By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277
Another Boston Bruins Development Camp has come and gone at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. Thirty-five players were invited and hit the Warrior Ice sheet for this year’s five-day camp duration. 20 forwards, 12 defensemen, and four goaltenders put their heart and soul out on the ice to show the NHL Bruins brass their skill set and competition level.
Out of that 36-player list were six invited members to round out the roster and get continued looks from the Bruins scouting staff to possibly be on the team’s radar for future work with the NHL club or minor-pro affiliates. I’ve covered these summer festivities since 2016, and this is the first time for me at least to see a Bruins development camp last five days.
Two of the Boston Bruins most coveted prospects in the pipeline, defenseman Mason Lohrei and forward Fabian Lysell, did not participate in this year’s camp. Even though the 6′-4″ 194-pound Lohrei attended this year’s camp, he did not see any ice time throughout the week due to him recovering from off-season knee surgery.
Lohrei was at camp to work with the trainers as he continues to recover but was also there as a second-year member to support the first-year Bruins prospects and invited players alike. You can get a good character feeling with Mason, especially on the last day of camp on the bench, cheering his teammates on and having fun next to the lucky water boy by his side.
It’s great to hear below in the official Bruins tweet that he’ll start skating again in a few weeks as he continues to rehab and prepare for his sophomore year at Ohio State University. Last season and freshman year at OSU, the former second-round pick in 2020 posted 4-25-29 numbers in 31 games. Previously with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, Lohrei had a monster year posting 19-40-59 in 48 games. Both Mason’s last year in the USHL and his freshman year at OSU, Mason was highly honored by both leagues when talking about his defensive accolades.
Lysell, on the other hand, did not participate due to his upcoming preparation for the 2022 World Junior Tournament with his native Sweden country. The WJC-U20 tournament is set to return 24 days from now and hopefully get back to normal after the original tournament earlier this year was canceled due to the ongoing pandemic. Fabian had a tremendous first year of North American hockey last season with the WHL Vancouver Giants. The 5′-10″ 176-pound right winger was a standout on a pretty average Giants team but a Canadian Junior club that deserves recognition for grinding out the end of the year to make the playoffs and second-round appearance.
I’d expect Lysell’s WHL career is one and done, and he’ll most likely head to the AHL Providence Bruins for continued development and his first North American professional experience. A bit undersized, but with his time in a Vancouver Giants jersey, his physicality and willingness to not back down was certainly there for a smaller player, and that part of the game was precisely why placement in the Western League might be a genius idea for both player and NHL organization.
In Providence, Lysell will get the experience needed to play against a wide range of opponents’ ages and physical body structures. The AHL has always been a tough league to play in when adjusting to the pro levels, but it’s one of the best leagues to learn even more about the game and how smaller the ice can feel, and how quick your decision-making abilities have to be better as a player grows. Solid work in progress in Lysell and should prove to be a future piece in this NHL organization but also needs to develop properly.
I know that last part will not sit well with many, but it’s necessary to be patient with some higher-ranked prospects in these league’s pipelines. Anyways, enough of me babbling on about the top two Bruins prospects, onto who impressed me during the entire week of the 2022 development camp.
2022 Boston Bruins Development Camp Standouts
The 6′-3″ 209-pound New York native made his third appearance at the Bruins development camp festivities and put on a show all week. This week, his size, speed, and NHL release were on full display. I thought his one-on-one puck possession was on par for the centerman about to enter his first full season of AHL action with the Providence Bruins in 2022-23. John was strong in puck battles and, when he had the open ice was quick with his decision-making, either with a shot or a crisp pass to a trailing teammate. His stride and gap creation were on par this week as he powered through most participating members. Beecher is a natural center but can play the left wing if needed.
Beecher signed his entry-level contract in May of 2022, officially ending his NCAA career with the University of Michigan after his junior season. In the NCAA with the Wolverines under the guidance of legendary head coach Mel Pearson, the former 2019 first-round pick (30th Overall) posted 19-20-39 numbers in 81 games. With the Providence Bruins this past season, he appeared in his first nine professional games in the AHL and contributed 3-2-5 numbers. The 21-year-old Beecher should do well next season as he continues to work with the Providence coaching staff led by Head Coach Ryan Mougenel and Assistants Trent Whitfield and Matt Thomas.
He is another player that I was excited to see because he comes completely as advertised. He’s a speedy, intelligent player who’s an excellent puck handler in tight quarters. At 5′-11″ and 174-pounds, Oskar’s smaller stature makes him a shifty player and hard to defend. His break-out speed and three-zone transitional play make him a valued asset in the prospect depths. Jellvik had a monster year overseas playing for the Djurgardens team in the J20 Nationell league posting 26-29-55 numbers in 41 games.
