Bruins 2019 Prospects Challenge Recap

Bruins rookie camp

( Photo Credit: Nancy Lane/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald )

By Joe Chrzanowski  |  Follow Me on Twitter @jchrz19

For the fifth year in a row, the Bruins sent a team to participate in the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. This year’s edition split it right down the middle, finishing with a 1-1-1 record after three games versus prospects from the Penguins, Sabres and Devils organizations. I would like to say that it was a good opportunity for fans of the team to become more familiar with some of their prospects. Unfortunately, that was not the case, unless you were lucky enough to actually attend the Challenge in person.

That’s because the Bruins organization did not see fit to televise or stream any of the games. The Penguins and Sabres streamed the games locally, but most in the Boston area were unable to watch. Fortunately, the Devils broadcast the Monday game on YouTube, and it’s still available for your viewing pleasure. It would be great if the Bruins decided to remedy this situation going forward, but that’s a discussion for another day. On to the actual games.

On Friday afternoon the Bruins took on the Penguins, and the good guys managed to come out on top, 4-3. The game did not start off very well for the Bruins, with the team falling behind 2-0 after goals by Sam Miletic and Pittsburgh first-round pick, Samuel Poulin. Boston bounced back on goals from draft picks Jakub Lauko, and Jack Studnicka and camp invite Scott Conway. The Pens tied it on a score by Nathan Legaré late in the second period. Anders Bjork came to the rescue for the Bruins, scoring the game-winner on the PP with just two seconds left in regulation. It was a good showing for Bjork, who had an assist to go along with his goal. Jack Studnicka also had a score and a helper.

The second game was Saturday evening against the host Buffalo Sabres. The final score was the same as Friday, 4-3, but the hometown boys came out on the short end, despite a great offensive effort by C/W Oskar Steen. Buffalo opened the scoring on a goal by Rasmus Asplund. Steen tied it midway through the second period on a feed from diminutive camp invite Dante Hannoun before the Sabres scored three goals in less than four minutes. Two of the goals came from center Matej Pekar, a fourth-round pick in 2018. The Bruins closed the gap in the third period on two power-play goals, from Steen and QMJHL free agent signing Samuel Asselin. They had a number of good chances to tie the game in the last minute or so with goalie Dan Vladar pulled for the extra attacker. Unfortunately, they were unable to get the equalizer by 2014 draftee Jonas Johansson.

The final game was a breakfast tilt with an unusual 9:30am start time Monday morning against the New Jersey Devils prospects, including first overall pick, Jack Hughes. The Bruins dropped this one in OT, but I felt they were the better team for the majority of the game, particularly at even strength. Both regulation goals by NJ were scored on the PP. The Devils tallied the first goal of the game while on a 5 on 3 PP. I would term the calls that led to the two-man advantage as “generous.” The score came by Nathan Bastian off a tic-tac-toe passing play that goalie Kyle Keyser had no chance at.

The Bruins tied the game with less than 30 seconds to go in the first period on a Dante Hannoun goal (assisted by first pair d-men Urho Vaakanainen and Axel Andersson). Scott Conway put the Bruins ahead 2-1 midway through the second period. That was it for the regulation scoring until 8 seconds remained in the contest. NJ was on the PP (thanks to another iffy penalty call) and had the goaltender pulled when former Merrimack forward Ludvig Larsson tied the game. Larsson scored again, ending it two minutes into the OT, even though Boston had the better of the play and chances.

I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the play of Jack Hughes. It’s very early in his pro career, but I have to say, I wasn’t overly impressed. He’s a very good skater, extremely quick, but appeared to be forcing a lot of plays. He fanned on a wide-open chance that would have been the go-ahead goal in the third period. Then in the OT, he failed to make a pass on a great 2 on 1 opportunity. I have no doubt that Hughes is going to be a fantastic player in the league, but I can’t help but think he would have been better off playing in college for at least a year like older brother Quinn. He was overshadowed, at least in this one game, by forwards Jesper Boqvist (36th overall 2017) and Mikhail Maltsev (102nd in 2016) who both played extremely well.

As much fun as it is to watch hockey again, that’s not really the point of these prospect games. With Training Camp starting today, the idea was to get these kids some playing time before training camp and to allow the staff to see if they think any of them can make the jump to the NHL. In the case of the camp invites, the teams want to see if there are any players they should bring on board. I will be basing my observations primarily on the game against NJ. I watched the game Saturday night versus Buffalo as well, but the quality of the stream I found left a little to be desired.

There were no huge surprises, in my opinion, but a few players made good impressions. I’m going to preface everything that comes after this by reminding people that it was only a prospect tournament. Players that performed well aren’t necessarily going to be superstars, and ones that did poorly are not necessarily busts. My colleagues at Black N Gold Hockey are doing a fine job giving in-depth looks at these prospects. There is no need to rehash that, but let’s take a quick look at how some of those prospects acquitted themselves.

 

Forwards:

Most of the kids up front that impressed at the Challenge were the names you would expect. Studnicka (1g/2a in 3gp) and Steen (2g/1a in 3gp) each had three points to lead the team, while Bjork had two points (1g/1a in 2gp). Lauko only had one goal in three games, but played well and showed his speed. Bjork (in the little I saw of him) was moving well and looked strong, which was to be expected given the experience advantage he has over the other prospects. There were few unheralded kids that I thought played well also. Scott Conway and Tommy Marchin, who both have AHL deals in place with PRO for the 2019-20 season were solid. Conway, who played his college hockey at Providence had two goals in his two games. Marchin, a Brown University product was held off the scoresheet, but every time he had the puck, he seemed to make the smart play, even if it was a just a cross-corner dump-in.

The player that surprised me the most this past weekend was an undersized wing, Dante Hannoun. He played his junior hockey for Prince Albert in the generally rugged WHL, and it showed. Despite being only 5’6″, and 165 pounds, he was fearless, taking hits and delivering some to much larger opponents. Hannoun was very quick, displayed a strong base, and was able to protect the puck well. He collected a goal and an assist in his two games and did not look out of place. He has not officially signed a deal yet, but based on comments from Bruins management, it appears that he will be somewhere in the system (possibly Atlanta).

