Providence Bruins Recall Goalie Prospect Kyle Keyser

kyle-keyser.jpg

(Photo: Michael Penhollow / Boston Bruins)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Providence Bruins general manager John Ferguson Jr. announced Thursday afternoon that the team has recalled goaltending prospect Kyle Keyser from the Atlanta Gladiators, Boston’s ECHL-affiliate. Providence recalling Keyser comes after Dan Vladar needed to be helped off the ice during the second period of the P-Bruins’ 5-4 shootout loss to the Laval Rocket on Wednesday night.

Keyser was slated to start the year in Atlanta, whose season opens up on October 18th. However, Vladar’s week-to-week status caused a change of plans. Keyser signed his entry-level contract with Boston on October 3, 2017, as an undrafted free agent.

The Oshawa Generals product is entering his first full season of professional hockey after four seasons in the OHL, one with the Flint Firebirds and three with Oshawa. Last season, the 20-year-old suited up in 47 games for the Generals, posting a .915 save percentage and a 2.75 goals-against average (GAA). In 15 Memorial Cup playoff games for Oshawa, Keyser registered a .925 save percentage and 2.83 GAA.

After Oshawa was eliminated from the Memorial Cup, Keyser joined Providence leading up to the team’s playoff run. In one AHL playoff start the Coral Springs, Florida, native made 25 saves.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound netminder also represented the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he recorded a .872 save percentage and 2.95 GAA. Once he joins the team in Providence, Keyser is expected to split time with 26-year-old Maxime Lagace, who Boston signed as a free agent during the offseason.

Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 149 that we recorded on 10-11-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!

 

Bruins’ Prospect Beecher Shined At World Juniors Summer Showcase

John-Beecher

( Photo credit Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images )

By: Ian Frazier | Follow Me On Twitter @ifrazier95

Boston Bruins fans must be feeling pretty good right now after reading the reports and watching recent YouTube videos about the team’s 2019 National Hockey League first-round draft selection John Beecher. The 18-year-old Elmira, New York native was labeled as a draft steal to some experts when he was selected 30th in late Junes NHL Entry Draft from Vancouver, British Columbia. The jury is still out on him, but with the way Beecher played in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held at the Team USA Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, the B’s scouting staff certainly got this one right when addressing future needs.

Beecher looked like an absolute beast compared to other prospects his age. As shown in the video above, he was able to win puck battles on the boards as well as score a couple goals down low. He also battled hard on faceoffs and generated a nice breakaway goal that was made possible by his fast acceleration down the ice beating two defenders. During his time at WJSS, he developed great chemistry alongside fellow Bruins’ prospect Curtis Hall showing their nice one-two punch that was on display during the domination of Finland 7-1. One of his biggest attributes on display was his overall team awareness. He knew exactly where his teammates were and was able to make crisp passes or be able to skate in and help contain the puck near the crease. From what he has shown so far, many hockey insiders believe his style of play is very similar to Sean Couturier with additional speed and size.

With Beecher showing flashes of top six potential, this should be great news for Bruins center David Krejci going forward. Krejci has had seasons where he struggled to have consistent scoring due to the lack of explosiveness on his right side and someone like Beecher could bring that explosiveness to the black and gold and could fill the much-needed position soon. The Bruins had a few prospects the last few seasons try out there with Jackob Forsbaka Karlsson being the most recent. JFK, however, decided to go back to Sweeden to help his development. In the meantime they found a solid replacement with Bruins forward Karson Kuhlman to hold down the fort until someone like Beecher is ready to be called up. Beecher is scheduled to transfer to the University of Michigan where he will play for the Wolverines during the 2019-20 NCAA season.

Over the past few seasons, players like this have been a much-needed asset for many teams and Beecher may be the next in line that fits that mold. One thing is for sure though, Bruins fans should be excited about him, and they should be happy knowing that Sweeney may have found a future solution at second-line right wing. We still don’t know for sure if Beecher is a long-time solution for the club down the road, but the future looks bright for this young man. Time will tell!

Check out the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 139 that we recorded on 8-2-19 below! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Sticher.

Report: Bruins Prospect Looking To Terminate KHL Contract

( Photo Credit: KHL )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Rumor out of the Russian Kontinental Hockey League is Boston Bruins prospect Pavel Shen is eager to terminate his current contract with his Salavat Yulaev Ufa club. The 6′-1″ 183-pound Russian native played 20 games in the highest hockey league in Russia notching one assist. He also spent time in the lower levels of professional developmental hockey during the 2018-19 campaign with the VHL’s Toros Neftekamsk where he recorded two assists in 13 games and in the MHL with the Tolpar Ufa club posting one assist in five games played.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Shen was selected in the seventh round ( 212th overall) of the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. This was the first Russian prospect selected by the Bruins club since the days of Alexander Khokhlachev when the forward was selected in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The 2019 NHL Draft also was the second year in a row that the B’s selected a Russian player when they took defenseman Roman Bychkov in the fifth round.

The now 19-year-old Shen was the 32nd-ranked European Skater per the NHL’s Central Scouting final ranking in the spring of 2018. Pavel is a highly-skilled forward that has a strong competitive edge and doesn’t back down when it comes to puck battles or standing up for himself. His speed and scoring ability have been great to watch during film sessions or the last two years he’s been at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts for the annual Bruins Development Camps. His speed is one of his best attributes and in my opinion, right he possesses a nasty NHL type release.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Although Shen was a later round pick, his ability to make and read a play in tight coverage is another attribute I enjoyed watching as he has a knack of getting to the net and frustrate defenders with his stop on a dime and acceleration with a powerful stride after that. Just the way he skates from east to west is impressive, and his head and shoulder movements tend to have those attacking him either with a body check or getting the puck away from him have them fooled or heading in the opposite direction.

It sounds like the NHL Bruins are interested in signing the crafty forward to a three-year, entry-level contract to get him over to the bigger ice sheets in North America to learn the tighter defensive game as he continues to develop. I would expect this signing could land him in the American Hockey League with the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate the Providence Bruins at least for the duration of his potential ELC deal. If he is in fact placed in the AHL with Providence, he’ll be joining a potentially lethal prospect list regardless of NHL prospect Rankings lately, or Bruins fans displeasure of how this NHL franchise has been drafting lately.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

If he goes to the AHL club in the state of Rhode Island, his addition will complement nicely alongside fellow Bruins prospects Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Oskar Steen, and Anders Bjork. Now, it remains to be seen if any of these players mentioned besides Shen make the NHL roster but in my opinion, a full season of development is never a bad idea.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Please subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel!  We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE For Link To Our YouTube Channel!

