A look at each of the 11 teams competing in Hockey East:
1. UMass-Lowell (Last season: 28-11-2, first place) — Top returnees: G Connor Hellebuyck, 20-3-0, 1.37, .952; F Scott Wilson, 16-22—38; F Joe Pendenza, 15-23—38; Top newcomer: F Evan Campbell, Port Coquitlam, B.C.; Last team: Langley (BCHL). Outlook: The River Hawks are coming off a stellar season, the best in program history, which included a trip to the Frozen Four. There is no reason to believe they will have anything less than another terrific year.
2. Boston College (22-12-4, second) — Top returnees: F Johnny Gaudreau, 21-30—51; F Kevin Hayes, 6-19—25; D Michael Matheson, 8-17—25. Top newcomer: G Thatcher Demko, San Diego; Last team: US National Team. Outlook: BC doesn’t rebuild, it reloads. Despite the loss of talent in the highly successful senior class, the Eagles return 18 and add 10 new faces.
3. New Hampshire (20-12-7, fourth) — Top returnees: F Kevin Goumas, 10-32—42; D Trevor van Riemsdyk, 8-25—33; G Casey DeSmith, 19-10-7, 2.23, .924; Top newcomer: F Tyler Kelleher, Longmeadow, Mass. Last team: US National Team; Outlook: Watch out for the Wildcats, who have a very deep team with four starters returning on the blue line, seven of their top nine scorers back, and outstanding goaltending.
4. Notre Dame (25-13-3, second in CCHA) — Top returnees: G Steve Summerhays, 21-12-2, 2.01, .919; F Bryan Rust, 15-19—34; F Jeff Costello, 11-19—30; Top newcomer: F Vince Hinostroza, Bartlett, Ill.; Last team: Waterloo (USHL). Outlook: The Fighting Irish join the league for the first time and bring a veteran roster with strong defense, top-notch goaltending, and five of their six top scorers from last season.
5. Providence (17-14-7, fifth) — Top returnees: G Jon Gillies, 17-12-6, 2.08, .931; F Ross Mauermann, 12-12—24; D Steven Shamanski, 2-12—14; Top newcomer: D Anthony Florentino, West Roxbury, Mass.; Last team: South Kent Prep. Outlook: Coach Nate Leaman is building around a young core and will try to propel the team forward after back-to-back Hockey East semifinal appearances.
6. Boston University (21-16-2, third) — Top returnees: F Danny O’Regan, 16-22—38; D Matt Grzelcyk, 3-20—23; D Garrett Noonan, 6-13—19; Top newcomer: F Robbie Baillargeon, Enfield, Conn.; Last team: Omaha (USHL). Outlook: Former Terrier defenseman and associate head coach David Quinn is back, but this time as head coach, taking the reins from the legendary Jack Parker. The team is young but very talented and will test the rest of the league this season.
7. Merrimack (15-17-6, sixth) — Top returnees: F Mike Collins, 17-21—38; D Jordan Heywood, 8-13—21; G Sam Marotta, 12-11-4, 2.28, .925; Top newcomer: Chris LeBlanc, Winthrop, Mass.; Last team: South Shore (EJHL). Outlook: The Warriors, who have their top 10 scorers back, will have one of the more balanced teams with a strong blend of experience and youth that should take them a long way.
8. Maine (11-19-8, seventh) — Top returnees: F Devin Shore, 6-20—26, F Ryan Lomberg, 7-7—14, D Brice O’Connor, 0-4—4. Top newcomer: F Blaine Byron, Ottawa; Last team: Smiths Falls (CCHL). Outlook: New coach Dennis “Red’’ Gendron will be leading the Black Bears in a new direction and hopes to build them back to prominence in one of the toughest leagues in the country.
9. Vermont (11-19-6, eighth) — Top returnees: F Chris McCarthy, 13-18—31, F Jake Fallon, 9-13—22, G Brody Hoffman, 11-19-6, 2.86, .904; Top newcomer: F Mario Puskarich, Fort Walton Beach, Fla.; Last team: Langley (BCHL). Outlook: The Catamounts return 88 percent of their scoring from a year ago and add 10 talented freshmen, including BCHL scoring champion Puskarich.
10. Massachusetts (12-19-3, ninth) — Top returnees: F Branden Gracel, 14-20—34; F Conor Sheary, 11-16—27; F Michael Pereira, 13-13—26; Top newcomer: F Frank Vatrano, East Longmeadow, Mass.; Last team: Boston Jr. Bruins (EJHL). Outlook: The Minutemen, under second-year coach John Micheletto, return 18 players, including 16 who are juniors or seniors, including their top three scorers.
11. Northeastern (9-21-4, 10th) — Top returnees: F Kevin Roy, 17-17—34; D Josh Manson, 3-4—7; D Dax Lauwers, 1-4—5. Top newcomer: F Mike Szmatula, Commerce, Mich.; Last team: Dubuque (USHL). Outlook: The Huskies will be very young this year, with 11 freshmen, but the team returns 17 letter winners from last year, which will keep them competitive.