3 AHL Bruins’ Deserving of Call-up to Boston Late in 2022-23

As the 2022-23 NHL season comes down to the final nine games for the Boston Bruins, their big lead in the standings will give first-year coach Jim Montgomery options to give some of his veterans a rest before the playoffs. That started against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 26 when Patrice Bergeron (illness), Brad Marchand, and Hampus Lindholm (nagging injuries) missed the game.

Filling Lindholm’s spot is easy because of Jakub Zboril who has been with the club all season waiting for his opportunity. It was his third game in the seven days and he proved that despite not playing , much, he was ready to jump in and contribute. Before the Carolina game, Oskar Steen was an emergency call-up from the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) and he didn’t have to go far to join Boston. Providence was already in North Carolina getting ready to play the Charlotte Checkers, so it was a short drive across the state to join the big club.

More than likely Steen will not be the last call-up over the final nine games to give guys some rest and the options from down in Providence are plentiful. Here are three P-Bruins who have earned a call-up to Boston over the next two and a half weeks before the postseason begins.

Marc McLaughlin

Signed as an undrafted free agent from Boston College in March of 2022, the Massachusetts native jumped right into the Bruins lineup and made his presence felt. He had three goals in 11 games, but it was his versatility that helped him stay in the lineup by being able to move to center.

Marc McLaughlin Boston Bruins
Marc McLaughlin, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

In 56 games this season, he has 12 goals and 14 assists for Providence, but it was his work in training camp and the preseason where he could have very easily made the roster for Opening Night. Sliding him into the bottom-six in the lineup and moving the top-six around like Montgomery did against the Hurricanes is an option with McLaughlin able to play multiple positions. 

Joona Koppanen

Earlier this season, Joona Koppanen made his NHL debut in Boston and he has played in five games, filling in the bottom six. The 135th overall pick in the 2016 Entry Draft impressed during his five games and if there is a need up the middle in the bottom six, the 25-year-old has earned the right to make a return to the big club.

Joona Koppanen Boston Bruins
Joona Koppanen, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Koopanen played his five games in January when Tomas Nosek was out injured, but the 6-foot-5, 216-pound left shot averaged 10:50 a night in the NHL. He won 56.8% of his face-offs and even got some penalty-killing time, using his long reach to his advantage. In 55 games with the P-Bruins, he has 11 goals and 21 assists and scored in a 5-1 win over Charlotte on March 26. He’s not one of the better-known prospects in Providence, but he is one that can come up and fill a hole if some veterans are given a night off and the lineup shuffles around.

Georgii Merkulov

Like McLaughlin, Georgii Merkulov was signed as an undrafted free agent after his freshman season at Ohio State in March of 2022 and he came with a high-end offensive game. In his only season for the Buckeyes, he had 20 goals and 14 assists in 36 games and showed off his impressive skill set.

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Making the jump full-time this season to the AHL, the 22-year-old has made a seamless adjustment to pro hockey. In 58 games, he has 23 goals and 27 assists and is asserting himself as one of the top prospects in Providence. He sees the ice very well and he’s not very big at 5-foot-11, but his skill set and an impressive shot is one that is raising some eyebrows. With the Bruins left wing depth banged up, moving the lineup around and slotting him in against the Nashville Predators or Columbus Blue Jackets would be a nice way for him to get his feet wet in the NHL.

There are only nine games remaining in the regular season for the Bruins, but they have some veterans who could use some time off before the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin. In the 4-3 shootout win over the Hurricanes, Montgomery started giving his veterans a rest, but an injury to Jakub Lauko adds to the list of Bruins who could be a scratch in the coming week. Steen played very well with two shots on the net and easily could have scored on Frederik Andersen, but the Carolina goalie made some outstanding saves. McLaughlin, Koppanen, and Merkulov are three players that are deserving of a trip to Boston, even if it’s for one game, over the final two-plus weeks of the regular season should AHL players be needed. All three will most likely not get the call, but one or two is not out of the question.

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