(Photo Credit: Providence College Athletics)

By: Tom Calautti | Follow me on Twitter @TCalauttis and Linktree

Some people may see the passing of another summer week as bad, but at Black N’ Gold Productions, we see it as a beautiful opportunity to release the next entry on our Top-Ten Bruins Prospects countdown. So without further adieu, Riley Duran is the number eight prospect in the Boston Bruins system.

Like fellow Bruins prospect Marc McLaughlin, Duran is a Massachusetts native born and raised in Woburn, MA, just outside Boston. The versatile center/wing played most of his youth hockey in the Greater Boston area and began opening his eyes during his prep school days at Lawrence Academy. Duran rode the success of his prep school days to the USHL, where he played for the Youngstown Phantoms. He played only one season in Youngstown before being taken 182nd overall by the Bruins in the sixth round of the 2020 draft.

Duran spent the two seasons following his draft selection playing just south of his home state for Providence College. Last season Duran notched eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points in 29 games as a sophomore campaign with the Friars. Duran’s numbers may not jump off the page, but that doesn’t mean he should be discounted as a prospect with potential. Duran has made a career out of proving discounters and detractors wrong.

His most impressive instance of proving his critics wrong was earning a 2022 US U20 World Junior Team roster spot. Despite competing against highly touted prospects like Logan Cooley, Luke Hughes, and Matthew Knies for a roster spot and ice time, Duran was able to carve out a role for himself. The power forward wasn’t just a passenger with the US squad either, posting two goals and three assists for five points in five games.

Duran’s work ethic is one of the most consistent and admirable qualities that keeps pushing him further and further up the hockey ranks. He’s been lauded at every level (prep school, USHL, NCAA, World Juniors) for the hard work and determination he brings to every shift. No matter the score of the game, the team’s place in the standings, or his role on the ice, Duran will show up every day and give it everything he has.

Although Duran’s intangibles have garnered the praises of his coaches, his physical tools give him the potential to make a real splash at the NHL level. At six-foot-two, 183 pounds, Duran has finally grown into his power forward frame, allowing him to wreak havoc on opposing defensemen. Combine Duran’s size with his high motor, and you get a player that perfectly fits the mold of bottom-six checking forward.

He constantly hunts pucks in and around the net and ALWAYS has his feet moving. That phrase can be overused as a cliché when describing players, but it’s 100 percent true for Duran. His legs continuously churn while on the attack, vigorously pursuing defenders and creating chaos below the goal line. He uses his above-average speed and size to overwhelm defenders and his tenacity to recover and retrieve pucks with impressive frequency.

Most NHL prognosticators agree on Duran’s lack of offensive output and potential. And while I can see where they come from, Duran’s game has even more upside than we’ve already seen. At this summer’s development camp, Duran showed off impressive touch around the net, able to snap off quick shots from in tight with zip and accuracy. Duran was peppering the top corners in one net front drill, releasing powerful shots from close range. That ability to finish, coupled with his puck protection and relentlessness, will help him light the lamp on rebounds and loose pucks.

It’s not a given, but I firmly believe Duran will take a big step this year at Providence and finishes with between 12-15 goals on the season. He will continue to push his limits, working as hard as possible to become as complete a player as possible. With increased ice time and potential special teams opportunities with the Friars, I genuinely believe he can elevate his stats and turn heads in the Hockey East. If my prediction comes to fruition, the Woburn native can again prove his critics wrong and cement himself as a legitimate NHL-caliber prospect.