Nothing official from the National Hockey League Boston Bruins as of yet, but Mark Divver and the ECHL Transactions Page are reporting that the B’s have assigned two players to the third tier of professional hockey in North America. Forward Matt Filipe and Goaltender Kyle Keyser are heading south to join the ECHL Jacksonville IceMen as the “AA” minor-pro league gets set to kick off the 2020-21 regular season on December 12th, 2020.
Filipe, a 6′-2″ 198-pound center/left-wing, signed a two-year entry-level contract on August 16th, 2020, after a successful collegiate career at Northeastern University. Originally drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft after the Lynnfield, Massachusetts native had a good year playing in the United States Hockey League for Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. In one year with the USHL Cedar Rapid club, Filipe posted 19-17-36 numbers in 56 games during the 2015-16 regular season campaign. With Northeastern in the NCAA, Matt played all four seasons in Boston, posting 31-44–75 totals. This opportunity with Jacksonville in the ECHL will be his first North American pro hockey action.
The 22-year-old Filipe has earned some impressive hardware before being signed professionally. He’s an NCAA Hockey East Champion in the 2018-19 season and helped the Huskies earn three consecutive Beanpot Tournament championships before graduating and signing a pro contract.
Keyser, an undrafted goaltender, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins on October 3rd, 2017. Kyle spent a little time with the Ontario Hockey Leagues Flint Firebirds but spent most of his Canadian Junior career with the Oshawa Generals playing alongside current Bruins prospect forward Jack Studnicka.
In three seasons with the Oshawa club, Keyser played well, posting a 67-30-0 record accompanied by a 3.10 goals-against-average and a .903 save percentage. In his last season with the Generals, he was one of the best goaltenders in the OHL that year (2018-19), earning a record of 32-8-0, a 2.75 GAA, and .915 Save%. Although he posted impressive numbers in his last year in the OHL, he also suffered two concussions that year and seemingly couldn’t shake the bad luck with the upper-body injuries when he officially turned pro.
His first pro game came in the spring of 2019 for the American Hockey League Providence Bruins when he was thrown into action in a Calder Cup Playoff game, losing the contest 4-1, which ended the series to the eventual AHL Calder Cup Champions in the first round best of five. Keyser’s next action would come in the 2019-20 season for the top minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins and his season, unfortunately, came to a screeching halt when he suffered his third concussion in the same year after posting a 1-4-2 record with Providence.
With pretty much a whole year of rest, I can see Keyser having a serious bounce-back season in his development to help his new Jacksonville Icemen club stand firm in the crease. Kyle is still a work-in-progress, but I believe he still possesses the skills to be an NHL player someday but also an important member of the goaltending depth of this Boston Bruins organization.