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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World Juniors 2019: Bruins Prospects Heading Into Quarter-Finals

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PHOTO CREDITS: (saultsports.com)

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

The 2019 World Junior Championships have truly been entertaining so far this year. From dominating performances such as the 14-0 by Canada over Denmark and Slovakia’s 11-2 win over Kazakhstan. Valiant comeback efforts such as the United States scoring four unanswered goals in the final ten minutes to force overtime versus Sweden. And of course, the feel-good stories like the support of the underdogs – Team Kazakhstan as every shot, save, and goal were met with loud, roaring cheers.

The Boston Bruins, like many NHL teams, are well represented in the tournament. Jakub Lauko and Daniel Bukac on the Czech Republic, Jack Studnicka on Canada, Kyle Keyser on the States, Pavel Shen on Team Russia, and the addition of Urho Vaakanainen just before the tournament to Team Finland. Not only are these players playing in the tournament, but they are playing a crucial role for their respective countries.

G Kyle Keyser – United States

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PHOTO CREDITS: (JONATHAN HAYWARD / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

As one of the favourites to win the gold medal when the under-20 tournament concludes, the United States used the four preliminary games to judge who gets the starting role in between the pipes because once the team makes it into the Quarter-Finals, it is not too common to switch goaltenders as you would see in the National Hockey League regular season.

Keyser’s teammate, Cayden Primeau, is the other goaltender that is looking to grab that starting role. The Montreal Canadiens’ 2017 seventh-round selection played two games and so did Bruins’ goalie prospect Keyser. Keyser played two games – the 5-4 OT loss to the Swedes and the 2-1 win over Slovakia on Boxing Day.

Keyser’s 1-1-0 record alongside his 0.87 save percentage and 2.95 goals-against-average is ranked as the second-worst for goaltenders heading into the Quarter-Finals. Only Switzerland goalie, Akira Schmid has worse statistics so far in the World Juniors. It is fair to note that the five goals he allowed versus Sweden drastically impacted those numbers.

Against the Swedes, Keyser made many solid saves off of poor plays by his defensemen. The Swedish players had numerous 2-on-1s that were stopped by Keyser and his saves arguably gave the team the drive to come back and tie the game.

With that said, Team USA announced that Cayden Primeau, the other American goaltender, will get the start in the crease for the United States in their Quarter-Final game against the Czech Republic. Yesterday, Head Coach Mike Hastings said it was a coin toss as to who will get the starting role as both goalies earned it, but clearly, he decided to go with the Canadiens prospect due to his strong 4-to-1 win over Finland.

F Jakub Lauko – Czech Republic

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

Drafted 77th overall (3rd Round) by the Boston Bruins in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, forward Jakub Lauko has had a successful season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), scoring 12-14-26 totals in 26 games this season before being called to the World Juniors.

While at the U20 World Junior Championships, Lauko has one goal and one assist in four preliminary games. The 18-year-old forward scored his lone goal of the tournament in the 4-0 win over Denmark on New Year’s Eve. The tally ended up being the game-winning goal for the Czechs. Lauko also helped out in the opening game of the tournament, recording his only assist thus far on the overtime-winning goal against Switzerland.

Lauko has been good on the other end of the ice too. In the same game as his assist versus the Swiss, Lauko made a great defensive block on a 2-on-1 that kept the game tied around the midway point through the third period of play. Without that Lauko block, the Swiss may take a 2-1 lead and may end up winning the hockey game.

D Daniel Bukac – Czech Republic

Only one team in the World Juniors this year has two Bruins prospects on its roster – the Czech Republic and it seems more and more that the Bruins like having Czech players when you look at David Pastrnak and David Krejci on the full-time Boston roster up in the NHL.

As with the already-mentioned Jakub Lauko on the forward core, the Czechs have 6-foot-5, 209-pound defenceman Daniel Bukac on their blueline as well. The Bruins drafted Bukac with their seventh-round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft. The former player in the Western Hockey League joined the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 2018 CHL Import Draft.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (Doug Westcott)

Bukac is not known as an offensive defenceman by a stretch of the imagination. With his big frame, he is a solid shutdown defender on the back end and that was mentioned by the Ice Dogs General Manager, Joey Burke, when they added Bukac to their roster.

