It’s no secret that the Boston Bruins are not blessed with a deep prospect pool. Peter Baracchini of The Hockey Writers ranked their pool 26th in his January rankings. In terms of looking towards the future and the thought of a rebuild, that’s not a promising look for the Black and Gold.
With that said, sooner than later, the Bruins will need some contributions from their prospects currently not expected to be part of the 2022-23 team. Here are four prospects that need to make an impact with Boston in the NHL in the next three years.
There is a lot of hype around Fabian Lysell since being drafted 21st overall in the 2021 Entry Draft and the hype got bigger after the 19-year-old’s first season playing North American hockey with the Vancouver Giants in the Western Hockey League (WHL). The right-wing had 22 goals and 40 assists in the regular season, before adding four goals and 17 assists in 12 playoff games.
Lysell has an impressive offensive skill set with his vision to see the ice and his strong skating game. Add in his quick release shot, there is no doubt the talent is there for him to be a top-six forward. The Bruins might need him sooner rather than later considering questions around David Pastrnak’s future wearing the Black and Gold. Contract negotiations about getting the Bruins’ most gifted goal-scorer locked up long-term after this season will continue soon, but the depth chart at right wing is less than stellar.
If the Bruins can get Pastrnak locked up long-term, then a Pastrnak/Lysell pairing as the top-six right wings for the future is something to get excited about. Considering the lack of depth, don’t be surprised to see Lysell get a serious look in training camp. He is clearly a big part of the Bruins going forward.
The Bruins’ prospect pool on defense is thin, but Mason Lohrei is a young blue liner that carries a lot of promise as a left-shot. Right now the Bruins left side is overloaded with Hampus Lindholm, Matt Grzelcyk, Derek Forbort, Mike Reilly, Jakub Zboril, and Jack Ahcan, but Reilly, Grzelcyk, and Forbort each have two years remaining on their current contracts. Lohrei could be in line to replace someone in a couple of seasons.
In his freshman season at Ohio State this past season, Lohrei had four goals and 25 assists in 31 games in a top-pairing role. Selected 58th overall in the second round of the 2020 Draft, he is an excellent puck-moving defenseman with a quick shot. Lindholm is locked up for the foreseeable future on the top-pairing with Charlie McAvoy, but Lohrei could be a replacement for any of the veterans when he’s done with the Buckeyes.
Speaking of depth charts, there is very little at center currently for the Bruins. It appears that general manager (GM) Don Sweeney is waiting on word if Bergeron and David Krejci return, but after that, the depth is Charlie Coyle, Tomas Nosek, Jack Studnicka, and Pavel Zacha (when he officially signs as a restricted free agent).
Brett Harrison was selected 85th overall in the 2021 Draft and could turn out to be a third-round steal in the draft. He had a breakout season with the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) with 27 goals and 34 assists playing top-six minutes. He signed his entry-level contract recently and if doesn’t have a strong training camp, he’ll be returning to the Generals this season. Even if Bergeron and Krejci do come back, the Bruins are in need of young center depth for the future. Coyle will be like Bergeron and Krejci and not be around forever and three years it not too far away for Harrison.
Along with Studnicka and Harrison, Johnny Beecher is another center prospect and the former University of Michigan standout got his first taste of pro hockey at the end of the 2021-22 season. After Michigan lost in the NCAA semifinals to the University of Denver at the TD Garden in April, Beecher decided to forgo his senior season and sign his entry-level contract.
He spent the final couple weeks of the season in Providence with three goals and five points in nine games. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Beecher is strong at the face-off dot and strong with the puck. Projected as a second or third-line center, the Bruins are hoping his development this season in Providence comes along.
The Bruins’ prospect pool is not deep, but over the next five years, they’re going to need contributions from some of them, especially once they go into a rebuild of some kind. Center is going to be the need as of now, but Lohrei, who is returning to Ohio State for his sophomore season, has NHL promise on defense following his stint with the Buckeyes. Regardless, some of the names mentioned above are going to be key parts of the Black and Gold’s future.