On the flip side, a couple of kids that didn’t really stand out, in my opinion, were Robert Lantosi and Pavel Shen. Lantosi is a 23-year-old right shot wing who averaged more than a point per game in the highest Slovakian league last year. Shen, the Bruins 7th Round pick in 2018 looked a step slow. He was significantly better in the WJC’s this year for Russia, playing against his peers. It could just be that both Lantosi and Shen need time to get acclimated to the smaller ice surfaces and style of play in North America

Defense:

The prospect that stood out on the back end was definitely Cooper Zech. He had two assists in three games, but it was his skating and “escapability” that impressed me the most. He is calm with the puck, makes good decisions, and on the rare occasion when he doesn’t, he’s able to skate his way out of trouble. I think he is going to have a great rookie year in PRO and I’m looking forward to catching as many games as possible. Next up was Urho Vaakaneinen. He started off slow but seemed to get progressively better. Monday was his best game by far. He was very efficient on the defensive side and led several rushes into the offensive zone as well. He’s not flashy, but he moves extremely well and is very efficient.

It’s going to be tough for him to crack the NHL roster, but I believe he’s definitely the first man up in case of injury. Another guy I was really looking forward to seeing was 2018 2nd rounder, Axel Andersson. He only played in Monday’s game and looked a little tentative. The skill is there, and you can see flashes, but I think he just needs to be a little more consistent, which should come in time. Wiley Sherman was decent, but not really noticeable one way or another (which is not always a bad thing for a defenseman). Unfortunately, none of the camp invites on the blue line did much. On the positive side, as long as the contracts get done, the Bruins appear to have plenty of depth on defense at both the NHL and AHL levels.

That’s going to put a wrap on the 2019 Prospects Challenge. There was some good and some bad, but we will get a much better idea about what some of these kids are capable of over the next week or so as they hit the ice with the big boys at Bruins Training Camp. I’m not sure I see any of the guys from the Challenge roster breaking camp with the NHL team, but only time will tell.

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Boston Bruins Prospect Player Profile: Jakub Lauko

Bruins Capitals Hockey

(Photo Courtesy of AP / Nick Wass)

By: Tim Richardson | Follow Me On Twitter @TimARichardson

Jakub Lauko was drafted in the third round, 77th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. The young forward is someone who the Bruins felt could be the steal of the draft. Though his stats didn’t jump out at you, he still played well in the Czech Republic’s top league, Czech Extraliga. Lauko’s biggest asset when he was drafted was his speed. He’s able to use this speed to skate past defenders and drive to the net. Not only does he have elite speed, but he also has excellent on-ice awareness and a great finishing touch. These are three tools that not a lot of players possess. Now that we’ve gone a little into the why let’s dive into what Lauko did leading up to and after being drafted.

The 2017-18 season was the year before Lauko was drafted. The Czech Republic native was playing in the Czech Extraliga for Pirati Chomutov. He had made his debut with the club the previous year as a 16-year-old kid. That gives you an idea of how talented Lauko is. In 42 games with Pirati Chomutov, he netted three goals while dishing out six assists for nine total points and a plus/minus rating of -1. Despite the seemingly low point total, the Boston Bruins really liked what they saw from Lauko. The skill that really caught their eye though, was his speed. It’s Lauko’s biggest asset moving forward. Combining that with his scoring ability and it makes for a lethal combination.

After being drafted in 2018 Jakub Lauko was invited to training camp with the Boston Bruins. After a strong showing, he signed a three-year entry-level contract and was assigned to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. The 2018-19 season with the Huskies would be a memorable one for the young forward. In 44 games with Rouyn-Noranda, Lauko netted 21 goals while dishing out 20 assists for 41 total points, and a plus/minus rating of +34. In the Huskies’ 19 playoff games, he netted six goals and dished out seven assists for 13 total points and a plus/minus rating of +10. The young speedster would lead rookies in playoff scoring which helped Rouyn-Noranda win the 2018-19 QMJHL Championship.

After winning the QMJHL Championship the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies would go on to play in the Memorial Cup tournament. The Memorial Cup is awarded to the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) Champion. The CHL is made up of three member leagues, the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League), the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) and the WHL (Western Hockey League). Each year, the champion from each league and a host team play in a round-robin style tournament to determine the Memorial Cup winner.

Lauko would end up leading the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to a Memorial Cup Championship win. In the five games, he netted two goals and dished out six assists for eight total points and a plus/minus rating of +3. Lauko’s eight points would lead the tournament in scoring. It was a superb season for the native of the Czech Republic. He showed that he a lot of scoring ability that he’s able to pair with elite speed and on-ice awareness. Lauko has a ton of talent for being such a young player. If he can continue to develop at his current rate, then the Bruins’ assertion that he will be the steal of the 2018 draft will end up being true.

Going into this season there was some on where Lauko would play. Does he play in Providence or stay with Rouyn-Noranda? I expect the young forward to spend the entire season in Providence. The speedster has done all there is to do in the QMJHL and with a talent like his, it’s better to not rush him to the NHL before he’s ready. A full year in Providence will allow him to get acclimated to the Bruins’ system, and structure. It will also give him a chance to catch up to the speed of professional hockey. Thanks to his combination of speed, on-ice awareness, and finishing ability I think Jakub Lauko has a chance to be a special top-six forward for many years in Boston. I hope everyone is enjoying the off-season and feel free to send me any comments or questions on Twitter. As always, GO, Bs, GO!

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Prospects Challenge to Showcase Bruins’ Future

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(Photo Credit: The Sin Bin)

By Carrie Salls | Find Me on Twitter @nittgrl73

With Boston Bruins preseason games just a couple of weeks away, the Bruins will once again participate in the Prospects Challenge, which will take place Sept. 6 through Sept. 9 at the HarborCenter in Buffalo. This will be the fifth straight year that the Bruins put a team on the ice for the event. The full roster and schedule for this year’s rookie camp and Prospects Challenge can be found at the end of this story.

The 2019 challenge and rookie camp will feature Bruins prospects such as Jack Studnicka, Trent Frederic, Jakub Lauko, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, Axel Andersson, Urho Vaakanainen, Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar, as well as Anders Bjork who returns after missing much of the past two seasons recovering from injuries.

The Prospects Challenge, rookie camp and captain’s practice are traditionally the first opportunities fans get a chance to catch a glimpse of the return of hockey action before the full team assembles. This year, rookies will report for camp on Sept. 5 before making the trip to Buffalo for the Prospects Challenge. Training camp for all players begins on Sept. 12.

Like last year, the Bruins’ young talent will face off against prospects for the Buffalo Sabres, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New Jersey Devils. In the 2018 Prospects Challenge, the Bruins sent a team to the challenge that included forwards Anders Bjork, Trent Frederic, Karson Kuhlman and Zach Senyshyn and defensemen Connor Clifton, Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril.

