The Boston Bruins have remained competitive for over a decade, and this season hasn’t changed that. At this juncture of the campaign, they have a 41-19-5 record and are gearing up for another playoff run. Yet, their roster is also getting older, so this is something that could potentially change soon. Thus, the development of their top prospects is crucial if they wish to maintain their status as contenders for several more years. These three youngsters, in particular, need to have an impact in the next few seasons to help with this goal. Let’s now go over why.
When the Bruins selected Fabian Lysell with the 21st-overall pick of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, it was a very pleasant surprise. Some scouts envisioned the 19-year-old winger being a top-10 pick in his draft class, but he surprisingly dropped fairly lower than that. With the team notably having depth issues at right wing, it was a no-brainer for them to take advantage of him still being available.
Lysell spent last season with Lulea HF of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), where he had two goals and an assist. Overall, that production may not look too impressive, but it’s important to note that he was playing against professional competition as a 17-year-old. He has been dominant in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Vancouver Giants this season, however, as he has 20 goals and 32 assists in 45 games. With his excellent production, he has maintained a gritty style of play, too, as he has 48 penalty minutes.
Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney is so impressed with Lysell’s play that he hasn’t ruled out the possibility of him joining the team this season. Yet, even if he doesn’t seem ready for the NHL immediately, he should be a huge part of the club’s future. If the team successfully signs David Pastrnak to an extension, he and Lysell could be an amazing one-two punch at right wing for years to come. However, the latter will also need to reach his potential first.
With the Bruins acquiring and then extending Hampus Lindholm, the left side of their defense is looking much stronger. This is because they finally have another legitimate top-pairing defenseman to pair with Charlie McAvoy. Furthermore, their depth on that side is stronger, as they have Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort, and Mike Reilly as NHL-caliber options, too. However, the left side could get even better because Mason Lohrei is looking like a player who could be with the Bruins soon.
After recording a 59-point campaign in 48 games with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL), Lohrei made the switch to Ohio State University for the 2021-22 season. During his freshmen year, he had four goals and 25 assists in 31 games. That kind of strong production from the 21-year-old allowed him to be a finalist for the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Award. Needless to say, his first collegiate season couldn’t have been much better.
At this juncture, it hasn’t been established if Lohrei plans to play another season for the Buckeyes or begin his professional hockey career. It wouldn’t hurt for him to play one more year in college because it would allow him to develop his game a bit more. If the 6-foot-4 defenseman hits his potential, he could be an excellent addition to the Bruins’ second pair later down the road. Not only is he skilled offensively, but he has also been praised for his reliable defensive play and a strong degree of physicality. With all of this, he should have a very bright future ahead of him.
The Bruins have a lot of questions when it comes to the center position. This started last offseason when longtime second-line center David Krejci decided to head home to the Czech Republic. Thankfully, Erik Haula has filled in nicely, but with Patrice Bergeron in the latter stages of his career, another major hole will be created once he officially retires. With this, the team desperately needs Jack Studnicka to develop into his potential.
With the Bruins electing to keep Studnicka past the deadline, it’s clear that they still envision him as a part of their future. When looking at how well he has performed in the American Hockey League (AHL) this season, it’s easy to understand why. After a bit of a slow start to the year, the 2017 second-round pick now has nine goals and 24 assists in 37 games. This is the best pace of production he’s had with the Providence Bruins since arriving during the 2019-20 campaign.
Studnicka’s scoring touch hasn’t translated over to the NHL yet, though. In 13 games with the Bruins this season, he only has three assists. This is a bit underwhelming, but even more so when remembering that he spent time on the Bruins’ first line. In his first 22 career regular-season games with the team, he also only had one goal and three assists. With numbers like these, he still hasn’t been able to cement himself as a full-time NHL player. This is something that honestly needs to change for the 23-year-old by next season.
If these three players can develop into their full potential, the Bruins will be in very good shape moving forward. Lysell and Lohrei are prospects who the team can take their time with, but when it comes to Studnicka, the clock is surely ticking. We will have to wait and see if these three become major parts of the lineup soon.
Michael DeRosa is a contributor who covers the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks for The Hockey Writers. Since 2017, he’s written and edited for numerous websites. Besides his work for THW, you can also find him on NHLTradeRumors.me, BBallRumors.com, BaseballRumors.me, FootballRumors.me and The Rat Trick.