Welcome to the September 2022 edition of the DobberProspects 32-in-32 Series. This month, we are diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and top-20 prospects.
The window to win is open for the Boston Bruins. It has been open for a long time and during their current run as a contender the team has spent plenty of prospect and draft capital to remain competitive.
The price has taken a toll on the prospect pipeline and the Bruins are very shallow on youth coming down the pipe. The roster will welcome back veterans Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci for likely one more kick at the can.
Some of the younger players will get a good look to start the season as both Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy will be sidelined to start the season for the first few months. Look for players such as Jack Studnicka and Jack Ahcan to try to seize the opportunity to make an impression with the injury absences of Marchand and McAvoy.
With only having two first round picks in the past five Drafts and some miss picks in the past ten years such as Malcolm Subban, Zack Senyshyn, Jakub Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen the Bruins have started looking to free agency as well to bolster their prospect depth. Georgi Merkulov, Marc McLaughlin, Vinni Lettieri, Jack Ahcan, and Brandon Bussi are some more recent examples of this.
Jack Studnicka, C/W – This is by all accounts a make-or-break season for Studnicka. With David Krejci leaving to play in Europe last year, the door was wide open for Studnicka to walk into the Bruins second line center position. He was given the opportunity but in 15 games with the Bruins he was held goalless and only managed three assists. His AHL numbers are good with 96 points in 117 career games, but he just has not been able to put it together at the NHL level. He is no longer waiver exempt so if he is not able to make an impact on the NHL roster this fall, he could be moving elsewhere. It’s now or never for Studnicka.
John Beecher, C/LW – Big John had a great junior year in Michigan after a difficult sophomore year where he was limited to just 16 games. Beecher played a third line, shut down role for the Wolverines in their run to a big ten Championship. Beecher produced modest offensive numbers with Michigan of six goals and 15 points in 34 games behind their big offensive weapons of Matty Beniers, Kent Johnson, Brendan Brisson and so on. After their season concluded he signed and played in the final nine games with Providence in the AHL where he flashed some offensive upside with five points in nine games. Beecher will play his rookie season in the AHL and make the transition to pro hockey. He likely finds more ice time o the wing in any NHL action he sees in the immediate future if any. Beecher should spend the vast majority of time in the AHL this year before he is ready to compete for a third line role with the Bruins, similar to the one he played on the Wolverines.
Marc McLaughlin, C – With such a shallow prospect pool the Bruins have been exploring the free agent market and found undrafted Boston College Captain Marc McLaughlin. After two point-per-game seasons in the NCAA he signed an EL with the Bruins and played 11 NHL games scoring three goals. Not bad. He also wore the red, white, and blue for USA at the Olympics seeing ice in two games. This will be the 23-year-olds rookie season and it should be played mainly in the AHL, and he should be a key player for Providence. Because of his lack of pedigree, he runs the risk of becoming a career AHL player but given the Bruins lack of depth he could find a role in the NHL as checking and energy line player.
Oskar Jellvik, LW – The 19-year-old Swede had a breakout season in the J20 posting 26 goals and 55 points in 41 games with Djurgardens IF. He could fit into the “Risers” category here as well, but since he is coming to North America to play NCAA hockey in the Bruins backyard for Boston College let’s say he is graduating. The 2021 fifth round selection is an offensive player with a good shot and some playmaking vision as well. He will need several seasons in the NCAA, adjusting to North America, smaller ice, and more physical play. Some time in the gym would greatly benefit his 5-11, 181-pound frame as well. This fifth-round pick is a project, but if his development progresses and everything breaks for him, he could be found on the risers list in next years list.
Georgii Merkulov, C/W – The Russian forward was never drafted but continues to graduate and play his way towards the NHL. After being passed over in the NHL draft, he moved to North America to play in the USHL with the Youngstown Phantoms. In 74 career games there he posted 73 points and graduated to the NCAA. As a freshman at Ohio State, he scored 20 goals and 34 points in 36 games. That was enough for the Bruins to put pen to paper on his ELC and he finished the year in the AHL scoring five points in eight games with Providence. Merkulov has now graduated to the AHL in the Bruins system and the hope is he can be an offensive contributor. If that pans out, the 21-year-old could find a middle six role in the NHL before long.
Brandon Bussi, G – Yet another free agent signing here as the Bruins snagged Bussi after his junior year with Western Michigan. His record of 26-12-1 with a 2.55 GAA and .912 SV% earned him a contract with the Bruins. He played out the balance of the season in the AHL winning the first three of the five games he played, including a shutout in his second game. Bussi has looked good in the rookie camp and prospects tournaments this summer and is inline to be a starter for Providence in his rookie season. The 24-year-old has experience, and a 6-5 frame. Goalies can take a little longer to develop and Bussi could pan out to become an NHL goalie after a year or two in the AHL.
