Just like the Boston Bruins, the Providence Bruins are entering the final month of the regular season with an eye toward an American Hockey League (AHL) playoff berth. In this edition of the Bruins Prospects Report, we will check in on what is going on with the P-Bruins.
Hughes Leads Providence in Scoring
The 2015 Entry Draft is one that is going to be remembered for the three consecutive first-round picks the Bruins had, but there are other players that came out of that class. One of them is Cameron Hughes and the left-shot who plays both center and on the wing is having a career season for Providence.
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Hughes was drafted 165th overall and in the sixth round, and leads the P-Bruins with 14 goals and 31 assists, despite a lengthy scoring drought. His last goal was March 12 against the Bridgeport Islanders and he has just two assists in the last 10 games. Despite his offensive struggles, Hughes plays in all situations, and the former University of Wisconsin standout with Trent Frederic has taken over the first-line center spot with Jack Studnicka in Boston.
Hughes made his NHL debut on Nov. 4, 2019, against the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing just under 10 minutes and blocking two shots.
Froden Has Points in Three of Last Five Games
In the last two weeks, one of the better players for Providence has been rookie Jesper Froden. Signed last June as a free agent after two strong seasons with Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) where he had 34 goals and 35 assists. This season, he has 16 goals and 18 assists in 49 AHL games. He has appeared in five games this season in Boston and has landed six shots on the net. He had two goals in Saturday night’s 6-2 win over the Bridgeport Islanders.
Nine of Froden’s 15 goals have come on the power play, while the 27-year-old has been a steady presence as a top-six forward all season for first-year Providence coach Ryan Mougenel and is third on the current active roster in points with 31.
Koopanen Having Breakout Season
Joona Koopanen was selected in the 2016 Draft and the fifth-round pick at No. 155 is having his best season in five with the P-Bruins. The left wing has 11 goals and 17 assists for 28 points, which are all carer highs playing in the middle-six. He had a goal and an assist against Bridgeport Saturday night.
Koopanen had a goal and an assist against the Hartford Wolf Pack on April 4. He plays in all situations for Providence, with three power play goals and two more shorthanded. Good things generally happen when he’s on the ice as he has a team-high plus/minus of plus-23. Prior to playing for Providence, he played in Sweden before making the adjustment to North American hockey.
Steen Closing in on Froden in Points
Oskar Steen has 33 points and is one behind Froden as he had 15 goals and 18 assists, with two assists in Monday night’s 2-1 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He has assists in three of his last five games, although he has not scored since a goal against the Toronto Marlies on March 8. Sunday, the Bruins announced that they signed Steen to a two-year, one-way contract with an annual cap hit of $800,000.
The sixth-round pick at No. 165 in 2016 has appeared in 19 NHL games this season and has his first two career goals and four assists. He scored his first career goal against the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 4, then his second 18 days later against the Winnipeg Jets. At 5-foot-9 and 199 pounds, don’t be surprised to see the 24-year-old carve out a bottom-six role with Boston in the future. He has proven this season that he’s capable of being a forward in the NHL.
Grosenick & Keyser Splitting Time in Net
Kyle Keyser and Troy Grosenick have been splitting time between the pipes in Providence this season with Grosenick having the better season. He is 16-5-4 with a 2.02 goals-against average (GAA) and a .931 save percentage (SV%), which leads the AHL. He has three shutouts and has stopped 16 of the 20 shootout attempts he has faced.
Keyser has an 11-12-6 record with a 2.76 GAA and a .906 SV%. He has one shutout and has stopped 13 of the 21 shootout attempts he has faced. Saturday night against Bridgeport, he had 26 saves in the P-Bruins win. Both Grosenick and Keyser could be joined by Brandon Bussi, a free agent netminder the Bruins signed on March 30 out of Western Michigan University.
Like the NHL, the AHL has entered the final month of the 2021-22 regular season. Providence has slid to third place in the Atlantic Division as they try to get a playoff spot. They will need some of these players to continue to contribute as they have up to this point to qualify for the postseason.