2017-18 Boston Bruins Top Ten Prospects
Not too far removed from their Stanley Cup win, the Bruins identified the need to reload and build up the next generation of potential stars. After some questionable drafting decisions with three consecutive first round picks in 2015, and the trading of rising stars Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton, it’s safe to say they could be in better shape.
That is not to say they are in bad shape. There are some very quality players on this list and beyond as well as active players on the roster such as David Pastrnak, Brandon Carlo, Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano, all 25-years-old or younger.
Players eligible for these rankings include prospects under 25 years of age with less than 50 career NHL games played
1. Charlie McAvoy, D – Boston U. (NCAA)
Drafted: 14th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Boston
It may be difficult to call a player selected 14th overall as a steal, but it is starting to look just like that. McAvoy had a dominant freshman season on a loaded Boston Terrier team. McAvoy was a leader and the top defenseman for Team USA at the WJC, leading them to a Gold Medal. He finished off his year by turning pro and joining the Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs, playing big minutes and looking great. McAvoy is a complete player; he has size, smarts, skating, and skill as well as leadership at a young age. Boston fans have been spoiled for generations with elite franchise defensemen the likes of Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, and Zdeno Chara; McAvoy could be the next in a long line of Bruins great defensemen.
2. Anders Bjork, LW – Notre Dame (NCAA)
Drafted: 146th overall in the fifth round of the 2014 draft by Boston
The Bruins found a gem in the fifth round in Anders Bjork. Bjork dominated the NCAA as a junior scoring 52 points in 39 games. He is taking his game to the pro level where he will compete for a top-six roster spot on the Bruins out of training camp. Bjork finished last season playing for USA at the World Championship, and although he did not produce any points, he played well and looks NHL ready now.
3. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, C – Boston U. (NCAA)
Drafted: 45th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Boston
JFK completed his sophomore season with the Terriers posting back-to-back 30 point or better seasons in the NCAA. Upon completion of the year, he signed his pro contract with the Bruins on time to play one regular season NHL game. Forsbacka Karlsson is a tenacious forechecking forward and can make an impact on a game in a number of ways, either with offense, physical play or by bringing energy and momentum. He will compete for a job with the Bruins and may just win one out of camp to start the year.
4. Zach Senyshyn, RW – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Drafted: 15th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Boston
The Bruins took some heat for reaching to draft Senyshyn at No. 15 when some had him forecasted as a second rounder, and selected ahead of players like Thomas Chabot and Mathew Barzal. While hind sight is 20/20 and the criticism may be warranted, Senyshyn is still a quality prospect. The speed demon finished his OHL career and had his pro debut in the AHL playoffs with Providence, where he was held pointless in four games. Senyshyn has good hands and a decent scoring touch and size, but his main weapon is his speed, which is high currency in today’s game.
5. Urho Vaakanainen, D – JYP (Liiga)
Drafted: 18th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Boston
The Finnish defensive defenseman is a good skater that makes good reads and reacts, is positionally sound with an active stick and solid gap control. Perhaps he leaves you wanting with his offensive production. Despite making good outlet passes and a heavy shot, but that part of his game may yet develop. Vaakanainen will return to Finland for the coming season.
6. Trent Frederic, C – Wisconsin (NCAA)
Drafted: 29th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Boston
Another player the Bruins were criticized for picking too early, Tret Frederic had a solid freshman season in Wisconsin scoring 33 points in 30 games. Frederic was scouted as a two-way or defensive player projected as a bottom-six NHL upside prospect, but his offensive game developed last year. Now his upside looks much brighter. Credit to the Bruins scouting staff for identifying this ahead of the curve and drafting accordingly.
7. Jake Debrusk, LW – Providence (AHL)
Drafted: 14th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft by Boston
The first pro year for Debrusk went well as he posted 19 goals and 49 points in 74 games with Providence. His combination of size and speed can make him a handful off the rush. He is a high volume shooter taking 213 shots. Debrusk may not have the highest skill or smoothest hands, but he is more than capable and willing to earn the greasy goals and points. Look for Debrusk to start the year in the AHL again, but he should get some NHL looks throughout the season.
8. Danton Heinen, LW/C – Providence (AHL)
Drafted: 116th overall in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by Boston
After two seasons of posting over a point per game offense with Denver in the NCAA, Heinen played his first pro season and was able to translate his scoring prowess to the pro level … at the AHL at least. Heinen posted 44 points in 64 regular season games with Providence, but in eight games in the NHL with the Bruins was held pointless. In the playoffs, he was a force for Providence pacing them with nine goals and 18 points in 17 games. If he can figure it out in the NHL, he will be a terrific draft pick coming out of the fourth round.
9. Jeremy Lauzon, D – Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Drafted: 52nd overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Boston
Lauzon was limited to just 39 games due to injury in his final junior season, but was able to make a good impression playing for Canada at the WJC with three points. He capped off his junior career as the captain of the Huskies and led them in the playoffs with 14 points in 13 games. Lauzon will begin the year at the pro level with Providence and may be a year or two from NHL duty, but is trending in the right direction.
10. Matt Grzelcyk, D – Providence (AHL)
Drafted: 85th overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by Boston
After serving as Captain of the Boston Terriers for two years, Grzelcyk made the jump to pro playing 70 games in Providence and posting six goals and 32 points. He also made his NHL debut seeing two games in Boston. Often compared to current Bruins defenseman Torey Krug – they are both undersized offensive defensemen. At 23-years-old he is NHL ready now and could split time between Boston and Providence depending on injuries.