Mason Lohrei, LD – The Bruins second round pick in 2020 is trending up like a rocket! After scoring 37 points in 48 games as a USHL rookie in his draft year, he had a breakout performance with 59 points and 19 goals in 48 game to claim the Defenseman of the Year Award. He followed that up with a standout freshman season at Ohio State playing big minutes and producing 29 points in 31 games. Still only 21-years old, Lohrei will return to Ohio State for his sophomore season. If he continues to improve and develop his game both offensively and defensively it is expected the Bruins will sign him after this year and begin his AHL development. Lohrei could play his way into a middle pairing defenseman with size, mobility, and offensive upside.
Jack Ahcan, The Bruins are hoping they have found the next Torey Krug in Ahcan. Both are undrafted NCAA signings, and undersized offensive defensemen. They posted comparable NCAA stats and Ahcan was impressive in his rookie season posting 23 points in 46 games with Providence. His play earned him an NHL recall and he played in six games and recorded his first career NHL goal, along with eight hits and six blocks. The injuries to Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk could open the door for Ahcan to play some NHL games early this season. If given the ball, he could run with it.
Riley Duran, C – The Bruins 2020 sixth round selection didn’t exactly kick in the front door of the NCAA as a freshman with 19 points in 38 games, but he graces the riser list based on his play at the WJC where he endeared himself with his two goals and five points in five games wearing the stars and stripes. Duran should play a more prominent role at Providence this year and is a player to keep an eye on.
Matias Mantykivi, C – The 21-year-old sixth round selection from the 2019 draft had a breakout season in the Liiga scoring 31 points in 51 games with Ilves. The previous campaign he managed only nine points in 43 Liiga games playing for SaiPa. Mantykivi has returned to Ilves for the 2022-23 season and has two points in his first three games. He is trending in the right direction, but still has a long way to go to become fantasy relevant.
Ryan Mast, RD – Mast is a prospect on the rise mainly as he is basically coming from nowhere. His rookie season in the OHL was alright, 11 points in 58 games with the Sarnia Sting. His draft year was the season the OHL did not play, he did not play anywhere and yet was still selected by the Bruins in the sixth round. With a return to play he had a strong season in the OHL with nine goals and 31 points in 59 games as well as 52 PIM’s. Big players often take longer to develop, and Mast is a 6-4, 212 pound right shot defender. The Bruins may have found a hidden gem in the sixth round, but he will need plenty of more development time both in the OHL and AHL before he is ready for prime time.
Jakub Lauko, LW – His stock has risen and fallen like a yo-yo for years now. He posted 41 points in 44 games in the QMJHL in his D+1 season, the had a slow start to his pro career with only nine points in 22 games in an injury plagued season. During the pandemic season he started in Czechia before returning to the AHL with a standout 19 points in 23 games. Heading into last season with all the momentum he fizzled out with three goals and 16 points in 54 games and a minus -28. He still has waiver exemption but is in the last year of his contract. He needs an upswing to earn another NHL contract, or he is a likely candidate to be heading back to Europe.
Kyle Keyser, G – The 23-year-old free agent has three seasons of pro development under his belt now and has played 24 ECHL games (9-11-2) and 44 AHL games (15-19-15). As an undrafted prospect he lacks draft pedigree and his lack of development coupled with the Bruins addition of Bussi are all signs pointing towards a lack of confidence. This is the last year of his contract, and it needs to be a big one to earn another NHL deal.
Organizational Depth Chart
(Combination of NHL readiness and upside)
John Beecher Jack Studnicka Fabian Lysell
Georgii Merkulov Matthew Poitras Oskar Steen
Oskar Jellvik Marc McLaughlin Vinni Lettieri
Joona Koppanen Matias Mantykivi
Quinn Olson Brett Harrison
Sam Asselin Riley Duran
Left Defense Right Defense
Mason Lohrei Ryan Mast
Jack Ahcan Ty Gallagher
Roman Bychkov Kai Wissmann
Michael Callahan Victor Berglund
Top 20 Fantasy Prospects
This section is intended to paint a picture of the Boston Bruins prospects whose current trajectory projects them making the most positive fantasy impact at the time that they reach the NHL. Arrival date and NHL certainty have been taken into consideration. However, a player’s potential upside is the most important factor in determining this list.
- Fabian Lysell
- Mason Lohrei
- Jack Studnicka
- John Beecher
- Matthew Poitras
- Jack Ahcan
- Marc McLaughlin
- Georgii Merkulov
- Riley Duran
- Oskar Jellvik
- Matias Mantykivi
- Brett Harrison
- Ryan Mast
- Ty Gallagher
- Oskar Steen
- Brandon Bussi
- Jakub Lauko
- Trevor Kuntar
- Kai Wissmann
- Cole Spicer