Oskar is good on his edges and has solid agility for a smaller player. He’ll attend Boston College next season and get his dose of playing time in North America in the NCAA under new BC Eagles Head Coach Greg Brown. Although the NCAA’s rinks may be smaller here in the states, I believe Jellvik has the IQ to make quick adjustments to his game during his freshman year. As long as he shows well, I think the Swede will earn the trust of Brown and staff to earn significant minutes in all types of situations. With Jellvik’s speed and skill alone, he has the potential to be a threat on the man advantage and penalty kill with his strong forechecking ability.
The 19-year-old Jellvik will join fellow Boston Bruins prospects, and former USHL Fargo Force forward Andre Gasseau at Boston College next season, along with Bruins 2020 NHL draft pick Trevor Kuntar who’ll be entering his junior season with the NCAA Eagles. I often think of a badass line of Gasseau, Jellvik, and Kuntar would be if it could ever work out, but that’s tough when they’re all left-shooting forwards who play up the middle and versatile to the left side.
Another one of my favorites this week just for the creativity factor of his game. Explosive speed north and south and relatively agile for another player under six feet tall. Merkulov reminds me of former Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel in a weird sense. Not for Phil’s overall lack of foot speed but his shooting capabilities in stride and ability to toe drag enough for the opponent to open some space and release one on the net.
Georgi is a very intelligent player and reads all three zones very well. What he needs to continue working on in his development is his two-way game, but that’s something that he can work on with another year in Providence. Another player that can stick handle in a phone booth and a solid grab from Boston Bruins scouting, who happen to be in the mid-west already looking at defensive prospect Mason Lohrei.
Last season with Ohio State, the 21-year-old center/left wing and Russian native posted 20-14-34 numbers in 36 games for the Buckeyes in his freshman year, and the Bruins came calling with a contract. In March 2022, the Bruins signed Merkulov to a three-year entry-level contract. After his commitment was over with Ohio State, Merkulov got a cup of coffee with the Bruins top minor-pro affiliate, the Providence Bruins. In eight AHL games this past season, Georgi contributed 1-4-5 numbers in eight games played.
The first Boston Bruins selection in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft went in the second round after not having a first-round selection in the draft at the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal. When the B’s had the floor at the annual draft on day two, they selected OHL Guelph Storm forward Matthew Poitras. As I didn’t know too much about the 5′-11″ 176-pound Ontario, Canada native, some research was needed, and it was good to see his skill set all week at development camp as a new Bruins organizational member.
Matthew has some quick feet and is a bit of a bulldog for his size. He has good offensive capabilities and that raw and trainable skill set that can be coached with another year of OHL eligibility, returning to Guelph for the upcoming year and later pro levels. Last season in technically his rookie year with the OHL Storm, Poitras posted 21-29-50 numbers. Matthew’s original rookie year was set to be the 2021-21 campaign, but the pandemic was too much to handle for the OHL, shutting all operations down for a full season.
Poitras is an energetic player with a decent pair of hands and speed. Fine-tuning everything into a consistent NHL player will be challenging for the young forward. His character is off the charts, and always smiling but serious when on the ice during gameplay and training sessions, like last week when he was a sponge during his first ever Bruins Development Camp.
As a former sixth-round selection at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, this was Boston Bruins defensive prospect Ryan Mast’s second successful B’s development camp. The 6′-4″ 212-pound blueliner completed his second full season of OHL hockey for the Sarnia Sting. In 2021-22 and after a full season off due to the pandemic, Mast posted 9-22-31 numbers in 59 games, tripling his offensive production from his OHL rookie season in 2019-20 when he had 11 points in 58 games.
I think Ryan took a huge step forward this year in his effort at Development Camp. As a bigger defenseman who continues to develop his second year around Player Development Coordinator Adam McQuaid, last week was amazing to watch last week. Both prospect and former NHL blueliner weren’t far when both needed to get together for advice or when the young defenseman had training questions. McQuaid was very supportive of everyone in attendance last week, but his work with the D-Core was certainly noticed, and the communication between Professor and Student is something that’s going to be beneficial to the developing player and future organizational placement.
Like Mike Dunham’s addition to the goaltending coaching staff, McQuaid’s insertion onto the player development staff has been important to identify sacrificing the body and how to be difficult to play against. Mast already has the size that the Bruins are certainly interested in investing in, as the NHL organization signed the 19-year-old to a three-year, entry-level contract shortly after the five-day development camp festivities ended on Friday with short and full ice scrimmages.
Another positive in Ryan’s development is knowing he’s locked up to an entry-level deal and using that as a motivating factor. I believe Ryan will play his last season in the OHL for Sarnia during the upcoming year, but his placement when he’s 20-year-old is going to be a welcoming factor to an AHL Providence Bruins team for at least a full season. Mast, in my opinion, has tremendous upside and could be that future Bruins defenseman to seamlessly fit into the role left behind by current NHL blueliner Brandon Carlo if, in fact, the former Colorado native and 2015 second-round NHL Entry Draft selection.