Also, please give the latest episode of the Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast a listen below!

Bruins Defensive Draft Possibilities Per The Draft Analyst

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )


By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan one of my favorite times of the year is the National Hockey League Entry Draft. This summers festivities are set to kick off from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia with the first round on Friday night June 21st and wrapping up rounds two through seven on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019. The B’s have five of seven selections in this years event losing the second-round pick to the New Jersey Devils in the Marcus Johansson 2019 trade deadline deal and the fourth-round pick to the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2018 deadline deal that brought former Bruin Tommy Wingels to Boston.

So as of right now with under a week to go until Bruins Manager Don Sweeney and other members of his staff step to the podium with their first-round pick at number 30, the B’s will go into day two from Vancouver selecting in the third-round (#92), the fifth-round (#154), the sixth-round (#185) and ending the two-day trip to the West Coast of Canada picking in the seventh-round (#192) a pick from the New York Rangers in the Adam McQuaid trade in September of 2018.

Now, not being an NHL Entry Draft expert myself, I enjoy following and reading those who do extensive amounts of research to properly form an opinion about a player and add personal rankings to their work. The Draft Analyst Steve KournianosThe Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos has been doing his own personal hockey prospect ranking for the last four years and does a fantastic job. In this years 2019 rankings I found his Bruins draft possibilities very interesting and wanted to do a write up of the players he mentioned.

To purchase your own copy of The Draft Analyst 2019 Draft Report for a low cost of $5, please go to thedraftanalyst.com website All information in BOLD in this article does not belong to myself or BNG team and is shared with permission from The Draft Analyst website owner Steve KournianosSteve Kournianos.

Below are The Draft Analyst Bruins defensive draft possibilities and opinions of what this team needs when it comes to future assets lining up with potential departures of current roster players.  Hope you all Enjoy!

Defensemen

The first area the Bruins could address is the ever important “power play quarterback” with the uncertain future of mobile defenseman Torey Krug. Per CapFriendly.com the 28-year-old Krug has one full season remaining under contract and with the bottleneck of B’s defensive prospects in the next year or two, adding another mobile blue liner with offensive capabilities is never a bad idea.

Tobias Bjornfot

( Photos Credit: Last Word On Hockey / Youtube Screen grab )

TDA Player Rank: 26th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst said about the 6’-0” 202-pound left handed defenseman from Upplands Vasby, Sweden which you can see on his website HERE. Last season the 18-year-old Bjornfot posted 11-11-22 numbers in 39 games playing for his Djugardens J20 Superelit club.

The top defensemen for Djugardens J20 and for Team Sweden at several international tournaments, Bjornfot is an excellent skater with or without the puck who contributes in all situations. He can run a power play by using quick thinking and staying in motion, and he owns a heavy slapshot with a massive backswing. He is a significant goal-scoring threat from the blue line. Bjornfot’s wrist shot seems to be his preferred weapon of choice, probably since he can beat goalies clean from any distance inside the the offensive zone. Bjornfot is a clean, crisp passer but isn’t all that creative or one to be classified as a playmaker. He does, however, generate offense with his wheels and quick- strike mentality — several times a game he catches opponents in a line change by whipping turnaround passes up ice or exploding into an opening for an end-to-end rush. He’s a very good 1-on- 1 defender, sometimes dominant but also at times far too respectful of opposing speed. When he’s engaged, Bjornfot has shown to stick to puck carriers like Velcro, and he usually makes the right reads if he sees a dangerous play developing. He wins a lot of foot races and is willing to take a hit in the corner to move it cleanly. Bjornfot’s thick frame comes in handy when he battles along the boards, but his quick stick and powerful one-armed shoves can force an opponent to lose his will to keep possession.

Thomas Harley

( Photo Credit: Craig Abel / Getty Images )

TDA Player Rank: 33rd

Here’s what  The Draft Analyst said about the 6’-3” 188-pound left handed defenseman from Syracuse, New York. You can also view his words about this player and hundreds of other NHL Entry Draft eligible players HERE. Last season the 18-year-old Harley posted 11-47-58 numbers with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL in 68 games played.

Easily one of the best passers among defensemen in the draft, Harley is a cool-as-a-cucumber puck distributor with a smooth, effortless skating style and strong hockey sense – at least on his side of the red line. Harley earned his role as a top-pairing defender to help exploit the strengths of the Steelheads’ many talented forwards. The first thing you notice about his game is his composure with the puck during the attack — Harley rarely gets rattled and appears very confident while distributing the puck in all directions. His vision and pass accuracy are both incredibly advanced for a teenager, and he doesn’t hesitate with his decisions. Harley is an upright skater who uses quick bursts and sharp pivots to buy himself time and space and attack deep into the opposing zone. He also is a fine backskater with very good closing speed, and he displays solid edgework when he is forced to take the puck around his net. Harley can run a power play and owns a low, booming shot, but he is not very active during the man-advantage, which could be explained by the experienced forwards he shares the ice with. Still, he knows how to find or create open lane.
His play on defense comes across as nonchalant, as Harley affords puck carriers too much room at his line and doesn’t play physical enough considering he’s an elite North American draft eligible on a top pairing in the OHL. A native of Syracuse who has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, Harley ran Canada’s top power-play unit at the under-18 world championship with acceptable results.

Anttoni Honka

( Photo Credit: Jiri Halttunen / JYP )

TDA Player Rank: 40th

Here’s what The Draft Analyst said about the 5’-10” 179-pound right handed defenseman from Jyvaskyla, Finland. You can also take a look at TDA full website HERE. Last season the 19-year-old Honka posted 3-5-8 numbers in 27 games played for his Jukurit club in the Liiga league.

