When the Nashville Predators drafted Boston University’s Patrick Harper in the fifth round of the 2016 draft, some questioned how the 5-foot-7 centerman figured into the franchise's future plans.
Harper spent his last four years with the Terriers, but he’s no stranger to Nashville. He has participated several times in the Predators development camp at Centennial Sportsplex, and already has a familiarity with several of the Predators’ trainers, coaches and front office staff.
“I think the Predators really take a lot of pride in their development camps,” Harper said. “They do a really good job with players that come to camp. With that being said, there’s a lot of little teaching points that they do… Just by going to those camps, I’ve gained a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge and I really tried to integrate a lot of the things they talked to me about and it seemed to pay off.”
After signing a two-year, entry-level contract last week, Harper is now free to join the Predators after the premature ending of the college hockey season.
While he is leaving behind a fellow Predators prospect in BU teammate David Farrance, he will be joining another former teammate in current Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro. The duo played together for three seasons from 2016-2018 until Fabbro signed with Nashville last year.
“I think having Dante already on the Predators really helps with the familiarity and comfort level being down there,” Harper continued. “Being with this organization for a while now, just knowing all the staff definitely helps make the transition smoother.”
Along the way, Harper gained valuable international experience with the U.S. Men’s National Development Team and Team USA’s U20 World Junior Championship team.
While it’s not NHL-level competition, Harper also credits his four years at BU for preparing him for the next step in his professional career. The Terriers went 75-57-19 in Harper’s four years, winning the Hockey East championship in 2018 and making two NCAA Tournament appearances.
Harper battled injury during his sophomore season, but his freshman year (13 goals, 37 points) and senior year (14 goals, 37 points) showcased the offensive potential that led the Predators to grab him in the fifth round. He finished his college career with 41 goals and 115 points in 128 games.
Harper set career highs in goals and points this year as he was named to the Hockey East third team. Harper ranked 15th among all NCAA skaters in points per game (1.16) and ranked in the top 25 in the NCAA in both points (18th) and assists (23rd).
“When you choose to go to a program like BU, you choose to put yourself on a big stage,” Harper said. “When you’re on a big stage, you want to perform, and you want to get comfortable playing under pressure and playing with all those eyes on you. So, I think that type of pressure and that type of lens on you is something that could help you translate to the next level well.
“The coaches do a great job in helping prepare players and using them in spots where their skill sets shine the most. BU has been a huge part of my career and a huge steppingstone to signing my first NHL deal. I wouldn’t be here without them.”