As the season comes to an end for most NCAA hockey players, we’ve come to the time of year when NHL teams begin to sign their prospects in order to bring them into the system for next season. We know Cale Makar is coming, it’s just a matter of waiting until the Frozen Four is finished before the Avalanche can sign their prized prospect to his entry level contract.
One other top prospect that fans were hoping would sign with the Colorado Avalanche in time to join the organization for this summer is Shane Bowers. The Avalanche acquired the rights to the former first round pick from the Ottawa Senators as a part of the Matt Duchene trade back in November 2017 and there was a belief that he would sign his ELC this spring after he completed his sophomore season at Boston University.
After an overtime loss to Northeastern in the semifinal of the Hockey East tournament this past weekend, BU’s season came to an end - shifting eyes to Bowers and whether or not he would sign. Unfortunately for Avalanche fans it is believed that the organization will have wait another year before he makes the jump the the professional level.
Word around NCAA circles is that the 19-year old center is set to BU for his Junior season in an attempt to help lead a young Terriers team back from their disappointing 2018-19 season. An idea that was echoed by AJ Haefele who covers the Avalanche for BSN Denver:
Things can always change but signs are pointing to Shane Bowers staying in school for his junior season.— AJ Haefele (@AJHaefele) March 24, 2019
This season wasn’t only a disappointing one for BU, but it was also a down year for Bowers personally. After scoring 17 goals and 32 points as a true freshman in 2017-18 - one point more than teammate and 4th overall pick Brady Tkachuk - Bowers was expected to take a big leap in his development and be one of the best players in Hockey East. Unfortunately, he took a step back.
In 37 games this season, Bowers recorded only 11 goals and 21 points and was relegated to a secondary role with the Terriers.
Though his NCAA season was a disappointment, Bowers surprised many when he made Canada’s World Junior team in December. He established himself as a dependable two-way center that was able to kill penalties and be relied upon to match up against the opposition's best line. That is likely the role Bowers will carve out for himself when he eventually does make it to the NHL.
That said, because of his responsible three-zone play, people forget how offensively gifted Bowers is. BU will have a very skilled freshman class led by 2019 draft eligible Trevor Zegras, Robert Mastrosimone and fellow Nova Scotian Ethan Phillips. So if he has a bounce back the way many suspect he will, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Bowers ends up near the top of the Hockey East scoring race next season.
A lot can change between now and the fall, but as of now Bowers is expected to return to BU and delay his jump into the Avalanche organization. He is still one of the team’s top prospects, but the hope is that he can have a bounce back year and re-establish himself as s true contender to grab a top-9 forward role in the 2020-21 season.