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Future Watch – Boston Bruins: Feast or Famine

After last year’s swell, the Bruins found themselves fresh out of freshmen this season. But there’s no reason to fret.
Providence Bruins/Alan Sullivan

Providence Bruins/Alan Sullivan

B- / 22nd overall

The opportunity was there, but nobody seized it. One year after five rookies made an apparently permanent jump to the NHL, no newcomer forwards made a significant impact on Boston’s roster in 2018-19 despite two top-nine positions being left up for grabs in training camp. The status of a top prospect such as center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson isn’t necessarily diminished, however. The B’s simply found he needed to do more work in certain areas, and that was better served at the AHL level. On the positive side, several defense prospects were pushed into NHL duty because of injuries and showed they were on the right track.

BOS_Trend

1. Urho Vaakanainen (39th overall)
D, 20, 6-1, 185 – Providence (AHL)
25–2–10–12–6
2017 draft, 18th overall
The first half of a planned season of adjustment to North American hockey included a call-up to the NHL. It ended with a concussion, but Vaakanainen has recovered well, averaging 23:07 for Finland’s gold-medal WJC team before returning to Providence. The B’s are encouraging him to use his skating skills to become more involved in other areas. “His ability to get up ice rather easily should transition well over here,” said director of player development Jamie Langenbrunner.
FW18| No. 2 - NHL | 2020-21

2. Jack Studnicka (76th overall)
C, 20, 6-2, 175 – Niagara (OHL)
54–32–39–71–48
2017 draft, 53rd overall
One of three young centers given a shot at the No. 3 slot in Boston, Studnicka was ineligibile to play in the AHL, resulting in his return to the OHL. Niagara coach Billy Burke called him “one of the most detailed players in the league.” Studnicka had four points in five WJC games with Canada, and eight of his first 11 goals with the IceDogs came on the power play. The Bruins think more strength will improve his shot and also eliminate the stick fouls that were an issue during NHL pre-season games.
FW18| nr - NHL | 2020-21

3. Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson
C, 22, 6-1, 185 – Providence (AHL)
14–1–6–7–2
2015 draft, 45th overall
The second-year pro had the inside track on the vacant No. 3 center position but didn’t claim it in camp and was returned to the AHL after a 28-game NHL stint. The skills, vision and hockey sense are there, but the team wants ‘JFK’ to be more assertive. “Win your share of pucks,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “Kill plays when it’s your turn to kill the play. Attack with the puck.” Cassidy praised Forsbacka Karlsson’s defensive game. A January upper-body injury curtailed his bid to return to Boston.
FW18| No. 1 - NHL | 2019-20

4. Trent Frederic
C, 21, 6-2, 200 – Providence (AHL)
42–10–8–18–55
2016 draft, 29th overall
The first-year pro, who earned a call-up to Boston in January, is something of a throwback: a physical center who enjoys using his size. “He’s one of those shutdown guys who’s hard to play against and can pitch in offensively,” said Cassidy of Frederic, who was among team leaders in goals and penalty minutes when called up from Providence. While ice time was scarce in Boston, Cassidy found the 21-year-old’s two-way game sufficient, and an early 56.3 percentage on faceoffs was impressive.
FW18| No. 5 - NHL | 2020-21

5. Anders Bjork
LW, 22, 6-0, 185 – Providence (AHL)
13–1–9–10–2
2014 draft, 146th overall
Bjork has started both his pro seasons in the NHL, and ended both early because of left shoulder surgeries. In between, he has shown the speed and intensity that made him a Hobey Baker finalist at Notre Dame in 2016-17, but not the scoring touch. In 50 NHL games, many on one of the top two lines, Bjork has only five goals. He has impressed with puck management and defensive positioning, but coach Bruce Cassidy said “now we’d like to see growth” offensively. Cassidy believes a better inside game will help.
FW18| No. 4 - NHL | 2019-20

6. Axel Andersson
D, 19, 6-0, 178 – Sodertalje (Swe.2)
39–0–5–5–20
2018 draft, 57th overall
Impressive composure in NHL exhibitions. Has advanced to pro level in Sweden.

7. Jakub Zboril
D, 22, 6-0, 200 – Providence (AHL)
40–4–12–16–28
2015 draft, 13th overall
Second-year pro has added more production. Made NHL debut, playing two games.

8. Zach Senyshyn
RW, 21, 6-1, 192 – Providence (AHL)
51–13–9–22–16
2015 draft, 15th overall
Better goal total in AHL in Year 2, but projects as third-liner in NHL.

9. Jeremy Swayman
G, 20, 6-2, 187 – Maine (HE)
14–15–4, 2.82, .919
2017 draft, 111th overall
Second-year No. 1 is near top of NCAA conference in minutes and saves.

10. Jakub Lauko
LW, 18, 6-0, 170 – Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
42–21–16–37–43
2018 draft, 77th overall
Impressing scouts with speed, skill, smarts and work ethic. A threat off the rush.

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