Notable Bruins who have participated in the Prospects Challenge in previous years include Jake DeBrusk, Sean Kuraly, Danton Heinen, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Peter Cehlarik, Anders Bjork, Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

In 2018, the Devils were able to defeat the future Boston stars, while the Bruins emerged victorious in the games against the Penguins and the Sabres. In the 2017 edition of the tournament, the Bruins also won two of three games, beating Pittsburgh and New Jersey but losing to Buffalo in the second of the three games of that year’s round-robin competition.

Each participating team will play three games during the 2019 installment of the challenge. The schedule for the event and the Bruins’ roster can be found at the end of this article.

According to an announcement released by the Bruins on July 24, fans interested in attending the 2019 Prospects Challenge can purchase tickets for $10 either through the Buffalo Sabres Box Office at the KeyBank Center, online at Sabres.com or by phone at 1-888-223-6000.

The Buffalo Sabres, who are once again hosting the tournament, said in an Aug. 30 release that fans inside the local Buffalo market can stream the games Buffalo is playing in live on Sabres.com.

Boston Bruins 2019 Prospects Challenge Roster

Forwards: Samuel Asselin, Anders Bjork, Scott Conway, Trent Frederic, Jacob Gaucher*, Dante Hannoun*, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko, Tom Marchin, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka and Alex-Olivier Voyer*.
Defensemen: Axel Andersson, Max Martin*, Riley McCourt*, Andrew Perrott*, Jordan Sambrook*, Wiley Sherman, Alexey Solovyev, Urho Vaakanainen and Cooper Zech.
Goaltenders: Taylor Gauthier*, Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar.

*Player attending on an invite basis

2019 Prospects Challenge/Rookie Camp Schedule:

Thursday, September 5 (Warrior Ice Arena, Brighton, Mass.)

-Rookie Camp opens

-On-ice rookie practice, 11:15 a.m.

-Rookies will be available to media after practice

Friday, September 6 (HarborCenter, Buffalo, N.Y.)

-Morning skate, 9 a.m.

-Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Boston Bruins, 3:30 p.m.

Saturday, September 7 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Morning skate, 10:30 a.m.

-Buffalo Sabres vs. Boston Bruins, 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 8 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Boston Bruins practice, 12:30 p.m.

Monday, September 9 (HarborCenter, Buffalo)

-Boston Bruins vs. New Jersey Devils, 9:30 a.m.

Donnelly: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

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(Photo: NHL.com)

By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12

Last month, Black ‘N Gold colleague Mike Cratty approached our team with the idea of coming up with our own lists ranking the Bruins 10 best prospects; you can find Mike’s article here.

One of the stipulations for the list is that the players had to be either unsigned or on entry-level contracts (ELC’s), so guys like Cooper Zech will not be included. Also, players such as Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman will not be ranked as Bjork has played over 50 games and Kuhlman seems like he has firmly established himself by now.

The Bruins’ prospect pool remains in good shape and is stronger after a solid draft class this summer. So, without further ado, here are my top-10 Bruins prospects:

10. Zach Senyshyn

The much-maligned 16th-overall pick in the 2016 draft, Senyshyn has not been able to make a meaningful impact in the NHL yet, but he was very impressive in his NHL debut last spring. He has not dazzled anyone on the scoresheet in the AHL after he lit up the OHL, but he has still been solid nonetheless. The 6-foot-1 winger has an incredible ability to shoot the puck and his blazing speed easily makes him one of the fastest skaters in the  Bruins’ system. The 22-year-old will push for a roster spot come training camp.

9. Trent Frederic

Frederic’s low ranking on this list is not necessarily a knock on him despite how it appears on the surface. The bruising center did well in his first full season with the Providence Bruins and wowed Bruins fans in his NHL debut where he beat the wheels off of Brandon Tanev. However, the rest of his stint with the varsity club was just ho-hum as he failed to produce much of anything on offense. The Wisconsin product definitely still has top-nine NHL potential and maybe even top-six, but Jack Studnicka’s continued progression as well as the addition of John Beecher have lowered his stock for me.

8. Jeremy Lauzon

Lauzon was certainly impressive in his brief stint with the big club last season and showed us a sneak peak of what could be down the road. A sound defensive player, Lauzon’s playmaking instincts in the offensive zone is another part of his game that stands out, especially when taking into account all the assists he racked up playing juniors (95 total). The 22-year-old certainly has the makings of a future top-four defenseman in my opinion, but the plethora of defensemen in the Bruins’ system will likely keep him out of a full-time NHL gig this season.

7. Kyle Keyser

Since signing with the Bruins as an undrafted free agent, Keyser has been extremely impressive with his progression, shooting up the prospect pool rankings. After an impressive career with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL (highlighted by a .915 save percentage last season), Keyser will likely make the jump to the pro ranks this season with either Providence or Atlanta (ECHL). The 20-year-old has a knack for coming up with big saves.

6. Oskar Steen

Steen had a career season in the SHL last year as he transitioned from wing to center full-time. A sixth round draft pick in the 2016 Entry Draft, Steen ranked tenth in total scoring in the SHL with 37 points in 47 games. The speedy forward is a crafty player with a blistering shot that looks NHL-caliber already and was easily the most impressive skater at the Bruins’ latest Development Camp earlier this summer. It looks as if Steen will transition to the North American ice this season and play with Providence, which will serve him well in his adjustment to a slightly different style of play, considering his smaller frame.

5. Axel Andersson

Andersson has all the tools to be a successful defenseman in today’s NHL between his skating and puck-moving abilities. A shifty player on the backend, Andersson still has some developing to do, considering his small-ish frame (6-feet, 179 pounds). If he plays for Moncton of the QMJHL this season, a full year of experiencing the North American game will do him a world of good.

4. Jakub Lauko

Lauko has the tools of the trade to become a top-six winger down the road. After a strong showing in training camp and pre-season last fall, the winger went on to have a strong year in the QMJHL. Lauko’s shot, speed, and ability to control the puck while at full speed are the shining elements of his game. He’ll look to build on his success with another strong showing at camp this fall.

3. John Beecher

The Bruins’ first round pick this year, Beecher boasts gobs of potential. The thing that stands out the most for Beecher is his speed; he can skate like the wind. Not to mention the fact that he has size and knows how to use it, playing a powerful, heavy style of play. The Elmira, New York native is committed to play at the University of Michigan this season where he’ll get to work on his offensive creativity and scoring touch, which he did not flash off on a consistent basis.

