Since entering high school, the hockey spotlight has been on Boston University freshman Chad Krys.
The son of former Terrier Mark Krys was regarded by many to be the best player in his age group from a very young age. Such high expectations and praise come with both positives and negatives.
"He's been so highly sought after and and talked about for so long. Sometimes that can work against players. We live in an age where everyone knows who the best 14 year-old is. He was that guy. People can be hard on those players," BU head coach David Quinn explained.
Krys, who competed for the United States in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship, was the final player cut by USA Hockey prior to this year's event. For that reason, Krys will be skating for Boston University Thursday night against Union while seven other Terriers vie for the Gold Medal when Canada and the U.S. square off in Montreal at 8 p.m.
NHL scouts have varying opinions on Krys who was selected in the second round by the Chicago Blackhawks in this past summer's NHL Draft. However, the Ridgefield, Conn. native has the backing of his head coach.
"It’s a very subjective sport. This isn’t swimming or track where there is a clearcut best runner or fastest swimmer. I love him as a player," said Quinn, a former defenseman and high NHL Draft pick in his playing days.
Krys, always known more for his offensive capabilities from the blue line, has one goal and two assists in 17 games played. However, it's the play in his own zone that Quinn focused on when summing up his first semester in scarlet and white.
"He’s had a really good first half. His defensive play has improved. His pace and urgency has improved," said Quinn. "He’s a really good player. He’s a high draft pick. He’s played a lot of minutes for us. He’s only going to keep getting better."
Krys has enjoyed his first semester at BU after playing two years for the U.S. National Team Development Program in Michigan.
"It’s been an awesome experience so far. I’ve really enjoyed playing for Coach Quinn, Coach Young and Coach O’Connell. It’s been everything that I expected coming in. It’s been tough, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better," said Krys. "The guys, the stuff off ice and in the classroom, the experience has been awesome. It's been a great transition."
In addition to the tradition of the hockey program, part of the allure for young defensemen considering BU is the chance to play for Quinn, one of the most respected defensive minds in the business. Krys has been pushed and taught things he'd never been accustomed to before stepping foot on campus.
"Being a complete player and valuing every zone on the ice," Krys said of what his Quinn has preached to him. "At times, you’re good at it and at times it gets away from you. He’s helped me on the little things and some of the things I’ve never focused on. It’s things that can help me as an individual going forward."
Krys knows he has a long ways to go in order to become a player that can succeed at the next level. He's working on becoming better at some of the smaller intricacies of the game defensively.
"Engaging and trying to be physical are things I need to work on and Coach Quinn wants me to work on," Krys explained. "I want to focus on that, and positioning and stick positioning out there. It’s been a learning process so far. I’ve never had someone talk to me about some of this."
In addition to learning from Quinn and the rest of the BU coaching staff, Krys has had the benefit of being paired with sophomore and Boston Bruins first rounder Charlie McAvoy, who is an alternate captain for the U.S. at the World Juniors.
"It’s awesome. I’ve known Charlie for a long time. It’s been really cool playing with him. There’s a familiarity with each other. He’s a guy I can learn from. Seeing how much he’s developed in a year here and seeing him become a complete player has made me want to do the same," said Krys.
Krys has long been engrained to becoming a Terrier. His father patrolled the BU blue line from 1987-1991, captaining the team as a senior.
"People around the rink who’ve been here for a long time know him. He knows all the different places around here and is familiar with the area. It’s really cool," said Krys.
However, his father might not be the person proudest of Krys skating on the Agganis Arena ice in the home team's uniform.
"My mom went here too and played lacrosse. I think she’s even happier I’m here than my dad," said Krys.
When asked what his parents' advice is for being a Terrier student-athlete, Krys said, "They told me to soak everything in and enjoy the four best years of your life."
The family's athleticism extends to younger brother Luke, who is becoming a highly-regarded prospect in his own right.
"There’s been a lot of battles in the driveway and in the basement. It’s great to see that he’s finally getting some recognition. I see all the hard work that he puts in right there with me," said Krys.
Krys hopes he can help support his younger brother as he goes through the same recruiting process he once did.
"For me, I just try to tell him to enjoy it. The recruiting process is taken so seriously, but you have to enjoy playing."
With the way Krys has handled the ups and downs that come with being a top hockey prospect, there's little doubt he'll one day don a letter for the Terriers just like his father.