By: Dom Tiano | Follow me on Twitter @dominictiano
On Wednesday morning, Slovakia upset the United States 3-2 in the quarter-finals and moved onto the semi-finals with a matchup against Finland at the Winter Olympics. Peter Cehlarik did not score in regulation or overtime, but he notched the only goal in the shootout to send the Slovaks to victory. Cehlarik managed 20:59 TOI through the end of overtime, second-most among Slovak forwards.
On Friday morning, the Finns blanked the Slovaks 2-0. Cehlarik was obviously held off the scoresheet, and he finished third among Slovak forwards in TOI. The loss puts Slovakia in the Bronze medal game against Sweden, who lost 2-1 to Russia, so Cehlarik still had a chance at an Olympic medal.
On Saturday, the Slovaks shutout Sweden 4-0 to capture its first-ever men’s hockey medal at the Olympics. Up 2-0 in the third and Sweden trying to mount a comeback, Cehlarik took a rather silly penalty for closing his hand on the puck. His teammates bailed him out. He then had two breakaways to try and seal the deal for the Slovaks but could not convert. The Slovaks would score two empty netters to secure the bronze medal.
I will say this about Cehlarik: He emerged as a vet and leader of his squad, and it helped form a bond and some teaching moments and a genuine happiness for Juraj Slafkovsky (watch him for the 2022 draft) which was clearly evident. Cehlarik assisted on his first goal and finished the Olympics with two goals and two assists in 7 games.
I’m not sure Cehlarik did enough to draw interest around the NHL. Now he will get a week off and head straight to the KHL playoffs, just before the NHL trade deadline.
Many people like to focus on the top picks of the draft, but the Bruins, over the last three drafts, at least to this point, have found some players in the later rounds. Ryan Mast (6th round in 2021), Andre Gasseau and Ty Gallagher (7th round in 2021), Mason Langenbrunner (5th round in 2020), Riley Duran (6th round in 2020), Matias Mantykivi (6th round in 2019), and Jake Schmaltz (7th round in 2019), have almost all exceeded expectations. You could even look at Oskar Jellvik (5th round in 2021) and ask yourself: did anyone see this type of production?
Are they potential top-of-the-lineup players? No, certainly not. But you need all types of players, especially in a salary cap world, to build a successful team, and the Bruins are certainly tracking in the right direction there. The bottom half of the lineup is trending well; it’s the top half where work needs to be done. Fabian Lysell and Mason Lohrei are trending there, but years of picking later in rounds and trading away picks and prospects in order to remain a contender is rearing its ugly head, and it’s time to pay the piper. The next two drafts are essential for Don Sweeney and his scouting staff.
After two partial seasons in the SM-Liiga, Mantykivi (who just returned from injury) is having a breakout year with Ilves Tampere. He has nine goals and 15 assists in 39 games, and while those are great numbers, you can’t overlook his plus-14. He projects as a third-liner who can not only put up some points but you can depend on to be solid defensively. His size isn’t great, but his skating, work ethic, and reliable two-way game makes him a bet for the NHL at this point. He has one year remaining on his contract with Ilves, and I expect him to come to North America after it expires; however, the Bruins could work out a deal to bring him over sooner and begin his acclimation to North America.
Mast also just returned from an injury missing a month with what looked like an ugly injury at the time, and many thought was done for the season. His Sarnia Sting are just a different team with him in the lineup. He’s a shut-down defenceman who can “play like a prick” with the size to go with it. But he’s also putting up points at the OHL level and is averaging just a hair over half a point per game. Mast tries to model his game after Brandon Carlo. He plays the PP and the PK for the Sting and logs hard minutes against the opposition’s best. I’ve asked around hockey circles at this level, and they all have the same question I have repeatedly asked myself: How does his offense translate to the NHL? He projects as a bottom pairing shut-down defenceman.
If you’ve been reading here every Monday, then you know Jellvik quickly became a favorite of mine. While he put up very good numbers in the J20 Nationell in Sweden with 11 goals and 14 assists in 23 games, he’s taken that to another level in the J20 Nationell Top-10, the best competition in the country in his age group. He currently has ten goals and eight assists in 12 games. Jellvik is heading to Boston College and the NCAA next season, where he will get some much-needed development. For now, Jellvik projects as a third-line winger (who can play center as well). His development at Boston College could propel him higher, but only time will tell.
Many of us thought that when the Bruins drafted Langenbrunner in the 5th round in 2020 that they were keeping it in the family with his dad being Jamie Langenbrunner. The Bruins selected him with the 151st pick while he was ranked 131st by NHL Central Scouting. At this point in the season, it may be safe to say that he has been the biggest surprise among all the prospects. He is second among Fargo Force blueliners in scoring with two goals and 12 assists in 40 games. He plays in all situations and can play big minutes. If I have one complaint, I would like to see him shoot more because he does have a good shot. But with just 25 shots in 40 games, the fewest among Fargo Force defencemen. The Force aren’t a very good team, but here’s the stat that should stand out the most: Langenbrunner is a plus-5 on a squad that is minus-22 collectively. He’s heading to Harvard University next season, and the NCAA is a good spot for Langenbrunner to further develop.
