August 32-in-32: Boston Bruins

Nate Duffett

2023-08-05

***

The Bruins were well aware of their pending cap troubles, core players aging, and below-average prospect pool. With that in the back of their minds, they went out and set
every record imaginable to be statistically the greatest regular season hockey team ever assembled. Then, in a stunning turn of events, they were ousted by the Florida Panthers
in seven games in the first round. It couldn’t have gotten much worse for the Bruins, but then they had to trade away Taylor Hall for cap relief, and captain Patrice Bergeron announced his retirement. Combine that with radio silence from David Krejci about his future, which most likely means he will also be leaving the Bruins once again, and Boston’s roster has severely
less talent than its 2022-23 iteration. Instead of rushing their prospects into the lineup for 2023-24, the Bruins went out and signed one-year contracts to aging veterans: Milan Lucic, James Van Riemsdyk, and Kevin Shattenkirk, as well as a two-year contract to Morgan Geekie. It looks like the Bruins will try to get one more year of contention out of this
pieced-together roster, before turning it over to the best of their bad prospect pool in 2024-25, but luckily for the Bruins, as we will discover, they do have some guy rising to the top of their prospect pool that can give fans some hope.

***

Graduating Players:

Mason Lohrei – The 6-4 defenseman capped off another great year at Ohio State (4G, 28A in 40 games) by signing an Amateur Tryout with Providence, where he impressed in his eight-game trial. This Summer, he signed a two-year entry-level deal, expecting to spend one year in Providence to fine-tune his game before joining Boston in 2024-25. Lohrei is Boston’s top defensive prospect by a wide margin, so it’s important to get him signed out of College with their lack of prospect depth.

***

Risers

Riley Duran – Duran upped his stock this season with 20 points in 29 games with a low-scoring Providence (NCAA) team. He also contributed five points in five games in
the summer World Juniors. While he still has a long way to go in his development, another year of stepping in the right direction could give hope that Duran can make an
impact in the Bruins lineup in a couple of years.

Georgii Merkulov – The undrafted Merkulov has emerged as a potential steal for the Bruins after signing him to a contract after his Freshman season at Ohio State. In his
first season at the pro level, Merkulov tallied 55 points in 67 games to lead Providence in points and looked to have had a good chance to crack the Bruins roster in 2023-24 had they not signed a bunch of one-year contracts with veteran players. One more year in Providence should help develop Merkulov’s defensive game enough to grab a spot in Boston full-time in 2024-25.

Matthew Poitras – Poitras looks to be yet another steal for the Bruins, reaching for him in the second round in last year’s draft, Poitras rewarded their gamble by nearly doubling his point total in the OHL, tallying 95 points in 63 games. Poitras still has developing to do before he joins the Bruins full-time, but early returns are that he can be a top-six center of the future for the Bruins. His name had been floated out there as a possible center candidate this season if Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both retired, but their veteran signings in free agent frenzy mean that they are going to take it slow with their prospects and try to bridge the gap for the time being.

Frederic Brunet – Brunet made himself known in the Bruins prospect pool this season, tallying 73 points in 66 games in the QMJHL, before signing an ATO with Providence and registering two assists in one game. As is with all of the Bruins risers this season, he still has a long way to go with his development, but there is some hope that he can
be the Bruins puck-moving defenceman of the future in the mold of Torey Krug and Matt Grzelcyk.

Brandon Bussi – Bussi has been trending up ever since being signed as a free agent at the end of the 2021-22 season. He started the year in the ECHL but earned a call-up to Providence, then he stuck around, playing so well that he finished the year with a .924 save percentage, good enough for second in the AHL. The Bruins are set at the NHL level for the moment in goal, however, any injury or trade will see Bussi make his NHL debut, in the meantime, he will hold down the fort as the AHL starter.

