With Tufto Gone, What’s Next?


Photo: Liz Flynn

Aiden Barrett

Odeen Tufto scored 167 points in a 4-year stretch with the Quinnipiac Bobcats which is good enough for seventh all time among Bobcats. Now with Tufto gone, Quinnipiac will look for new ways to win.

Tufto would have led the Bobcats in scoring with just assists alone. He finished second in the NCAA in points (47) and top 10 in the Hobey Baker Award race.

Although it was a career year from the Bobcat’s captain, he couldn’t have done it alone. In order to get those 39 assists, he would have needed someone to give the puck to. Scoring was not something the Bobcats team lacked.

Quinnipiac finished seventh in the nation in goals (100) and 12th in goals per game (3.45). The Bobcats had 3 players with 10+ goals and two players inside the top 10 in power play goals resulting in the seventh best power play unit.

A strong power play unit was a key to Quinnipiac’s success. First-year and Florida Panthers third-round draft pick (2020) Ty Smilanic scored six times on the man advantage trailing only junior Ethan de Jong who scored 8 times. The Bobcats power play also saw production on the back end from junior Zach Metsa who led the nation in scoring among defenseman with 26 points.

Outside of Tufto, de Jong was the only other Bobcat to finish top 20 in points. When de Jong was put on the top line with Tufto, his numbers soared. De Jong went from a depth scorer putting up numbers of seven goals and 11 assists in his 2019-2020 season campaign to putting up 14 goals and 15 assists. That was good enough for a point-per-game player and second on the team in scoring.

De Jong will occupy that first line right wing for the Bobcats next season. Now the question is who slides into that first line center role?

There’s a few ways Head Coach Rand Pecknold can go about this. He can move junior Skyler Brind’amour up from the second line into that second line center role. Or, maybe he will decide to add a little more of an offensive threat and put senior captain Wyatt Bongiovanni to play that first line center role. Pecknold does seem to feel comfortable with Brind’amour putting his line out there a number of times last season to play against the opposing team’s top line.

Another interesting decision Pecknold has to make is what to do with Smilanic. The 6’1” winger had a brilliant first season at Quinnipiac taking a top role with the Bobcats right from the get-go. It was clear from day one that Smilanic was going to be a big part of the present and the future for Quinnipiac. The speedy winger scored 14 goals as well as seven assists. A top six role looks like a likelihood again for the 19-year-old.

Losing a top center doesn’t just impact the top line, it impacts the whole team. That is why depth scoring will be vital in this upcoming season for the Bobcats.

Depending on what Pecknold decides to do at the center situation, sophomore Cristophe FIllion could be in for a bigger role for the Bobcats. The former Iowa Wild product showed a lot of potential in his rookie season finding the back of the net six times in a bottom six role.

Junior Gus Van Nes is another player who showed much promise. The redshirted sophomore scored two times, but his dynamic play making ability helped set him up for 13 helpers. The junior will look to feed off his strong play for a big junior season.

Losing a player like Tufto is never easy. His play making ability/production and locker room presence will be missed by the Quinnipiac team. But, with a good mix of a young/older core, the Bobcats should be in for a successful 2021-2022 season.