2. Jack Studnicka

After lighting up the OHL over the last few seasons, Studnicka will make the jump to the pro game full-time this season. The center will likely begin with AHL Providence in my opinion, but you never know, especially given the Bruins’ situation at right wing, which the former second round pick can also play.

Studnicka boasts top-notch, high-end skill in all three zones and looks as if he has the potential to be a future top-six center in the NHL. The crafty Windsor, Ontario native has had his sights set on a spot on an NHL roster spot each time he’s been to training camp, and his goal will be no different this year.

1. Urho Vaakanainen

The 18th-overall pick in 2017, Vaakanainen is far and away the Bruins’ best defense prospect, and good enough to take the top spot on my list. The left-shot defender is not going to “wow” anyone with gaudy offensive numbers; however, his strong skating ability and the way he is able to move the puck up ice with ease is what intrigues me the most about Vaakanainen.

The 20-year-old Finn will push hard for a spot on the opening night roster after an impressive year in Providence (although it was somewhat derailed after he sustained a concussion in his second NHL game after being called up). The only thing standing between Vaakanainen and a spot on the NHL roster is the logjam the Bruins currently have on defense; top-four potential is there for sure, maybe even top-two.

Allred: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

As a diehard Boston Bruins fan, I also pay close attention to the organization’s prospects in the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins and lower levels of developmental hockey around the world. I believe it’s important for B’s fans to not only be up to date with what’s going on with the National Hockey League team in Boston but also who’s standing out in the prospect pool and about to cross the threshold of future NHL professional careers.

These top-ten ranking below are my thoughts on where I see these prospects in the B’s developing depth with minimal if no games in the NHL. This was a great idea from our Senior writer Mike Cratty who came to our writing team of 17 members for that offseason content and to keep the B’s conversation going. Check out the two previous prospect ranking articles from Mike Cratty HERE, and writer Lucas Pearson’s rankings Here to see the difference in opinions when it comes to this offseason topic. Without further ado, here are my Top-10 Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings.

10) Jakub Zboril

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Sometimes first-round NHL drafted players don’t get to the highest level in the world after leaving the draft podium, but with NHL contracted players ahead of Zboril it gives time to properly develop. The now 22-year-old two-way defenseman has one-year remaining on his current entry-level contract before becoming a restricted free agent. Jakub will most likely spend another season with the Providence Bruins where he’s played in 124 career games posting 8-30-38 numbers. In two career NHL games during his callups from the AHL, Zboril went pointless but did get a taste of the NHL which could drive him to seriously compete for a spot at training camp in September.

9) Zach Senyshyn

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Another young player with tremendous upside when he was selected in the first round in 2015 along with the aforementioned Zboril. In my opinion, Senyshyn has the attributes to be an NHL’er, but the pipeline ahead of him hasn’t been easy to crack the code to be a regular. With one-year remaining on his entry-level deal Zach is going to have to work harder than ever to get the attention of the Bruins brass high above to address a serious need on the right side of the B’s forward core.

In 132 career AHL games with Providence, the 22-year-old has 26-24-50 numbers and in two games during the 2018-19 campaign got his first career NHL goal when he was called up and played in a 3-0 victory over the Minnesota Wild. I can see Senyshyn playing a majority of next year in Providence, but he could also get more looks during this upcoming 2019-20 NHL season.

8) Jeremy Lauzon

( Photo Credit: ProvidenceBruins.com )

Jeremy is another prospect that is being hindered by the bottlenecking factor of this Bruins organization, especially for a depth defenseman. Lauzon is on the last year of his entry-level deal and overly not sure of his NHL timeline with the core ahead of him. I’d expect he’s going to have a solid camp and will impress those who are constructing a winner in the next regular season campaign but another season in Providence developing is what I see in my crystal ball. Lauzon did play in 16 games at the NHL level during the 2018-19 season and thought he played well earning his first and only NHL goal in that timeframe. With Providence appearing in 81 games the former 2015 second-round selection posted 2-12-14 numbers in his career thus far in the AHL.

7) Trent Frederic

( Photo Credit: Team Shred Photography )

By far, one of my favorite prospects in the Bruins system. Frederic has speed and creativity, but above all, he plays with that edge that can get him into the NHL Bruins lineup no matter what forward line. He has good speed with or without the puck, and his strength in the faceoff circle is another tremendous attribute when winning draws in critical situations.

The 2018-19 season was Frederics first full season of AHL hockey and as a rookie in the league contributed offensively with 14-11-25 numbers. I still believe that Trent’s game can only get better with his time developing in Providence but did have a few good looks in his first career NHL games in the 2018-19 season where he spent 15 games with the Boston club failing to register a point.  Frederic is another big kid with serious upside as a 21-year-old and can definitely see his offensive numbers getting better with the upcoming season with two more full seasons under his current entry-level contract.

6) Kyle Keyser

( Photo Credit: TheAHL.com / NBCSports.com )

Signed to an entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent back in October of 2017 after losing former Bruins prospect netminder Malcolm Subban via the waiver process to the Vegas Golden Knights. Since Keyser’s addition to the future plans of the Bruins crease, the Coral Springs, Florida native has really impressed me and continues to pass other goaltending prospects that were drafted in previous years.

Keyser is a 20-year-old netminder who’s eligible for the AHL action in the upcoming season. With Zane McIntyre out of the picture and the Bruins signing Maxime Legace to a one-year deal to add to the netminding depth there are rumors he could start his minor-pro career in the ECHL. The AHL full time is not out of the realm depending on what the B’s want to do with goaltender Dan Vladar. Kyle had a career year last season playing for the OHL’s Oshawa Generals where he tied his career-high in games played with 47 and a record of 32-8-0 with a 2.45 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage.

5) Axel Andersson

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

One of the more intriguing defensive prospects, in my opinion.  Drafted in the second round in 2018, Andersson was quickly signed to an entry-level contract after the close of the teams annual Development Camp. The 6′-0″ 180-pound defenseman has impeccable skating abilities along with impressive edge work. He has a high hockey IQ and the ability to snap tape to tape stretch passes for quick transition offensively.

Andersson is not a point-producing blueliner, but that part of his game could be incorporated with his time in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Moncton Wildcats a team who selected him in the 2019 CHL Import Draft where he went 30th overall in the first round. From the folks I talk to in the Moncton, New Brunswick Canada area is that he’s going to be heavily relied on the backend and could see top-line minutes in all situations.

