A little while back, Canes and Coffee started a ‘back to school’ series featuring short exit (2015-16 team/coaches) and entry (2016-17 college team) series on the 3 NCAA-bound players that the Hurricanes selected in the 2016 NHL draft.
Below are links to those articles in case you missed them:
The ‘back to school’ series continues this week with a trip to the hockey rich Northeast United States with a player selected in the 2015 NHL draft. David Cotton is a big, skating-capable forward who was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round of the 2015 NHL draft and will play the 2016-17 season as a freshman at Boston College. (Though selected in the 2015 draft, he is just entering his first year at the NCAA level after playing in the USHL for the 2015-16 season.)
Comments from David Cotton’s USHL coach PK O’Handley
PK O’Handley is the head coach and general manager of the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL. The 2015-16 season marked O’Handley’s fourteenth season in that role. He has coached and won more games than any other coach in USHL history and is a three-time USHL Coach of the Year Award winner and two-time USHL General Manager of the year. His full bio can be found on the Waterloo Black Hawks web site.
Canes and Coffee: How would you describe David Cotton’s game/style of play in 2-4 sentences. What are his strengths?
Waterloo Black Hawks Coach PK O’Handley: David’s size makes him an intriguing pro prospect. He will be at his best when he is able to plant himself at the front of the net and create problems for opposing goalies. At this stage, he is still learning how to fully utilize his frame. Playing in college against older, bigger opponents will continue to force him to be bigger in the offensive zone.
Canes and Coffee: What areas do you see for improvement as he develops as a player over the next 2-4 years at NCAA level?
Waterloo Black Hawks Coach PK O’Handley: Like most young players, David will become more consistent as he gains more experience. He came to Waterloo as a forward with defensive capabilities and the ability to win face-offs; last season, he further improved those skills. Those attributes – along with his foot speed – are areas he will need to continue to build on as he climbs to higher levels.
Canes and Coffee: What NHL player(s) would you compare his game to?
Waterloo Black Hawks Coach PK O’Handley: Let me point toward a player on his way to the NHL. Zach Sanford had been at Boston College the past two seasons and signed this summer with the Washington Capitals. Like David, Zach was here for a season before going to Boston College. They have similar size, play similar roles, and are taking similar routes in their hockey careers.
Canes and Coffee: Do you have any other thoughts/comments on David Cotton that are not covered by the questions above?
Waterloo Black Hawks Coach PK O’Handley: David is a terrific kid.
Comments David Cotton’s situation entering Boston College from Laura Berestecki and Joe Gravellese from BC Interruption
Laura Berestecki (Twitter=@LaurBear90) covers hockey and women’s soccer for BCInterruption.com. She also writes for the NWHL and will be covering Hockey East for SB Nation’s upcoming women’s hockey blog
Joe Gravellese (Twitter=@joegrav) is a 2010 graduate of Boston College and the editor-in-chief of BC Interruption, SB Nation’s Boston College Eagles community. Joe is an avid hockey fan and a board member for BC Hockey’s booster organization, the Pike’s Peak Hockey Club. Away from the blogosphere, Joe is a political and communications professional in the greater Boston area.
Canes and Coffee: How did Eagles hockey finish up the 2015-16 season? What is the early outlook for the 2016-17 season in terms of roster changes and season expectations?
Joe Gravellese from BC Interruption: The end of the actual on-ice portion wasn’t too bad. BC lost to Quinnipiac, a darn good team, in the Frozen Four, and fell to an ungodly hot Northeastern team in the Hockey East semifinals that was simply unstoppable for a period of time. It’s a bummer for BC not to come home with either major trophy, but it was still a very good season.
However, within about 2 weeks of the games ending, things fell apart pretty quickly with a whole bunch of players bouncing for the NHL who I honestly thought would stay. We knew some of them – Ian McCoshen, Thatcher Demko – were definitely gone. But some of the losses were surprising, like Miles Wood and Adam Gilmour. The net result of all the departures is that BC really doesn’t have a ton of reliable depth. There is roster depth because BC is bringing in a massive freshman class, but we obviously don’t know what we’re getting out of them. None of them are Colin White or Noah Hanifin-level slam dunk, first-round prospects.
Laura Berestecki from BC Interruption: BC’s season ended in a Frozen Four loss to QU last season. The Eagles started out the year strong, but had an up-and-down second half of the season. Thatcher Demko had a massive impact for BC, recording 10 shutouts. Although many programs would consider a Frozen Four appearance and 28-8-5 record to be a massive success, it was a bit of a disappointment for BC fans that have come to expect consistent greatness.
BC lost a lot of players in the off-season, particularly in terms of early departures. The freshmen are going to have to step up quickly if BC wants to be a serious contender. Colin White is returning to the team, which was a bit of a surprise but is great for BC’s offense. The departure of Demko is a big question mark for BC, who now has two freshmen and a sophomore competing for the starting spot (the general consensus is that it will go to Joe Woll).
Canes and Coffee: What do the Eagles look like in terms of returning forwards, and where would you expect David Cotton to start the season in terms of role, ice time and general situation?
Laura Berestecki from BC Interruption: Half of BC’s team is made up of freshmen, so most of the freshmen should see decent ice time. BC’s top forwards will be Ryan Fitzgerald, Austin Cangelosi, Chris Calnan, Matty Gaudreau, and Colin White. Chris Brown and Joey Dudek both showed promise last year, so the freshmen will be competing with them for ice time. I would expect Cotton to be a consistent third or fourth line forward. I expect he will start the season with BC relying on him for his ability to be a defensive forward, but I expect that throughout his time at BC he will also become important as a playmaker for the goal scoring powerhouses (this year that goal scorer would be Colin White).
Joe Gravellese from BC Interruption: It’s hard to project how guys are going to fit in to the pace of the collegiate game, but I would certainly suspect Cotton will have his opportunities to play. My guess is that Cotton will start the year as the #3 center, behind Colin White and Austin Cangelosi. It’s not unheard of for guys who played center in HS/juniors to start off on the wing under Coach York, but given the current depth chart, with the loss of Zach Sanford, I tend to think he’ll get a shot there.
York seems to go back and forth between spreading out his top players across 2/3 lines vs. loading up on the top 1/2, so how much Cotton plays and in what situations will kind of depend on how he chooses to deploy his talent. BC has enough good players on the roster that they could have two really really good lines, or they could try to put together three solid ones. My personal preference would probably be to start with the latter and see how things go, then adjust if needed.
Canes and Coffee: What things are you hearing about David Cotton before his arrival to play for Boston College?
Laura Berestecki from BC Interruption: I’ve heard good things about his abilities as a two-way forward and his speed. Despite being known for our smaller players, BC has had good luck with taller players that are quick on their feet, so it’s exciting to be getting another player that fits that mold. With what I have heard about his playmaking abilities, Cotton could move up in the lineup if he impresses in practice.
Joe Gravellese from BC Interruption: A few things I’ve heard about Cotton: he certainly came up with a reputation of being really highly skilled with a big upside, and I think was considered to be a little bit higher of a draft prospect a few years ago; for whatever reason he slid down to the sixth round last year, but if he develops at BC, that could be a real steal for Carolina. He’s reported to have good size and a good hockey IQ; if he puts it all together he could be a really good two-way player at the collegiate level. I’m excited to watch him play. BC will certainly need him to help fill some of the roster holes left by early departures.
Canes and Coffee would like to extend a huge thank you to Coach PK O’Handley from the Waterloo Black Hawks and Laura Berestecki and Joe Gravellese from BC Interruption for helping with our coverage of Carolina Hurricanes prospect David Cotton.