By: Spencer Fascetta Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey
Last week, I started my 2017-18 Bruins’ prospect pyramid project (say that 5 times fast…) with a resounding bang. You can find Part 1 here. Granted, the bang was literally a piece only on Charlie McAvoy (spoilers!), but I digress. For Tier 2, I looked at players who don’t project as the elite game-breaker that McAvoy does, but still have the potential to be above average to good NHL players one day. As there are significantly more of them, I scaled back the analysis a bit. I hope you enjoy, and, again, I look forward to your feedback!
LW/C Anders Bjork, Notre Dame University (NCAA)
Acquired: 2014 NHL Draft (5th Round, 146th Overall)
2016-17 Season Stats: 39 GP, 21 G, 31 A, 52 P, 16 PIM
NHL Projection: Offensively Dynamic Top 6 Winger
NHL Comparable: Dylan Larkin
NHL ETA: 2017-18
Bjork is the most likely of this second group to make his NHL debut this season. In fact, I currently have him projected as a winger in the Top 9. The 2014 5th Round Pick absolutely shredded the NCAA this season, and is blazingly fast, both on his feet and with his hands. I see a lot of Detroit’s Dylan Larkin in Bjork – the USNTDP roots withstanding, both make plays with their feet consistently. I see Bjork developing into a consistent offensive threat for the B’s Top 6 in a few years.
LW/RW Peter Cehlarik, Providence Bruins (AHL)
Acquired: 2013 NHL Draft (3rd Round, 90th Overall)
2016-17 Season Stats: 49 GP, 20 G, 18 A, 38 P, 20 PIM
NHL Projection: Top 6 Two-Way Winger
NHL Comparable: Anze Kopitar
NHL ETA: 2017-18
Cehlarik showed tremendous chemistry in limited time with David Krejci and David Pastrnak this past season and has been a consistent producer at the AHL level for the past two years. He is a versatile winger (able to play both sides proficiently) who has elite Hockey IQ. He doesn’t have the quickest release, he’s not the fastest skater, but he is good in most aspects of the game. He is NOT going to be Anze Kopitar. The style of play, however, is eerily similar. Expect Cehlarik to spend more time in Boston this year than Providence.
C Ryan Donato, Harvard University (NCAA)
Acquired: 2014 NHL Draft (2nd Round, 56th Overall)
2016-17 Season Stats: 36 G, 21 G, 19 A, 40 P, 25 PIM
NHL Projection: 2nd Line Playmaking Center
NHL Comparable: Ryan Spooner
NHL ETA: 2019-20
Don’t let the Ryan Spooner comparison scare you. Donato is significantly more responsible in his own end than Spooner, and his compete level is off the charts. He averaged more than 5 shots a game this past season for Harvard, a ridiculous clip for a player more known for his ability to dish the puck than rip it. He will be able to run a power play at the NHL level with pinpoint accuracy and is an ideal replacement for David Krejci down the line. One could even say Donato is the David Krejci to JFK’s Patrice Bergeron. He won’t leave school early-who would, he’s getting an Ivy League education, and his father is his head coach-but he will likely need minimal seasoning in Providence once he graduates.
C Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Boston University (NCAA)
Acquired: 2015 NHL Draft (2nd Round, 45th Overall)
2016-17 Season Stats: 39 GP, 14 G, 19 A, 33 P, 32 PIM
NHL Projection: 2nd/3rd Line Two-Way Center
NHL Comparable: Frans Nielsen (Detroit)
NHL ETA: 2017-18
For JFK, I look back to another Detroit centerman in Frans Nielsen. In his prime, Nielsen was quite productive offensively, and although his offensive production has dipped in the last year or two, he is still on of the elite defensive forwards in the entire league. I think the Bergeron comparisons are a bit far-fetched, but JFK is tremendously mature and poised for his age. He plays an excellent two-way game and has the ability to dazzle offensively when he wants to. Because of his defensive game, I think he could make an appearance at some point this year in the Bruins’ lineup, especially considering the lack of dynamic center prospects in the pipeline for Boston.
RW Zach Senyshyn, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Acquired: 2015 NHL Draft (1st Round, 15th Overall)
2016-17 Season Stats: 59 GP, 42 G, 23 A, 65 P, 31 PIM
NHL Projection: Top 6 Scoring Winger
NHL Comparable: Phil Kessel
NHL ETA: 2018-19
All Senyshyn does is score. He is a burner, and the release he carries on his shot is easily one of the best in the Bruins’ system. While he isn’t as dynamic of a shooter as Kessel was coming out of college, he still flashes that speed and releases needed to become an elite goal scorer at the next level. He will need to work on his defensive game a bit, and the lack of assists is a little concerning, but I think that is a matter of circumstance rather than ability. He will make his pro debut this season and is likely to spend the majority of the season as a go-to scorer in Providence.
C/RW Oskar Steen, Farjestad BK (SHL)
Acquired: 2016 NHL Draft (6th Round, 165th Overall)
2016-17 Season Stats: 47 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 P, 8 PIM
NHL Projection: Speedy Top 6 Sniping Winger
NHL Comparable: Cam Atkinson (Columbus)
NHL ETA: 2020-21
Steen is small, shifty, and one of the most dynamic players in his age group. He dazzled his offensive ability at the World Junior Summer Showcase this summer in Plymouth, Michigan, and is talented enough to have spent the entire season with Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League. Not the junior league, the men’s league, often considered the 3rd best in the world after the NHL and KHL. Steen will probably have to add a little muscle to his frame, and his defensive game needs a bit of work, but the offensive upside that he presents is too great to ignore. He looks like an absolute steal in the 6th Round of the 2016 draft, and hopefully, he continues along his current developmental path.
D Jeremy Lauzon, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL)
Acquired: 2015 NHL Draft (2nd Round, 52nd Overall)
2016-17 Season Stats: 39 GP, 5 G, 23 A, 28 P, 50 PIM
NHL Projection: 2nd Pairing Offensive Defenseman
NHL Comparable: Dennis Wideman
NHL ETA: 2018-19
Lauzon is an offensively gifted d-man with a penchant for the nasty. He is more than willing to mix it up physically and throw his weight around when necessary. He has shown a steady progression trend since his draft year, as he has slowly been able to fill out what was a wirey frame just two years ago. He looked impressive on a good Canadian WJC squad in the winter and should make his pro-debut this season with Providence. He is probably a year or two away from making an impact at the NHL level, as he needs to work on his decision making in all 3 zones, and his discipline can go awry from time to time. Regardless, I see him as an impact Top 4 d-man on this roster, and as a perfect complement to someone like fellow 2015 2nd Rounder Brandon Carlo in the future.
All Statistics courtesy of EliteProspects.com
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