4) Jakub Lauko

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Probably one of the most exciting prospects when it comes to raw talent. Lauko’s speed and puck control in full speed has been a pleasure to watch in his first development camp and his games in the “Q” with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. After he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NHL draft, he joined the Huskies club a year later as the Rouyn-Noranda club had his rights from drafting him in the CHL import draft. Lauko and the Huskies would go onto have one of the best seasons known to be with the team being the best in the QMJHL during the regular season, capturing the Presidents Trophy in the playoffs, and marching into Halifax, Nova Scotia to take home the Memorial Cup,

In 44 games for the Huskies, Lauko contributed with 21-20-41 numbers and 6-7-13 totals in the postseason. He’s definitely a work in progress and will be in the pro ranks soon enough, but I’m a firm believer in properly developing players and could see him back with the Huskies for the upcoming 2019-20 season. The AHL is another possibility but like I said another solid year in the QMJHL defending the outstanding President Trophy and Memorial Cup-winning year wouldn’t be a bad idea.

3) John Beecher

( Photo Credit: by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images )

Beecher is a 2019 first-round draft pick that has intimidating size and speed for an 18-year-old that’s about to start his NCAA hockey career at the University of Michigan in the fall of 2019. With players like Studnicka, Lauko, and Keyser excused from the 2019 Bruins Development Camp festivities, Beecher had the spotlight on him as the new kind in the system. His power forward mentality and creativity for a bigger player has been something to watch that’s for sure. His tremendous upside was on full display in the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase held in Plymouth, Michigan where he was in the top-six of the tournament scoring for earning 4-1-5 numbers in five games played.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what this type of player he becomes at Michigan in his first year of collegiate hockey. If he can earn five points in five games on a team highlighted with names like Cole Caufield, Arthur Kaliyev, and Joel Farabee, the young Beecher could see an increased role with the NCAA Wolverines in a top-six powerhouse role under the tutelage of Head Coach Melvin Pearson and play with fellow B’s prospect Jack Becker.

2) Urho Vaakanainen

( Photo Credit: NBC Sports )

If any prospect defenseman is ready to cross the threshold of a long NHL Bruins career, it’s former first-rounder Vaakanainen. Due to an unfortunate head injury to start the 2018-19 NHL regular season, Urho would come back to the game later after recovering from a concussion to play the remaining games of the year with the Providence Bruins. The 20-year-old Vaakanainen started his pro career with Providence and was called up in October of 2018 due to injuries at the NHL level.

After only two NHL games and zero points, Urho suffered a concussion and didn’t return to the game for two months. When he did return to the game, he was placed in Providence where he played the remainder of the 2018-19 AHL season. Vaakanainen’s return would be in mid-January of 2019 and in 30 games to close the regular season Urho posted 4-10-14 numbers. As mentioned above a few times, current NHL contracts in Boston could hinder Vaakanainen from an NHL return for the upcoming season but the rumors of B’s defenseman going on the LTIR to start the year, Urho could easily make a return to the NHL lineup without a doubt.

Jack Studnicka

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

Drafted in the second round of the 2017 NHL Draft, Studnicka has worked extremely hard the last couple of seasons trying to make the NHL out of training camp. This year he could very well be in the mix for a forward position, but with the current depth up the middle, jack very well could see time on the wing if needed. The 6′-1″ 172-pound natural center has spent the last four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League and last season posting 12-22-34 numbers in 30 games for the Oshawa Generals before being shipped to the Niagara Icedogs via trade where he posted 24-25-49 numbers in 30 games played.

Between Oshawa where Captain Jack played three seasons prior and Niagara for a 30 game stint, Studnicka had his best offensive numbers posting 36-47-83 totals for his best OHL career season surpassing his previous career-high of 72 points in the 2017-18 campaign. As a person that like to see Bruins prospects properly develop, I’d like to see Studnicka play at least a full season in the AHL because if the B’s organization is seriously considering moving him to a wing position, he should learn that transition in Providence with what’s looking like a very impressive lineup for the upcoming season.

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.

Pearson: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

VICTORIA , BC - DECEMBER 21: Jack Studnicka #23 of Team Canada raises his stick to salute the fans following a game versus Team Slovakia at the IIHF World Junior Championships at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on December 21, 2018 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Kevin Light/Getty Images)

(Kevin Light/Getty Images)

By: Lucas Pearson  |  Follow Me On Twitter @LucasPearson_

Recently fellow Black N’ Gold writer Mike Cratty had an idea to simply rank the Bruins prospects and suggested that we all take a stab at ranking the Bs farm system. His rules were simply that there were no players on AHL only deals (like Cooper Zech) and that Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman weren’t eligible for the list. Make sure you read Mike’s article here, but without further ado, here’s my list.

10. Jakub Zboril

Just because the Bruins may have missed out on players like Thomas Chabot and Matthew Barzal doesn’t mean they did not get anything of value with those picks in that infamous 2015 draft. With the ridiculous amounts of injuries that plagued the Bruins defense, we all got to see Zboril in a little NHL action. He looked pretty good in his two games with the big club and after back to back solid years in the AHL, it’s not time to give up on this promising young Czech man.

9. Zach Senyshyn

From one criticized pick to another, Senyshyn is not a bust just yet. While he hasn’t had the most outstanding numbers in the AHL (with 50 points in 132 games) but was a two-time 40 goal scorer in the OHL. We saw a glimpse of the Ottawa native in a couple of games to end the season, and he looked far from out of place in Boston. It will be very interesting to see how Senyshyn will play with his first true shot at cracking the top 9 in Boston.

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Boston Bruins

(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports)

8. Trent Frederic

Unlike the previous two players, we got to have an extended look at Trent Frederic in the NHL. He was far from dominant in his 15 game stint, failing to register a point in all 15 games, but showed that he had the grit and work ethic of an NHL player. I think Frederic will 100% become a regular NHLer but whether that is in the top or bottom six has yet to be seen. A full year of top-six minutes in the AHL would do wonders for Frederic’s game.

7. Kyle Keyser

I’m a huge fan of Keyser. Last year with the Oshawa Generals he boasted the second-best save percentage (.915) in all of the OHL and was even better in the playoffs where he posted a .925 save percentage in the Generals 15 game playoff run. Keyser was able to make the World Junior Championships with the US and start their first two games but was unfortunately struck with an illness before the team’s third game and didn’t play again in the tournament due to teammate Cayden Primeau’s stellar play. At just 20 years old, Keyser has a real chance to take the reigns from Tuukka Rask a few years down the line if he continues to impress in his development.

(Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)

6. Oskar Steen

After a year in the SHL where he had a grand total of six points in 45 games, Steen had a breakout season in the for Farjestad BK where he was able to notch 17 goals and 37 points in 46 games, good for 10th in the SHL. What was even more impressive about that season was that the nine players above Steen had an average age of 30, the youngest being 26 while Steen is still just 21. With his speed and agility, I’d lookout for the young Swede to be an under the radar fit for the Bruins big league roster this year.

5. Jeremy Lauzon

In his short stay in the NHL, this season Lauzon impressed a lot of people. He isn’t the flashiest player, but is really solid in his own end and showed a lot of playmaking ability in his years in the QMJHL, tallying 40 assists in 46 games during his final season. If the Bruins didn’t have such a logjam at defense, Lauzon would certainly be on the Bruins roster this year.

(Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

4. Jakub Lauko

Lauko continues to look more and more like a steal as we continue to see him grow. Originally projected to go in the middle of the second round, Lauko fell to the Bruins in the 3rd round of the 2018 draft. The 19-year-old notched 41 points in 44 games and helped the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies win the President’s Cup this past year. His blazing speed and hockey IQ sets him apart from most of the competition and should set him up to be a really solid NHL player.

3. John Beecher

I’m not going to lie, when I saw that Arthur Kaliyev dropped all the way to pick 30, I really wanted the Bruins to hop all over him. When I learned that the Bruins drafted yet another player that was expected to go later in the draft I was honestly pretty disappointed but man, every single day I learn more about Beecher I continue to love this pick more and more. Beecher was overshadowed heavily by players like Jack Hughes, Cole Caufield, and Alex Turcotte but still put together a solid season playing outside of the top six in the US developmental program, putting up 43 points in 63 games. Most recently Beecher has raised a lot of eyebrows at the World Junior Summer Showcase where he has displayed his speed, agility and two-way prowess while impressing many people.

Urho Vaakanainen

(Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

2. Urho Vaakanainen

It really is a shame that Vaakanainen had to get cheap shot early in just his second NHL game because we didn’t get to truly see what the young Fin had in store, but there’s no question that the Bruins have something in store with this defenseman. The 18th overall pick in the 2017 draft is a strong skater and is very reliable in his own zone with the ability to move the puck very well. Vaakanainen is already a two-time gold medalist, winning the U-18 and U-20 championships with team Finland.

1. Jack Studnicka

I thought for a while on who deserved the top spot on this list, but ultimately, I chose Studnicka. Last season Studnicka began his season with the Oshawa Generals, averaging above a point per game but really stepped up when he was traded mid-season to the Niagra IceDogs where he was able to light the lamp 24 times and add 25 assists in just 30 games. Even when he was on team Canada at World Juniors with players like Morgan Frost, Cody Glass and Barret Hayton, he was able to stand out and catch the eye of everyone. Bob McKenzie said following a game that “It was pretty obvious that Jack Studnicka was the best player on the ice,” quite the praise for a guy that wasn’t playing top minutes on the team. A year after missing out on the 3rd line center position, Studnicka will once again look to crack the Bruins roster and make his mark in the NHL.

Honorable Mentions: Axel Andersson, Pavel Shen, Jacob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Peter Cehlarik, Cameron Hughes, Jeremy Swayman

Cratty: Top-10 Bruins Prospects

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(Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports)

By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty

The Bruins’ prospect core is looking pretty solid after the 2019 NHL Draft. This list includes players on ELC’s, so a player like Cooper Zech will not be included because he is on an AHL contract.

Additionally, I will not include Anders Bjork and Karson Kuhlman on this list as Bjork, despite still being on an ELC, has played 50 NHL games. Karson Kuhlman has pretty safely established himself as an NHL player, in my opinion. With all of that on the table, here are my top-10 Bruins prospects right now.

1. Urho Vaakanainen

At number one stands the top defensive prospect in the system. The 18th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, Urho Vaakanainen absolutely the potential to be a top-pairing NHL defenseman. Currently, the defensive core is crowded, but Vaakanainen will carve out an important defensive role sometime in the near future.

His ability to clean things up in his own zone and dictate the play from the back end through the neutral zone is at a high level. Defensemen who can do that thrive in today’s NHL. Offense isn’t his strongest suit, but his skating and puck-moving abilities allow him to find his teammates with ease for scoring chances. This combination of skills puts him at the top of the Bruins prospect core in my eyes.

Check out this heads up assist by Vaakanainen in the AHL this past January.

2. Jack Studnicka

Deciding between Jack Studnicka and John Beecher at number two was tough. But, I gave Studnicka the edge because of what he has proven in the past. Beecher proved himself to be worthy of first-round consideration behind a crop of high-end U.S. NTDP forwards this past season, but I think there is still potential to be unlocked in the future at the University of Michigan.

Studnicka possesses high-end skills in all three zones, especially in the offensive zone. His well-rounded game allowed him to thrive in the OHL with the Oshawa Generals and the Niagara IceDogs. The top-six center potential is definitely there. After lighting it up in Juniors, his sights are now set on an NHL roster spot.

Oh yeah, and he has some sick hands and finishing ability.

3. John Beecher

John Beecher has a great blend of size and speed down as a centerman. Here’s an example from yesterday at the World Junior Summer Showcase.

That combination of size and speed gives him the potential to be a deadly second-line center down the road. Said combination also makes him a menace for defenders to contain. His time at the University of Michigan in the future will only do good things for his game and makes him a very intriguing prospect.

4. Jakub Lauko

When I see Jakub Lauko, I think of Brad Marchand. They both possess high-end offensive ability as left-wingers and plenty of nastiness in their game. Lauko plays a high-energy style and has excellent puck skills. He absolutely has top-six forward upside. When he was drafted, he said he wanted to prove he was the steal of the 2018 draft at 77th overall. He’s also not afraid to show off his personality.

He was a true impact player for Rouyn-Noranda in their Memorial Cup Championship run this past season.

5. Axel Andersson

Axel Andersson is a right-handed defenseman with a powerful skating stride and solid puck skills, qualifying himself as another defenseman that really fits the mold of today’s premier NHL defenseman. He still needs some time to develop, but he projects as a top-4 defenseman. Here’s a glimpse of what he can make happen with those puck skills.

6. Oskar Steen

Everything Oskar Steen does, he does with blazing speed. He’s a very quick skater, smooth puck handler, and has an NHL shot already. His smaller frame doesn’t phase him when it comes to getting in the corners. He’s just a tough player to contain, and he’ll fight for a roster spot with the Bruins this season.

