By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
The Boston Bruins season is almost here. The prospect challenge has come and gone, preseason officially starts on Saturday, and the official training camp roster has been announced. However, a few spots are still open on the opening day lineup due to injuries. While veteran players could fill those spots, I’ve been getting the feeling from Twitter that Bruins fans would like to see some younger guys get their chance at cracking the roster.
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A few names on the training camp roster pique my interest. For years, the Bruins have relied on older players who have been around for a while rather than trusting young players. Other teams have thrown younger guys into the lineup and seen success, but we’ve also seen teams give young players a chance too quickly and stunt their growth.
Off the top of my head, guys like Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and David Pastrnak spring to mind as guys who made their debut while still young and have developed into great players. On the other hand, Brandon Carlo and Jake DeBrusk both have left Bruins fans wanting more since making their debuts as talented prospects. Looking at the training camp roster, I see Fabian Lysell, John Beecher, Marc McLaughlin, and Oskar Steen as guys who may have a chance at making the team for opening night.
I am excited to see what kind of player Fabian Lysell turns into. Do I expect him to make the jump from the WHL right to the NHL and score consistently? No, I do not. I think he still has a lot to work on, and he probably needs to put on some muscle to be ready for the physical toll the NHL takes on players. I would not be entirely surprised if he takes people by surprise and somehow ignites a spark that this team needs.
Lysell will hopefully be a great player someday, and if he impresses the coaching staff at training camp, he could break through this year. With Brad Marchand out, the Bruins will need to find offense from their supporting cast, and Lysell could help with that.
When he stepped into the lineup last season, I was unsure how much success Marc McLaughlin would have. I was able to watch him in person a few times in college when he visited the Mullins Center with Boston College, and he didn’t seem to stand out that much. He took his opportunity, though, and I think people were generally impressed with his play.
With guys like Taylor Hall, Craig Smith, and Pavel Zacha being asked to fill larger roles at the start of the season, McLaughlin could find a home on one of the bottom two lines. With the Bruins needing to clear some cap space, if Craig Smith has a good start to the season and McLaughlin plays well, Smith could be dealt for draft picks with McLaughlin staying on the third line. I think whether he makes the team right away or not, McLaughlin will get plenty of chances with the NHL club this season.
Another exciting prospect looking to play his first full professional season, John Beecher, has fans excited after an impressive showing in the prospect challenge. With at least one opening on the left side, Beecher could jump to the NHL after playing just nine games with Providence last spring.
At 6’3”, 209-pounds, Beecher is already big enough to play in the NHL. He could easily slide into the third line and move down to the fourth line when Marchand returns. Under Bruce Cassidy, it would have been almost guaranteed that Nick Foligno would get the nod ahead of someone like Beecher, but with new head coach Jim Montgomery, only time will tell.
Of all the prospects invited to training camp, Oskar Steen probably has the best chance to make the team. Steen will be exciting to watch because this may be his final chance to make the Bruins’ roster before he gets released. According to Elite Prospects, Steen has only recorded six points in 23 career NHL games, so he will have much to prove if he makes the team.
He was drafted in 2016 by the Bruins and has taken his sweet time developing. He’s had a few call-ups to the NHL club, but as evidenced by his point total, he has not been able to make a lasting impact. Even in the AHL, he has not been able to find the scoring touch as much as some would like, scoring just 27 goals in 132 games, including playoffs.
This year is likely a make-or-break season for Steen. He recently signed a two-year, one-way contract which indicates that the Bruins’ management expects him to contribute at the NHL level. If he isn’t holding up his end of the deal, Steen could be released by the Bruins.
There are, of course, other prospects who will be at training camp. These four, however, are the most interesting and exciting to me heading into the season. Will one of these four crack the Bruins’ roster to start the season? Will the open spots be filled by veterans? We don’t have much longer to wait Bruins fans! The season is almost here! Let’s go, Bruins!
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