What will Jack Studnicka do to advance his hockey career? So far he’s sacrificed a lot of teeth, most recently in his final pre-season game with Boston in September. Studnicka scored a goal when New Jersey’s MacKenzie Blackwood made a save on a Paul Carey shot and the puck deflected into the net – off of Studnicka’s face. “You guys have asked me a couple times why I don’t get them fixed, and that’s why,” said the 20-year-old center. “This is probably the fourth time it’s happened.”
Fewer teeth, though, aren’t going to lower the Bruins’ expectations for their second-round draft pick from 2017. And a knack for going to the net isn’t the only thing Studnicka showed while racking up 155 points over his last two OHL seasons before turning pro.
The Bruins love Studnicka’s hockey sense and hands, as well as how conscientious he is. But the four playoff games he played for AHL Providence last spring weren’t enough to truly immerse him in the pro game. So Studnicka started out with Providence this season, where he’d already impressed coach Jay Leach. “Well, No. 1 is his pace, he’s just a motor and he wants to go,” Leach said. “I think his explosiveness, his first couple strides, really look like they picked up. He’s another young kid where the polish is really just going to come with the reps, from consistent reps.”
Studnicka, who’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, will also focus on adding strength during his rookie pro season. And although Bruins GM Don Sweeney and other members of Boston’s brass were adamant Studnicka would remain at center rather than moving to the wing – a position where Boston could use some depth – he’s as willing to try a different position as he is to lose his teeth to fulfill his potential and contribute in Boston sooner rather than later. “Anything to help the team win, in my eyes,” he said. “I’ll play any position. Whether that’s right wing or center, that’s for them to decide. I’m just going to work as hard and compete.” – Matt Kalman