The Boston Bruins are known for having a weak prospect pool. This is understandable, given that general manager (GM) Don Sweeney traded away many first-round picks and top prospects during the team’s Stanley Cup window. Heading into the 2022-23 season, the club still has Stanley Cup aspirations, but Sweeney needs to steer clear of giving up his top future assets this time. He should not only hang on to the club’s 2023 first-round pick, but he also should make these three prospects untouchable. Here’s why.
Fabian Lysell is the Bruins’ top prospect, so he needs to be a part of the team’s long-term plans. The 2021 first-round pick just had a very strong 2021-22 season with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League (WHL), where he scored 22 goals and 62 points in 53 regular-season games. Following that, the 19-year-old had 21 points in just 12 playoff games for the Giants to end the year on a truly excellent note. With all of this, he should be able to compete for a spot on the Bruins’ NHL roster this season.
Lysell has the potential to make an impact already, so it’s clear that the Bruins need to keep him around. This is especially true considering that many scouts believe he is going to emerge as a top-six winger at the NHL level. As stated above, the Bruins are known for having a weak prospect pool, which is very concerning considering how much of their core is over 30 years old. Thus, Lysell should be an untouchable prospect.
The Bruins are not known for their depth at right wing, either; even more so if Sweeney ends up trading Craig Smith to become cap compliant once players like Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy return from injuries. With that, David Pastrnak has yet to sign a contract extension, so there’s, unfortunately, no guarantee that he will be with the team in 2023-24. Thus, it would be a massive mistake for Sweeney to trade Lysell, so do not expect to see it come to fruition.
Mason Lohrei raised his value immensely this past season with Ohio State University. In 31 games as a freshman, the 21-year-old defenseman scored four goals and 29 points. It was an impressive first collegiate season from the Wisconsin native, and it will be intriguing to see what he does for an encore with the school in 2022-23.
Lohrei can both produce solid offense from the point and has been praised for his very physical style of play. This combination could make him a top-four defenseman in the NHL, and this is extremely encouraging, considering the Bruins’ left side. Although they have the quantity, the quality is not the strongest, as Hampus Lindholm is the only legitimate top-four, left-handed defenseman on the roster.
With all of this, Lohrei needs to be a part of the Bruins’ long-term plans. The 6-foot-4 defenseman has the tools to emerge into something special for Boston, as his tenacity and offensive production is something that the team truly needs. If he continues to develop in the right direction, he could become a rare steal of a draft pick by Sweeney, so the Bruins should not even consider moving him.
After Lysell and Lohrei, few Bruins prospects stand out. However, the final player in the system who should not be available for trade is Jack Studnicka. Although the 23-year-old has been unable to cement himself as a full-time NHL player, he is still developing, albeit slowly, so the Bruins should practice patience with him for at least one last season.
Studnicka appeared in 15 NHL games in 2021-22, with three assists and a minus-5 rating. Yes, the Windsor native did not impress with Boston last season, but his play in the American Hockey League (AHL) was very encouraging. The 2017 second-round pick recorded a very solid 35 points in 41 games with the Providence Bruins, which was his best pace of production at that level. Now, he just needs to translate that to the NHL.
Yet, the biggest reason why Studnicka should remain untouchable is that he is the Bruins’ top center prospect, a position that is getting old for them, at least by NHL standards. Although Patrice Bergeron elected to play another season, and David Krejci has returned from Czechia, they are both in the final stages of their career. Thus, Studnicka should be a player they keep around, as his services will be needed as soon as next season.
Although the idea of bringing in top-flight talent is always enticing, Sweeney is in a position to hang on to these three prospects. The Bruins’ prospect pool is just too weak to worsen, but these three have the potential to make an impact soon. Eventually, Boston will have to retool – at least – and Lysell, Lohrei, and Studnicka should be a part of the ride when they do.
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.