TSP: Boston Bruins Prospects

Jack Studnicka Boston Bruins Prospects
BOSTON, CA - JUNE 29: Boston Bruins forward Jack Studnicka (53) during the Boston Bruins Development Camp on June 29, 2018, at Warrior Ice Arena in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the Boston Bruins Prospects.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

Boston Bruins Prospects

The Bruins had a nearly storybook season. Despite a number of injuries, they remained one of the league’s best teams in the regular season, finishing second in the Atlantic Division and tied for second overall in the NHL with 107 points. As other Stanley Cup Contenders fell in the early rounds of the playoffs, the Bruins continued their winning ways. They defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Unfortunately, the Bruins would ultimately come up one game short, falling in seven games to the St. Louis Blues.

The off-season was generally quiet but still brought a few changes. Brett Ritchie, Par Lindholm, and Brendan Gaunce signed with the Bruins as free agents. Meanwhile, Noel Acciari, Marcus Johansson, and Gemel Smith left the team.

2019 Draft Picks (Grade C): John BeecherQuinn OlsonRoman BychkovMatias MantykiviJake Schmaltz
Graduations: Anders Bjork, Colby Cave, Ryan Fitzgerald (age),

 

Top Prospect: Urho Vaakanainen

Defence — shoots Left
Born January 1st, 1999 — Joensuu, Finland
Height 6’1″ — Weight 185 lbs [186 cm/84 kg]
Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 1st round, #18 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft

Vaakanainen started last season with the Boston Bruins but suffered a concussion in just his second NHL game. After some time on the shelf, he would go down and play 30 games for the Providence Bruins, scoring four goals and 14 points. He also played in four AHL playoff games. He also suffered another upper-body injury in March, further limiting his playing time. Vaakanainen also for Finland in the World Juniors scoring four points in seven games and winning a gold medal.

Skating

Vaakanainen is very mobile. He has good speed and acceleration in both directions; as well as the edgework and pivots to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. Vaakanainen is strong on his skates and has good balance. He is able to take advantage of this when fighting against bigger forwards in the corners and in front of the net. That said, he will need to continue to add muscle and strength to his fame, before moving on to a more North American game, especially at the pro level.

Offensive Game

Vaakanainen has an excellent hockey IQ. He reads the play very well in both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. He chooses to make the smart plays both with and without the puck. He also can skate the puck out of danger in his own zone, and start the transition game with a good first pass. Offensively, he has decent power and accuracy on his shot, and the vision to make plays at the blue line. However, he will likely never be a huge offensive contributor but may develop a little bit of scoring ability.

Vaakanainen plays a very simple game which limits his high-end potential. He makes the safe play with the puck, instead of a riskier one with more upside. He also isn’t really creative back at the blueline. He keeps the puck in the zone and puts it in good areas, but he is not one to be patient at the line or to open up passing and shooting lanes.

Defensive Game

Defensively, he has great gap control and positioning. Vaakanainen takes the body in the corners and in front of the net but is not a big hitter. He is not afraid to get his nose dirty in battles for the puck or to clear the crease, but he also does not get himself out of position looking for the big hit. Vaakanainen has very good positioning and is good at cutting down passing and shooting lanes. When he does create a turnover, he starts the transition game quickly. Overall, his game is well-rounded.

Outlook

On the left side of the Bruins defence, Vaakanainen is behind Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Matt Grzelcyk. However, Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy remain unsigned on the right side of the defence. If either are still holdouts once the season opens, the Bruins might experiment with moving Vaakanainen or another defenceman on the right-hand side, opening up an opportunity. Otherwise, he will be in Providence waiting for an NHL opportunity. Vaakanainen is close to being NHL ready, its just a question of finding an opportunity.

 

Prospect #2: Jack Studnicka

Centre — shoots Right
Born February 18th, 1999 — Tecumseh, Ontario
Height 6’1″ — Weight 171 lbs [185 cm/78 kg]
Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 2nd round, #53 overall at the 2017 NHL Draft

Studnicka split last season between the Oshawa Generals and the Niagara Ice Dogs. Overall he put up 36 goals and 47 assists for 83 points in 60 regular-season games. Studnicka also added five goals and 11 points in 11 games. After the season, he played four playoff games for the Providence Bruins, picking up two points. Studnicka also represented Canada at the World Juniors, scoring a goal and four points in five games.