“Daniel is a big addition for our club. He provides help in an area we needed to improve in. A proven player at this level who brings size, defensive prowess as well as strength, adds a special dynamic to our group. Anytime you can add an NHL drafted player,  it always makes an impact. We look forward to the pedigree Daniel will bring. This is yet another exciting signing for us this offseason, and Daniel will be fun to watch in Niagara.”

Bukac has six points (two goals, four assists), in twenty-four games with the Ice Dogs before going to the WJC. Bukac has one assist in the World Juniors, against Denmark, when he assisted on the fourth and final Czech goal in the 4-0 win. Bukac has also been one of the top penalty-killers for the Czech Republic, who has a third-best 85.71% success rate on the penalty-kill.

Bukac, Lauko, and the Czech Republic battle Kyle Keyser and the United States in today’s quarterfinal.

D Urho Vaakanainen – Finland

Coming off a concussion that he suffered during his brief tenure in the National Hockey League, the eighteenth-overall draft pick in 2017 by the Boston Bruins joined his national country of Finland for the World Juniors.

Due to his NHL experience earlier in the year, Finland knew that they had to play Vaakanainen in a top role on the defensive core due to the lack of experience on the rest of the team. For the majority of the preliminary games, Vaakanainen played in the most minutes over all of the other Finnish players.

Dawning the “A” on his sweater, Vaakanainen also added two assists in the four games – in a 5-1 win over Slovakia on December 29th and assisted on the only goal by Finland in the 4-1 loss to the United States. Below are some scouting reports on the Finnish defenseman.

“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

Urho Vaakanainen and Team Finland will play Jack Studnicka and the Canadians in the second quarterfinal of the day.

F Jack Studnicka – Canada

Before the tournament started, many analysts covering the competition said that Jack Studnicka was the best player in the pre-tournament events including the multiple games that Canada played in.

While Studnicka did not play at the high-scoring level that say, a Maxime Comtois on Team Canada has, but he has been key on the Canadian power-play, even though it has struggled. Studnicka played right in front of the opposing net on that man-advantage, in a position called the “bumper spot”. Someone else who is great in that spot on the ice on the Bruins, a guy by the name of Patrice Bergeron.

Studnicka is currently on a point-per-game status, scoring four points in four games. Three of those points are assists, but he did add a goal back on December 26th in the 14-0 Boxing Day shutout over Denmark. Jack continues to be one of the better players on Canada’s bottom-nine forward core.

The Bruins drafted Studnicka in the second-round, fifty-third overall in the 2017 NHL Draft. He is currently playing in the Ontario Hockey League with the Oshawa Generals, where he had 12-21-33 totals in 29 games before being sent to Vancouver/Victoria for the World Juniors.

F Pavel Shen – Russia

The final prospect of the Bruins to be listed and he just happens to be on the team who took the first place in Group A, after a narrow victory over Canada on New Year’s Eve. Shen has played a big part in Russia’s success in the tournament so far. Shen is currently tied for second on the team in points with four points in four games.

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PHOTO CREDITS: (nhl.com)

In the December 31st game against Canada, a game between two undefeated countries and that would decide who wins Group A, Pavel Shen had a game that put himself on the hockey map. The Russian drafted in the 7th Round back in this past draft scored the game-winning goal late in regulation off of a nice zone entry, drive to the net and a goal past DiPietro of Canada.

Shen’s goal-scoring talent has been shown in the past, such as when he scored three goals and one assist in six games during the CIBC Canada/Russia Series, where the top Russian prospects play the best CHL players in the three different leagues (WHL, OHL, QMJHL). Shen has the ability to score and he can do it well.

Many have said that Shen is a sleeper player in the tournament and one of the underrated prospects in the Bruins system. If his development continues the way it has, he very well could make the Providence Bruins and maybe even the Boston Bruins in the near future. Pavel Shen and Russia play Slovakia in the Quarterfinals tonight.

