By: Kevin Perry | Follow Me on Twitter @Kevperry_
As we head into the dog days of the Boston Bruins off-season, the focus now is on retooling the roster. With no first-round picks until 2025 and no second-round picks until 2026, the Bruins need to think of other ways to acquire young high-end talent for the organization.
In addition to current draft picks from previous years to keep an eye out for, the Boston Bruins could think about the NCAA. With the Bruins 2023 development camp about a month and a half away, here are some college-free agents to which the Bruins should consider extending an invitation.
Justin Hryckowian, Northeastern University
Justin Hryckowian is one of the players in all of college hockey. The 5’10” sophomore center dominated hockey east this past year. His 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) were second most on Northeastern and good enough for sixth overall in Hockey East.
What is unique about Hryckowian is he is two hundred foot player. His 471 faceoffs won were fourth most in the NCAA, and he led Hockey East in both his first and second years in faceoff percentage. He led all forwards on the Huskies in blocked shots (23) and led the team with a plus-21 rating.
Justin Hrycowian is arguably the best two-way forward in the NCAA, and with Bergeron and Krejci only having a few years left if they decide to continue playing, it does not hurt to snag one of the best-undrafted players in all of hockey.
Hryckowian participated in Washington’s development camp last summer.
Austen Swankler, Bowling Green
Possibly the most unique route any college hockey player has ever taken is Austen Swankler. Swankler played for three teams in junior, including a year in the OHL. After sitting out the entire 2020-21 season to regain his eligibility, Swankler was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award this past season and was indeed one of the most extraordinary players in the country.
His 1.26 points per game were fifth in the nation, but he led a competitive CCHA conference with the NCAA longest scoring streak since 2006. Swankler announced in April that he would be returning to Bowling Green for his junior season, but he is someone who could be another addition upfront to help the Bruins. Swankler participated in Nashville’s development camp in 2022.
Victor Ostman, University of Maine
Another player who would be an exciting invite to development camp would be University of Maine goaltender Victor Ostman. The upcoming senior goalie finished with a 2.21 goals against average and a .918 save percentage in 33 games last year.
Ostman was streaky last year with multiple game-losing streaks but also had numerous game-winning streaks, including his career-high six-game win streak following a seven-game winless streak. He was also the second-team all-conference goaltender for Hockey East.
With several strong goaltenders in the Boston Bruins organization at the moment, someone other than Ostman may stick with the Bruins, but for development camp, it is well worth extending an invite to take a look at him.
Current Bruins Prospects to Keep an Eye Out For at Development Camp
With defenseman Mason Lohrei signing his entry-level contract a few weeks ago out of Ohio State, there are two other Bruins prospects at the NCAA ranks to keep an eye out for heading into development camp.
Andre Gasseau, Boston College
The Bruins 2021 seventh-round pick has himself a solid freshman season at Boston College. Andre Gasseau is a significantly sized body at 6’4″ and 220 pounds and can somehow find space on the ice to make plays. He started his season with three points in ten games but found his footing at Thanksgiving and became a point-per-game player for the Eagles in his final 26 games.
His game resembles Pittsburg Penguins’ future Hall of Famer Evgeni Malkin. He knows how to use his size to his advantage to create separation in the offensive zone but can also let it rip when he gets the puck in shooting positions. If he continues to improve at the rate he is, he will hopefully be an impact player for the Bruins.
Riley Duran, Providence College
Another big-bodied forward at 6’2″, Riley Duran, is another former late-round selection of the Boston Bruins. Duran was selected in the sixth round in 2020 and has consistently contributed to the Friars of Providence College.
Duran had 20 points in 29 games for the Friars last season as Providence College would finish 16-14-7. Duran is someone who finds himself in the right place at the right time, typically in front of the net. Duran has a knack for finding pucks around the net and burying them. He is a streaky scorer, though, and struggles in the faceoff circle, only winning 39% of his attempts last season.
Duran is a physical player, leading the Friars in penalty minutes last season, and was suspended for one game for an illegal check. His physicality and work ethic make it challenging for the opposing players to play against him. Duran has played center and wing but would likely pan out to be a winger at the next level.
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