A team-by-team look at Hockey East for the 2015-16 season (in order of predicted finish):
Top returnees: D Matt Grzelcyk (10-28—38), F Danny O’Regan (23-27—50), F Ahti Oksanen (25-13—38).
Top newcomers: D Charlie McAvoy (USNTDP, USHL), F Jordan Greenway (USNTDP, USHL), F Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (Omaha Lancers).
Outlook: Jack Eichel is playing for a paycheck now, but BU still has a roomful of seasoned and skilled veterans plus several blue-chippers ready to step in. If they can settle on a goalie to replace Matt O’Connor, the Terriers could be playing for the national title again.
Top returnees: F Alex Tuch (14-14—28), G Thatcher Demko (19-13-3, 2.19, .925), F Ryan Fitzgerald (17-8—25).
Top newcomers: F Jeremy Bracco (USNTDP, USHL), F Miles Wood (USNTDP, USHL), F Colin White (USNTDP, USHL).
Outlook: With more offensive oomph, the Eagles might well have made it back to the Frozen Four last year. They’ll score more this time with rookie reinforcements up front. Though star blue liner Noah Hanifin left for the NHL after one year, the defense should be decent in front of Demko, who’s coming off surgery on both hips.
Top returnees: F Nick Saraceno (14-24—38), F Trevor Mingoia (15-16—31), F Mark Jankowski (8-19—27).
Top newcomers: F Erik Foley (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, USHL), G Hayden Hawkey (Omaha Lancers, USHL), D Steven Ruggiero (USNDTP, USHL).
Outlook: Replicating last spring’s magical run to their first NCAA crown will be a tall order, but the Friars have the goods to at least make it back to the tournament and create some noise. The key will be whether they can replace goalie Jon Gillies, who departed early for the Calgary Flames.
Top returnees: F C.J. Smith (16-19—35), F Evan Campbell (12-15—27), F Adam Chapie (12-19—31).
Top newcomers: F Nick Master (Tri-City Storm, USHL), D Niklas Folin (Omaha Lancers, USHL), F Ryan Dmowski (Des Moines Buccaneers, USHL).
Outlook: After losing its Hockey East crown and missing the NCAAs for the first time under coach Norm Bazin, UML is primed for a rebound. With their top half-dozen scorers back, plus Kevin Boyle returning in the cage, the River Hawks should contend again.
5. New Hampshire
Last season: 19-19-2
Top returnees: F Tyler Kelleher (18-24—42), G Danny Tirone (14-6-0, 2.14, .924), D Matias Cleland (6-12—18)
Top newcomers: F Marcus Vela (Langley Rivermen, BCHL), F Ara Nazarian (Des Moines Buccaneers, USHL), F Frankie Cefalu (Walpole Express, EHL)
Outlook: Though the Wildcats knocked off Providence’s eventual national champions in the playoffs, they missed the NCAAs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1991. UNH will be in the mix, as always, but earning a home-ice bye will be a challenge.
Top returnees: F Mario Lucia (21-11—32), G Cal Petersen (13-16-3, 2.51, .919), F Thomas DiPauli (8-21—29).
Top newcomers: D Dennis Gilbert (Chicago Steel, USHL), D Bobby Nardella (Tri-City Storm, USHL), F Joe Wegwerth (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, USHL).
Outlook: After their first losing season in five years and an eye-averting playoff finale at Lowell, the Irish need to get back in the upper-tier conversation. Though top gun Vince Hinostroza left early for the Blackhawks, most of the scorers return, as well as the league’s top returning goalie in Petersen.
Top returnees: F Brady Shaw (19-12—31), F Mario Puskarich (11-13—24), D Alexx Privitera (7-19—26).
Top newcomers: F Liam Coughlin (Vernon Vipers, BCHL), F Conor O’Neil (Jersey Hitmen, USPHL), D Mike Lee (Penticton Vees, BCHL)
Outlook: The Catamounts made it to the Garden last season for the first time since 2010 and posted consecutive winning campaigns for the first time in five years. There’s enough talent still around Burlington to do it again.
Top returnees: F Kevin Roy (19-25—44), D Matt Benning (0-24—24), F John Stevens (4-17—21)
Top newcomers: F Adam Gaudette (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, USHL), D Eric Williams (Aurora Tigers, OJHL), F Sam Kurker (Sioux City Musketeers, USHL).
Outlook: NU rebounded from an 0-8-1 start to finish in the middle of the pack last year but the season ended abruptly with a first-round home playoff sweep by Merrimack, with both losses in overtime. With only one winning season since 2009, the Huskies are hungry for a breakout and have the offensive pop to do it. Derick Roy steps up to succeed Clay Witt in goal, traditionally NU’s key position.
Top returnees: G Rob Nichols (9-19-7, 2.73, .918), F Shawn Pauly (5-15—20), F Spencer Naas (13-4—17).
Top newcomers: F Maxim Letunov (Youngstown Phantoms, USHL), D Joseph Masonius (USNTDP, USHL), D Miles Gendron (Penticton Vees, BCHL).
Outlook: UConn had a creditable league debut last year, finishing ninth and beating BC and UML along the way. To move up the food chain, though, the Huskies will have to improve an offense that was among the country’s weakest.
Top returnees: F Brett Seney (11-15—26), F Brian Christie (10-13—23), F Hampus Gustafsson (11-14—25).
Top newcomers: F Mathieu Foget (Gloucester Rangers, CCHL), D Ethan Spaxman (Waterloo Black Hawks, USHL), F Ludvig Larsson (Lone Star Brahmas, NAHL).
Outlook: While a winless February doomed the Warriors to a third straight losing season, they still doubled their victory count and upset Northeastern on the road in the playoffs. There’s enough talent returning to get Merrimack on the plus side of the ledger this time.
Top returnees: F Steven Swavely (8-20—28), F Cam Brown (7-21—28), F Blaine Byron (12-15—27).
Top newcomers: F Dane Gibson (Parkland Secondary), D Rob Michel (Ottawa Jr. Senators, CCHL), F Justin Rai (North Surrey Secondary).
Outlook: After two losing seasons in three years, the Black Bears are restless to return to relevance. Losing leading scorer Devin Shore to the pros won’t help, but there’s ample firepower returning, as well as both goalies.
Top returnees: F Dennis Kravchenko (10-23—33), F Steven Iacobellis (8-16—24), F Shane Walsh (14-8—22).
Top newcomers: F Austin Plevy (Brooks Bandits, AJHL), D William Lagesson (Dubuque Fighting Saints, USHL), D Ivan Chukarov (Minnesota Wilderness, NAHL).
Outlook: A five-overtime playoff victory at Notre Dame in the longest-ever collegiate game was the highlight of an eighth consecutive non-winning season and a basement finish. The Minutemen won’t be an easy night for anyone, but a significant improvement isn’t likely.