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Bruins Prospect Lauko Gets First QMJHL Goal

(Photo Credit: NHL.com/BostonBruins.com )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Boston Bruins prospect forward Jakub Lauko scored the first goal of his Quebec Major Junior Hockey League career last night in his third game with the  Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Lauko’s first goal of the season came on a give-and-go when he skated hard through the neutral zone, crossing the blue line and passing it off to teammate Vincent Marleau who passed it back to the trailing B’s prospect on the left side beating the Quebec Remparts goaltender Anthony Morrone. The Huskies went on to beat the Remparts 6-4 in front of the home crowd at the Arena Lamgold in Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, with Lauko taking home the second star of the game honors.

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Lauko was released from NHL Bruins training camp and the team signed the speedy forward to a three-year entry-level contract and immediately assigned him to Rouyn-Noranda in late September. After going through the process of work papers and traveling visa issues, Jakub made his Huskies debut on Wednesday night Oct. 3 on the road against the Val-d’Or Foreurs contributing his first QMJHL point in a 5-2 Huskies win. So, with two points in three games, it’s apparent the youngster is adjusting well to his new surroundings as he continues his development and learns more about the game while playing in North American arenas with smaller ice than he’s used to playing on in Europe.

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With Lauko’s speed and creativity, I can see him having a 20 goal, 20 assist campaign as a rookie in the “Q” and might do better than that if he stays at this level for a few seasons. This is a great place for him to round out his game and gain a little more muscle before making the jump to the Providence Bruins team in the American Hockey League. He certainly looked good in development camp into Rookie Camp/Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, New York showing fans what kind of attributes he has now for future placement in the show, but for now, the Bruins need him to act like a sponge and absorb everything he can take at this level.

Many fans thought the AHL would be a perfect fit for him since being with the NHL B’s for a better part of training camp but roster spots with the top minor-pro affiliate of the Bruins might’ve been reserved in favor of the plethora of prospects the B’s have in the system. At least with this avenue and strategy, the B’s are taking time with him. He’ll get the important ice time he deserves and not in an AHL rotation where he could sit in a league that mostly operates a three-day schedule on the weekends.

You can watch last night’s highlights from the Huskies game vs the Remparts and Lauko’s first-period goal by clicking the link below.

http://theqmjhl.ca/video-channels/highlights/oct-618-remparts-4-huskies-6

The next games for the Huskies will be on Friday night Oct. 12 as they play host to the visiting Moncton Wildcats and again on Saturday night Oct. 13, when the visiting Drummondville Voltigeurs at the Arena Lamgold. Rouyn-Noranda is in second place in the QMJHL with a 7-1-0-0 record and is one point behind Baie-Comeau Drakkar who’s in first with 15 points in eight games.

Bruins Sign Forward Prospect Lauko

( Photo Credit: Zimbio )

By: Mark Allred  |  Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins announced today that the team has signed forward prospect Jakub Lauko to a three-year entry-level contract. The 18-year-old versatile forward really made a name for himself over the summer in development camp and showed increased confidence during the fourth annual Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, New York. He has impressive speed, and a skilled pair of hands for a developing player and most likely key attributes to him staying with the big club during these final days of training camp.

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The 6-foot, 179-pound Czech Republic native was assigned to the Quebec Major Junior hockey Leagues Rouyn-Noranda Huskies shortly after being signed. Lauko was initially drafted by Rouyn-Noranda in the Canadian Hockey Leagues import draft where he was selected with the 107th pick of the second round in 2017. Although the Huskies held his rights, Jakub returned home to his Czech Republic Pirati Chomutov club in the Extraliga League to continue his development until his 2018 draft year where the Boston team saw something special in the young prodigy.

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Lauko only played in the first two preseason games with the Bruins team that was assembled for the domestic schedule but was phased out of the lineup when the team members that were playing over in China returned home. In those two games, he did see action in, he showcased his speed in each respected game to get on the scoresheet with breakaway goals.

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Scouting Report

The Draft Analyst Steve Kournianos had this scouting report on him below in an article he wrote in January of 2018 that can be seen in its entirety HERE.