Skating

Studnicka has taken some big steps in improving his skating but can still get even a little better. He has very good top-end speed once he has gotten going. There are some issues in his first step though, and he needs to continue to work on his acceleration. Studnicka is better at getting in quickly on a forecheck, or on using his speed off the rush, then he is at tracking down loose pucks or making short bursts in the offensive and defensive zone. He has good agility and edgework, as well as the power to fight through checks and get to the net. Studnicka does a good job of battling along the boards in junior hockey but will still need to get stronger before heading to the pro game.

Offensive Game

Jack Studnicka is a very smart player. He is a strong playmaker. Studnicka has excellent vision and is able to make tough passes to teammates. He moves the puck smartly, putting it in good spaces where a linemate can race onto it if he doesn’t have another play. He is a decent stick handler who protects the puck well down low and in the cycle game.

Studnicka can also score goals. He has a good wrist shot, with power and accuracy. He could stand to work on his release though. Studnicka used his shot a little more often this season, which helped him to keep defences off-balance and gave him more room to operate. He gets himself open for shots by finding soft spots in the defence, and finishing passes from teammates.

Studnicka is willing to get to the net and battle in the corners. He is not afraid to play in the dirty areas of the ice or to take a hit to make a play. However, Studnicka needs to bulk up to continue to play this game at the pro level.

Defensive Game

Studnicka has a well-developed defensive game. He kills penalties, anticipating plays and cutting down passing lanes. He has a strong positional game and is not afraid to block shots. Studnicka shows his grit in all three zones, battling for position and winning loose pucks. He is also very good in the face-off circle for a teenager.

Outlook

Studnicka is a real long-shot to crack the Bruins roster this year but it is not impossible. The likely outcome is that he finds himself starting his pro career with the Providence Bruins and being ready for a callup in case of injuries. He could also use some AHL time. It might be 2020 before he is a full-time member of the Bruins roster.

 

Prospect #3: Jakub Lauko

Center/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born March 28th, 2000 — Praha, Czech Republic
Height 6’1″ — Weight 172 lbs [183 cm/78 kg]
Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 3rd round, #77 overall at the 2018 NHL Draft

After being drafted by the Bruins, Lauko was taken in the CHL Import Draft and joined the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He scored 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points in 44 regular-season games. He also added six goals and 13 points in 19 playoff games as the Huskies took the QMJHL title. Lauko also added two goals and eight points in five games, helping the Huskies win the Memorial Cup. His eight points led the tournament in scoring. Lauko also played for the Czech Republic at the World Juniors, scoring one goal and two points in five games.

Skating

Lauko is already a strong skater, but there are some areas that could be even better with a little bit of work. He has a strong first step and gets up to top speed quickly. Once he is started though, his strides are a little bit short and choppy. While he has good top-end speed, a longer, more powerful stride could make it great. It would also help him to be more powerful, fighting through checks along the boards and getting to the front of the net. A bit more core strength would improve his balance and help him to become a true power forward at the next level. He has very good agility and can weave through traffic, with and without the puck. A little bit better edgework would make his cuts even sharper.

Offensive Game

Lauko has a good release on his wrist shot and it is strong, but needs to be more accurate. He misses the net too often from further out. Lauko could also stand to use that shot a bit more, as he prefers to pass and waits a little too much for the perfect opportunity. Most of his goals come from using his size in tight to the net. He is good at tip-ins and banging in rebounds. As he gets stronger, he should be an effective net-front presence at the next level.

Lauko uses his size well to protect the puck down below the faceoff dots. He keeps his body between defenders and the puck and works the cycle game. He makes safe plays here, moving the puck to the open man, and keeping things going around the outside. Lauko is not the type to try and be too creative with his stickhandling but can cut to the net if he sees an opportunity. That said, his stickhandling and puck control are strong, to the point where he can sometimes afford to take a few more chances than he does. His passing and vision are good. He keeps his feet moving, both with and without the puck, and this high work ethic creates pressure on the forecheck. Lauko causes opposing defencemen to turn the puck over. He also is quick to pounce on loose pucks.

Defensive Game

Lauko is a strong defensive player. He brings his high compete level to the defensive end, working on the boards, and supporting the defence down low. His big frame and long stick help him to cut down passing lanes and keep opponents to the outside. He needs a bit more strength to defend bigger forwards in the cycle game, but he works hard and his positioning is strong. That strength should come in time, and its common for teenagers to need to add that to their frame.

