(Photo Credit: Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

A quick look at the stat sheet would leave Boston Bruins fans thinking that top prospect Fabian Lysell is ready to leap to the National Hockey League. Following a productive year with the Providence Bruins last season in the American Hockey League, where Lysell put up 37 points in 54 games, the 20-year-old forward is on pace for increased numbers this year. Lysell has posted seven goals and ten assists in 23 games with Providence this season, including a recent power play snipe in the Bruins 4-1 loss to the Syracuse Crunch on Sunday.

However, Lysell is far from ready for a call-up to Jim Montgomery’s Bruins. Despite being one of the most skilled players on the ice at the Amica Mutal Pavilion on Sunday evening, Lysell’s flaws stuck out like a sore thumb to Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel. His lack of puck possession and his individualistic play style in the offensive zone hinder Boston’s management from promoting the right-winger to the big club.

“There’s a lot of good things he does,” said Mougenel. “He can create anxiety with his feet, but for Fabian, he needs to recognize that sometimes there’s not always a play to be made. I think that’s still in his growth.”

At the mid-way mark of the third period, Lysell carried the puck into the offensive zone as Providence was trailing by a score of 3-1. Lysell crossed the blueline, immediately attempting a toe-drag through a pair of Syracuse defenders in a sequence that epitomizes what Lysell needs to hone in on while continuing his progression at the professional level. Instead of trying to make something out of nothing, Lysell could have curled towards the right boards to create an opportunity for one of his trailing teammates.

“I hate the play in the third period where he’s trying to beat a guy one-on-four,” Mougenel admitted. “That’s the stuff he’s got to get out of his game, and it’s recognizing that. We’re getting into year two here and he’s got to start buying in or we won’t play for Jim Montgomery.”

That’s not to say Lysell’s game requires a complete makeover. The skilled 5’11” forward has silky hands, a powerful shot, and an overall knack for scoring in the offensive zone. On Sunday, Lysell fired a blistering snap-shot past Syracuse goalie Matt Tomkins to provide Providence with an early 1-0 lead. Lysell took one stick-handle, stepping into a lethal shot to the short side of the goal in a prime example of the young prospect’s capabilities.

Lysell, a 2021 first-round draft pick by the Bruins, is still in the preliminary stage of his path to the NHL. However, as the halfway mark of his second season in Providence approaches, Bruins management expects Lysell to adjust his game. Following the loss to Syracuse on Sunday, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had a lengthy conversation with Mougenel regarding Lysell’s progress with the AHL affiliate before speaking to media members in the post-game press conference.

“I was actually at yesterday’s game, so I certainly heard (Mougenel’s) frustration after the game as we sat down for about 20 minutes,” Sweeney said after the Bruins morning skate on Monday. “The team played very well in the first period, their pace was up, execution was good. Fabian was a big part of that, he scored a nice goal on the powerplay with a downhill shot (and he) managed the puck really well.”

Like any offensive-minded player such as Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, Sweeney acknowledged there would be situations where Lysell will naturally want to make the extra stick handle when attacking the goal instead of backing off when he feels pressure. For Lysell, it’s all about picking his spots regarding when to showcase his offensive talent.

“Sometimes it’s just about maintaining within the team structure and executing, and that’s something that Fabian and all young players are going to continue to go through,” Sweeney continued.

There’s no reason to panic about the possibility of Lysell being a bust. When it comes to rising prospects, the jump from their previous level of hockey is always significant. Current Bruins regulars Pastrnak and Marchand both spent more than one season in Providence ahead of their respective promotions to the Bruins. If Lysell is not making any improvements by the end of this season, it may be time to take a deeper look. Until then, it will be noteworthy to see how he responds to the criticism.