Nate Leaman's biggest recruiting coup for the 2014-15 season might have been convincing rising-junior goaltender Jon Gillies to return to Providence for one more season. But, the five players who have signed National Letter of Intents will help bring even more skill to a program that is certainly on the rise.
Indiana Ice forward Brian Pinho is the star of the class, having been selected by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. The St. John's Prep alum enjoyed a successful high school career before this season's terrific campaign in the USHL.
"Brian has been the driving force behind our success the past two seasons," said St. John's coach Kristian Hanson, prior to last summer's draft.
Pinho, a North Andover, Mass. native, had 28 goals and 28 assists in 59 regular season games as a rookie in North America's toughest junior league.
"His ability to hold onto the puck in traffic, and vision on the ice," are Pinho's strengths, according to his high school coach.
Jake Walman is a talented, puck-moving blue liner who has good foot skills. The 6-1 defenseman played for the Toronto Junior Canadiens in the Ontario Junior Hockey League this past season.
The '96-born Walman, expected to step in and fill the void left by Steven Shamanski and Kevin Hart, had seven goals and 26 assists in his first season in junior hockey.
"I'm very excited. I love the coaches there. It's a great atmosphere for me there. It's a great fit," said Walman, who explained he has some family nearby in Connecticut.
"The hockey situation there for me is great. They graduated their top two senior defensemen so they're looking for me to step right in and play that role," added Walman.
Walman, a third round selection of the St. Louis Blues, earned the distinction of being named the top pro prospect in the OJHL. He played midget hockey with the Junior Canadiens and North York Rangers before transitioning to the top Junior A league in Ontario.
Walman, a converted forward, is terrific with the puck and has great skating ability.
"I'm an offensive defenseman. My skating is something that sets me apart from some of the other guys," said Walman. "I feel that I use my poise. I'm very confident with the puck in the fast-paced game I transitioned to this year."
Logan Day comes to Providence from the South Shore Kings of the USPHL, coached by former Boston College forward Scott Harlow. The Seminole, Fla. native played four seasons of varsity hockey for at Kents Hill in Maine prior to his stint in juniors.
Day is somewhat of a late bloomer, but he is another prospect who can be counted on to fill the void left vacant on the Friar blue line.
"Logan could be the top junior defenseman that I have ever had in 23 years of coaching. The best thing about Logan is that I think he has much more upside and I think he can become a great college defenseman," said Harlow.
Day, a '94, notched 17 goals and added 30 assists in 53 games last season with the Kings.
"Logan has the potential to be an NHL defenseman if he continues to develop and work on all areas of his game. There is no doubt that Nate Leaman has a diamond in the rough," Harlow stated.
Alex Cromwell is a player Nate Leaman really likes as he is versatile and can play both up front and back on defense. The McKinney, Texas native played junior hockey in Alberta with the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the AJHL.
Cromwell is a physical player who can use his size and strength to his advantage to win battles along the boards. He chipped in eight goals and added 17 assists in 60 games played this past winter.
Robbie Hennessey is the fifth member of the Friar rookie class. The Garnet Valley, Pa. native is a skilled center who can make plays happen with the puck on his stick. He played for head coach Josh LeRoy at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, NY.
Some of the newcomers have already been on campus for summer session to get acclimated with college life while Walman and Pinho will spend a few days at NHL Development Camps.
Providence will open the season in Columbus against Ohio State October 10th and 11th.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSports.