TD Garden was part of a late, five-game winning streak and a 7-1-0 stretch for Northeastern, but it lost two one-goal games to Boston University in the Hockey East quarterfinals.
Canes and Coffee: In what areas did Matt Filipe make the greatest strides development-wise as he settled in at the NCAA, and the season progressed?
Joshua Kummins: Just settling in was the key to Filipe’s season. Northeastern had three 50-point scorers (Zach Aston-Reese, Dylan Sikura and Adam Gaudette) in the lineup last season. Filipe possesses a level of talent that has been obvious, so once he found comfort with his new team and caught up to the speed of the college game, the points started to come, and his game really elevated.
Canes and Coffee: What stands out about Matt Filipe’s abilities that projects to the NHL someday?
Joshua Kummins: Filipe is a big guy (6-foot-2, 197 pounds), but he has been a solid skater since his high school days at Massachusetts power Malden Catholic, too. He plays a physical game and spends a lot of time around the net.
Canes and Coffee: Heading into the offseason and looking forward to the 2017-18 season what areas for improvement do you see for Matt Filipe at this early stage of development as a young player?
Joshua Kummins: Filipe has always been a productive player, but it is his defensive game that has become more important at the college level. The back end is usually an area where talented players become more comfortable with time, so I expect Filipe to make further strides there this year. Additionally, only one other Northeastern forward was penalized more than Filipe last season.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else about Matt Filipe not covered in the questions above that might be of interest to Carolina Hurricanes fans tracking Matt Filipe from afar?
Joshua Kummins: Northeastern is not losing a lot from last year’s team that had a great run down the stretch to finish eighth in Hockey East. Filipe should be a big part of helping the Huskies rise in the league standings, and they should have the talent to do so.
Interview with Mike Downie from Northeastern Hockey Blog
About the interviewee
Mike Downie (Twitter=@FloridaPucks) covers Northeastern University Huskies hockey for the Northeastern Hockey Blog (Twitter=@NUHockeyBlog) which provides high-end insight, opinions, and news regarding the Northeastern Men’s Hockey program.
Interview on Matt Filipe
Canes and Coffee: When we last checked in with you on Matt Filipe in mid-January, you said that he had started slowly while adjusting but seemed to be getting up to speed. How did his finish the 2016-17 season? And how would you summarize his season in total?
Mike Downie: Filipe had a strong second half last year. In the final 15 games of the 2016-17 season after we last spoke, including playoffs, Matt had 5 multi-point performances and recorded point streaks of 4 and 3 games. He had a line of 6-8-14 in those 15 games and 9-12-21 on the season. Over that stretch he was second among Hockey East freshmen in points per game, trailing only Arizona’s Clayton Keller, who was a top ten pick and was signed to an NHL deal immediately following the season.
Filipe did get limited power play time over that stretch (picking up 3 power play assists), but he did most of his damage playing at even strength and with injuries forcing the coaching staff to constantly move him up and down the lineup and between center and wing. Matt was able to make the teammates around him better when he was on their line, as evidenced by his assisting on 3 of Brendan Collier’s 5 goals on the season and on the lone goals scored by both Grant Jozefek and Tanner Pond. He had the primary assist on 4 of those 5 goals.
Canes and Coffee: From watching Filipe in 2016-17, what stands out about his abilities that projects to the NHL someday? What areas of his game still show the most room for improvement at this early stage of his development as a young player?
Mike Downie: Filipe projects as an NHL caliber grinder/power forward, probably somewhere in the middle six. He came into NU listed at 6’2 197 as an 18 year old, and while the school has yet to release the updated numbers for the 2017-18 season, past results of the NU strength program indicate he likely gained 5-10 pounds of muscle during the offseason conditioning program. Strength and conditioning coach Dan Boothby is one of the best in the NCAA at getting his players to add on muscle to aid their game. He will help Filipe fill out his frame.
Even though Filipe was one of their better face-off takers last season, NU has been hesitant to play him at center. Coach Madigan has said in the past that Filipe may be forced into face-offs more this season, but that remains to be seen. The initial expectation that he will play most of his minutes on the wing. He has a good shot and is fast for his size, but he needs to work on his play away from the puck and general hockey awareness on plays not centered around the net front. We have seen flashes of brilliance with dangles and stick skills, but very rarely did we see true power forward moves out of him last season. His play also sometimes suffers from seemingly being lost on the ice, but that also may be a product of who his linemates were last season. It’s important to remember he is 19 years old with fewer than 100 games of experience above the high school level, so he still has plenty of time to fulfill his talent.
Canes and Coffee: Entering the 2017-18 season, what is the situation at Northeastern as relates to Matt Filipe and what do you project his role to be for the upcoming season?
Mike Downie: The Huskies got very lucky this offseason to be untouched by early NHL departures. The school had the highest scoring junior and the highest scoring sophomore in Hockey East last season, and both declined offers from their NHL clubs and elected to return for the 2017-18 season. While great for the team, this will likely keep Filipe on the “1B” forward line and the second power play unit to start season. While the situation can and will change as the season gets going, we currently have him projected to skate with senior captain Nolan Stevens and freshman Zach Solow.
To call Stevens a vast step up from Filipe’s former line mates is an understatement. He led the Huskies in goal scoring in their championship 2015-16 season and scored 22 points in 17 games in an injury shortened 2016-17 campaign. Solow is the reigning USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year and USHL Forward of the Year after a league leading 69 point season including a 20 game point streak and is tentatively expected to center the line with Filipe and Stevens playing on the wings. Filipe is the highest rated returning Husky in terms of face-off percentage and could easily move back to the center of the ice if Solow struggles out of the gate or the injury bug strikes again.
Canes and Coffee: Matt Filipe will have had a strong 2017-18 season both in terms helping the Huskies win and continuing to develop toward becoming an NHL player if he ___________________________.
Mike Downie: Keeps getting stronger and establishes himself as a threat all across the ice, beyond just at or below the goal line.
Canes and Coffee: Is there anything else noteworthy about Matt Filipe’s 2016-17 season and development thus far not covered in the questions above that might be of interest to Hurricanes fans tracking him from afar?
Mike Downie: He’s deceptively fast with both his skates and his hands for his big frame. Most importantly, he has a mind for the front of the net, whether it’s getting there himself or finding a way to get the puck there for a teammate. He made a few plays last season where he flew down the wing to corral a puck in the corner and somehow threw it just in front of the crease to create goal or at very least a dangerous point blank chance. He has the highest ceiling of any NU player, perhaps with the exception of Adam Gaudette, who scored 52 points last year and is one of the players who declined an NHL contract as mentioned above. Filipe was ranked 62nd on a list of NHL prospects currently in the NCAA.
For past coverage on Matt Filipe including a check in on him during the 2016-17, please visit his Canes and Coffee player page HERE.
And before jumping to a few highlights, Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Mike Downie from the Northeastern Hockey Blog and Joshua Kummins from the New England Hockey Journal for generously sharing their insight on Hurricanes prospect Matt Filipe!
Matt Filipe highlights
A few highlights from the second half last year:
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) March 5, 2017
Filipe uses his strength to keep fighting on the draw and eventually gets the puck out to the high slot for an assist.
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) February 4, 2017
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) February 4, 2017
Two plays where Filipe is able to keep himself and his stick free in front of the net to clean up a loose puck.
— Northeastern MHKY (@GoNUmhockey) March 4, 2017
Filipe causes a turnover behind the net then gets in position for a point blank shot that eventually leads to a goal.