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BU's O'Connell Has Eye on the Future

Albie O'Connell, pictured on the left of the group, has become one of the top recruiters in college hockey.
Albie O'Connell, pictured on the left of the group, has become one of the top recruiters in college hockey.
Matt Dewkett

What do you do a night after securing a commitment from a projected first round NHL Draft pick? If you're Albie O'Connell, you keep your foot on the gas pedal and continue the grind through western Canada.

On Monday afternoon, the Boston University associate head coach helped the Terriers land a verbal commitment from Penticton Vees 1998-born right defenseman Dante Fabbro. On Tuesday evening, O'Connell was watching the Spruce Grove Saints host the Bonnyville Pontiacs in an Alberta Junior Hockey League matchup.

It's not as if O'Connell is the only hard working associate or assistant coach in college hockey. Far from it. Across the country, there are many assistants that spend long and grueling days on the road in search of top talent to bolster their program's future.

What is undeniable is that O'Connell has become one of the best recruiters in the business. His eye for talent is unmatched in the sport. The BU alum, who racked up 42 goals and 66 assists in a four-year career that culminated in his captaining the 1998-99 Terriers, has quickly ascended to being the top assistant for one of the premier programs in NCAA hockey.

Following a brief three-year minor pro career, the Watertown, Mass. native joined the Colby College staff as an assistant coach. After that, it was on to Niagara and Holy Cross before getting his first job in Hockey East -- as an assistant for Mark Dennehy at Merrimack. Northeastern and Harvard were next before he returned to his alma mater to join David Quinn's staff for 2014-15 season.

His recruiting prowess can't just be tied to the lure of a top program such as Boston University. He helped Dennehy land Stephane Da Costa at Merrimack. He identified Jon Gillies and Johnny Gaudreau for Greg Cronin at Northeastern, although both de-committed during the Huskies' coaching change.

It'd be unfair to not credit former associate head coach Steve Greeley, who has moved onto the New York Rangers as the NHL organization's Assistant Director of Player Personnel. Quinn, despite being on the road less now as a head coach, is also a terrific recruiter.

O'Connell and the Terrier coaching staff have lined up five potential first round picks when the 2016 NHL Draft rolls around next June in Buffalo. Freshman defenseman Charlie McAvoy and recruits Kieffer Bellows, Clayton Keller, Chad Krys and Fabbro are all slated to be selected in the first round of the draft according to one mock or another.

As the old saying goes, it's looking like the rich just keep getting richer on Commonwealth Ave.


Jeff Cox covers college, junior, high school and prep hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects. Follow him on Twitter @JeffCoxSports.