Swift-skating puck rusher who knows how to handle the puck and has the kind of mobility that keeps forecheckers honest. Anttoni, whose older brother Julius currently plays defense for the Dallas Stars, is the most offensively-gifted among the handful of top-tier Finnish rearguards eligible for the 2019 draft. He’s a gambler with or without the puck, and his ability to anticipate danger before utilizing his top-end skating helps tighten the gap between the opposing puck career and him. Honka’s positional play in his own end is above average, as he makes an effort to stay as close to the slot as possible until possession changes hands. He is far from physical, but he stands up at the blue line and isn’t rattled at the sight of a bigger, faster forward barreling his way. His puck management is relatively sound, although he can look a little nonchalant and be the culprit behind unforced turnovers and errant passes. He was criticized (and ultimately benched) for some sloppy play at the under-20 world junior championship, but the potential improvement and exceeding the standards for the average puck mover remains incredibly high.
Honka keeps his feet moving at all times and is a threat once he drops down into the circles. He owns an average yet accurate shot which he uses with confidence, but he’s agile enough to pump fake and glide into a better look at the net. Honka is a hard, crisp passer with soft hands who beats pressure with authoritative stretch passes, subtle banks or well-timed saucers. Although his shot is average, he can run a power play from the top of the umbrella or remaining active from either point.

Lassi Thomson

( Photo Credit: Marissa Becker / Kelowna Rockets )

TDA Player Rank: 43rd

Here’s what The Draft Analyst said about the 6’-0” 190-pound right handed defenseman from Tampere, Finland. You can get this info below and a ton more draft nuggets HERE. Last season the 19-year-old Thomson posted 17-24-41 numbers in 63 games for Kelowna in the WHL.

Smooth-skating Finnish rearguard who typifies what offensive defensemen are expected to do with the puck on their stick and a full sheet of ice before them. Thomson may be a bit of a risk taker while controlling the puck, with an occasional sloppy pass or unforced error. But the common end-result is that pressure is applied on opposing schemes designed to slow him down. He loves to initiate breakouts with his wheels and drive deep into the offensive zone, but his consistent pass accuracy to teammates in stride also stretches out the neutral zone and allows friendly puck carriers to gain time and space. The kid loves to shoot the puck, and for good reason – he owns an excellent shot with a quick release and requires little backswing to generate power. Thomson quarterbacks the top power play unit and is a shooting threat thanks to a very hard and accurate shot, but he also keeps his feet moving and will jump into openings below the circles. There are moments where he’ll fight for positioning and play physical, but those instances are few and far between. A lack of consistency in his slot/crease coverage, plus the way he overcommits when defending odd-man rushes are things that should be improved upon for the future. His time in Kelowna, as successful as it was, may be short lived, as Thomson is reportedly heading back to his native Finland to play for Ilves next season.

A huge amount of thanks again goes out to The Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos for his continued efforts to educate interested fans that want to learn more about the NHL’s next ones. Please consider giving him a follow on Twitter using the hyperlink above and bookmark his thedraftanalyst.com website. Also, check out his fantastic The Draft Analyst Podcast that can be found on worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts and SoundCloud.

Stay tuned for my release of the offensive possibilities for the Boston Bruins in the upcoming Entry Draft and another tremendous assist from the aforementioned Mr. Kournianos.

Providence Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Ryan Fitzgerald

Fitzy

(Photo Courtesy of NBCSports Boston)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Ryan Fitzgerald was drafted in the fourth-round (120th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. Expected to get picked in the second round, the young center was thought of as a great pick for the Bruins. He possessed a high hockey IQ, great vision on the ice, good defensive awareness, with some play-making abilities sprinkled in. This combination made him a good two-way player, and after being drafted, it seemed like playing in Boston was Fitzgerald’s destiny.

After playing three seasons of High School hockey at Malden Catholic and posting 76-94-170 career numbers at that level, the gritty forward would forgo his Senior season to play in the EJHL with the Merrimack Valley Junior Warriors. With the Warriors, he would go onto contribute 14-16-30 numbers and represented the United States on the US National U-18 Team where he appeared in eight games with one goal in that timeframe. Ryan would go on to play at Boston College after he left the draft podium where he spent four full seasons playing for the Eagles in the NCAA Hockey East Conference.

The 2013-14 season was Fitzgerald’s first at Boston College. Despite his small stature (5’9), the young center proved early on that he belonged in the tough Hockey East. Playing in 40 games, the fourth-round pick showed off his offensive ability netting 13 goals while dishing out 16 assists for 29 total points and a +/- rating of +8.  Not only were the 29 points impressive, but so was his defensive awareness making this a good season by any measure.

Fitzgerald’s Sophomore season wasn’t as impressive as his previous, but it still was above average. The former fourth-round pick’s play-making ability took a bit of a step back, but his goal scoring ability took a leap forward. In 38 games the Florida native potted 17 goals while tallying 8 assists for 25 total points and a –4 rating. Even though the 2014-15 season wasn’t as point filled as the previous, it was still a season that the young Eagle could build upon going forward. The 17 goals were proof that he didn’t need to get others involved in the offense to be productive. This will bode well for the young center moving forward. 

Coming into his Junior season, Fitzgerald grew into a leadership role for the Boston College Eagles. This was unsurprising given the young center’s lineage. His father is former Nashville Predators’, Captain Tom Fitzgerald. It would seem that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. In his new-found leadership role, the former fourth-round pick had his best season with the Hockey East club netting 24 goals while tallying 23 assists for 47 total points and a rating of +24 in 40 games. The Bruins were happy with the young Eagle’s 2015-16 season, and they could not wait to see what was to come.

The 2016-17 campaign was Fitzgerald’s Senior year in the maroon and gold, and the team made his leadership role official giving him an “A” on his sweater. The young center did not disappoint in his new role potting 12 goals while dishing out 19 assists for 31 total points and a rating of +14 in 34 games. As the former fourth-round pick’s college career came to an end, he signed a two-year entry-level contract and was able to suit up in 8 games for Providence. The new Bruin didn’t find the back of the net but did dish out 2 assists for 2 total points and a rating of 0. The Boston College grad did pick up his play in the playoffs netting 1 goal and dishing out 4 assists for 5 total points and a rating of +3 in 13 games. From Boston College to Providence it was a great season for Fitzgerald.  

