It took Maine junior center Devin Shore less than 24 hours after the conclusion of his team's season to sign an NHL contract with the Dallas Stars. There was a pretty good indication the Ajax, Ontario native was ready to bolt for the money of pro hockey, but he's not alone.
Before particular fan bases call for my head for suggesting their team's player(s) might leave early, as a fan of the college game and someone who covers the college game, I want to see all players, regardless of team, stay all four years. However, that just isn't going to happen.
The NHL free agent market in Hockey East is pretty bare this winter so only two undrafted and non-draft eligible prospects made the list of potential flight risks.
Without further ado, here's a look at the other Hockey East players who could potentially leave school early this off-season, in order from most likely to least likely in this observer's opinion:
Ready for take-off:
Jack Eichel, Fr., Forward, Boston University (2015 Draft Eligible) - Not much needs to be said here. He's a generational talent expected to go No. 2 in the June's NHL Draft. He's brought great exposure to the college game this season, but he's a one and done.
Michael Matheson, Jr., Defenseman, Boston College (Florida, 2012) - The Montreal native was probably ready to leave after last season, but chose to come back for one last crack at a NCAA Championship. His physical tools are second to none, but he has looked a little complacent at times.
Jon Gillies, Jr., Goaltender, Providence (Calgary, 2012) - He was close to deciding to leave after last season as well, but this looks to undoubtedly be his last season in a Friar uniform. The South Portland, Maine native has proven his worth in international competition as well as in the NCAA.
High Flight Risk:
Matt O'Connor, Jr., Goaltender, Boston University (Free Agent) - There have been articles about the Toronto native leaving after the season. He's a free agent and is reportedly drawing interest from NHL teams. He's got the size that teams are looking for these days, but in this observer's opinion, there are flaws in his game. Rebound control has always been an issue and quickness ins't always there. With taking summer classes, he is reportedly close to graduating.
Mario Lucia, Jr., Forward, Notre Dame (Minnesota, 2011) - The son of Minnesota coach Don Lucia, he has a pro-ready shot and has for a while. He's got a quick, accurate release and can really fire it. He will have to be more willing to go into the nitty gritty areas once he turns pro, but he's certainly got the potential to bolt after this season. He's a 2011 pick that the Wild won't want to have go unsigned which is a possibility if he plays out his senior season and opts for free agency.
Kevin Roy, Jr., Forward, Northeastern (Anaheim, 2012) - The former Deerfield Prep star has been an elite scorer at the NCAA level and saw his season come to an end this past weekend against Merrimack. He doesn't have the prototypical pro frame, but he's elusive. He's skilled and has that innate ability to create space for himself and his teammates.
Matt Grzelcyk, Jr., Defenseman, Boston University (Boston, 2012) - The 2015 Beanpot MVP has improved dramatically in his third go around in scarlet and white. He's always been a graceful skater with the ability to be a difference maker in the transition game. This season he's become much better defensively.
Not ready, but might take-off:
Ben Hutton, Jr., Defenseman, Maine (Vancouver, 2012) - He was an All-American in 2013-14 so expectations were high this winter. As the Black Bears stumbled so did he, but he still possesses skills that pro teams want. He's a defenseman with size who can move the puck up ice, quarterback a power play and chip in offensively. He's not ready to make the move defensively, but others have opted to leave early in his shoes.
Mark Jankowski, Jr., Forward, Providence (Calgary, 2012) - There is no chance he's ready to turn pro, but there's a possibility the Flames want to try to prove their first round pick in 2012 wasn't a complete bust. His game isn't void of skill, but he doesn't get shots off five-on-five and plays along the perimeter more often than not.
Matt Benning, Soph., Defenseman, Northeastern (Boston, 2012) - He's not the most graceful of skaters and he's still a long way away from being ready to make the jump defensively. However, his gaudy 24 assists might be attractive enough to the Bruins to give him a two-way deal this off-season.
Stock will never be higher:
Ahti Oksanen, Jr., Forward, Boston University (Free Agent) - The Finnish native who converted to forward over the last off-season has already piped in 22 goals. Not all of them have been with Eichel, but he's benefited from Eichel. BU's recruiting class looks great, but will he score this many goals next season? Probably not. He has an accurate shot and has an uncanny ability to be in the right place to shoot, but his speed will be a deterrent to getting to the NHL.
Danny O'Regan, Jr., Forward, Boston University (San Jose, 2011) - Like Oksanen, the St. Sebastian's alum has benefited greatly from Eichel's year on Commonwealth Ave. O'Regan has the speed and offensive creativity that NHL teams like to see. His frame isn't the best, but he's worked on his shot and his stock will also never be higher.
Ready, but could stay:
Noah Hanifin, Fr., Defenseman, Boston College (2015 Draft Eligible) - The potential is there for the Norwood, Mass. native to be a game-changing blue liner at the next level. He can be a cornerstone defenseman for an NHL franchise. He's that good. However, he's still young. He accelerated to get to The Heights this season. He'll likely be selected No. 3 overall in the June draft, but he'll probably stick around one more year.
Brandon Hickey, Fr., Defenseman, Boston University (Calgary, 2014) - The fourth round selection of the Flames in 2014 has proven to be an excellent rookie blue liner. He's good both ways. He's solid defensively, plays physical and has a good stick. He skates well, distributes the puck and gets shots on net.
Ian McCoshen, Soph., Defenseman, Boston College (Florida, 2013) - The former Waterloo Black Hawk has the second best plus/minus on the Eagles roster. He's got the size and the defensive ability to be a good pro defender someday. He might stay, but he's probably ready, if he wanted to leave.
Injuries Keep Flights Grounded:
Steve Santini, Soph., Defenseman, Boston College (New Jersey, 2013) - A wrist injury prevented the son of a former Maine Black Bear from playing in 16 games throughout the first half as well as the 2015 World Junior Championship.
Brett Pesce, Jr., Defenseman, New Hampshire (Carolina, 2012) - Lower body injury sidelined the Tarrytown, NY native for nine games this season.
Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.