Below you’ll see Steen make a great read on a loose puck and show off that NHL shot he already possesses.

7. Jeremy Lauzon

Jeremy Lauzon gave us a quick glimpse at what he can do in a short, 16-game NHL stint this past season. He moves the puck effectively, is stout defensively, and can hold his own in the offensive zone. While the Bruins defensive core is fairly crowded at the moment, Lauzon still holds the potential to be a second or third pairing NHL defenseman.

Below you’ll find a clip of an electric goal Lauzon scored for Team Canada in the 2017 World Junior Championships.

8. Jeremy Swayman

The first goalie on the list is Jeremy Swayman of the University of Maine. What sticks out with Swayman is his athleticism and quickness. His movement in the crease is very smooth and allows him to make tough saves. Of the Bruins’ goalie prospects, he possesses the highest NHL upside in my eyes.

Below you’ll find a glimpse of that high-end athleticism and quickness on display against Quinnipiac from 2017.

9. Zachary Senyshyn

Zachary Senyshyn is another player who will fight for an NHL roster spot this season. He has a past history of being a pure goal scorer in part thanks to his excellent shooting ability. Don’t let the fact that he hasn’t lit up the score sheet in the AHL take away from his potential to be a legitimate goal scorer.

10. Kyle Keyser

Kyle Keyser also possesses some great athleticism and quickness in the crease and rounds out the top-10. He was acquired as a diamond in the rough undrafted free agent signing and is now set to spend this season with the Providence Bruins and possibly the Atlanta Gladiators.

He has a thing for sprawling saves.

The Bruins prospect core is doing just fine, which is nice reassurance to have with an already proven cup contending team.

Bruins Prospect Lauko Helps Rouyn-Noranda Capture Memorial Cup

( Photo Credit: Sportsnet )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

After a great 2018-19 regular season that produced a 59-8-0-1 record and 119 points, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies team seemed like the club to beat entering the postseason. The Huskies pretty much ran through the playoffs beating Shawinigan in the first-round series 4-2, Sweeping Victoriaville 4-0 in the Quarter Finals followed by another 4-0 Semi-Final sweep of Rimouski to beating the round-robin Tournament host Halifax Mooseheads capturing the organizations first ever Memorial Cup.

Boston Bruins prospect and first-year QMJHL player Jakub Lauko had a good season after the B’s organization selected him in the third round of the National Hockey League Draft last June. The 19-year-old Czech Republic native had a critical decision to make after leaving the draft podium concerning his development and how aggressive both he and the Bruins organization wanted to go. The options on the table during the offseason for Lauko was to either return to his Czech Republic country or take a stern approach and mold his skill set with a team in North America and the tighter offensive game.

Lauko was a 2017 Canadian Hockey League import draft selection in the second round so with Rouyn-Noranda holding his rights it was a no brainer to place him in the “Q” a decision that’s certainly paid dividends. During the regular 2018-19 season, Jakub posted 21-20-41 numbers in 44 games and then in 19 playoff games had 6-7-13 totals leading up to the annual round robin tournament. In the Memorial Cup tournament, Lauko certainly picked up the pace on the score sheet and his game away from the puck. In five games leading up to the Huskies championship since the clubs beginnings in 1996, the 6′-0″ 170-pound versatile forward posted 2-6-8 numbers as one of the key factors to winning it all.

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The crafty forward was signed to a three-year, entry-level contract in late September of 2018 and as a rookie forward in North America he certainly capped off an impressive showing as a member of one of the greatest CHL teams ever. His effort during the regular season, a 2019 QMJHL President Cup Champion, and recipient of the CHL Memorial Cup Ed Chynoweth Award for most points in the tournament and a 2019 Memorial Cup winner have this Bruins prospect off to a good start and an impressive resume thus far. Although these experiences might be small to some out there, these are important events to a young man’s hockey career and feed the hunger for more as he takes a step closer to the NHL.

Now with all these great accomplishments mentioned above and in such short order, it leads to many speculations of his arrival and when he’ll, in fact, wear the Black N’ Gold as many fans shoot from the hip on the shiny new toy mentality and need to see this guy sooner rather than later.  To me, he’s a fantastic piece to the future of the NHL Bruins, but like all prospects, he’s a work-in-progress. The days of rushing prospects through the system are all but over unless you have that gem like a Patrice Bergeron or David Pastrnak of past years, properly developing players and using the junior and minor-pro levels to continue and mold a player to be an all-around pro.

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Even though Lauko had a great year in the QMJHL that lasted from September to last night, I believe he and the B’s organization should entertain the idea of an additional season of work back with his Rouyn-Noranda club for the entire 2019-20 campaign. This will only increase the need to form a better two-way game, and I’ve heard from a few folks close to the Huskies team that he struggled and showed frustration with how he was being taught the defensive style. Something he might not have been used to under the coaching eyes of an international staff and larger ice surface he was around over a year ago. That two-way game certainly found it’s way into the young forwards head as the Huskies staff never gave up, and it definitely showed after his return from the 2019 IIHF World Juniors Under-20 team representing his Czech Republic country.

I always use Jake DeBrusk as a perfect example of proper development. Do you honestly believe a player like him would have the NHL rookie year like he did without a full season with the American Hockey Leagues Providence Bruins? Anything could’ve happened, but in my opinion, I don’t think so.

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Bruins Prospect Lauko Helps Huskies Win Second League Title

( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey Leagues Rouyn-Noranda captured the second league championship in the clubs existence with a victory last night over the Halifax Mooseheads from the Scotiabank Center in front of 9,602 hockey fans. The Huskies capped off a tremendous record-breaking 2018-19 campaign bringing the Dogs to a regular season record of 59-8-0-1 and 119 points. This year’s QMJHL postseason had the Huskies on a mission beating Shawinigan in the first-round 4-2, back-to-back sweeps in the second and third round of Victoriaville and Rimouski respectfully, to raising the teams second champion in four years with a 4-2 final round series victory over Halifax.

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Boston Bruins prospect and Huskies forward Jakub Lauko played very well in the 2019 playoffs posting 6-7-13 numbers in 19 games played. Although he was a key member of the Huskies success in the regular season posting 21-20-41 numbers in 44 games in his rookie season right into the postseason, he was unable to participate in last night game due to injury.  After scoring a goal in the first period of game five, the 19-year-old Czech Republic native sustained an injury later in that game which had both sides very cautious moving onto game six. The third-round selection of the NHL Bruins gave a solid effort in last night’s pregame skate but was unable to make the gameday lineup. He was in fact on the ice afterward for the championship festivities to celebrate with ownership and fellow teammates.

