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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.