“One of the 2018 draft’s fastest skaters was relegated to a support role and did not dress in the Czechs’ lone loss to Sweden. In his limited minutes, however, the excitable forward busted it from whistle to whistle and used his speed to create a significant amount of separation  Lauko is a useful player who backchecks and will throw his weight around, and the constraint of playing under 11 minutes a game has not limited his ability to make the most out of every shift.” – Steve Kournianos – The Draft Analyst

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As a European drafted skater, Lauko is eligible to play for the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League, but coming from bigger international ice in his home country to play in smaller North American ice, his placement will be very important for his future development. A solid upcoming season in the QMJHL will better prepare him for the AHL in a year. And who knows? If he explodes offensively and shows the Bruins brass he has what it takes he could very well see his way to the B’s lineup very soon. This Bruins team has a plethora of developmental talent in the system, so I’d be wary of rushing his progression and stand firm with patience and bringing a kid like him up too soon.

Bruins VS Caps: How Did The Forwards Perform?

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 2.00.51 PM(Photo Credit: The Boston Globe)

By Jacob Albrecht | Follow me on Twitter @bruinsfan3725

On the surface, Sunday’s preseason game against the Washington Capitals was just that, a preseason game. For the fans, it’s a sign that opening night of the NHL’s regular season is inching that much closer. For the players, it’s an opportunity to impress the coaches and win a spot in the lineup when the puck drops on a brand new season in a few weeks. Going into this year’s preseason matchups, a majority of the Bruins’ roster has already been decided. However, there are some spots available, as well as a number of possible combinations throughout the lineup that the coaches want to test out. In this article, I’ll be taking a look at the performance of the forwards in the opening matchup of the Bruin’s domestic preseason.

Sunday’s matchup with the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals at the TD Garden in Boston was a prime opportunity to do just that. With many of the Bruins’ regulars overseas for the O.R.G. NHL China Games, many spots were given to young prospects, allowing them to strut their stuff. Before getting into the nuts and bolts, here’s the full highlight reel in case you weren’t able to catch the game:

A couple young guns on the offensive side of the puck stood out in particular; 2018 3rd-round draft pick Jakub Lauko, 2015 15th-overall pick Zach Senyshyn, and 2013 4th-round pick Ryan Fitzgerald. Of those players, Lauko showed the most prowess throughout the game. A very fast player, he was able to consistently use his speed to get up and down the ice and create space. For a guy who’s main focus would be scoring goals, he was solid on defense as well, making the sacrifice and putting himself between the puck and the net on multiple occasions. He took one shot off the leg later in the game right at the point and despite feeling quite a bit of pain finished his shift. Not all of his plays will show up on a highlight reel, but the most important of all certainly did. Take a look at the Bruins’ only regulation goal from the game:

The most promising part of this entire play isn’t the end result, but the effort and skill put in to make the play. First off Lauko does a solid job picking the puck up in the slot and maintaining possession while surrounded by Capitals defenders. He doesn’t give up on the play after his first shot attempt gets blocked down; he corrals the puck and rips a quick wrister through the defenseman’s legs to put the Bruins on the board. It’s clear he knows how to celebrate and enjoy his time on the ice too. That kind of jam, as one Bruins announcer Jack Edwards would say, is what coaches look for in young players. Lauko’s skating and scoring ability matched with his willingness to fight for the puck and put his body on the line could have him wearing the black and gold sooner than most might think. Lauko himself certainly agrees, here are his thoughts on his performance:

Fitzgerald’s performance didn’t result in any goals or flashy highlights, but he meshed well on a line with David Krejci and Danton Heinen throughout the entire game. While they weren’t able to convert on any of their scoring chances, they certainly had a good number of them. There were multiple instances in the second and third periods where the Bruins were able to hold the Capitals in their own zone for at least 90 seconds — even 2 minutes at one point.

Fitzgerald fit well in the offensive cycle, took advantage of his opportunities and got the puck toward the net. Most notably is the pass he made to a streaking David Krejci in the opening period in the above highlight reel. Krejci was thwarted, but nonetheless, it was one of the Bruins’ best scoring chances the entire game. Senyshyn also had a strong scoring chance later on in the first period on a rebound from an Anton Blidh breakaway. Senyshyn certainly wanted to make an impression on the Bruins coaches when he dropped the gloves with Tyler Lewington in front of the Capitals’ net. He’s definitely feeling pressure from the other young guys in the system and is looking to be in the conversation when it comes to final roster spots or injury call-ups.

