The Boston Bruins have called up two young players in Kenny Agostino and Peter Cehlarik on Wednesday in a move that explains the team sending Danton Heinen and Austin Czarnik down to the AHL just one day prior. This move could serve to benefit the Bruins following their slow start to the season that’s seen them win two games in impressive fashion while losing three games (including back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche) in disappointing fashion.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 18, 2017
At the AHL level, both Agostino and Cehlarik have had very impressive seasons thus far. Through the first three games of the season, Agostino and Cehlarik rank first and second on the team in points respectively with Agostino scoring two goals and seven points and Cehlarik recording two goals and five points. AHL success is nothing new for Agostino who led the AHL in scoring in 2016-17 with 24 goals and 83 points in 65 games with the Chicago Wolves, winning the AHL’s Les Cunningham Award given to the league’s Most Valuable Player. He was also most recently named the AHL player of the week due to his quick start to the season and is tied for third in the league in points.
Success Getting Rewarded
When the Bruins signed Agostino to a one-year contract in the offseason, the signing widely went under the radar. It was a sneaky good signing, however, as Agostino has performed well with the St. Louis Blues in his last stint in the NHL, scoring one goal and three points in seven games and making his mark even when not showing up on the scoresheet. Despite this, Agostino was still returned to the AHL in a move that was surprising to Blues’ fans but that wasn’t noticed by the majority of fans outside of the St. Louis market.
In the preseason, Agostino was part of a very steep competition at wing in the Bruins’ camp. While he performed well enough to earn the praise of his head coach, he was ultimately sent through waivers and assigned to the AHL. Fortunately for the Bruins, Agostino wasn’t claimed like Malcolm Subban was shortly thereafter.
The competition in camp wasn’t experienced quite the same for Cehlarik, however. Dealing with an injury, the 22-year-old forward missed the vast majority of camp and was assigned to Providence to start the year (and with good reason given how competitive camp was). Still, many didn’t expect Cehlarik to spend the entire season in Providence. The main reason for that was how well he performed in 11 games with the Bruins in 2016-17 while skating primarily alongside David Krejci on the team’s second line.
Despite only scoring two assists in those 11 games, it was clear the Cehlarik was more than capable of playing at the NHL level – thanks in large part to his experience playing against adults in Sweden prior to making the jump to the NHL level. At 6 foot 2 and 202 pounds, it’s clear that he has the size to play at the NHL level and hold his own – where he plays in this stint, however, is up in the air.
Where Do Cehlarik and Agostino Play?
In the case of Czarnik and Heinen, the two players who were sent down to make room for Agostino and Cehlarik, the two played in the Bruins’ bottom six. Czarnik playing two games this season and failing to record a point (though he certainly looked like an NHL player regardless of that fact). Heinen, on the other hand, played in three games on the Bruins’ fourth line (while also seeing time on the team’s second power-play unit), scoring three assists and looking like he was finally ready to take the next step. While he may not have that opportunity for the time being, there’s no reason to believe he won’t see more time with the team this season.
What this means for Agostino and Cehlarik, however, is that they are both likely to slot into the team’s bottom-six. The ideal situation for the Bruins will be to see the two wingers slot into the team’s third line in place of Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano who simply haven’t performed up to task yet. Even if both Beleskey and Vatrano are part of the team’s future plans this season, they could benefit from sitting and working out their kinks in practice while the Bruins’ two best forwards in Providence get a chance to play at the NHL level and help the team during this difficult and inconsistent stretch.