The 2017-18 season was Fitzgerald’s first full year in Providence. The Bruins hoped that he would show off the play-making ability and defensive awareness that led Boston to draft him back in 2013. The young center certainly delivered. In 65 games wearing the black and gold, he found the back of the net 21 times while tallying 16 assists for 37 total points and a rating of +5. Providence went on to make the playoffs, and in the team’s 3 playoff games the former Boston College Eagle netted 2 goals and didn’t tally an assist for 2 total points and a rating of 0. The young Bruin had a good season showing that he did a good job driving to the net while also creating his own space and scoring opportunities. Despite his small stature, he isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas of the ice and bang around with the big boys. This is something that will prove to be useful for the young center as his career progresses.  

This season Fitzgerald looked to improve on his play from last season and grab the attention of the big club. The former fourth-round pick has not disappointed in 29 games he’s found the back of the net 7 times while dishing out 16 assists for 23 total points and a rating of –10. The young center has certainly made a case to be called up this season. We may see him make his NHL debut at some point this year, but if we do not, I expect him to seriously contend for a roster spot next season.

Fitzgerald is showing that being patient and letting a prospect develop over time can work out in the team’s favor. I think it’s preferable than calling a player up too soon. That is something that can ruin a player’s confidence and derail his career a bit. The approach with the former Boston College Eagle has been perfect, and the Boston Bruins will benefit from it very soon.  

Interested in going to a Providence Bruins or Boston Bruins game? Take a look at the upcoming schedule and ticket availability from our advertising partners over at SeatGiant. Click the links below and please use discount code BNGP to save a little cash! Thank You!

Click Here For The Providence Bruins Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com

Click Here For The Boston Bruins Schedule and Ticket Info From SeatGiant.com  

Bruins Vaakanainen Added To Team Finland For World Junior Championships

NHL: OCT 23 Bruins at Senators

PHOTO CREDITS: (Boston Sports Journal)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

The Boston Bruins will have another prospect representing them in the 2019 World Junior Championships from Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. According to many sources, including Chris Peters of ESPN, defenceman Urho Vaakanainen will be joining his native Team Finland for the tournament.

This is a huge addition to Finland as they gain a big defender with some National Hockey League experience under his belt. Vaakanainen was Boston’s first-round draft selection (18th overall) in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The six-foot-one, 185-pound Joensuu, Finland native has played the majority of his hockey career in the Liiga hockey league.

In 109 career Liiga games played, Vaakanainen has tallied 7-16-23 totals, including another four points in twenty-three postseason games. Prior to being selected by the Bruins in 2017, Urho had some success on the international stage with Finland. In the under-18 World Championships, he posted three goals and three assists for six points in five games.

The Bruins management decided to play Vaakanainen in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins to begin the 2018-19 season. After only six games where he put up two assists, Vaakanainen was recalled by Boston due to the number of injuries to the NHL Bruins’ blue line. All of a sudden, Vaakanainen went from playing out in Finland to playing on an NHL roster.

Unfortunately, the young d-man only played two games before an elbow by Mark Borowiecki nailed him in the head, giving him a concussion. At the time of the injury, Vaakanainen was averaging roughly nine minutes a game, with a 60.7% Corsi For percentage.

In response, the NHL’s Player Safety suspended Borowiecki for one game and was forced to forfeit just over $6,000 for the elbow. It was a very unlucky situation for Vaakanainen who was seemingly just finding his game. Since this occurrence back in October, Vaakanainen has been out of the lineup and has not been cleared by doctors due to that concussion until now.

With Boston continually winning games and players such as Chara and Miller making strides to returning to the lineup, it would seem selfish for the Bruins not to lend Vaakanainen to Finland for the World Juniors. Experience on the world stage is something that most players do not have the opportunity to play in so for Urho, it may be quite crucial to the development of his evolving game. Below are some prospect analysis quotes from different people.

“An intelligent, two-way defender…reads the play really well, has his head up all the time and makes quick decisions with the puck, Futureconsiderations.ca 2017″

“He has good puck moving ability and strong offensive upside. He is also a good skater and can rush the puck up ice with confidence, Hockeyprospect.com 2017″

Finland’s first game of the 2019 World Junior Championships is on Boxing Day against Sweden in Victoria, B.C.

Check out the available tickets from our advertising partner SeatGiant for your next Boston Bruins game. Click the link below, and when purchasing any event ticket, from the NHL, NBA, MLB, NFL to concerts and shows, please use discount code BNGP to save a little money. Thank You!

—-> Boston Bruins 2018-19 Regular Season Schedule and Official SeatGiant Ticket Info <— 

Bruins Prospects: Trent Frederic Preparing For 2018-19 Season

cut (7).jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj 

As the Boston Bruins prepare for the final offseason events and get ready for the upcoming 2018-2019 NHL regular season, the team’s AHL affiliate franchise, the Providence Bruins, are also getting ready for another season – especially some key young players. One of those young players is St. Louis, Missouri native, Trent Frederic.

Frederic was drafted twenty-ninth overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins, but it was not just a simple draft pick for the B’s. On June 26th, 2015, the Boston Bruins traded long-time forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for goaltender Martin Jones, defenceman Colin Miller, and the pick thirteen in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft (Jakub Zboril).

However, it would not end there. Four days later after acquiring Martin Jones, the Bruins would trade the goalie to the San Jose Sharks, deciding on running with Tuukka Rask instead of Jones. Coming back to the Bruins from San Jose, forward Sean Kuraly and the Sharks’ first-round draft pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. The Sharks would make it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016 but would fall short of the ultimate hockey trophy in a series loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

This would give the Bruins the 29th overall pick in the 2016 Draft, their second one of the opening round. Boston would select defenceman Charlie McAvoy with their first pick, so a forward near the end of the round would seem to be a solid draft for the Black and Gold. As we now know, Trent Frederic would be that 29th selection. But two years after the draft, is Frederic close to making the National Hockey League?

trent-frederic

PHOTO CREDITS: (Photo by Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

In the 2016 NHL Final Central Scouting Rankings for North American Skaters and Goaltenders, Frederic was ranked down at the 49th overall pick, but the Bruins did not have a selection until pick forty-nine and did not want to risk losing out on the 6’3″ forward.