Now for the more established players — the likes of David Krejci, Danton Heinen, and Daniel Winnik. It’s a known fact that Krejci will center the Bruins’ second forward line, but his linemates have been in question all summer. Most likely Jake DeBrusk will retain his spot on the left wing from last season. Danton Heinen looks to move up to the right flank of Krejci in his sophomore season. The pair seemed to have strong chemistry, linking up to create multiple grade-A scoring chances. Heinen was also given the chance to show off his own individual skills at the start of the shootout. Here’s the silky smooth play where Heinen had the puck on a string:

Heinen undoubtedly has the skill and hockey IQ to play on Krejci’s wing for this coming season. If he does, he most certainly will improve on his point totals from last season (16 goals, 31 assists, and 47 points in 77 games). Given more time together throughout the remainder of the preseason, Heinen could win that spot. This would allow Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy to keep the dominant top line from last season of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak together. That line with a DeBrusk-Krejci-Heinen second line would provide strong scoring throughout the top-six and a lot of flexibility in the bottom-six. Assistant coach Joe Sacco had this to say on the Krejci-Heinen combination as well as Lauko and defenseman Axel Andersson’s performance:

Further down in the lineup we find NHL veteran Daniel Winnik who’s been invited to camp on a professional tryout (PTO). Winnik’s been playing in the NHL for over 10 years and has played on eight different teams, playing in 798 career games. He consistently has put up 20-30 points and been a strong bottom-six forward throughout his career. It’s a smart pickup by the Bruins who we’ll likely see getting significant NHL time this year, especially if injuries hit the forward corps as they have in the past few years. Cassidy and the Bruins have a lot of options in front of them at the moment ranging from young prospects just getting their first taste of NHL action to veterans with years of regular season and playoff experience under their belts. The lineup for opening night against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 3 is an unknown at the moment, making for an exciting run up to puck drop.

Jakub Lauko: A Steal For The Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 16: Jakub Lauko #94 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the second period of the game against the Washington Capitals at TD Garden on September 16, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)(Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

By Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter: @pastagrl88

Preseason is underway and today’s game against the Washington Capitals was a chance for many fresh-faced players to strut their stuff in front of coaches and fans. After an impressive blocked shot and with 2:59 left to go in the first, Bruins prospect Jakub Lauko scored, giving Boston a 1-0 lead. It was a solid debut for the 18-year-old rookie, so much so that he was bumped up to play alongside fellow Czech David Krejci. Even though it’s a longshot that he gets on the Bruins roster this season, the young Prague native has certainly made his mark while wearing a Bruins jersey.

Who’s The Fastest Of Them All

In today’s NHL, it’s all about speed, and the Bruins picked perhaps one of the fastest players to come out of the 2018 NHL Draft. During development camp and in today’s game, it’s not hard to see what Lauko can bring to the ice.  And if you don’t believe it, the very confident winger will tell you:

“My speed is my biggest strength. I think I’m one of the fastest players in this draft. I want to use my speed to help Boston.”

On scoring his first NHL goal:

“It was good. It was good…the feeling. I didn’t know what to do. I was there like ‘Oh my god, I scored. What to do now?’ So it was a nice feeling.”

A quick glance at some stats and you can see why he was ranked No. 20 in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the NHL Central Scouting. In the 2015-16 season, while playing for Pirati Chomutov Under 16 (Czech U16), he had 26 goals with 35 assists in 24 games. According to the Drafting Europe Scouting Report, Lauko:

Brings likeable work ethic and attitude to the ice, with his outstanding acceleration and straight line speed. He’s a real threat on the rush.

cp-bruins-lauko-091618.jpg(Photo Credits: USA Today Sports)

Following today’s preseason opener win, assistant coach Joe Sacco had a lot to say about Lauko (along with Axel Andersson who assisted with the goal).

Tough Competition

Even though its just the preseason and the wins don’t technically count, it’s hard not to be a bit impressed by the speedy Lauko. With so many young prospects looking to continue their narrative in Boston, the young Czech does not shy away from the fact that he wants to stay here in America. One scenario is that he would be sent back to Europe to play for the Czech team of Pirati Chomutov. For now, Lauko is looking to give everything he has on the ice.

Will it be enough to get a spot in this season’s roster? That would be a  tough call. But after today’s great start, the brass may have to take a closer look at their third-round draft pick. After all, he did say he is the “fastest player” and one of the “biggest steals” in the draft. And being moved up to the Krejci line in today’s game would surely indicate that the Bruins staff is liking what they’re seeing.  As long as he continues to do well under pressure, Lauko will hopefully see more ice time in a Bruins uniform.