His teammate in Fargo is Gasseau, who is quickly developing into a 6’4, 209-pound power forward who can play the wing or down the middle. After spending last season with the USNTDP, Gasseau is experiencing a breakout season with 13 goals and 12 assists in 39 games, good enough for third with the Force. He only has 18 minutes in penalties, which means he plays the game the right way. Like Langenbrunner, he plays in any situation for the Force. He’s a clutch goal scorer and is among the team leaders in powerplay goals, game-winning goals, first goals, insurance goals, and short-handed points. He’s headed to Boston College next season to further his development.
If you’re not in agreement that Langenbrunner has been the most surprising to this point, then how about Gallagher? He’s the top-scoring freshman with Boston University, second in defensemen scoring, and sixth on his team. He’s putting up points as consistently possible. He’s only had one prolonged stretch of 5 games going without a point, and you can’t ask for more than that. On the other side of the puck, it’s a game in progress, but you have to be impressed with his puck retrieval and his ability to quickly transition to offense. It’s expected of the modern-day blueliner, and Gallagher is excelling. He has #4 defenceman capabilities at this point, and that’s a great find in a 7th round pick.
In other important news, the IIHF announced that the World Junior Championships will take place after the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup in August. The Hlinka-Gretzky Cup isn’t sanctioned by the IIHF, and rest assured Hockey Canada would have been upset had they scheduled the WJC at the same time. The tournament that was canceled because of Covid-19 will begin all over, meaning the games that took place in December don’t mean anything. And the countries will be allowed to pick new teams.
Lysell will be a lock for Team Sweden if he chooses to attend. I would imagine that Jellvik gets a longer look this time around than he did back in December, but it’s a long shot. I doubt that players will not want to opt-out and opening the door for others, but it is possible.
For Team Canada, Brett Harrison is a longshot to make this squad. He stands a chance for 2023. For Team USA, Gasseau, Langenbrunner, Gallagher, and Mast are all eligible but are also longshots. Like Harrison, they all stand a better chance for the 2023 tournament.
Providence Bruins Player Stats
Providence Bruins Goalie Stats
Maine Mariners Stats
Coming up this week:
For Cehlarik, his KHL Playoff schedule begins March 2, 2022. Roman Bychkov and his Amur squad missed the playoffs.
|ARNESSON||Vs SKE||At MAL||Vs BRY|
|MANTYKIVI||At TPS||Vs KOO||At TAP||At IFK|
|GASSEAU||At LIN||At OMA||At OMA|
|LANGENBRUNNER||At LIN||At OMA||At OMA|
|KUNTAR||At B U||At B U|
|BEECHER||At N D||At N D|
|BECKER||At ALA||At ALA|
|SCHMALTZ||At W M||At W M|
|DURAN||At MAI||At MAI|
|OLSON||At St C||At MIA||At MIA|
|MCFAUL||Vs. YAL||Vs. BRN|
|GALLAGHER||At B C||Vs. B C|
|HARRISON||Vs. NIA||At PBO||At KGN||Vs KGN|
|MAST||Vs FLT||Vs. FLT||At FLT||At WSR|
|LYSELL||Vs. VIC||Vs. VIC||At VIC|
|SVEDEBACK||At WAT||Vs. YNG||Vs. YNG|
AROUND THE GLOBE
Since almost the beginning of the season, I have been telling Bruins fans to keep tabs on Jellvik of Djurgardens IF. And the more I watched, the more impressive he was. He entered the week on a 2-game point streak with two goals and three assists. On Wednesday, he scored twice in a 7-2 thumping of Mora IK. On Saturday, they took on Orebro at home. They closed out the week at home on Sunday against Vasteras IK where he had a goal and an assist. He is now second in the J20 Nationell Top-10 in goals, assists, and points and has led his team to the top spot in the standings.
Lysell ended a 3-game pointless streak on February 11, 2022, and since then has scored four goals and two assists in 4 games. It’s no secret that Lysell is carrying his Vancouver Giants on his back. The great news about Lysell is he can play in Providence next season and even get a look with the big club, and if he doesn’t play in 10 games with the Big Bruins, his contract will slide for another year, and that means three seasons of him in the NHL on an entry-level contract.
Langenbrunner has five assists in his last seven games.
Gasseau has three goals and five assists in his last 11 games.
Trevor Kuntar has four goals and three assists in his last ten games.
Jack Becker has one goal and five assists in his last seven games. The Bruins would need to sign Becker to a deal this summer, or he becomes an unrestricted free agent on August 15, 2022.
Schmaltz put up two assists Friday against Minnesota Duluth but was held off the scoresheet in the rematch on Saturday.
Quinn Olson has three goals and six assists in his last 11 games and remains second in scoring for his Minnesota-Duluth team.
I’m a broken record here, but Linus Arnesson is pointless in 16 games now. The Bruins will see the rights to the 60th overall pick in 2013 expire this summer. I can’t see him signing an NHL deal with Boston, nor do I see a contract offer heading his way.
After putting up five goals and five assists in 8 games, Duran has gone cold and is currently riding a 6-game pointless streak. Duran is a freshman being moved up, and down the lineup, so it’s not surprising. Next season will be more of an indication for him.
Harrison has just two goals in his last 17 games. He has nine assists in that same time span, but more is needed from a goal scorer.
I am inserting this chart for the first time in a while because I believe there has been some movement here for a variety of reasons I won’t get into at this point. This chart represents what I believe the chances of a prospect one day playing for the Bruins on a scale from zero to five. It does not represent their chances of playing in the NHL. Many factors come into play here, especially the current Bruins roster in both Boston and Providence and where they rank in the prospect pool. It could be that there are just too many bodies to beat out to make the Boston roster.