By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism
When Georgii Merkulov was assigned to the Providence Bruins after just four National Hockey League games since making his debut, the highly-touted prospect could have taken that decision a handful of ways. He could have gotten frustrated, played selfishly, or lost his confidence after his first stint with the Boston Bruins didn’t go as planned. That wasn’t the case, and now, Merkulov is being rewarded. On Wednesday afternoon, the American Hockey League announced the 23-year-old was selected for the 2024 AHL All-Star Classic in San Jose, California.
The event takes place on February 4th and February 5th, comprising an All-Star Classic and an All-Star Skills Competition. It will be determined if the first-time All-Star will partake in the Skills Competition. The decision was a no-brainer, as Merkulov has posted a line of 14-19-33 this season in 33 games for Providence, which has him tied for third in points in the AHL. Since being assigned back down to Providence, Merkulov picked up right where he left off.
Merkulov has recorded three points in his first two games back with the team, eliminating any doubts about his ability to handle the setback. He picked up an assist on a Justin Brazeau tally in the team’s 6-3 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds in his second game back in Providence, feathering a seem pass to the tape of Brazeau for the breakaway score. In the previous game, he earned another helper in the team’s 4-3 win over Springfield.
While some Bruins fans were discouraged to see Merkulov’s anticipated debut with the Bruins be cut short, the transaction is only another step in the prospect’s path to a permanent NHL role. Instead of anchoring a fourth line with players like Oskar Steen and Johnny Beecher, he’ll play among some of Providence’s best players in Brazeau and Fabian Lysell in a top-six role with ample opportunities to further develop his offensive skills. Merkulov and Providence hit the ice on Friday with a matchup against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for a 7:05 p.m. puck drop.