Before I start, I want to give honorable mention to all 2022 Boston Bruins development camp netminders in attendance last week at the Warrior Ice Arena. 2022 sixth-round selection Reid Dyck out of the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos, I thought, did well in his first Bruins dev camp. 2021 fourth-round selection Philip Svedeback who recently played in the USHL with the Dubuque Fighting Saints and committed to NCAA Providence College in 2022-23, was on par last week. Development Camp invite and University of Vermont netminder Gabriel Carriere who saw a ton of rubber in his first Bruins dev camp, definitely did a good job and should garner future looks if his services are needed in the future after his NCAA commitment with Vermont is over.
The one goaltender at Development camp last week that stood out to me the most was recently signed NCAA free agent Brandon Bussi. The 6′-5″ 209-pound 24-year-old was signed to a one-year entry-level contract after Brandon’s commitment was over at Western Michigan. Brandon’s size was certainly on display with a mixed age of talent at dev camp. The New York native played well in his time on an Amateur Try-Out at the end of the AHL Providence Bruins 2021-22 season. The big athletic netminder won his first three professional AHL games to start his pro career and ended the regular season with a 3-2-0, a 2.54 goals-against-average, a .920 save percentage, and one shutout for good measure.
Bussi was one of the best goaltenders in attendance last week when it comes to lateral post-to-post desperation slides and positioning for a bigger netminder. From what I saw in the five-day duration of the camp is, Bussi positions himself mid-crease using his size without the aggressiveness of coming out of the blue to cut angles down. The Boston Bruins goaltending coaching tandem of Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham have seemingly worked together to be one of the best netminding staff in the NHL. Goalie Bob stays with the NHL club during the regular season and hopeful postseason while assistant and fellow former NHL’er Dunham travels around spreading the message of proper training and a balanced diet as a developing netminder.
McLaughlin is a sneakingly good free agent signing out of Boston College, where he served as team captain in his final two NCAA seasons. The 6′-0″ 205-pound 22-year-old right-shooting center was signed to a two-year entry-level contract in March of 2022 after his commitment with BC was over. During the 2021-22 hockey season, the Massachusetts native played in 33 games for Boston College, posting 21-11-32 numbers in 33 games, appeared in 11 games for the NHL Bruins, scoring three goals, and even got in one appearance for the AHL Providence Bruins going scoreless.
At last week’s development camp, McLaughlin’s skill set was impressive to watch in individual on-ice training sessions and short ice three-on-three games. Marc possesses a fast game with solid body positioning and puck possession. He has a high hockey IQ and reads the ice well as he makes his way through all three zones with a low center of gravity and powerful stride. To me, Marc’s hands, creativity, and on-ice awareness are all excellent attributes as he continues to develop at the pro levels. I thought he played well when given the opportunity at the NHL level, and with one year remaining in his two-year, entry-level deal, I can see him returning to the top league sometime this season.
McLaughlin will most likely report to the AHL Providence Bruins for the upcoming year and join an already impressive lineup down in the “A” if lineup projections come to fruition. Marc is a natural center with the ability to play the right wing if needed. He’s the type of middle-depth work-in-progress versatile forward that can still be coached and learn as he works hard for consistent playing in the top hockey league in the world.
Where to Stay, Drink, and Eat When Attending the 2023 Boston Bruins Development Camp
As a media member covering the week-long Bruins development camp, it was easier for me to stay close by to the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. I found an amazing place to stay nearby called the Studio Allston Hotel, which was under a ten-minute drive to the Warrior. The nightly rates were reasonable for summertime occupancy, and surprisingly there was a lot to do nearby. Very friendly staff and available 24-7. I highly recommend the Studio Allston Hotel for your next Bruins development camp experience.
Address: 1234 Soldiers Field Road, Boston, Massachusetts 02135
Highly Recommended Bar & Restaurant Nearby the Studio Allston Hotel
During my downtime in Allston, Massachusetts, after covering the Bruins development camp, I found an excellent place to go and unwind with an impressive beer selection and food menu. Article 24 was my go-to place last week and was only an eight-minute walk from the Studio Allston.
Bar Manager Johnny and Bartender Steve were my servers several times throughout the week. The staff, as soon as you walk through the door, are polite and inviting, which gave me that hometown feel even though I was a newcomer to the area. With indoor and outdoor seating and an impressive drink and food menu, Article 24 is highly recommended for your next Bruins development camp experience or if you happen to be in the neighborhood. If you have a bite to eat along with a frosty cold beverage, I highly recommend the Braised Short Rib dinner with roasted garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus, and demi glaze.
Menu: Article 24 Food Choices
Address: 458 Western Ave. Brighton, Massachusetts 02135