When NHL teams face a handful of injuries, or in the case of 2021-22, a handful of players placed into the league’s COVID-19 protocols, that usually means reinforcements come up generally come from their American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate. Such was the case for the Providence Bruins this last week.
A combination of injuries and COVID-19 protocols in Boston forced general manager Don Sweeney to call down to Rhode Island and continue what seems like the never-ending AHL to NHL express with some of the Black and Gold’s prospects. While most of the players went north to the Boston Bruins from Providence, one key prospect went from Boston to Providence. Goaltender Jeremy Swayman was assigned to the AHL after veteran Tuukka Rask signed a one-year contract with Boston. Swayman was not eligible to be placed onto the Bruins taxi squad, which in the big picture is good for the 23-year-old to see action.
With players going up and down between Boston and Providence, the latest Bruins Prospect Report takes a look at how the P-Bruins fared with a number of regular players out of the lineup this past weekend.
Swayman Continues Strong Play in Providence
When Rask signed, the only option that Sweeney had for Swayman was to send him to the AHL. After going 8-6-2 in Boston with a 2.29 goals-against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%), he made his AHL debut on Jan. 14. In the P-Bruins 5-1 win over the Hartford Wolf Pack, Swayman picked up in Providence where he left in Boston with his strong play, stopping 19 of the 20 Wolf Pack shots.
On Sunday, Swayman stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced in a 6-3 win over the Bridgeport Islanders for his second win in three days. Despite being stuck in Providence right now, there’s a good chance he finds himself back in Boston at some point this season, despite the fact that Rask is back between the pipes.
“I made sure I was focusing on the day at hand and whatever I could do to help the team win. (Rask’s) obviously a great addition to the team. I wasn’t worried about contract situations or anything when I got the chance to play. When I got the chance to practice and work out with the team, I was making sure I was bringing the energy, the positivity and everything it is to be a good pro.”Jeremy Swayman (from ‘Jeremy Swayman, displaced from the Bruins’ goalie rotation, on being back in the minors: ‘Not ideal’, The Athletic, 1/14/22)
Like every other player, Swayman would rather be in Boston helping the NHL team get wins, but he knows that playing in the AHL is his only real shot at getting some playing time and staying sharp in case he’s recalled to Boston. Being recalled is not of the question as Rask and Linus Ullmark are just a handful of Boston players that have yet to enter COVID-19 protocols and both have an injury-filled past.
2015 Draft Class Players Making Impact
The Bruins were set up well to draft some building blocks in the first round of the 2015 Entry Draft. Instead, it has been well documented how much of a miss the 13th, 14th, and 15th picks are turning out to be. Jakub Zboril, who was playing well with Boston this season, is sidelined for the remainder of the season with a knee injury, while Jake DeBrusk, the 14th pick, has requested a trade and so has the 15th pick, Zach Senyshyn.
DeBrusk is still on the third line for coach Bruce Cassidy in Boston, while Senyshyn is playing on the second line in Providence, next to Jack Studnicka. In 26 games this season, Senyshyn has 11 goals and seven assists, but had a goal in each of P-Bruins’ three wins over this past weekend.
Another member of the 2015 class, Cameron Hughes, is playing on the left wing on the top line and quietly having a good season. The 23-year-old has seven goals and 12 assists and has collected points (four goals, three assists) in four out of the last five games. Selected 165th overall in the sixth round, Hughes has two games under his belt in the NHL with Boston, but is stuck in the minors behind the left wing depth in Boston.
Studnicka Continues Hot Streak
After having a good training camp in Boston, Studnicka was sent to Providence for another AHL season, and recently, the 53rd overall pick in the second round of the 2017 draft has been hot and a big reason why the P-Bruins swept all three games in three days. He had one goal and three assists over the weekend and is up to five goals and 11 assists this season in the AHL.
Studnicka has one assist in five games this season in Boston, but as he has in recent years, he’s stuck in Providence after the Bruins added veteran depth at center this past offseason. His time, however, may not be too far off in the NHL as captain Patrice Bergeron is a free agent following this season and David Krejci returned last summer to his home country of the Czech Republic to continue his career.
It would not be surprising to see some of these prospects back or up in Boston for the first time this season, at any point. Some are part of the future, while some don’t see themselves as part of the future and have requested a trade. Time will tell what the future holds for them.
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.