Fans of the Boston University Terriers were happy to see sophomore forward Shane Bowers back in the lineup Tuesday night against cross-town rival Harvard University. Bowers was participating in the World Junior Championship with Team Canada recently, but that wasn’t what had supporters and teammates alike worried. Instead, rumors had sprouted that Bowers could sign with his NHL rights holder, the Colorado Avalanche, or join his junior rights holder, the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs, after the WJC wrapped up. Instead, as the Providence Journal’s Mark Divver notes, he is back with BU for the remainder of the season.
Bowers, 19, was the 28th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft by the Ottawa Senators. As one of the core pieces of the Matt Duchene trade, Bowers was moved to Colorado last season. After an impressive freshman campaign with the Terriers, recording 32 points in 40 games on one of the most talent-laden teams in college hockey – Bowers led even Brady Tkachuk in scoring – there was some speculation that Bowers could sign with the Avalanche this off-season. Instead, he returned to BU for another year. So far, Bowers has just eight points in 15 games, but has displayed a more well-rounded two-way game. He also impressed for Canada at the WJC in a similar role, while adding a pair of assists in five games.
With the Avalanche struggling to find secondary scoring this season, rumblings began that perhaps the easiest way to inject energy and scoring into the lineup would be for GM Joe Sakic to get a head start on signing Bowers, who is expected to sign his entry-level contract after the NCAA season. Thus began the questioning of whether Bowers would return to BU for the remainder of the season after the WJC. That concern was compounded when the Voltigeurs acquired Bowers’ rights from the Saint John Sea Dogs late last month, a move often made with some inside information of an impending transition. In fact, the Voltigeurs simply saw the connection between Bowers and their own players, Maxime Comtois and Joe Veleno, in that all three were members of Team Canada at the recent tournament. They reportedly acquired Bowers’ rights in hopes of convincing him to continue playing with his fellow top Canadian prospects for the remainder of the season, and worked hard to do so, but apparently were not successful. Colorado also seems to have either not persuaded Bowers to leave school earlier or, as some rumors go, were never actually interested in such a move.
For now, Bowers will continue to star for the Terriers in hopes of winning a Beanpot Tournament and Hockey East title and making another NCAA Tournament. The young forward will soon be a pro, but seems content to makes the most of his remaining collegiate career. However, once the season comes to an end, expect Bowers (and Hockey East rival and future teammate, UMass defenseman Cale Makar) to join the Avalanche for the stretch run and postseason. It’s only a matter of time at this point.