Outlook

Since Lauko was drafted out of the Czech league, the NHL-CHL Transfer Rules do not apply. Depending on his performance in camp, as well as his off-season work, the Bruins could opt to send him to either the AHL or back to the QMJHL this year. Lauko needs more time to develop, but he could become a top-six forward if things go well.

 

Prospect #4: John Beecher

The Bruins drafted Beecher with the 30th overall pick in this year’s NHL draft. Prior to the draft, we did an in-depth scouting report on Beecher. No games have been played since that report; so we will not repeat it. You can check out the report here.

 

Prospect #5: Connor Clifton

Defense — shoots Right
Born April 28th, 1995 — Long Branch, New Jersey
Height 5’11” — Weight 175 lbs [180 cm/79 kg]
Drafted by the Arizona Coyotes in the 5th round, #133 overall at the 2013 NHL Draft
Signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent in August 2017.

Clifton split time between Boston and Providence. In 53 AHL games, he scored six goals and 27 points. He also played in 19 regular-season games with the Bruins, picking up one assist. Clifton played a role in the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup Final, scoring two goals and five points in 18 games. He formed a solid pairing with Grzelcyk.

Skating

A smaller defenceman, Clifton makes up for it with his skating. He is good in both directions, with solid acceleration and speed going both forwards and backwards. This allows him to push the pace and try to create offence and still get back defensively. Clifton is very good with his edgework and agility. This allows him to play a two-way game.  He must continue to get stronger on the boards and in defensive containment though. He can be beaten in the cycle game by big power forwards.

Offensive Game

Clifton is not afraid to push the pace. He moves the puck up the ice, either through quick passes to the forwards or by skating the puck out of danger and through the neutral zone. Clifton is a strong stick-handler and is especially effective at gaining the zone while playing five-on-five. His passing skills are also good. Clifton can move the puck up to forwards and can even make a long breakaway pass if a forward gets behind the defence. While not a true power-play quarterback, he has shown poise and puck control at the line.

Clifton has a good slap shot from the point and a strong one-timer. He has used this at the AHL level but has not had a lot of opportunities to shine at the NHL level yet. Clifton could stand to use his agility to crete shooting lanes, getting his shot on the net. When he joins the rush, he often comes through as the trailer and fires a strong wrist shot at the net. His wrist shot has a good release and he is effective.

Defensive Game

Despite his size, Clifton plays an aggressive game in his own end of the rink. He is willing to throw a hit and to battle hard along the boards. Those battles don’t always go his way, as he can be overpowered by bigger defenders. Despite that, Clifton won’t back down. His positioning is decent and he has good instincts to cut down passing lanes. Clifton’s defensive game is much improved but there are still a couple of steps worth taking.

Outlook

After Clifton’s performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he comes into the season likely to continue playing with Grzelcyk. The question is how high up the lineup Clifton can reach. While he looks like an NHL player, there is some question if he can do more than just play on the third pair.

 

Prospect #6: Jeremy Lauzon

Defence — shoots Left
Born April 28th, 1997 — Val-d’Or, Quebec
Height 6’1″ — Weight 204 lbs [185 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the Boston Bruins, in the 2nd round, #52 overall at the 2015 NHL Draft

Lauzon split time between Boston and Providence last year, joining the NHL club as an injury fill in. He scored his first career goal while playing 16 NHL games. He also scored one goal and seven points in 29 AHL games. Lauzon added one goal in his four AHL Playoff Games.

Skating

Lauzon is a very good skater and this helps him to play an effective two-way game. He has good speed and acceleration in both directions. Lauzon also has very good pivots, agility and edgework. He can cover a lot of ground and is mobile in all directions. This also allows him to transition quickly from offence-to-defence and vice-versa. Lauzon can join the rush or pinch in at the blue line and still get back defensively. He has matured physically, though could still add even more strength. He is decent on the boards and in front of the net but can still be even better.

Offensive Game

Lauzon was a puck-moving defenceman in junior hockey, capable of putting up big offensive numbers. However, he has become a bit more of a stay at home defenceman in the pros. He still shows flashes of offensive skill and can contribute from time-to-time but this is unlikely to be his future at the NHL level.