Image result for jakub lauko(Photo Credit: ProfiMedia.cz)

Recapping the Bruins’ 2018 NHL Draft

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Photo Credit: NHL.com

By: Spencer Fascetta | Follow Me on Twitter @PuckNerdHockey

The Boston Bruins came away with 5 players in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, all selected on Day 2. The reactions were… mixed, to say the least. What did I think? Read on to find out:

2nd Round, 57th Overall – D Axel Andersson, Djurgardens IF J20 (SuperElit)

Andersson Johan Sahlen

Photo Credit: Johan Sahlen

I’m going, to be honest – with the players left on the board here, I was not a fan of this pick. The organization has a ridiculous number of defensemen in the pipeline, and there were better forwards available. Regardless, I don’t think it was a complete whiff. I will refer you to the scouting report compiled by CanucksArmy, who is one of the best names in public player analysis. Andersson appears to be several years away from making an impact but could be a lesser, right-handed version of Urho Vaakanainen.

PuckNerd’s Grade: C+

3rd Round, 77th Overall – C/W Jakub Lauko, Pirati Chomutov (Czech)

Lauko Piratichomutov.cz

Photo Credit: Piratichomutov.cz

This was an absolute steal at this point of the draft. Lauko has the speed for days. He broke into the Czech Extraliga at age 16 and has yet to look out of place. He can sometimes find himself with a bit of Michael Grabner syndrome (speed, no finish), but he is slowly working the kinks out in that respect. I think the upside is probably a less-skilled version of Jake DeBrusk, who has better wheels than the 2015 1st Rounder. Excellent value here in the 3rd Round, and a definitive upgrade over Frank Vatrano, for whom the Bruins acquired this selection. For reference, Lauko ALSO appeared in CanucksArmy’s Top 100.

PuckNerd’s Grade: A-

4th Round, 119th Overall – C Curtis Hall, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

Curtis Hall USHL

Photo Credit: USHL

Hall is never going to wow you with pure skill, but I like his hockey IQ, and he is another burner in the speed department. The Yale commit was a little quiet offensively in the USHL, and I’m not sure if he has offensive upside at the NHL level, but this is a solid bottom-six forward for a decade if he pans out.

PuckNerd’s Grade: B-

6th Round, 181st Overall – D Dustyn McFaul, Pickering Panthers (OJHL)

McFaul Pickering Panthers.jpg

Photo Credit: Pickering Panthers

Yeah, I have to be honest – I have literally never heard of Dustyn McFaul. He couldn’t crack the Kingston Frontenacs’ roster last year, so he went to a very, very bad Pickering squad and helped them slowly improve over the last two seasons. The Clarkson commit has a bit of NHL upside but is definitely a long-term project. Decent mobility and instincts, needs to improve his shot and one on one defense, but he also won’t enroll at Clarkson until at least the fall of 2019, so this is not a pick Boston fans should expect to see in the spoked-B any time soon.

PuckNerd’s Grade: C-

7th Round, 212th Overall – C Pavel Shen, Mamonty Yugry (MHL)

Pavel Shen KHL

Photo Credit: KHL

When was the last time the Bruins took an overage KHL player? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Shen was passed over last year, despite being a point per game player in the Russian junior leagues, and, despite some injuries, this past season, continued to produce at a similar pace. He’s an overager but is a mid-August birthday, so he only was eligible for last year’s draft by about a month. He is signed to a contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa of the KHL for next season, so I don’t expect him to come to North America any time soon, but there is dynamic skill there. Needs a little work on his skating, but he is a decent size (6’1″, 185 lbs), has a great shot, and plays a North American style of game. This is a good sleeper pick by Don Sweeney – uncharacteristically taking a flier on a high-upside guy in the 7th Round is a great strategy. Time will tell if it works out for Boston.

PuckNerd’s Grade: A+

Some risky picks, some great ones, some less than stellar ones; probably about on par for what you would expect from a draft. What do YOU think about this class? Let me know in the comments below, and please follow me on Twitter (found above) to get more analysis moving forward!