What a decade this was in New England sports! As we move into the 2020s, join NESN.com in looking back at the best of the best with the Hockey East All-Decade Team. (And check out the rest of our “Best of the Decade” content here.)
Hockey East long has pumped out NHL talent, and the decade currently coming to a close was no different.
Since 2010, slews of Hockey East products have gone on to be productive professional players, with some even beginning to cement themselves as stars.
Here are the the top players of the decade from each member school:
Boston College: Johnny Gaudreau, F (2011-14)
He earned a deserved Hobey Baker Award in 2014 after posting a whopping 80 points in 40 games. That was an appropriate cap on what was a prolific three-year run in Chestnut Hill for the now-Calgary Flames winger.
Boston University: Jack Eichel, F (2014-15)
With all the talent BU has churned out over the years, Eichel being a no-brainer here speaks to just how great he was on Comm Ave. Despite playing just one year for the Terriers, he won the Hobey Baker after slashing 26-45-71 in that campaign.
Connecticut: Tage Thompson, F (2015-17)
The Huskies only have been in Hockey East for a few years, but Thompson was consistent on the wing during his two years in Storrs. He posted 32 points in both campaigns, just shy of making him a point-per-game player for his career.
Maine: Ben Hutton, D (2012-15)
Now an NHL mainstay, Hutton spent three seasons up in Orono, where he was an all-American his sophomore year. He finished his time with the Black Bears having played 108 games, tallying a 28-37-65 line over three seasons while stabilizing the back end.
Massachusetts: Cale Makar, D (2017-19)
The blueliner led the charge in putting UMass hockey on the map, and was rewarded with a Hobey Baker. Though he spent just two seasons in Amherst, he had a monumental impact on the program.
UMass Lowell: Connor Hellebuyck, G (2012-14)
The numbers Hellebuyck put up in Lowell are pretty wild. A .952 save percentage with 1.37 goals-against average his freshman year, followed by a .941/1.79 campaign in 2013-14 before going pro. It’s no wonder he’s been so reliable for Winnipeg the last half-decade.
Merrimack: Mike Collins, F (2010-14)
It never translated to pro success in the United States, but Collins was a solid player at Merrimack in the beginning of the decade. He posted a career-best 17 goals and 21 assists in 38 games during his All-American junior season.
New Hampshire: Tyler Kelleher, F (2013-17)
The Longmeadow, Mass., native recorded some big numbers during his four seasons with UNH, including a 24-39-63 senior year in 2016-17 that put an exclamation point on his time in Durham.
Northeastern: Adam Gaudette, F (2015-18)
Gaudette arrived on Huntington Ave. having just been selected in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL draft, and he did nothing but boost his value while at Northeastern. He had at least 25 goals and 25 assists in two of his three seasons, including a 30-30-60 line during the 2017-18 season before hitting the professional ranks.
Providence: Jon Gillies, G (2012-15)
For three years, Gillies gave the Friars a reliable backstop. He never had a save percentage below .930 or a goals-against average above 2.16. The 25-year-old still is trying to find his way in the NHL (he has just 12 games in the top flight over five years), but that doesn’t take away his successful time in Rhode Island.
Vermont: Mike Paliotta, D (2011-15)
The southern Connecticut native found more of a scoring touch as his college career went on, with the defenseman scoring 27 and 36 points in his junior and senior years, respectively, at Vermont. He was an all-American in 2014-15, his senior campaign, becoming the first UVM player to earn such a distinction since Viktor Stalberg in 2008-09.
Talent very much remains in the conference to this day, so the 2020s already are setting up to be a delight.