Lauzon has a decent wrist shot and good release. He can be effective sneaking down to the top of the faceoff circle and letting that shot go. His slapshot is also decent but not a howitzer. Lauzon will pick his spots in joining the rush. Mainly though, his offensive abilities are used to get the puck out of his own end. He can make a good first pass out of the zone. Lauzon can also avoid forecheckers to create space and get the puck out of his zone.

Defensive Game

Lauzon’s strong skating helps him to maintain good gap control. He forces attackers to the outside and he is willing to play a chippy game, hitting them if they try to get by him to the outside. He is good at containing the cycle game and clearing the front of the net. This is one area that continues to get better as he gets stronger. Lauzon is effective at cutting down passing lanes and blocking shots. He is good positionally and can play on the penalty kill.

Outlook

Like Vaakananien, there is a question of exactly where Lauzon would fit into the Bruins lineup. Given the time he has missed due to injuries over the years, he needs to be on the ice and is not really a candidate to be a 7th defenceman sitting in the press box. Expect him to be one of the leaders of the Providence blue line and get call-ups to the NHL when needed due to injuries and other issues. Lauzon looks like an NHL player, but the question is if he will be more than a third-pairing player when he is ready.

 

Prospect #7: Kyle Keyser

Goalie — shoots Left — Catches Left
Born March 8th, 1999 — Coral Springs, Florida
Height 6’2″ — Weight 179 lbs [188 cm/81 kg]
Signed by the Boston Bruins in October 2017

Keyser was the starting goaltender for the Oshawa Generals last season. In 47 games, he put up a 2.75 goals-against-average and .915 save percentage. He also played in 15 playoff games, with a 2.83 goals-against-average and .925 save percentage. He was named to the OHL’s Second All-Star Team. Following the season, he played in one playoff game for Providence. Keyser was also part of Team USA’s entry at the World Juniors, playing two games and coming home with a silver medal.

Skating and Talent Analysis

Keyser has strong legs and is a good skater. He gets out of his crease to challenge shooters and cut down angles. His strong backwards mobility allows him to get back quickly if attackers try to deke him. He also has a strong push and is able to get side-to-side with ease to make saves on cross-crease passes. Keyser tracks the puck well and has good anticipation. He does a good job of being square to the shooter and taking up as much space as possible to make saves. He is also very athletic and can recover quickly on those few times he does get out of position.

Keyser’s strong legs and good butterfly technique take away the bottom of the net. He also has a good glove and blocker to take away the top of the net. At just 6-foot-2, he is just average (maybe slightly below average) in terms of size for modern goaltending prospects and this can leave a bit of room in the top of the net when he does go down in his butterfly. He also needs to work on his rebound control. This is a problem of many young goalies though, and work with NHL goaltending coaches will help him to take strides in this area in the coming years.

Mental Makeup

Keyser has been a leader for the Generals. He stays calm and composed in the net and the young defenders in front of him look to him for leadership. Keyser understands the flow of the game. He covers up when his team needs a breather but will keep the play moving if there is an opportunity to transition and get forward in attack. Over his junior career, he has shown the ability to stay focused, whether he was backing a strong team and not seeing many scoring chances or behind a weaker Generals team and facing plenty of action.

Outlook

At just 20 years old, Keyser is a long-term project. He leaves his junior career behind and comes up to the pros now. He will battle for a position in Providence, but Bruins fans should not be concerned if he spends some time in the ECHL. The important thing is that he gets plenty of ice time at this point in his career.

 

 

Prospect #8: Trent Frederic

Centre — shoots Left
Born February 11th, 1998 — St. Louis, Missouri
Height 6’3″ — Weight 215 lbs [191 cm / 98 kg]
Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 1st round, #29 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft

Frederic had a decent first pro season. He put up 14 goals and 25 points in 55 AHL games. Frederic also added two assists in four AHL playoff games. He played 15 games with the Bruins, mostly with limited ice time, but did not record a point.

Skating

Frederic is a decent skater. He has adequate speed and acceleration. While not a speedster, he moves well enough to be dangerous off the rush or to get in on the forecheck. He improved his edgework and agility, but can sometimes have issues navigating through traffic. Frederic shows good power in his stride. He fights through checks. He also has the balance to win battles on the boards as well as establish his position in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Frederic shows good size, and plays a power forward style of game. He loves to get in on the forecheck, pressuring defencemen, and throwing hits in the offensive zone. Frederic creates turnovers and generates offence by winning battles along the boards or working to establish space in front of the net. He protects the puck well down low and is able to prolong possession and generate plays.

