Another NHL season is upon us and that means the Boston Bruins Prospect Report is back at The Hockey Writers. In the first edition of the 2021-22 season, we take a look at some of the Bruins prospects in college and one that was sent down to Providence in the final round of cuts, but it should not be surprising to see him back in Boston at some point this season.
Lauko Working Hard in Providence
Going into training camp, there was a hand full of prospects that had an outside chance of making the Boston roster, including Jakub Lauko, but he fell victim to a numbers game. When a prospect gets sent down in the final round of cuts by coach Bruce Cassidy and the front office, it can go one of two ways for them. Lauko chose to go the hard-working route.
In the second of two Providence Bruins American Hockey League (AHL) preseason games on Oct. 9, Lauko scored two goals, including the game-winner in overtime of a 3-2 win over the Springfield Thunderbirds. Injuries are bound to happen this year in Boston and if they need to go down to the AHL for a forward, Lauko should be at the top of the list of callups. His first two seasons with the P-Bruins have got better each year and his time in Boston is not too far away.
Schmaltz Begins College Career With a Bang
After two impressive seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL that saw Jake Schmaltz score 32 goals with 54 assists, the seventh-round pick at No. 192 in the 2019 Entry Draft began his college career at the University of North Dakota with an impressive two-game series on Oct. 8-9.
Against Niagara University, Schmaltz scored a goal and had an assist in the Fighting Hawks’ season-opening win on Oct. 8. One night later, he scored two more goals, including one on the power play, in a 4-0 North Dakota victory. How good were Schmaltz’s first two collegiate games? He became the first North Dakota freshman to score in the first two games of his career since Drew Stafford did it in the 2003-04 season.
“That’s pretty cool,” Schmaltz said. “I don’t think that I could be compared to Drew Stafford, but it’s super cool to be mentioned with a guy like that, but he was a helluva of a player. I probably shouldn’t be compared to him yet.”
It was just two games, but it was a promising collegiate start for Schmaltz with the Fighting Hawks, who began the season ranked in the top 10. Expect big things from both Schmaltz and North Dakota this season.
Lohrei Begins College Career Where USHL Career Left Off
Teammates with Schmaltz the last two seasons with the Gamblers, Mason Lohrei, selected 58th overall in the second round of the 2020 draft, began his freshman season at Ohio State. Quickly moving his way up the ranks of the Bruins’ top prospects, he opened some eyes in his first two collegiate games.
In his first game, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound blueliner scored the Buckeyes’ only goal in a 2-1 loss on Oct. 8 against Bentley University. One night later, he picked up two assists in a 7-1 Ohio State victory to earn a split of the two-game series. Lohrei is one of the Black and Gold’s top defensive prospects and for good reason as there is a lot to like in his game.
His offensive game took off last season with the Gamblers when he scored 19 goals and had 40 assists. A good puck-moving defenseman, he has a good shot and is an exciting offensive defensemen. His development is worth keeping an eye on at Ohio State.
Beecher Injured Again
Big things are expected this season at the University of Michigan, which has four of the first five picks in the 2021 Entry Draft on their roster. While the Wolverines are littered with young talent, the Bruins’ first-round pick in 2019 at No. 30, John Beecher, is beginning his junior season.
Beecher’s sophomore season was cut short after 16 games when a shoulder injury in February sidelined him for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. To make matters worse, he was on the verge of making the Team USA roster for the World Juniors last December, but a COVID-19 positive test knocked him out. Hoping to have a healthy third season for Michigan this winter, Beecher is sidelined with another injury before the puck was dropped on the regular season.
A 6-foot-3, 210-pound left-shot, Beecher suffered an upper-body injury in the preseason, which knocked him out of the opening two-game series against Lake Superior State. This is certainly not what Beecher or the Bruins want to see, but if he has another season hampered by injuries, there is a good chance that he won’t sign his entry-level contract this coming spring and is looking at a return for a senior season at Michigan.
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The Bruins are not known to have a deep prospect pool, but they do have some that they are high on, and rightfully so. After a short and strange 2020-21 season for some of them, they are returning to a normal season. With a veteran core that has a championship window closing, the time will come sooner rather than later for some of the younger players in the organization to find themselves wearing the Black and Gold.
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.