General Manager Don Sweeney and the Boston Bruins decided to stay relatively quiet at the trade deadline this season – their only move being the deal with Winnipeg that brought Drew Stafford to Boston. Instead of making a big splash at the deadline, the B’s opted to stick to their long-term plan, which Sweeney has referenced on several occasions.
Rather than trading away assets now, Bruins management has wisely stayed patient in hopes of improving their team via internal development. The Bruins have quite a few prospects that they feel will be ready to compete in the NHL soon, several of whom are currently playing in college.
Boston University is home to two of Boston’s highest-touted prospects, Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson. Bruins fans and media alike have speculated a possible jump from either (or both) of these players following the Terriers’ season, which could end as early as next weekend.
At the top of the list sits defenseman Charlie McAvoy, who the Bruins selected 14th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. McAvoy has been a stand-out in his first two years at Boston University, tallying 49 points in 73 games.
McAvoy has been the crown jewel of Boston prospects since his selection in the draft. He improved his standing in the World Junior Championship at the turn of the new year, when he wore the ‘A’ as a member of the United States’ gold medal-winning team. McAvoy notched six points in seven games and was a plus-six in the tournament.
The Long Beach, New York native has been tagged by many as the future of Boston’s blue line. He’s a gifted two-way D-man who plays a powerful game on both ends of the ice. Despite being a defenseman, McAvoy has demonstrated that he isn’t afraid to jump into the rush, which makes him a valuable asset on both ends of the ice.
He has also demonstrated some tremendous hockey IQ and poise in his time with Boston University. At just 19-years-old, McAvoy knows the game very well, which is especially important given the two-way style he plays. He’s also versatile with the pace that he plays with; he’s capable of pushing the play on the rush or slowing down the pace of the game. He’ll be a welcome addition to a Boston blue line that is in the midst of a youth takeover.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
The Bruins are already pretty deep at the center position, but they could become even deeper this spring if they add Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson. Nicknamed “JFK” by his Boston fan base, the 20-year-old center has given Bruins fans plenty of reason to be excited about his future.
Forsbacka-Karlsson, who currently serves as an alternate captain for the Terriers, has notched 62 points in 76 career games with Boston University. He, too, appeared in the 2017 World Junior Championship for his home country of Sweden and tallied five points in seven games.
Forsbacka-Karlsson, who was selected 45th overall by the Bruins in 2015, is a playmaking center with high upside. Like McAvoy, JFK knows the game very well and uses that to his advantage in the offensive zone. He’s touted for his ability to turn seemingly-dead plays into dangerous scoring chances – a skill that is always in high demand in the National Hockey League.
When Could They Make the Jump?
After the trade deadline, Don Sweeney commented on the possibility of some college players making the jump to the NHL this season.
“We have college kids that may decide [to go pro] and make that decision a little easier,” Sweeney said, per Ty Anderson of WEEI. “Those are case-by-case situations. But we do have some players that we’re going to make decisions on or they’re gonna make decisions in the coming weeks. And we have flexibility to be able to do that — to add those players contractually and bring them into the fold if that’s what we decide to do and that’s what they decide to do.”
Those decisions could be made as early as next week for McAvoy and Forsbacka-Karlsson. Boston University had a tough draw for the NCAA tournament and will have to head to Fargo, North Dakota to take on the defending national champions, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks.
There are certainly no guarantees, but depending on BU’s success in the tournament, McAvoy and Forsbacka-Karlsson could be sporting the black and gold for the Bruins in the coming weeks.
Cam is a Broadcast Journalism student at the University of Maryland. He’s the Boston Bruins Beat Writer at The Hockey Writers, and is an avid college hockey fan. Find him on Twitter @CamHasbrouck!