When Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was having conversations with teams at the NHL trade deadline for possible trades to upgrade their top-six forwards, you can bet teams were looking to get their hands on some of the B’s talented prospects. Sweeney held onto most of his top young players but did part ways with defensive prospect Axel Anderson.
Sweeney was able to hold onto Jack Studnicka, Urho Vaakanainen, Trent Frederic and Jakub Zboril, to name a few. While those players are having good seasons with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, the Bruins also have three prospects having good seasons with their college team. As the calendar turns to March, those payers are getting ready for their upcoming conference tournaments and what they hope can be an NCAA tournament run to a National Championship.
Jeremy Swayman, University of Maine
Drafted 111th in the fourth round of the 2017 draft, Jeremy Swayman is having his best season for the Maine Black Bears as a junior. After going 29-29-7 in his first two seasons combined, he is currently 17-10-5. He has a 2.13 goals-against average (GAA) and a .937 save percentage (SV%), both career-bests at Maine. He’s allowed 71 goals in 32 games in 2019-20.
One of four players on the Maine roster that has been drafted, the Anchorage, Alaska native will make his final start of the regular-season Friday night at Harold Alford Sports Arena against Providence College. The Black Bears can finish anywhere from third through seventh in the Hockey East standings. The Hockey East best-of-three playoff series will begin the weekend of March 13-14. With a strong showing in the tournament, Maine could be playing for an NCAA tournament bid the following weekend (March 20-21) in the semifinals and finals at the TD Garden in Boston.
Curtis Hall, Yale
Curtis Hall has had a breakout sophomore season for the Bulldogs in 2019-20. A fourth-round draft choice in the 2018 draft, he tallied just six goals and five assists as a freshman. This season, he leads the team with 15 goals and has 10 assists. He is tied for the team lead with 25 points, which recently earned him a spot to second-team All-Ivy League by the coaches.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound forward has had four multi-goal games this year against Brown, St. Lawrence, Union and Rensselaer in conference play. Against Vermont on Jan. 7, he scored the game-tying goal with 51 seconds left in regulation. He then scored the game-winning goal moments later in overtime against the Catamounts.
Yale is 13-14-2 this season but will host Union this weekend in an ECAC Hockey Tournament best-of-three series. Should the Bulldogs advance to the next round (March 13-14), they will need production from Hall against the Dutchmen.
Hall also played for the United States at the World Junior Championships, where he scored one goal in just under nine minutes of total ice time for the tournament.
John Beecher, University of Michigan
The Bruins made John Beecher a first-round pick in the 2019 Draft, selecting him 30th overall. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound forward has seven goals and seven assists in 29 games for the Wolverines.
A left-handed shot, Beecher has one multi-goal game this year on Nov. 22 against the University of New Hampshire in a 4-1 win. He went to the World Junior Championships for the United States but did not record a point in 12:38 of ice time. He will be remembered for drawing a one-game suspension by the IIHF for a hit late in a game against Finland. Beecher also served a one-game Big Ten Conference suspension last month at Michigan for an on-ice incident against Ohio State.
Michigan (16-14-4) will open Big Ten tournament play this weekend when they host in-state rival Michigan State in a best-of-three series.
The Bruins have high hopes for Beecher down the line and hope he can turn into a consistent NHL goal-scorer. He tallied 43 points for the United States National Team Development Program last season with 15 goals and 28 assists.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.