( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter / X @BlackAndGold277

It sounds like the Boston Bruins and defensive prospect Frederic Brunet have finally decided where the blueliner will play this upcoming season. The 19-year-old Brunet was selected in the fifth round of the 2022 National Hockey League Entry Draft held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Per good friend Dominic Tiano’s tweet from yesterday, the 6′-2″ 185-pound defenseman is indeed heading to the American Hockey League Providence Bruins for the upcoming 2023-24 regular season. Brunet split time with the Rimouski Oceanic last season, appearing in 36 games and posting 6-29-35 numbers to finish the 2022-23 QMJHL year via trade with the Victoriaville Tigres, contributing 10-28-38 totals. Brunet remains unsigned by the Boston Bruins organization, but with this recent news of him joining the Providence Bruins for the upcoming season, I’d expect he gets a three-year, entry-level contract offer sometime between now and the start of the new hockey season.

Since this year’s Boston Bruins development camp was held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts, in early July, questions have arisen about where Brunet will play for another year of development. The options were to either go back to the QMJHL Victoriaville Tigres to continue to build his skills and build on last season’s success with 73 points in 66 games or place him in pro hockey in the AHL to build on his impressive developing skill set aggressively.

Last season after his commitment to the QMJHL Victoriaville Tigres was over; Brunet joined the AHL Providence Bruins for one regular season game, where he posted two assists in a 5-3 victory on April 15th, 2023. Frederic’s arrival in Providence next season adds to the depth of the Boston Bruins defensive developing core, particularly on the blue line.

The 2023-24 Providence Bruins blueline will most likely see names like Alec Regula, Dan Renouf, Ethan Ritchie, Reilly Walsh, Parker Wortherspoon, and now Frederic Brunet. That’s not counting what the Providence defensive core will look like after the NHL Bruins training camp this fall, where players could be sent down. If they don’t impress during training camp, names like Mason Lohrei, Ian Mitchell, and even Derek Forbort could be added to the Providence lineup. Forbort is heavily rumored to be demoted to the AHL for the final year of his Bruins contract and would save the Boston organization around $1.2 million in salary cap savings.

Regardless of who makes the NHL Bruins roster and who doesn’t this upcoming season, the Providence Bruins defensive core already looks stronger on paper. Accompany that with the goaltending tandem of Brandon Bussi and Kyle Keyser, and this could be one of the better backends in the AHL for the upcoming 2023-24 campaign.

Below are quotes from Brunet’s draft day from a BostonBruins.com article published on July 8th, 2022, from the NHL Draft at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

“Hearing my name by the Boston Bruins in the stands with my family and all my close friends and everything is an awesome feeling,” said Brunet, who grew up within a couple of hours of Bell Centre. “I could not describe it, but unbelievable feeling, and I’m so happy to be a part of it.” 

“Very good for me this year – not for points, but my game just stepped up in ways, and I’m happy for it,” said Brunet. “The Oceanic organization is an awesome organization that I wouldn’t be here without, and it’s so awesome to have this result and have a step in the door for the NHL.” 

Boston Bruins Director of Amateur Scouting Ryan Nadeau had this to say about Brunet’s character and the fact that the Bruins have been watching his progression for a few years.

“Frederic is a player that we had been tracking for a little bit; he had a big jump production-wise year over year,” said Nadeau. “We really liked what he was doing this year, and his game progressed throughout the season. We think he added some additional defensive layers to his game, as well as really smooth puck-moving kid with a good frame.”

“You don’t want to overvalue it – at the end of the day, we’re picking him, not his family members,” Nadeau acknowledged. “But I think just growing up in a competitive household like that, with a brother [Cedric] who’s trying to be an Olympic speed skater and his dad [Michel] being an Olympian [for Canada in figure skating at the 1998 Winter Olympics], his uncle [Dominick] being an Olympian [in freestyle skiing] – you just grow up in a household that’s that competitive non-stop and you’re around it.”

“The drive of that is what we saw in the player on the ice and in the growth. So, when you add that into the mix, it’s probably more a better story than it is fully factored in, but you can see in the way his game has grown, there’s a competitiveness and a drive to succeed. And it can’t hurt to be from a household that way.”