“We really needed a big centerman,” head of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky said. “At 29, we just said, ‘Hey, this is a guy that we really wanted,’ and we didn’t want to risk waiting until 49. It’s a need and we believe he’s going to play. Yeah, it’s high, but you take a chance. We believe in his ability. He’s going to a good school and a good program and he’s going to take some time.” Frederic will play for the University of Wisconsin in 2016-17. (Quote found from Boston Herald)

And just as the head of amateur scouting, Keith Gretzky stated, Frederic would indeed play the 2016-2017 campaign for the University of Wisconsin. In 30 games with the U of W, Frederic amounted fifteen goals and eighteen assists for thirty-three points. At season’s end, he was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, the first Wisconsin Badger to earn the honors since Dany Heatley in 1999-2000. Frederic also finished fourth among all college freshman in points-per-game, (1.18) and was second for most shorthanded goals on the season with five.

The performance impressed the Bruins management, as Gretzky would once again say in an article by the Boston Herald back in the Summer of 2017. 

“He plays top line at Wisconsin. … Obviously, time will tell what he’ll be in pro hockey but there’s more skill to his game than people thought coming out of the draft,” Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said. The Bruins went off the board when they took Frederic but it looks like that might pay off for them in the end.

For the second-straight season, Frederic would play with the University of Wisconsin, scoring another thirty-two points in 36 games. Once his time with Wisconsin came to a close, the Bruins offered Trent a three-year, entry-level contract – allowing him to play with the Providence Bruins or the Boston Bruins. In addition, Frederic would join Providence for the remainder of the 2017-18 campaign on an amateur tryout agreement.

Frederic played in only thirteen games with Boston’s AHL affiliate team, scoring five goals and eight points. However, his highlight performance of 2018 was during the 2018 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, New York. Although the United States lost the opportunity to play in the Gold Medal game following a 4-2 loss to Sweden in the Semi-Finals.

In the Bronze Medal game against the Czech Republic, the United States scored nine goals, four of which came off of Trent Frederic’s stick. His four goals in one game nearly set a new record for most goals by an American in a single World Junior Championships game. Wally Chapman (vs Switzerland 1984) and Chris Bourque (vs Norway in 2005) are the only Americans with more goals in a single game, scoring five.

Trent+Frederic+Team3+v+Team4+Bronze+Medal+AySyN5AiP0Vl.jpg

PHOTO CREDITS: (Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images North America)

With the international success and the brief experience in the American Hockey League under his belt, Frederic could very well contend with a bigger role in Providence for the upcoming 2018-19 regular season. In an article published by Black N’ Gold Founder Mark Allred, Mark and Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast co-host, Josh Bemis discussed their Providence Bruins lineup predictions. It should be noted that Josh covers the Baby B’s on thesinbin.net website, a great site for minor-pro hockey news.

Bemis’s Roster Projections

Forwards

Cehlarik  –  Frederic  –   Szwarz

 Koppanen  –  Forsbacka-Karlsson  –  Bakos  /  Kuhlman

Gabrielle  –  Cave  –  Senyshyn

Blidh  –  Hughes  –  McNeil

Defense

Zboril  –  Goloubef

Lauzon  –  Clifton

Breen  –  Vaakanainen  /  Johansson

Goaltenders

Vladar

McIntyre

Allred’s Roster Projections

Forwards

Cehlarik  –  Forsbacka-Karlsson  –  Bakos / Szwarz

Koppanen  –  Frederic  –  Senyshyn

Gabrielle  –  Cave / Kuhlman  –  Fitzgerald

Blidh  –  Hughes  –  McNeil

Defense

Zboril  –  Clifton

Lauzon  –  Andersson /Johansson

Sherman  /  Vaakanainen  –  Goloubef  /  Breen

In both predictions, Frederic makes the top-six and while nothing is final of course, the thought of Frederic getting the ice-time going forward makes a lot of sense for not only him but the P-Bruins franchise. Providence is also looking to rebound after a tough first-round loss to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

At the current moment in time, the Boston Bruins have a solid amount of depth at the center position with the likes of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Donato, David Backes, and Sean Kuraly who already have spots on the NHL roster, as well as players like Jack Studnicka, Jakub Forsbacka-Karlsson, Oskar Steen, and Ryan Fitzgerald who are already in the system.

There is a chance that if Trent Frederic impresses this season, he could make the final cut in the years to come when it comes to the big show in Boston. Until then, he will look to have another solid season to add onto the already promising future.

Bruins Studnicka To Attend Canadian WJC Summer Camp

(Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Hockey Canada announced today that they’ve released a list of 40 players that were invited to this summers Sport Chek World Junior Showcase. Amongst the list of young developing players that were invited is Boston Bruins forward prospect Jack Studnicka who was born in Tecumseh, Ontario and currently a member of the Ontario hockey Leagues Oshawa Generals. The eight-day event from the Sandman Centre in Kamloops, British Columbia will feature teams from Canada, Finland, Sweden, and the United States will play an eleven game mini-tournament from July 28th to August 4th, 2018.

Hockey Canada Head Scout Brad McEwen had this to say below about the upcoming camp and whats expected from this year’s event in Kamloops in an article on hockeycanada.ca

“The Sport Chek World Junior Showcase gives us an excellent opportunity to begin the evaluation process and for the staff to familiarize themselves with the players before the new season kicks off,” said McEwen. “We also get to see the players in competition against the teams who will be returning to Vancouver and Victoria this December. It’s a unique opportunity, and we’re looking forward to making the most of it as we kick off our journey to the 2019 World Juniors later this month.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The 6′-1″ 179-pound forward has spent his Canadian Junior career with his Generals team and contributed 150 points in 192 games. His best season offensively came in the  2017-18 campaign where he posted 22-50-72 numbers in 66 games and was named team captain before the regular season started. The 19-year-old was selected by the Bruins in the second-round of the 2017 National Hockey League Entry Draft from Chicago, Illinois with the 53rd selection and is very close to making his NHL debut. If the talented center who was ranked 120th in last year’s NHL Central Scouting final rankings doesn’t make the NHL Bruins roster for the upcoming season, he’ll head back for further development with his OHL team.

When I attended last weeks annual Bruins development camp from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton. Massachusetts, Studnicka didn’t disappoint the Bruins brass, fans in attendance, and Boston Sports Media from above. In an article by Boston Herald Bruins beat writer Steve Conroy last week ( CLICK HERE ) during last weeks camp, Studnicka had these things to say about his future in the Bruins organization.

