As the 2021-22 regular season is about to come to an end for the Boston Bruins before the Stanley Cup playoffs, some of the Black and Gold’s prospects are also gearing up for their own postseason. In this edition of The Hockey Writers Bruins Prospects Report, we look to check in on the two 2021 draft picks getting ready for their playoffs and we will also look at how some new members of the Providence Bruins are fitting in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Lysell Leads Giants to the Postseason
Bruins 2021 first-round pick Fabian Lysell led the Vancouver Giants to a Western Hockey League (WHL) postseason berth despite a 3-2 overtime loss to the Kelowna Rockets on April 15. Lysell scored the first Giants goal in the second period, then set up Zack Ostapchuk for a third-period goal. Lysell’s goal was an impressive one-timer from a tough angle and shows the skill set the 21st overall pick has.
Before the game against Kelowna, Lysell took home some awards for the 2021-22 season. He won the Milan Ilich Rookie of the Year Award, the Sultan Thiara Plus-Minus Award, the Gordie Howe Top Scorer Award, and was second in the Three Stars Award. For the season, he finished with 22 goals, 40 assists, and 62 points in 53 games.
The Giants will play the Everett Silvertips in a best-of-seven series beginning Friday (April 22). If Vancouver’s season comes to an end, before the P-Bruins, keep an eye on whether he signs and ends up finishing out the season in Providence.
Harrison Powers Oshawa to the Playoffs
Like Lysell, another Bruins 2021 draft pick played a big hand in leading his team to the playoffs on April 15. Brett Harrison, selected 85th overall, had a goal and two assists as the Oshawa Generals lost in overtime, 4-3, to the Mississauga Steelheads in an Ontario Hockey League (OHL) game. With the one point, the Generals lock up the seventh seed in the upcoming playoffs.
In 65 games this season, Harrison had 27 goals and 34 assists, while winning 56.2 (%)-percent of his faceoffs. He also had 12 power play goals, but his overall game saw an improvement from two seasons ago. In 2019-20, Harrison had 21 goals and 16 assists in the shortened season. Oshawa will open the playoffs on Friday (April 22) against the Kingston Frontencas in a best-of-seven series.
Bussi, Merkulov & Beecher Make AHL Debut
With injuries mounting in Boston, that has forced some call-ups and left some open roster spots in Providence, which was filled by three prospects in the P-Bruins two-game road trip through Pennsylvania this past weekend. Goalie Brandon Bussi and forward Georgii Merkulov were signed as free agents in the last couple of weeks after their college seasons ended and Johnny Beecher was inked to an Amateur Tryout Agreement (ATO). All three played key roles in a 3-2 shootout win for Providence over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms Saturday night.
Bussi made 28 saves, including all three in the shootout, and also made three big saves in overtime during a Phantoms’ power play. The former Western Michigan netminder was signed on March 30 and joined Providence on the trip after Troy Grosenick was called up to Boston with Linus Ullmark sidelined and Kyle Keyser, the other goalie for the P-Bruins was sick. Beecher played well in his first game wearing the Spoked-P, registering four shots on the net and being solid at the faceoff dot.
Merkulov was the hero for Providence against Lehigh Valley. The former Ohio State standout had 20 goals and 14 assists in his only season for the Buckeyes in just 36 games this season and showed off his talent and quick hands Saturday night. He assisted on both P-Bruins goals in regulation but saved his best moment of the night for his last one. In the shootout, he was the second shooter for Providence and scored the only goal of the shootout with a nice shot inside the post with a quick release.
Sunday in a 1-0 win over the Hershey Bears, Bussi stopped all 26 shots he faced for his first career AHL shutout in just his second game. Another newly acquired prospect, defenseman Michael Callahan, scored his first career goal in the third period for the only goal Bussi needed. Callahan joined the P-Bruins this season after being acquired in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes in February and finishing his college career at Providence College two weeks later.
Lysell will have a decision to make after his season with the Giants ends, while Harrison looks to help lead Oshawa on a long playoff run. Providence has already clinched an AHL playoff berth and with the production of the young players so far, they hope to go on a deep Calder Cup run beginning in May.
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.