Frederic scores goals with a strong wrist shot and good release. He is also able to score in close, taking the puck to the net when he gets the opportunity. He has fast hands that get to rebounds and deflections. In terms of stickhandling, Frederic protects the puck well, but he is not one to make a lot of fancy one-on-one moves. His passing game also relies on making the simple play and does not typically look for the overly fancy or creative play. Frederic shows good hockey IQ, finding open space away from defenders and making smart safe plays.

Defensive Game

For a young player, Frederic is already developing a strong defensive game. He is tenacious on the backcheck and willing to use his size and grittiness in all three zones. Frederic is a smart player who contains well against the cycle game and provides good back pressure. He is good in the face-off circle and does a good job cutting down passing and shooting lanes on the penalty kill.

Outlook

Frederic will play his second pro season this year. He heads to camp looking to battle for a fourth-line spot in Boston. As one of the lest experienced players in that battle, he is a long-shot to claim the role. He will likely go to the AHL where he can play big minutes in a big role for Providence. At this point, it does not make sense to keep him in the NHL if he would only play a fourth line role. Frederic could see call-ups from time-to-time if the Bruins experience injuries this season.

 

Prospect #9: Karson Kuhlman

Center/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born September 26th, 1995 — Esko, Minnesota
Height 5’11” — Weight 185 lbs [180 cm / 84 kg]
Signed by the Boston Bruins in April 2018

After helping to lead Minnesota-Duluth to the National Championship in 2018, Kuhlman played his first pro season. He showed more offence than was seen with the Bulldogs as he put up 12 goals and 30 points in 58 games with Providence. Kuhlman also put up three goals and five points in 11 games with Boston. It was enough to see him earn an opportunity in the playoffs, where he had one goal and three points in eight games.

Skating

Kuhlman is a good skater. His speed and acceleration help him to get in quickly on the forecheck. It also helps him to create options in transition and he is dangerous on the rush. Kuhlman also has good balance and is strong for his size. He is tough to knock off the puck and very good in battles along the boards and in front of the net. His agility and edgework are decent but not the best part of his skating ability. He is much more of a straight-line, north-south style of player.

Offensive Game

Not the most skilled player out there, whatever offence Kuhlman creates comes from hard work. He is quick to get in on the forecheck and create pressuring on opposing defencemen. This can create turnovers and scoring chances. He is also good at winning battles along the boards for loose pucks and getting to the dirty areas of the ice without it. He is not the most creative stick-handler or passer but does a good keeping possession by making the short and simple pass to the open man.

Kuhlman’s best skill is his shot. While it’s not a howitzer, he does have a good release and is able to change the angle on it, which can be deceptive for goaltenders. It is also very accurate. As mentioned, Kuhlman gets to the dirty areas of the ice. He can create a screen in front of the net and is good at getting deflections and rebounds. By creating havoc, he is a distraction to goaltenders and opposing forwards.

Defensive Game

Kuhlman is very responsible defensively. He supports the defence down low, helping them to contain the cycle game and fighting for loose pucks. His positioning is very good as he cuts down passing lanes and also always keeps himself between his man and the net, forcing shots to come from bad angles and taking away the middle of the ice. His work ethic shows in all three zones.

Outlook

With the changes on the Bruins fourth-line this off-season, there may be an opportunity for Kuhlman to win a spot this fall. Already 24 years old, there is not a whole lot more in terms of development here. He should be an NHL player, but likely tops out as a bottom-six forward. A lack of creativity likely means his future is on the wing.

 

Prospect #10: Jakub Zboril

Defence — shoots Left
Born February 21st, 1997 — Brno, Czech Republic
Height 6’0″ — Weight 201 lbs  [183 cm / 91 kg]
Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 1st round, #13 overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft

In his second pro-season, Zboril put up four goals and 19 points in 56 games. He also appeared in four playoff games but did not put up a point. These numbers exactly matched what he did as an AHL rookie, but he put up those numbers in 12 fewer regular-season games. Zboril also got his first taste of NHL action, playing in two games with Boston.

