Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top ten prospects in the system.
The Bruins for the most part this season plugged some holes in their depth chart and decided to give homegrown youth some opportunity instead of pursuing big name free-agents. Leaving for new clubs were Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Nick Holden, Anton Khudobin, Austin Czarnik and some AHL names including Agostino, Hickman, Cross and Breen. The big names on this list left Boston with some leaks on their bottom six and between the pipes.
Joining the black and gold are John Moore, hit-factory Chris Wagner, Joakim Nordstrom and veteran backup Jaroslav Halak. The Moore signing, though an affordable and good signing creates a log jam on the left side which may force the Bruins to move a piece or two on defense, or it may give the youth on that side a chance to take over as the go-to players in Providence. Boston also signed AHLers Mark McNeill and Cody Goloubef to minor league deals, most likely for leadership and veteran presence.
As I mentioned the left side on defense is somewhat jammed which may limit opportunities for youth to take a spot, however it does not appear that any of the top prospects at that position are NHL ready with the exception of Matt Grzelcyk. The Bruins still have some wing positions up for grabs and some players who are NHL ready and have the potential to secure them; like Anders Bjork or Peter Cehlarik. The center depth may be a point of concern especially because it is getting older and both Krejci and Backes have had issues remaining healthy for full seasons in recent years. With that said, the Bruins have a healthy crop of youth who will be given the chance to fill those positions should injury arrive with names like Donato, Forsbacka-Karlsson and Fitzgerald waiting in Providence.
Ryan Donato – Ryan officially signed with the Bruins in March 2018 ending his college career. He played 12 games down the stretch for the club and posted a respectable nine points. He did not look out of place. He also tied for fourth in scoring at the Olympics, competing against names like Kaprizov and Kovalchuk. He will compete for a top nine spot in Boston next season.
Jesse Gabrielle – After nearly making the Bruins out of training camp, Gabrielle was assigned to the baby Bruins in Providence. He struggled in the AHL and ended up in the press box before being sent back to Regina to finish out his junior career. Boston fans will be looking for him to bounce back this season and bring his Marchand-like skill set to the AHL full-time. His rugged in your face style and ability to post points is perfect for fantasy GMs.
Matt Grzelcyk – Matt started the year in Providence but due to injuries was called up to the big club early in the year and he stuck. During his first full time stint in Boston he played in 61 games and posted 15 points, more impressive was his +21 rating. Matt is a smooth skater with high offensive IQ and given more ice time than his 16:44 average, he could become a serious offensive weapon. He signed a two year, one-way contract with the Bruins in June. Look for Matt to play a bottom four role on the blueline and see some time on the second power play unit.
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson – JFK had a terrific rookie season in the AHL. Unfortunately, he suffered a late season concussion. He had a cold streak midway through the season but still showed he could produce the same level of offence in the pros as he did in college. With a good camp he could make the Bruins in a bottom six role, but will most likely start the season in Providence.
Sean Kuraly – Kuraly earned himself a one way contract extension with the Bruins after a very good rookie campaign. He may not be a high pick for a GM looking for points, but he crashes and bangs and can really tally up on hits while still producing decent bottom six stats. He finished third on the Bruins with 143 hits and showed there is still some offensive potential in the playoffs.
Ryan Donato – There were talks about Donato turning pro early prior to the beginning of last season but nothing more than rumours. Between his season and playoffs with Harvard, his dominance at the Olympics and his first audition with the Bruins, Donato has jettisoned himself to the top of the Bruins prospect list. He is easily the number one prospect this team has and will be a force next season.
Jesse Gabrielle: As mentioned Jesse was one of the best Bruins prospects in training camp last season and looked like the next; albeit poorer man’s, Brad Marchand. His first exposure to the pro game however, did not go to plan. He struggled in Providence and ended up in the press box and then he suffered an injury that force him to miss all but 27 games when he returned to junior. Look for a healthy and more motivated player to show up to camp. Jesse has the potential to be a fantasy diamond in the rough.
Anders Bjork: Anders was another prospect who looked really good in training camp. Anders took some time to find his footing and bounced up and down the lineup early in the season. Unfortunately, when he started to get going he was injured and never really bounced back. He has top nine potential but needs to find consistency that he was unable to have this season.
Alexander Khokhlachev: This one makes me sad. Koko may be the best purely offensive prospect the Bruins have had since Sergei Samsonov (with the exception of David Pastrnak). He dominated the KHL this season finishing fourth in league scoring. There was even talk of him coming back to the Bruins to reunite with coach Bruce Cassidy, a coach he enjoyed playing for in the AHL. Boston retains his NHL rights but re-signing in the KHL is the only reason he finds himself “falling”.
Prospect Depth Chart
Left Wing Center Right Wing
Anders Bjork Ryan Donato Zach Senyshyn
Jesse Gabrielle Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson Oskar Steen
Peter Cehlarik Ryan Fitzgerald
Left Defense Right Defense
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton
Jakub Zboril Axel Andersson
Top Ten Prospects
- Ryan Donato, C – Came in at the end of the year and proved he can and will be an offensive contributor.
- Matt Grzelcyk, D – Needs to get stronger, but with an expanded role his production will also go up. Bruins believe he can be a cheaper Torey Krug like player.
- Anders Bjork, LW – Got injured just as he started to find his groove. Has potential to be a top point producer for the Bruins.
- Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C – A concussion shortened an otherwise great rookie AHL season. His two-way game is complimented by offensive upside.
- Jakub Zboril, D – Developing into a reliable top four defenseman in Providence. Could see time in Boston this season, offensive potential is there, and he has a mean streak.
- Trent Frederic, C – Will turn professional in Providence full-time this season. Showed he could find the back of the net with five goals in 13 games during a late season audition in the AHL last year.
- Jesse Gabrielle, LW – Fantasy gem if he pans out. Hits, scores, fights and racks up the PIM. If he can stay healthy and find his confidence in the AHL this year he could receive a call up.
- Zach Senyshyn, RW – Has the ability to score goals, and is fast as they come, needs to find consistency to capitalize on his potential.
- Ryan Fitzgerald, C – Tenacious and testy offensive center. Put up 21 goals in Providence last season. He’s small, but he’s tough.
- Jack Studnicka, C – His offensive production has increased every year in junior. Impressed in a five game stint in Providence last season going a point-per-game. Showed promise at development camp and could be a dark horse to make the team.
Image courtesy of lrbandassociates.com
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