By: Dominic Tiano | Follow me on Twitter @dominictiano
While we still have to complete the 2021-2022 regular season and playoffs, there is no denying that Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and Assistant General Manager Evan Gold are looking to revamp their AHL affiliate roster, the Providence Bruins.
Let’s start with the defense. Like the Six Million Dollar Man, they are bigger, stronger, and faster. They signed Michael Callahan to an NHL contract beginning next season but will finish out this season with Providence on an ATO after acquiring his rights from the Arizona Coyotes for a fourth-round draft pick in 2024. They signed Grant Gabriele and Jacob Wilson to AHL contracts. They extended Josiah Didier for next season on an AHL deal. And they traded away Brady Lyle for future considerations to make room.
There is also J.D. Greenway and how he will fit into the picture as he only got 13 games in with Providence this season. And, of course, we are awaiting word on whether Mason Lohrei decides to turn professional or return to college for a second season.
Jack Ahcan becomes a restricted free agent on July 1, 2022, and it will be tough for him to find a roster spot with the big club because he is waiver exempt and is likely headed for Providence. Nick Wolff is also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights. I’ll be honest, there may not be any room at the Inn in Providence either, and I will be curious to see if the Bruins give him his qualifying offer.
Kodie Curran, acquired from the Anaheim Ducks in the Hampus Lindholm trade, becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1, as does Tyler Lewington. Curran is on a one-way deal that pays him $1 million in the AHL, which is pricey. Lewington is on a two-way contract that pays him $350,000 in the AHL, and that too is pricey.
In the crease, Kyle Keyser is a restricted free agent come July 1, 2022. Troy Grosenick is an unrestricted free agent making $350,000 on a two-way contract. Callum Booth becomes a Group 6 unrestricted free agent on July 1 and may look for a better opportunity elsewhere. It may be worth keeping him around to play for Maine in the ECHL for a body. There is definitely a hole in the blue paint, or shall I say there was, as the Bruins announced last Wednesday, they have signed NCAA free agent goaltender Brandon Bussi to a one-year entry-level contract that will take effect next season. Bussi also signed an ATO to finish out this season with Providence.
Upfront is where it really gets interesting. Unless Boston can trade Chris Wagner, he will likely be “buried” back in Providence for cap space. Jack Studnicka and Oskar Steen are both restricted free agents on July 1, 2022, and both will no longer be waiver exempt should the Bruins try to send them down to Providence, so it is likely the Bruins will try to find them a home on the NHL roster or move them in deals.
And, of course, there is the Bruins top prospect Fabian Lysell currently with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. He should be Providence-bound for next season.
On expiring NHL deals and set to become unrestricted free agents are Steve Fogarty and Jesper Froden. On expiring NHL contracts set to become restricted free agents are: Joona Koppanen and Matt Filipe. On AHL contracts set to become unrestricted on July 1 are Ian McKinnon and Eduards Tralmaks.
The one player of interest is Cameron Hughes, who, like Booth, is set to become a Group 6 free agent on July 1. Hughes put up good numbers this season, and it will be interesting to see what he decides to do.
Jakub Lauko is returning and under an NHL contract for next season, as is Curtis Hall. The Bruins signed college free agent Marc McLaughlin, and he will likely get every opportunity to center the top line in Providence. There is also John Beecher, expected to sign his contract very shortly.
There are going to be holes to fill up front as well, and the Bruins are looking to fill another spot with NCAA free agents. If not there, then there will be some “overaged” players available after the Entry Draft they can look towards.
It’s already beginning to look like a different team and will look more different by October.