Skating

Zboril has good skating skills and his excellent pivots, edgework, and agility allow him to cover a ton of ice. He is able to transition quickly from offence-to-defence and vice-versa. He has good balance and is hard to knock off the puck. That balance and power are also very useful in clearing the front of the net, or in battling for loose pucks in the corners and along the boards. Zboril’s skating stride is a little bit choppy and his acceleration could improve by working to make it smoother. It has not had a huge effect on his top-end speed which is good in both directions.

Offensive Game

Zboril has some offensive skills that can continue to develop but things have been slow. He has had some issues in putting it all together. He has a rocket of a slap shot, as well as an excellent wrist shot and quick release. Zboril is patient and waits for a proper shooting lane to get his shot through to the net. He is able to use his agility, and edge work to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes to the net. Zboril picks his spots for pinching at the blue line and joining the rush. At times he might be a little too cautious. He has the puck handling skills to skate the puck out of danger in his own end and can make a smart first pass to start the transition game.

There are some issues though. Zboril does not always make the smart play with the puck in the offensive zone. Whether this is due to a lack of vision or a lack of hockey sense is not quite clear. He must improve this area if he wants to take his production to the next level and be able to produce at the NHL level.

Defensive Game

Opposing forwards must keep their head up when making a rush down Zboril’s end of the ice. If they have their heads down, he is more than willing to throw a big hit. He does have to time these hits better though, as he can have a tendency to get himself out of position to make such a hit. Zboril is also not afraid to be physical in the defensive end of the ice, battling hard in front of the net and in the corners. He is not afraid to block shots. He could use some work on his positioning and reading of the play as this has caused some inconsistency in his defensive game. He’s also had an issue getting caught flat-footed against particularly quick forwards.

Outlook

There are flashes of high-end potential in Zboril’s game, but he still has some areas of his game that need refinement. Defencemen typically take longer than forwards to develop and Zboril is still young. He should get another year in Providence before being re-evaluated. The Bruins would love to see the former 13th overall pick take a big step forward.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Oskar Steen

Center/Right Wing — shoots Right
Born March 9th, 1998 — Karlstad, Sweden
Height 5’9″ — Weight 188 lbs [175 cm/85 kg]
Drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 6th round, #165 overall at the 2016 NHL Draft

Steen took a huge step forward last season and put up excellent numbers with Farjestad in the SHL. He scored 17 goals and 20 assists for 37 points in 46 games. He also added two goals and seven points in 14 playoff games.

Skating

Undersized, Steen makes up for that with strong skating ability. He has a very good first step and excellent acceleration. His top-end speed is also very good. If he gets a step on a defender, he can accelerate past him and create an offensive opportunity. He is also good at changing speeds. As defenders have to back off and respect his skating, he can slow down and create passing and shooting lanes. Steen is strong on the puck for his size with a powerful lower body and good centre of gravity. This helps him in battles on the boards and in front of the net. His agility and edgework are also good, helping him to get away from defenders.

Offensive Game

Steen is a sniper. He has an excellent wrist shot which is powerful and accurate. He also has a good snapshot and one-timer. His ability to get these shots off quickly and with a deceptive release helps him to fool goaltenders. As defenders back off to respect his speed, it opens up shooting lanes and he can use them as a screen. Steen is also good at reading the play and getting into open spaces to take a pass from a teammate. He gets to the front of the net as well.

Steen is not the most creative player though. His stickhandling can continue to improve. He also does not have the vision to find open teammates and make creative plays in the offensive zone. However, despite his lack of size, he is not afraid to get involved physically, battling for loose pucks and controlling it down low in the cycle game. A hard-worker, Steen is always in the middle of the action.

Defensive Game

Steen is committed to working in his own end. He is a good penalty killer with strong positioning and good anticipations skills. His quick skating and quick stick help him to create turnovers which he can quickly transition into offensive opportunities. However, particularly big forwards can give him some issues, especially on the cycle.

Outlook

Following the season, Steen signed his entry-level contract with the Bruins. He comes over to North America where Boston hopes that he can continue to bring his offensive production despite his diminutive size. Expect Steen to start the season in Providence where he can continue to develop and begin the adjustment to the smaller North American ice. His future may also be on the wing.

 

System Outlook

The Bruins system lacks true elite talent. It also has some issues with depth. This is natural, given the number of years the Bruins have been amongst the NHL’s top contenders in recent years.

