It is time for another Boston Bruins Prospect Report here at The Hockey Writers. In this edition, Brett Harrison is off to a fast start with the Oshawa Generals, Johnny Beecher makes his season debut at the University of Michigan, Trevor Kuntar moves quickly into the top-six for Boston College, and more.
Harrison’s Strong Start With Oshawa
Harrison impressed at the Bruins rookie camp and the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo in September before returning to the Generals on Sept. 30 for his second season with Oshawa. After having the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, Harrison is off to a good start this season.
In 12 games, the 85th pick in the 2021 Entry Draft is tied for third in points with 15 and is second on the team in goals with eight. A left-shot center, Harrison has won 55-percent (%) of his faceoffs this season on the second line for the Generals. In his first season with Oshawa in 2019-20, he had 21 goals and 16 assists. At 6-foot-2 and 185 pounds, Harrison, who excels in all three zones, was projected as a second-round pick in July’s draft, but fell to Bruins general manager Don Sweeney in the third round and could be a draft-day steal.
Beecher Makes Season Debut at Michigan
Beecher has battled injuries in his first two seasons at Michigan and the junior center missed the first eight games of this season with another injury. He made his season debut on Nov. 5 against Michigan State and recorded a goal and an assist in the Wolverines 7-2 win over the Spartans. In four games, the Bruins’ 30th overall selection in the 2019 Entry Draft has two goals and two assists after scoring a goal and collecting an assist in a 5-1 victory at Penn State on Nov. 11. His latest goal was a David Pastrnak type of one-timer.
I am not saying he is going to project to be like Pastrnak, but that was an impressive shot from a difficult angle on a one-timer. A center, he has been solid at the dot in his four games, going 29-for-38 for 76%. Beecher has shown promise his first two seasons for Michigan, but injuries have been an issue for the 6-foot-3, 209-pound Elmira, N.Y. native.
Kuntar Works His Way to First Line at Boston College
In 23 games his freshman season during his 2020-21 season at Boston College, Kuntar had six goals and four assists playing on the Eagles’ third line. This season, the Bruins’ 89th pick in the third round of the 2020 draft has worked his way up to the first line on the left wing for the 6-4-1 Eagles.
In 12 games, Kuntar has four goals and four assists, recording a point in eight of BC’s games. Originally committed to Harvard University before de-committing after the Crimson canceled their 2020-21 season because of the coronavirus pandemic, he can also play center. He is 8-for-15 on faceoffs after spending part of the season as the second-line center.
Schmaltz Centering Top Line at North Dakota
One of the hottest college teams is the University of North Dakota, who has won five of its last six. Bruins prospect Jake Schmaltz, a freshman, is centering the Fighting Hawks’ first line. In 11 games, he has four goals and five assists, while his left wing Riese Gabor has six goals and 13 points. Judd Caulfield has three goals and five assists on the right wing.
Schmaltz, selected in the seventh round in 2019, is carrying over his strong play from the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL prior to North Dakota. In two seasons with Green Bay, he had 32 goals and 53 assists. The Fighting Hawks, who are 8-3, welcome Minnesota-Duluth for a two-game weekend set on Nov. 19 and 20.
Wagner Quietly Have Good Season in Providence
Veteran Chis Wagner became a victim of a numbers game with the Bruins, but that hasn’t stopped the Boston native from quietly having a good first month with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). In 11 games, he has four goals and five points, while firing 36 shots on the net, three behind team-leader Zach Senyshyn.
Wagner has had spot duty on the P-Bruins power play, while getting several shifts killing penalties. At this point, you wonder what it would take for Wagner to find himself back in Boston as a bottom-six forward, but give the 30-year-old credit, he’s gone down to Providence and handled himself like a professional with the youngsters.
It certainly has been a good start to the 2021-22 season for some of the Bruins prospects in the OHL and in college. There is a lot to be excited about with some of the prospects as all of the season begins to heat up as we reach the middle of November.
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.