The Boston Bruins have been off to a good start, maintaining their spot atop the Atlantic division for pretty much the entire season. However, with injuries that have been looming from players like Torey Krug, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron, it makes me wonder how some of the Bruins prospects are doing and if they are ready for the call up to the big club yet. So, let’s look at what some of the team’s top prospects have been up to thus far.
Vaakanainen started the season with the providence Bruins where he recorded just two points in 15 games. Due to injuries, Vaakanainen has made his way back to the NHL where he has maintained an even +/- rating in his first five games this season.
The Bruins 2016 first round pick has not gotten many opportunities to show off his skills in the NHL, mostly due to a bad concussion he suffered in his second game last season. However, in his first five games with the Bruins, he has shown that he can hold his own as a fifth or sixth defenseman in the NHL. Ideally, the Bruins would want to let him improve in the AHL, but injuries have forced them to call on Vaakanainen early this season.
Last season, Lauko recorded 41 points in 44 games with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies of the QMJHL. Those are pretty good numbers for a third round pick in his first season in the juniors. This season, Lauko got the call to play for Providence in the AHL and has hit a bit of a sophomore slump, recording just three goals in 12 games.
It is still early for the 19-year-old from the Czech Republic, as he could still use some seasoning down in the AHL. However, we have seen flashes of what Lauko can do in the preseason, and if he can improve on his season with Providence, I think it would be safe to expect Lauko in the lineup for Boston as soon as next year.
Last season, Studnicka notched 83 points in 60 games in the OHL and added 11 points in 11 games in the playoffs for the Niagra Ice Dogs. This will be Studnicka’s first full season in the AHL for Providence and so far, he has impressed with 13 points in 18 games.
Studnicka has overachieved every season since he was drafted by the Bruins in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft. Now that Studnicka has shown he can produce against grown men in the AHL, I would expect him to make his NHL debut as soon as this season.
Drafting Beecher in the first round felt fitting, considering he is a big body at six foot three inches and weighing in at 210 pounds, while one of the biggest issues the Bruins had in the finals was their size or lack thereof. So far, Beecher has six points in 12 games in his first season for the University of Michigan. Beecher will be given a bigger opportunity this season internationally now that former teammate and number one overall pick, Jack Hughes, is playing with the New Jersey Devils.
Beecher will need a year or two before he is truly ready to be a full-time NHL player. However, he does have the size to be in the NHL right now. If Beecher can put together an exceptional season at Michigan, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that he will be fighting for a top six wing position, or maybe even a top nine center position, next season for the Bruins.
The Bruins are not dying for any prospects to come out of the woodwork right now as they are currently sitting in first place in the Atlantic division. However, it never hurts to know that these young players will be ready to make an impact when called upon. Pretty soon, the Bruins will be looking for replacements for players like Bergeron, Krejci and Zdeno Chara, so why not start preparing for life without them while they are still good, rather than waiting for them to become bad?