Other goaltenders in the system include Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar. Defence prospects Axel AnderssonDustyn McFaul, Roman Bychkov, Wiley Sherman and Victor Berglund are worth keeping an eye on. Forward prospects to watch include Zachary Senyshyn, Peter Cehlarik, Pavel Shen, Cameron Hughes, Curtis Hall, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Fitzgerald, Quinn Olson, and Anton Blidh.

 

Boston Bruins Prospects Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

6 COMMENTS

  1. Lot’s of work went into this article, including an inordinate amount of research. Thumbs up for that. However, it’s clear Ben Kerr does not follow the Bruins regularly. If so, he’d know that Studnicka is far from “a real long-shot to crack the Bruins roster this year”. Secondly, he’d have Anders Bjork near the top of the list, if not #1. Bork is 23 and has only played 50 NHL games having the past 2 seasons cut short by injury. Thus far he’s been an utter standout in camp. Also unmentioned is Peter Cehlarik, the 6ft2 200lb 24 year old winger with budding NHL potential and only 37 games of NHL experience.

    • 50 NHL games played is our cut-off for what is and isn’t a prospect. Bjork is at 50 and therefore does not qualify for the list. He was listed under the “graduations” portion at the top of the article.

      We will see in a few weeks if Studnicka cracks the Bruins roster. With Bergeron, Kreijci, and Coyle down the middle, I don’t see Studnicka taking a role in the top three lines. Like most 20-year-olds, the Bruins will want one of their top prospects playing big minutes in the AHL, not competing with guys like Sean Kuraly, Chris Wagner, Par Lindholm, and Joakim Nordstrom on the fourth line. Studnicka is entering his first pro season. He needs to play not be a fourth line centre or shifted to the wing or sitting in the press box. If he isn’t in the top 3 lines, he’ll be in the AHL. Hence why he is a long shot to make this team out of camp.

      Cehlarik was not in our top 10 prospects. He might make the NHL, but there is no upside there. I don’t see him ever being more than a fourth liner.

  2. Bjork – the article states the cutoff for your list is “about 50 NHL games”, not “50 games”. Either way, having the last 2 seasons cut short from injury, Bjork has exactly 50 games. Moreover, with only has 22 games in the AHL after turning pro from college, plus the fact he’s just 23 years old, it’s quite a jump to label him as having “graduated” from prospect status, don’t you think?

    Studnicka – if you followed the Bruins closely, you’d know there has never been any talk about putting him on the 4th line. The Bruins are loaded there and the discussion is irrelevant anyways. Instead, as you correctly stated, Sweeney/Cassidy are projecting him in the top-9. But the point here is that he’s not “a real long-shot”, instead he has as much chance as Bjork or Frederic.

    Cehlarik – you won’t find Cassidy or Sweeney saying there’s no upside. He has size, skill, playmaking ability, a decent shot and he can skate well enough. The main issues have been consistency and staying healthy. While he’s had mental lapses, he also proved rather adept to playing RW for Krejci. Perhaps he doesn’t belong on your the top 10 prospects list, which if fine, but a pretty good argument could be made that he’s closer to making the roster as a top-9 forward that Zboril is as a #7 defenseman.

    • A few things here.

      1) There needs to be a rule as to what is or isn’t a prospect and it needs to be objective. We have set it at 50 NHL games and have left it at that number since 2012 when we started the series. The reason is that we will now rank all 31 NHL teams based on system depth. We need a clear defining line of what isn’t or isn’t a prospect. If we don’t do that, then bias can creep into the decisions.

      2) Yes, Sweeney and Cassidy have talked up Cehlarik and Studnicka in the media. Great. That’s fantastic. Coach-speak and GM-speak has zero effect on my rankings and assessments. I’d rather watch the players myself. Most coaches are not going to say, “Studnicka isn’t ready yet.” or “We see Cehlarik’s upside as a fourth liner.” at the start of training camp. My assessments are blunt. Their assessments behind closed doors are probably blunt, but they aren’t going to be doing it in the media. Thats not who Cassidy is.

      3) How close someone is to making the roster doesn’t put where they are in the rankings. Zboril may not be ready to make the team this year, but he has higher upside as an NHL player than Cehlarik does. The ranking is always a mix of ceiling, likeliness to hit ceiling, and how close the player is to being NHL ready. Its one of three factors, not the sole factor in a ranking.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.