“It’s always been my dream to play in the NHL and looking at the roster, there are spots there that are up for grabs,” Studnicka said yesterday after the hour-long practice. “I’m going to put my head down, go to work and hope for the best.”

“My second year, my NHL draft year, there were a lot of nerves. It was a big year for me,” said Studnicka. “But I think I showcased myself, and I think I gave teams a glimpse of what the future is to hold. Boston obviously saw that. Last year, my third year, I think I took a huge step. I thought I controlled the play a lot. I thought I controlled the locker room. I worked as hard as I could, and I think I was more dominant in my third year.”

“Going in there and putting up a point per game definitely helps. It’s in the back of my head,” said Studnicka. “But the important thing is to stay level-headed in a situation like that. I’m still a 19-year-old kid who’s got a lot to learn and a lot of room to grow in his game.”

“Going back to the OHL and developing more there, I’d like to be a dominant player,” he said. “If that happens, I hope to win a championship there. But my main goal is sticking with the big club.”

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

This summer showcase will be a tremendous experience for the future NHL’er as he tries to solidify a roster spot on the Canadian 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship team. The annual IIHF under-20 tournament will kick off in late December of 2018 and filter into January of 2019 and be hosted by two beautiful British Columbia cities such as Vancouver and Victoria. The events will be held at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver and Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

The Bruins center last dawned the Red and White colors of his country in the 2016-17 season for his under-18 team posting three goals in three games. Studnicka wasn’t invited to the 2017 38-player Canadian camp in Plymouth, Michigan but is sure to get noticed and be heavily considered for the honor of representing his Canadian country against the worlds best players at his age level.

Boston Bruins 2018 Development Camp Wrap-Up

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

First and foremost I’d like to start my Boston Bruins Development Camp Wrap-Up article by showing my gratitude for the opportunity that was given to me this week from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. I was given media access to cover the B’s annual mid-summer event and want to thank the Bruins organization, particularly the organizations public relations department for their acceptance and guidance during this week’s festivities.

As a person from the outside striving to gain access to future events, I learned an awful lot from the veteran heavy hitters in the press box like the Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa,  NHL.com / CBSBoston’s Matt Kalman, Providence Journals Mark Divver, 98.5 The Sports Hubs Ty Anderson,  the Standard-Times New Bedford Mick Colageo, and CLNSMedia’s Jimmy Murphy just to name a few on how to conduct myself surrounded by other media professionals. I’m truly grateful for the hospitality from those mentioned above, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

In this article below I’d like to point out several Bruins prospects that stood out to me while in attendance at the Brighton facility during the four-day event this week. I’m also going to add what the scouts had said in the past leading up to their day when the Bruins selected them in their respected National Hockey League Entry Draft year to spice things up for those readers that want to learn more about the next generation of Bruins players.  Out of the 18 players that attended this year’s camp that the Bruins have rights to, it was difficult to narrow the choices down as there were so many positive things from all the attendees, but hope you enjoy my favorites moving forward.

-Forwards-

Martin Bakos  –  Right Wing

(Photo Credit:  Boston Globe / Lane Turner Globe Staff)

The undrafted 28-year-old forward was signed to a one-year, two-way contract in the middle of June 2018, and comes to camp as the oldest player. The 6′-2″ 198-pound Slovakian native spent his entire hockey career playing overseas in leagues such as his home Slovakian clubs, the Kontinental Hockey League, and most recently the Czech Pro League.  Before jetting over to North America for the first time, Bakos appeared in 52 games for his Bili Tygri Liberec club posting 14-26-40 numbers.

At this year’s development camp, I saw positive things from the right winger, and a few things that stood out to me was his skill and speed. He has the size to be that prototypical power-forward but also the hands and hockey IQ to be an asset on any of the teams throughout the B’s organization. With pretty much the complete package for a European import, Bakos used this camp and should continue to work hard during the long summer offseason to get used to his surroundings. The adjustment to the smaller ice and split-second decisions won’t be easy, but Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney believes there’s enough time between now and September to work on those attributes that the team was attracted to.

Curtis Hall  –  Center

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Hall, a 6′-3″ 201-pound New Jersey native, is an American / Canadian dual citizen was selected in the fourth-round of this year’s Entry Draft and previously spent the last two seasons in the United States Hockey League with the Youngstown Phantoms. In 113 career games with Youngstown, the 18-year-old center posted 20-32-52 numbers and has committed to play hockey in the Ivy League as a freshman for the upcoming 2018-19 season for the Yale University Bulldogs. Although he was selected by the Flint Firebirds in the 10th-round of the Ontario hockey Leagues Priority Selection, the Jersey-born forward has always wanted to play in the NCAA Men’s Division 1 somewhere close to home, and with New Jersey being so close to Connecticut, the decision wasn’t a hard one.

Curtis brought an overwhelming amount of skill to his first ever pro-development camp and really impressed me and many others who had the chance to watch his ability on the ice all week. He’s got tremendous speed, stickhandling ability, and a pro release. His vision and calmness in open ice and tight situations along the boards was a couple of things that definitely caught my eye and look forward to watching him progress in his development by watching many of his games when he appears in his first year of collegiate hockey in the fall.

Jakub Lauko  –  Center / Left Wing

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

One of the fastest skaters selected in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-0″ 179-pound Czech Republic native certainly turned heads at camp for a European skater selected in the third-round in 2018. Mostly playing in the Czech system with his Pirati Chomutov club teams growing up to the pro-level in 2017-18, he registered 3-6-9 numbers in 42 games teaming up with adult players and even though his numbers weren’t high, he’s got all the attribute of a young developing forward you want to see moving forward.

Besides his speed, what really attracted me to this player during the development camp week was his creativity with his hands and the ability to showcase those mitts while skating in full stride. He shields the puck well along the boards and in open ice skating towards the net positioning his body where defenders can’t reach around to disturb his progression to get a shot on goal. His release and shot are another animal as he finds the right time to put the puck on the net whether crossing the blue line or goal line extended.

Jack Studnicka  –  Center

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Selected in the second-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-1″ 172-pound forward made his second appearance at the Bruins development camp and continued to impress those fortunate enough like myself who have seen him at the Warrior Ice Arena the past two summers. The 19-year-old was a first-year team captain for his Ontario Hockey Leagues Oshawa Generals and ended the 2017-18 season with 22-50-72 numbers.