***

Fallers

Fabian Lysell – Lysell started out the year quite well with nine points in his first six games, but struggled for most of the regular season, only managing 28 points in his last 48 games. However, he still has plenty of room to grow as he played most of this season as a 19-year-old and according to reports was injured for most of the year. He did sustain a concussion in his final game of the season which caused him to wear a non-contact jersey at development camp, but with a heavy turnover in Boston’s forward group, he does have a chance to crack the lineup at some point this season. He will be better off with another year or two of development in Providence if the Bruins can make their lineup work in the NHL in the meantime.

Kyle Keyser – Keyser’s case to make the NHL roster took a serious hit this season after the emergence of Brandon Bussi. Keyser has been a solid goalie at the AHL level for the Bruins, but with the tandem of Swayman and Ullmark staying put in the NHL, and Bussi moving ahead of him in the depth chart at the AHL level, it doesn’t seem like Keyser will get much of a chance in Boston. While it is common knowledge that Ullmark or Swayman will probably leave in the next couple of seasons, it is likely that Bussi will be the tandem partner in waiting. A future duo of Swayman and Bussi will not be good news for Keyser’s stock.

John Beecher – Beecher seems to be maxing out as a possible checking-line forward at the NHL level, showing minimal upside on the offensive end in his past couple of seasons. Two years ago in the NCAA he finished with 15 points in 34 games and followed that up last season with 23 points in 61 games in his AHL rookie season. These numbers fail to show much potential from an offensive perspective, and he will have to show a lot more in the upcoming season to be viewed as an offensive/fantasy threat at the NHL level when he eventually joins the big club.

Marc McLaughlin – It was an up-and-down season for McLaughlin in the organization, as he impressed everyone at training camp and was projected by many to earn a spot with the big club. McLaughlin ended up reporting to Providence and managed to contribute 13 goals and 17 assists in 66 games. He would only make his way into Boston’s lineup twice, which no one could have predicted after the great preseason and 11-game stint in 2021-22. It’s hard to see where McLaughlin fits in the organization now, as a lot of prospects jumped ahead of him to the NHL this season, and more rise the ranks and jump over him on the depth chart.

Organizational Depth Chart

(Combination of NHL readiness and upside)

Left Wing                              Center                        Right Wing
Jakub Lauko                Matthew Poitras             Fabian Lysell
Matt Filipe                   Georgii Merkulov            Oskar Steen
Anthony Richard          Brett Harrison
John Beecher
Cole Spicer
Trevor Kuntar
Marc Mclaughlin
Dans Locmelis
Riley Duran

Left Defense                                                             Right Defense
Frederic Brunet                                                         Ian Mitchell
Mason Lohrei                                                    Jonathan Myrenberg
Parker Wotherspoon                                               Reilly Walsh
Michael Callahan                                                      Alec Regula

Goal
Brandon Bussi
Michael Dipietro
Kyle Keyser
Reid Dyck

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.

  1. Fabian Lysell
  2. Matthew Poitras
  3. Mason Lohrei
  4. Brett Harrison
  5. Georgii Merkulov
  6. Frederic Brunet
  7. Andre Gasseau
  8. Ty Gallagher
  9. Trevor Kuntar
  10. John Beecher
  11. Dans Locmelis
  12. Marc McLaughlin
  13. Cole Spicer
  14. Ryan Walsh
  15. Beckett Hendrickson
  16. Riley Duran
  17. Quinn Olson
  18. Ryan Mast
  19. Oskar Jellvik
  20. Jackson Edward

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Logan Stankoven 9.0 8.0
Mavrik Bourque 8.5 9.0
Justin Hryckowian 5.5 6.0
Andrei Buyalsky 4.5 3.5
Ivan Ivan 4.5 7.0
Matthew Stienburg 3.5 6.0
Oskar Olausson 7.5 8.5
Sampo Ranta 6.0 6.5
Tristan Luneau 7.5 8.0
Zachary Nehring 4.5 5.0

LATEST RADIO & DRAFTCASTS

[gs-fb-comments]

FIND US ON FACEBOOK