The 2018 season is over and the Boston Bruins are finally resting amid all the injuries they were playing with, GM Don Sweeney and Co. have been busy looking to make much-needed changes to the team‘s roster.
With rumors swirling about possible trades with the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins will be looking to help bolster their defense. The most exciting thing about this recent team was the important impact that the young prospects had. Even though the season ended shortly and, let’s be honest –exceeded everyone’s expectations, there’s no question that Sweeney and Neely will be faced with some tough decisions. They’ve made it no secret that they would love to keep everybody, however it’s just not reality. There’s a lot of young talent that’s being developed in Providence and they’ll be looking to earn a spot on the Bruins team. Let’s take a look at a few prospects that could very well shine through next season.
The Bruins already have a promising group of young guys already in the lineup. Young superstars such as Jake Debrusk , Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Sean Kuraly, Ryan Donato, Brandon Carlo and, even though he’s not a first-year guy David Pastrnak, who had a breakthrough season. As Don Sweeney looks make some moves on who stays, there are quite a few prospects looking to break through and earn a spot on the Bruins’ roster.
As the Bruins were poised to make a postseason run, they received great news. 22 year old Boston-native Ryan Donato would sign an entry-level contract with the Black and Gold. In his debut for the Bruins, he scored his first NHL goal. In the regular season, he ended with a respectable nine points in the 12 games he played. Donato knows how to score: he posted 26 goals and 43 points in 29 games for the Harvard Crimson. A natural scorer, he potted five goals in six games while competing in the 2018 Olympics for the U.S.. This young star will be looking to make a huge impact in the 2018-2019 season.
One player that’s started the beginning of this past season on the first line with Bergeron and Marchand is 21 year old Anders Bjork. He posted 12 points, and was sent back to Providence before having season ending shoulder surgery. With the successful pairing of Pastrnak /Krejci at the recent IIHF tournament , will we see a repeat of Bjork on the first line? For this writer, it probably would not be a bad idea see how Bjork does in training camp first and if need be, send the young winger back down to Providence. Will be interesting to see if Coach Cassidy will break up the first line and insert Bjork alongside with Bergeron.
The young prospect is making a name for himself as an all-around player; the 20 year old can score. For the Wisconsin Badgers, he posted 65 points and 66 games and the recent World Junior Championship against the Czech Republic, Frederick potted four goals in a 9-3 victory. He can handle the puck and find passing lanes, making him a threat offensively.
JAKOB FORSBACKA KARLSSON
Selected in 2015 by the Bruins, the Swedish Center skated alongside McAvoy at BU. Playing for the Providence Bruins, JFK potted 32 points in 58 games. As he gains more consistency in his play, JFK will be an effective center offensively. He plays with intensity, turning plays into scoring chances. As the young 21 year old continues to develop, there could a real chance he would get the call and replace Riley Nash when he becomes a free agent this July.
IN THE NAME OF DEFENSE
In an effort in bolstering their defense, the Bruins will be looking at 21 year old Jeremy Lauzon. What the Bruins need is someone that can not only defend but move the puck. But if you look at his recent record in Providence last season in 52 games he only managed one goal and six assists. A slow start, but if he wants to play for the Black and Gold, he’ll need to work on more with the coaches as he continues to develop.
Another defensive prospect is 19 year old Urho Vaakanainen. Drafted in the 2017, he’s been playing solid in the Finnish League, garnering 11 points in 43 games. The young Finn isn’t a splashy player, however he’s a safe bet; calm and steady with a few years of playing pro under his belt. As the Bruins defense make necessary transitions, you’ll need a composed player like Vaakanainen, especially on the blue line.
And lastly another star in the making is 21 year old Czech Jakub Zboril. Drafted in 2015, Zboril plays a solid game; his first season with the Providence Bruins posted 19 points and 68 games. Not the biggest body on ice (6 feet , 201lbs), however, he plays smart especially in the neutral zone. A two-way defenseman, Zboril will need to work hard and gain more experience playing professionally. He’ll be one to watch.
With harsh realities facing the management in regards to who stays and who goes (those Krug rumors won’t go away), every one will be gunning for a spot on the Bruins team. With recent trades that didn’t exactly pan out, Sweeney will have his work cut out for him; the lackluster performance of Rick Nash hasn’t gone unnoticed. The bar is set even higher for next season. The Bruins will need to keep some veterans to help the upcoming prospects. And let’s not forget, they need to make room to keep the young talent. In 2020, many will become restricted free agents. With tough decisions lingering on their minds, there’s no doubt the new season will bring new excitement as the Bruins work hard in their quest for the Stanley Cup.
Follow Liz Rizzo St Pierre on Twitter @pastagrl88