After his Generals team was eliminated in the second-round of the OHL playoffs to the hands of the Niagara Ice Dogs, Studnicka joined the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins for five regular-season games contributing impressive 1-4-5 totals while gaining great experience with the NHL Bruins top minor-pro affiliate. In Jack’s OHL career he’s appeared in 192 games all with Oshawa posting 44-106-150 numbers in that duration.

Studnicka has an uncanny ability to make an opposing player look silly almost everytime he possesses the puck. His tool-box of skills are all there, and it’s no doubt why the Bruins selected him to begin with. He has speed and an outstanding amount of offensive talent to see the complete 200-foot sheet of ice regardless if he has the puck or not. His composer and hockey IQ whether all alone or being double covered is something to see for yourselves as he has the ability to make things happen quickly while seemingly stickhandling in a phone booth.  Could very well be a dark-horse to make the NHL club for the upcoming season, but also couldn’t hurt to continue his development one more year in the OHL then be eligible for the AHL the season after if necessary.

-Defensemen-

Axel Andersson  –  Right Defense

(Photo Credit:   Alan Sullivan Photography)

Selected by the Bruins in the second-round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, the 6′-0″ 179-pound blueliner has the ability to produce offensively while getting back in the D-Zone to be that shutdown type of player.  The 18-year-old Sweden native played last season with the SuperElit Djurgardens IF J20 club and produce 6-25-31 numbers in 42 games. The 2018 World Junior Championship Bronze Medal winner for team Sweden was recently selected in Canadian Hockey Leagues Import Draft from the Kitchener Rangers, but rumors have it that he’s not going to report to the OHL club but might return to Europe to continue his development.

This kid blew me away at camp this week with his speed and vision of the ice. His edgework and positioning in the D-Zone really stood out to me but that explosive stride transitioning to the offensive was a treat to watch. I enjoyed mobility and how strong he was mainly in short ice three on three drills. His puck possession during the week was off the charts and has incredible timing when it comes to those tape-to-tape stretch passes. Definitely going to be a player to keep an eye on in the next few years as he continues to grow and hone his skills to prepare for any level of professional hockey.

Urho Vaakanainen  –  Left Defense

(06/26/2018- Boston, MA) Urho Vaakanainen skates at the Boston Bruins development camp at Warrior Arena on Tuesday, June 26, 2018. Staff Photo by Matt West

Another solid selection when it comes to adding depth to the Bruins organizations future, the first-round choice in 2017 from the NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, Illinois had another outstanding development camp for the second consecutive year. The 6′-1″  185-pound defenseman from Finland spent the 2017-18 season in the Finnish Liiga League with the SaiPa club posting 4-7-11 numbers in 43 games. Vaakanainen signed an entry-level contract in mid-June of 2018 and is expected to join the AHL Providence Bruins in the upcoming 2017-18 season. He’ll make a serious push to challenge for that left shot blueline spot that this B’s team seems to foam at the mouth over but if he doesn’t make the NHL in his first try, he’ll get some substantial pro experience with the Bruins top minor-pro team with Providence.

Vaakanainen is another solid defensive prospect that showed his skills this week and continues to work on his game and physical stature. Although not known for his offensive abilities, Urho can play that prototypical “shutdown” style and reads the ice very well to be ready and position himself appropriately when his team gives up the puck, and the opposing players work their way into his defensive zone. As a 19-year-old he still has time to gain more muscle and size, but as of now, he’s rock solid when it comes to clearing another teams players at the top of the crease creating havoc for his goaltender. Decent puck possession abilities and smooth passer and skater for that fast jump out of his defensive zone.

-Goaltenders-

Kyle Keyser

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Signed to a three-year entry-level contract back in October of 2017, the 19-year-old finished his third year with the Oshawa General in 2017-18 and had career highs as the teams starting netminder. Even though his best year in the OHL was rattled with two concussion injuries, the 6′-2″ 182-pound goaltender from Coral Springs, Florida managed to post a 28-13-0 record with a 3.16 Goals-Against-Average and .904 Save Percentage. Keyser, an undrafted netminder, will most likely report back to his OHL Generals team for another year of development in 2018-19 but can be eligible for the AHL Providence team the year after.

Kyle is a very competitive goaltender and showed off his skills throughout this week of camp. He does need to work on some things a bit more to complete his overall game, but there were signs of excellence and quickness that I thought stood out to me. His lateral movements from post to post were outstanding, and his blocker side was strong, but his glove hand can be a cause for concern but enough time at his age to correct.  I like how aggressive he is when challenging opposing shooters and his athleticism to quickly get back into the play for a follow-up shot or rebound. Look for him to have better numbers in the OHL next season if he can remain healthy for the duration.

Jeremy Swayman

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

After a surprising 2017-18 freshman year with the University of Maine Black Bears, the 19-year-old Anchorage, Alaska native made an immediate impact with his NCAA Division 1 team when outplayed veteran starter Robert Mcgovern to start the regular season.  After having one-year success in the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede to prepare for the collegiate level, the 6′-2″ 187-pound Swayman went on to post a 15-12-3 record a 2.72 GAA and .921 Save%. Jeremy was the recipient of many NCAA and Hockey East Awards but his play in 2017-18 and the amount of rubber he saw early in the year caught the eyes of Team USA’s World Junior Championship coaching staff when he got the invite to Buffalo, New York as a third-string netminder.

Selected in the fourth-round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from Chicago, Illinois, Swayman made his second-straight development camp appearance and showcased his skills very well. In my opinion, he’s a very well trained reactionary goaltender that has outstanding athleticism who knows when to be aggressive cutting down the angles but also smart enough to read the play coming towards him with appropriate positioning.  Like Keyser above, he tracks the puck well down low and has a quick blocker and glove hand. Jeremy has worked hard with former Black Bear Alumni Bruins Goaltending Development Coach Mike Dunham and internal Maine crease coach Alfie Michaud, and I expect to see him have a better season in 2018-19 during Hockey East play.

