His College Career
For the average casual prospect observer, you’ll immediately notice a trend in Cotton’s stats when you look at how his career has played out at Boston College. Each year he’s managed to improve upon the previous one, showing a steady rate of growth offensively to add to his already solid defensive game.
As a rookie there in 2016-17, he stepped into a prominent role immediately. He posted 10 goals and 14 assists in 40 games, playing on a team that included a 2015 1st Round pick by Ottawa (Colin White) and also Matt Gaudreau, who’s the brother of a guy you may have heard of – Johnny Gaudreau.
Cotton took another step forward in 2017-18. With aforementioned teammates Colin White and Matt Gaudreau moving on from the program, Cotton was elevated into a bigger role, and he blossomed. Though he scored just 9 goals, he added 19 assists for a total of 28 points in 37 games, which was good for second place on the team.
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After a positive showing at the Carolina Hurricanes’ prospect development camp that got fans (myself included) buzzing and interested in Cotton’s potential future, there were high hopes surrounding Cotton’s junior season at Boston College – with many hockey people speculating that he could turn pro after the year, especially with another step forward in development.
Cotton didn’t just step. He leaped.
Last year, he scored 23 goals and 13 assists in 39 games, with his 0.59 goals per game ranking 4th in NCAA Division 1 hockey. Cotton was an absolute force to be reckoned with, and he started to play with a real swagger to his game. He knew he was on fire.
"“Once I got off to a hot start, I was riding a confidence high. And that confidence kind of took wind and just kind of kept going.” – David Cotton on his junior season."
For his spectacular showing in the season, Cotton was named to the All-Hockey East First Team, alongside now-NHL defenseman Cale Makar. From there, many expected Cotton to turn pro with the Hurricanes, as on the surface it looked like Cotton had little left to prove at the collegiate level and was ready to move on.
Cotton, though, had other ideas. He decided to return to Boston College for his senior season.
"“By no means was my decision about Carolina. My decision was solely based on my wanting to establish a legacy here at Boston College. Earlier I was elected captain and that’s a pretty select group, so that was the main reason” Cotton said about his decision."
Cotton being named the captain of the team and wanting to lead that team to the promised land after 3 tough seasons there swayed his decision to return. You have to respect the determination and commitment of the kid – he’s got real character to him, and has been warmly embraced by Boston College’s coach Jerry York, who raved about him:
"“I think he’s been on a major trajectory with his skill and hockey ability over the last couple of years. He had a chance to turn pro but he decided to come back and try to lead us back to where want to be. He looks stronger and more assertive. He’s our captain and I think he will be a major factor for us this season with his leadership ability. There’s a lot of upside for his long-term development.” – Boston College coach Jerry York on Cotton."
That quote was from before their season got underway and was obviously a glowing review, and it’s been one that Cotton has lived up to. He’s got 22 points (8 goals) in just 15 games thus far, leading his team in scoring and currently ranks tied for 5th in the entire NCAA in terms of points. He’s also led his team to an 11-4-0 record thus far, which is the best start they’ve had in any of Cotton’s 4 years with the program.
Look for Cotton to continue his torrid pace throughout the season, and a with a strong Boston College roster, he’ll have a chance to compete at the prestigious levels of NCAA hockey this year. But what Canes fans need to be most worried about is what happens after his final collegiate season.