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Next stop for Lauko (health permitted) and his Rouyn-Noranda club is the annual Memorial Cup tournament this year held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The round-robin festivities get started on Friday, May 17th, 2019, and end on May 26th. All tournament games will be played at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax a place the Huskies know quite well. The four-team tournament is compiled of league champions from the Canadian Hockey Leagues top major junior clubs in the Ontario Hockey League, QMHL, and the Western Hockey League. The Host city who wins the bid always gets a free pass into these games regardless of where they sit after the regular season or postseason success.

It remains to be seen what kind of injury the young Bruins prospect sustained and whether he’ll be able to participate in the popular tournament starting this weekend. I’ve had the pleasure of getting locker room interviews with him at last summers Bruins Development Camp which was held at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts for the second straight year after leaving the Rissutcia Memorial facilities a place the B’s practiced and trained for over 30 years.

In my opinion, Lauko is a very skilled player with tremendous upside and glad he and the Bruins organization agreed on a three-year entry-level contract shortly after the B’s drafting him and seeing what kind of player they have on their hands a Dev Camp. Another great decision was to place him in the QMJHL with the Rouyn-Noranda club, a place Lauko was selected in the 2017 CHL import draft where he went 107th overall in the second-round. Not saying a return to his home country for further development would be a bad idea or hurt his development, but rather placing him in North America to get used to the smaller ice surface before making the jump up to the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins or even if he’s lucky enough to secure a spot on the National Hockey League Boston Bruins roster in the next year or two.

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I know many fans and followers of Jakub want to see him rise to the highest level in the world, but after contacting local scouts in the area, many have said he has NHL speed but he’s a work-in-progress and his development shouldn’t be rushed.  One a May 4th,2019 episode of The Pipeline Show Podcast ( Highly Recommended Follow/Subscribe ) hosted by Guy Flaming the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies broadcast voice Jean-Paul Charlesbois mentioned in the show below that Lauko has NHL speed with great hands and an accompanying shot but there are areas that he needs to work on respectfully before making the jump to the NHL that so many want to see sooner than later.

A few evaluations that caught my attention in this interview with Jean-Paul was the mention of defensive skills improvement and the fact that he wasn’t “keen” on the idea of being taught a two-way North American style game which he has since accepted and adjusted over his rookie season into this year’s playoffs. He may have NHL speed and good hands but the mention of better puck handling skills to me at least screams he’s not ready for the NHL quite yet. The interview with Huskies broadcaster starts at the 16:24 mark and ends at the 32:00 minutes of the show below if you want to hear for yourselves.

Lauko who signed a three-year, entry-level on September 28th, 2019, is eligible for a return to Rouyn-Noranda to continue his development and work on those attributes mentioned in the podcast above. or he has the potential to possibly be moved up to the AHL to play in Providence. Regardless of his placement next season, I’d like to see one more year of him in the QMJHL, then a full season in the AHL before full-time NHL duties. B’s forward Jake DeBrusk is a perfect example that I gravitate to when thinking about the importance of taking your time with the developing youth and give them a season in Providence.  I’m no expert or fortune teller but it’s hard for me to think that Jake DeBrusk would go onto have a successful rookie season without the experience and guidance of his time with the top minor-pro affiliate of the NHL B’s.

Boston Bruins: The Frank Vatrano Trade One Year Later

PHOTO CREDIT: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

By: Michael DeRosa | Check me out on Twitter @michael_derosa4

It has been roughly one year since the Boston Bruins sent Frank Vatrano to the Florida Panthers for their 2018 third-round pick. The Bruins used this pick to draft versatile forward, Jakub Lauko. The future looks bright for Lauko, as he is currently playing well with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL.

Yet, it appears that Vatrano has truly cemented himself as a top-six forward at the NHL level with the Panthers.  A huge reason behind this is the fact that the team has given him a chance to thrive in offensive situations. It also helps that he is playing with an emerging two-way center in Vincent Trocheck. However, even with this being the case, Vatrano’s offensive potential has always been present. It was just a matter of him finding it consistently.

In 2015-16, Vatrano truly blossomed as a star at the AHL level when he registered 36 goals in just as many games with the Providence Bruins. This truly is a rare feat and one that warranted immense praise at the time. This would result in the team giving him a chance at the NHL level, and he would secure a spot with the team by providing some solid secondary scoring.

More of the same occurred in 2016-17 from him, but last season was when everything seemed to go downhill. He soon would find himself a healthy scratch with the team, as rookie forwards Jake DeBrusk and Danton Heinen outplayed him. Vatrano’s offense essentially was gone. He would only register two goals in 25 games with the team, and he failed to thrive in a defensive role. This is why the trade occurred.

When the move was made, it was met with a decent amount of praise. Getting a third rounder for a struggling forward was far more than what was expected. However, as soon as Vatrano arrived in Florida, he quickly found his scoring touch again. This was ultimately the risk of trading him. Management knew that he was a player who had offensive upside, but it simply could not occur with him playing in a bottom-six role.

Now, that is not to say that this move was a bad one. It was evident that Vatrano being scratched every night was not doing anything for his game, nor for the Bruins. However, it is clear that at this point in time, his services would be greatly appreciated. Depth scoring is seriously at a premium right now for the club. Nobody after the first-line, aside from David Krejci, has been able to provide consistent scoring for the team.

When looking at Vatrano stats this season, it is clear that he has been to maintain offensive success. In 49 games this season, he has been able to register 17 goals and 27 points. That is not necessarily an all-star campaign, but it is evident that it would be welcomed in Boston right now. In fact, it honestly can be said that it is desperately needed.

There is no way to prove that Vatrano would have been able to have this success playing Boston this year. In fact, one could argue that it would have been unlikely because of how far he fell down the depth chart. However, in a sense, this just shows how quickly everything can change in a matter of one season. The Bruins were at the top of the league in depth scoring last year, but now are struggling immensely. Meanwhile, Vatrano has gone from a 13th forward to a top-six one in Florida.

If one had to give a verdict on this deal, it is clear that Florida slightly has the upper hand right now. However, Lauko had an impressive rookie camp this year and has an abundance of potential. Also, the real question is if Vatrano can carry this success into later seasons. It is apparent that consistency has been an issue for him so we will see.

At the end of the day, this was just a solid hockey trade for all parties involved.

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