Dan Vladar

(Photo Credit:  Alan Sullivan Photography)

Vladar made his third-straight development camp appearance this week after being selected in the third-round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The 6′-5″ 196-pound Czech Republic native was another successful product of the developing ranks in the USHL with the Chicago Steel even though he wasn’t eligible to play in the NCAA. Dan signed a three-year entry-level deal in April of 2016 and has spent a majority of his early professional career with the Bruins “AA” Premier affiliate in the ECHL with the Atlanta Gladiators. In his time with Atlanta, Vladar appeared in 59 games posting a career 22-27-2 record, a 3.42 GAA and .899 Save%. When called up to the higher AHL level with the Providence team, Vladar has played much better with a better structured defensive system to produce a record of 6-2-1, impressive 2.42 GAA and .922 Save%.

This summers development camp event was by far the best I’ve seen from the big, athletic netminder. He continues to work hard with goaltending coaches Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham, and with goaltender-on-loan Jordan Binnington most likely heading back to his St. Louis Blues organization, Vladar is expected to split the 2018-19 season in Providence with veteran AHL goaltender Zane McIntyre who will be in his last year under contract and future uncertain.

With Vladars’ tall stature, he takes up most of the bottom of the net when retrieving pucks in the crease but could use more work on his glove hand. He doesn’t have to be an aggressive goaltender with his height but stays square to the puck and has decent rebound control. One of my favorite things about his playing style is how he deals with opposing players at the top of the crease. Most of the time he can see over them when the puck is at the point but has the smarts to drop down and ultimately take away any second chance opportunities.

Bruins Get A Deal Done With Prospect Vaakanainen

Photo Credit:  NHL.com

By: Mark Allred   |   Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

With a little over a week to go until the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft, the Boston Bruins end all speculation today with the announcement that the club has signed 2017 first-round defensive prospect Urho Vaakanainen. The 6′-1″ 185-pound Finnish defenseman was selected in with the 18th selection from last years Entry Draft from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The 19-year-old is coming to America now that his three-year entry-level contract worth $975K per season was agreed on earlier today.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The talented defensive prospect of the Bruins has had an impressive career developing his skills primarily in his home country and international tournaments. Vaakanainen helped Team Finland to a gold medal in the 2016 under-18 World Junior Championships then followed that up winning silver with the same U-18 team during the 2017 games. In the Finnish pro Liiga league with his SaiPa club, he contributed 4-7-11 numbers in 43 games last season, and in his career overseas with SaiPa he’s posted 7-16-23 totals in 109 appearances.

I believe this is a solid signing for the Bruins and the depth of the organization. It remains to be seen what level of pro hockey the young defenseman will land in the upcoming 2018-19 campaign, but it will be his first competitive action in the smaller rinks of North American hockey.  He’ll train well during the long summer offseason beginning with the team’s annual development camp at the end of the month, and will undoubtedly challenge veteran defenseman that are under contract next season for a roster spot.

In my opinion, it can never hurt a player of his age to act like a sponge and soak up everything he can with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League. I know a player like Brandon Carlo played his first year after leaving Tri-City of the Western Hockey League, but he wasn’t challenged with the decrease in ice size. International ice measurements are a little over 205-feet by 98-feet while most rinks in North American rinks are 200-feet by 85-feet so there is a significant adjustment for players coming over from overseas.

Providence Head Coach Jay Leach who was a defenseman himself is having good success with fellow defensive prospects such as the former number one pick Jakub Zboril and second-round selection Jeremy Lauzon in 2015. I know it’s a different situation and position all together but often ask myself if current NHL Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk would’ve had as good of a season in 2017-18 if he didn’t properly develop in the AHL for his first pro-level experience? I’m sure he’d be a fantastic player but might not have had the year the Bruins faithful saw last season.

Below Are What The Experts Are Saying About The Bruins New Addition To The Organization.

The Draft Analyst Steve Kounianos had this scouting report on Vaakanainen in a March 2017 article he posted about the skilled blueliner.

Vaakanainen is the latest edition of poised Finnish two-way defenders who seem to grasp the nuances of the position far better than the bulk of their peers. While it’s easy to compare him to 2016 NHL first rounder (and fellow countryman) Olli Juolevi, Vaakanainen comes across as more polished and reliable within the 200-foot game. A wonderful skater with a fluid stride, he is calm and steady with the puck and will peel back in the face of pressure rather than force things. His passes are short, crisp and strategic, and he can use the boards with both precision and effectiveness. Vaakanainen has a hard shot and is being groomed to quarterback a power play, but we were more impressed with his play while anchoring Finland’s top penalty-killing unit and refusing to float away from his slot responsibilities. He seems to have the puck on a string, and playing in Finland’s top circuit reveals a young man who is clearly one of the most mature of any first-year draft eligible. Vaakanainen won’t be a franchise rejuvenator all by himself, but we expect him to solidify one of the top two pairs for either a mediocre team or a contender.  – The Draft Analyst

Dobber Prospects writer Mike Drover had this scouting report on the Finnish defenseman in an article wrote in July of 2017 shortly after the Bruins selected him.

Playing last season for Jyvaskala of SM Liiga, Vaakanainen established himself as an elite stay-at-home defender with an NHL stride. He’s got the great hockey sense and plays to his strengths, his skating, his poise with the puck, and his defensive prowess. Vaakanainen was considered by many to be the most complete defensive defenseman coming into the draft. Vaakanainen excels on the penalty kill, the ability to shut down the rush play, and is generally not a liability with the puck. Vaakanainen hasn’t shown elite offensive skill at this point in his career, scoring only two goals and nine assists in 55 total games played last season. There are questions about whether Vaakanainen will be an offensive liability in the near term. Urho has a hard but inaccurate shot from the point but possesses good passing and decent on-ice vision.

Despite the knocks to his offensive game, the prevailing thought here is that the Bruins have acquired a solid defenseman with plenty of upside. Vaakanainen is a pick that makes a lot of sense for the Bruins who already have two great, young offensive defenders in Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy.  –  Dobber Prospects

The Hockey News provided us with this insight below about Urho’s game and areas of concern.

Excels at the defensive aspects of playing along the blueline, such as shot-blocking ability, shutdown qualities and sound decision-making with the puck. Is a solid puck mover with a fairly projectable frame. His offensive game will never be his calling card, so he is unlikely to ever become a No. 1 rearguard in the National Hockey League. Needs to add weight and get stronger to maximize his shutdown appeal. He’s a Reliable, shutdown defenseman with some upside.  – The Hockey News