( Photo Credit: Kyle Mace  | Copyright: Hershey Bears )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Brandon Bussi made his ECHL regular season debut, stopping 37 of 40 Trois-Rivieres Loins shots in a game played across Canada’s border last night. Bussi and his Maine Mariners were on the road last night in Trios-Rivieres, Quebec, to play the “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens and helped get the 4-3 overtime victory at the Videotron Colisee.

The 24-year-old Bussi signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent after a three-year career at Western Michigan University after a tremendous 2021-22, where he posted a 26-12-1 record, a 2.55 goals-against-average, and a .912 save percentage. In my opinion, Bussi seriously put a blimp on all National Hockey League scouting radars after posting a single-season record of 33-12-4 in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks having a 2,44 GAA and .915 Save% in 52 games played.

Brandon signed a one-year entry-level contract in March of this year and played five games on an AHL Amateur Try-Out agreement after his college commitment was over. In those five games with the American Hockey League, the 6′-5″ 209-pound netminder played well in his first cup of coffee in his first pro action posting a record of 3-2-0 and shutting out the Hershey Bears, stopping 26 shots in a 1-0 game, where he was making his second career pro appearance.

Watching the replay of the Mariners game last night on the road in Quebec to start the 2022-23 ECHL season, I thought Bussi played well regardless of letting three goals past him in his first outing. For me, at least, I wanted to watch how the big netminder, who’s fluid in his lateral movements, would adjust to tending at a higher level. I wasn’t disappointed in the game I saw from the undrafted goaltender against the Lions last night.

Brandon’s effort in his first pro game is just a confidence booster, regardless if he gets the home opening start tonight. The Mariners travel home to the Cross Insurance Arena when both of last night’s opponents face each other again this evening. With no game on Sunday, it remains to be seen who the new ECHL bench boss and former Mariner forward Terrence Wallin goes with. The Providence Bruins signed Francois Brassard, so the veteran journeyman could get his Maine debut tonight.

With Bussi only signed for one season, it will be a huge evaluation year, regardless of where he sits in minor-pro hockey. With Kyle Keyser outside his entry-level contract and signed to an NHL two-way for this season, he’ll also be under the microscope of goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham, who’ve done a tremendous job in recent years developing the next ones. Brandon will be an excellent insurance policy for the developing depth in the crease in case Keyser and the Bruins part ways if this coming off-season talks don’t work out.

Brandon has a long grinding road ahead of him in the minor pros as he continues to impress the Bruins organization, but he is another solid developmental piece at a low-risk value in your system. It’s not out of the ordinary to see goaltenders climb the hockey system ladder trying to gain consistency but is Bussi going to be the next Jeremy Swayman? That, of course, remains to be seen, but what I like about the direction of netminding from this Bruins organization is the belief in future upside over previous season stats.

Now, I’m not one to wish a bad season on any player throughout the Bruins organization, but if current AHL Bruins netminder Kyle Keyser doesn’t pull his weight with AHL tandem member Keith Kinkaid, could he be assigned to the ECHL and Bussi called up? It wouldn’t be the first time this has happened if a player at a lower level of minor-pro hockey flips spots with AHL players who might be struggling. Also, the injury factor would have Bussi pretty much the automatic call-up to the AHL if Kinkaid or Keyser, unfortunately, goes down with an injury.

To most Boston Bruins fans, this goaltending depth beyond NHL members Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman for the next few seasons might not seem a little thin. While I agree with that, I always reserve patience in the process and wait until these talents can be closer to Goalie Bob and Dunham and then evaluate from there. F r instance, I look at a goaltender and Boston Bruins prospect, Philip Svedeback. I thought he had a decent career with the USHL Dubuque Fighting Saints, but I thought he could’ve given more from my personal eye test watching a majority of his games at the top-tier United States junior league.

In Svedeback’s only USHL season with Dubuque, he posted a 15-7-3 record, mainly in a backup role. N w closer to the NHL Boston Bruins area of operation, the 20-year-old freshman at Providence College has started this NCAA rookie season going 3-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA and .921 Save%. This Bruins goaltending staff works wonders, and it’s honestly grossly underrated by so many who fail to acknowledge it’s even there.