This past week, many of the younger players on the Boston Bruins were given the opportunity to compete in the Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge which featured the Sabres, the New Jersey Devils and the Bruins. For the Bruins, not all of their top prospects wound up playing in this competition. However, there were a few that needed to be watched closely as their chance at making an impact at the NHL may come sooner rather than later. But now with training camp right around the corner and the first preseason game coming on Sept. 26, let’s take a look at the Bruins top prospects going into the 2020-2021 season.
5. Brady Lyle
Lyle is easily the most intriguing prospect in the Bruins system because he has a decent chance to play as early as this season. Lyle, who has shown that he has good puck moving abilities, was signed by the Bruins in April and is a big body defenseman standing at 6 feet, 200 pounds. Lyle spent six seasons in the OHL where he was a force, scoring 65 points in 62 games in the 2019-2020 season. He then spent a short time in the Slovakia league where he had three points in five games while maintaining a +5 rating. He didn’t slow down once he was signed by the Bruins as he was able to put up 14 points in 25 games for the Providence Bruins a season ago.
So far, in every level Lyle has played at, he has shown that he can excel on both the offensive and defensive level. I would expect Lyle to battle Connor Clifton for that final right shot defenseman spot. If Lyle can prove he can produce at the NHL level, I believe he would be a better option than Clifton as he supplies good size for the Bruins on the back end.
4. Jack Ahcan
Ahcan is another guy who has had a little taste of the NHL, having played three games a season ago. Ahcan is a severely undersized, offensive minded defenseman who has been very productive at the college level. If the past five or so years have taught us Bruins fans anything, it is that this team loves their undersized, puck moving defensemen.
Barring injuries, Ahcan likely will not be given a roster spot to start the season. However, when he does get the chance, I would expect Ahcan to make a big impact as a power play specialist. I believe that Ahcan has the potential to reach a similar level offensively as a Torey Krug or Matt Grzelcyk, but the defensive woes will always be there.
3. Mason Lohrei
Lohrei is a defenseman who I feel has flown under the radar as a guy who can make a significant impact on the Bruins defensive core within the next season or two. Lohrei is a left shot defenseman who has exceptional size standing at 6 feet, 4 inches, 204 pounds. Typically when you see a guy with Lohrei’s size you’d think that he is a defensive minded defenseman, but that isn’t the case. Last season with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL, Lohrei had 59 points in 48 games.
Now it is time for him to show that he can carry that dominance with him to the college level at Ohio State. If Lohrei continues to show improvement at the college level, I would expect him to make his NHL debut as soon as this season.
2. Jakub Lauko
Lauko is a guy who will have his work cut out for him this year if he wants to make a jump to the NHL with the additions of Erik Haula and Nick Foligno. However, Lauko has made an offensive impact at every level he has played at, given that last season he put up 19 points in 23 games for the Providence Bruins. The biggest obstacle Lauko will have to face this season is his durability. In the past two seasons, he played just 45 AHL games due to injury, with his most recent injury coming in the 2020 World Junior tournament when he injured is MCL.
Now Lauko is healthy and has a great opportunity in the preseason to show that he can be a solid middle-six winger for the Bruins going forward. With Haula and Foligno in the fold this season, Lauko might have to wait for an injury to get his chance, but he is certainly climbing the depth chart and should be the next man up from Providence.
1. Fabian Lysell
Probably the guy we will have to wait the longest for will be 2021 first round pick, Fabian Lysell. Lysell likely won’t get his chance this season as it looks like he will be getting some seasoning in the WHL this season. However, Lysell easily has the highest upside out of all the Bruins prospects and has the skill set to potentially be an elite right winger for the Bruins. If he can reach his full potential, the B’s will have an embarrassment of riches at the right-wing position with Pastrnak and Lysell.
As for this season, Lysell will get an opportunity to compete in preseason and nothing more. In this past week he competed in the prospects challenge in which he was able to score an empty netter and record an assist in two games. In all probability, Lysell won’t make his debut in the NHL this season unless the Bruins are playing completely meaningless games at the end of the regular season.
Although the roster spots are mostly pre-determined due to all the veterans the B’s currently have, there are still some depth pieces that could be up for grabs. Don’t be surprised if some of the players listed make a push for those depth spots this season.