By: Mark Allred | Follow me on Twitter / X @BlackAndGold277
As the echoes from the 2022-23 American Hockey League season start to fade, fans and analysts alike turn their gaze toward the upcoming 2023-24 season. The Providence Bruins, a team with a rich history and passionate fan base, are no exception. On Friday, October 13th, 2023, at the Amica Mutual Pavillion, Providence will embark on the franchises’ 32nd hockey season in Rhode Island when they host the Hartford Wolf Pack.
The AHL Bruins look to build on the success of the 2022-23 regular season when they were one of the best teams in the AHL, capturing the team’s eighth-division title and third in the last four years. Last season was the ninth straight year Providence secured a spot in the 2023 Calder Cup Playoffs with a regular season record of 44-18-8-2 and 98 points, good enough for third best in the AHL. In the playoffs, however, and with a first-round bye, Providence faced division rival Hartford in a best-of-five game, losing the series 3-1. Having close to two weeks off due to the first-round bye week wasn’t ideal; Providence was simply outworked and couldn’t keep up with the fresher Wolf Pack team, who swept the opening best-of-three series 2-0 over the Springfield Thunderbirds.
This article will delve into the changes we can expect from the top minor-pro affiliate of the National Hockey League Boston Bruins in the new season, focusing on off-season departures and new arrivals. This will be the third year Head Coach Ryan Mougenel, along with assistants Matt Thomas and Trent Whitfield, will be behind the bench orchestrating another year of competitive and developmental hockey for the city of Providence.
The 2022-23 season saw a competitive Providence Bruins team starting and finishing the year bouncing between the first and second positions in the AHL Atlantic Division. While there were numerous memorable moments of triumph, the team faced its fair share of challenges with games that got away from them and the inevitable injuries to roster players. The performance of key players was a mix of outstanding individual plays and team effort that showcased the spirit of the Bruins and the state of Rhode Island.
The end of the season saw the departure of several key players. Each of these players left a unique mark on the team, and their absence will undoubtedly be felt in the upcoming season. Leaving the Providence Bruins this offseason were F Alex-Olivier Voyer, D Josiah Didier, D Kai Wissmann, F Samuel Asselin, F Chris Wagner, F Matt Filipe, F Eduards Tralmaks, F Joona Koppanen, F Shane Bowers, F Vinni Lettieri, D Nick Wolf, D Mike Reilly, D Connor Carrick, and D Jack Ahcan.
On a brighter note, the Providence Bruins have welcomed several new players for the 2023-24 season. These fresh faces bring with them a mix of raw talent and seasoned experience. Their impact on the team could be game-changing, and it will be interesting to see how they fit into the Bruins’ style of play as many continue to work towards making the NHL or returning to the best league in the world. Joining the Providence Bruins for the upcoming year is D Mason Lohrei, D Frederic Brunet, F Owen Pederson, F Vincent Arseneau, D Ethan Ritchie, G Shane Starrett, F Jimmy Lambert, D Ryan Mast, D Alec Regula, D Reilly Walsh, D Parker Wotherspoon, F John Farinacci, F Jayson Megna, and F Anthony Richard.
With these changes in mind, the opening night roster is likely to look quite different from last season. From goaltenders to forwards, each position might see new faces taking the helm. The integration of new arrivals and the gap left by departures will make for an exciting first game and into the upcoming 72-game season. Also, keep in mind that there are other players currently with the NHL Boston Bruins who could sneak through the waiver process and join the AHL Bruins team. Players like D Ian Mitchell, F Patrick Brown, F Jesper Boqvist, D Jakub Zboril, F Oskar Steen, and D Derek Forbort could also join Providence either for more work or salary cap flexibility. Below is this author’s early prediction of what the 2023-24 Providence Bruins opening day roster could look like.
Anthony Richard – Georgii Merkulov – Fabian Lysell
Luke Toporowski – John Farinacci – Marc McLaughlin
Brett Harrison – John Beecher – Justin Brazeau
Trevor Kuntar – Jayson Megna – Oskar Steen
Mason Lohrei – Ian Mitchell
Micheal Callahan – Ryan Mast
Dan Renouf – Reilly Walsh
The American Hockey League primarily operates on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday schedule, so extra roster players like forwards Joey Abate, Vincent Arseneau, Owen Pederson, Curtis Hall, and Jimmy Lambert could get spot starts relieving roster participants from playing three straight games in three consecutive days. Blueliners on the backend, like defensemen Parker Wotherspoon, Ethan Ritchie, Alec Regula, and Frederic Brunet, could be rotational players throughout the regular season. Also, keep in mind that if ice time is needed, some of these extra players could make their way to the ECHL Maine Mariners, who’ll be entering their third season as a “AA” minor-pro affiliate of the NHL Boston Bruins.
Based on the predicted roster, the team shows promising strengths. The blend of experienced players with rookies can bring a balanced dynamic to the team. However, certain areas of concern, such as the lack of seasoned players in some positions due to departures, might pose challenges.
When compared to other teams in the AHL, the Providence Bruins’ new roster holds its own. The upcoming season will present both challenges and opportunities as the team squares off against formidable opponents. It will be a test of the team’s resilience, adaptability, and skill.
In conclusion, the 2023-24 season for the Providence Bruins is shaping up to be an exciting one. With significant changes in the off-season, the team has a fresh look that could potentially shake things up in the AHL. As we eagerly wait for the opening night, we can only speculate, cheer, and hope that the Providence Bruins will exceed expectations and deliver an unforgettable season.
Click HERE for Gold Level Membership for the upcoming 2023-24 Providence Bruins season. The Amica Mutual Pavilion is an excellent venue in the heart of downtown Providence, Rhode Island. The Lasalle Street location has nearby hotels, restaurants, and bars to make your trip to the Ocean State one to remember.