Think things are bad in Boston? It’s even worse right now with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). The P-Bruins entered a COVID shutdown with cases reportedly reaching double-figures starting on Nov. 30. Their three games this weekend were postponed as they try and recover from the outbreak. It was reported Sunday that they held their first practice since the shutdown earlier last week.
Despite the shutdown, there are some members of the team that are having good seasons for Providence. Let’s take a look at who is doing well for first-year coach Ryan Mougenel.
Steen Carrying Providence Offensively
The best prospect in the AHL right now for the Bruins very well could be Oskar Steen. In 12 games, he has six goals and seven assists and is tied with Steven Fogarty with 13 points. A highly-skilled center, Steen had a good showing at the Prospects Challenge earlier this year in Buffalo, as well two good performances in Boston.
He had an assist in each game he has played this season in Boston playing the wing against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 24 and the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 14. He was called up Saturday, but did not play in the Black and Gold’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. A sixth-round pick in the 2016 Entry Draft, Steen is working his way up the chart to be an untouchable prospect for the Bruins.
Senyshyn Putting Up Good Numbers
The third and final first-round pick of the famous 2015 Entry Draft, Zach Senyshyn has played well in his time with Providence, but unfortunately for Boston, he has never been able to translate his game to the NHL.
In 17 games this season, he has a team-high eight goals and 12 points. He is well on his way to breaking his career-high of 14 goals in 66 AHL games in 2018-19. On Nov. 12, he recorded a hat trick against Leigh High Valley Phantoms in a 6-3 win on a special night. That night, Providence paid tribute to former player Colby Cave, who happened to be Senyshyn’s linemate with the P-Bruins, who died on April 11, 2020, due to a brain bleed.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Senyshyn has played in just 14 NHL games with one goal and three points. By now, you would think that he would be making an impact in the NHL as a first-round pick, but it appears that it appears to be a long shot.
Froden Continues to Impress in First Season
Jesper Froden was signed in June to a one-year, $842,250 contract by Don Sweeney after he had 22 goals and 40 points last season for Skelleftea AIK in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). A right wing, Froden has fit in well in his first season in North America. This season with Providence, he has four goals and eight assists in 17 games, while also playing on the power play. He is third on the team with 43 shots on the net. According to Sweeney last June, the Bruins front office have had their eye on Froden when he was playing in Sweden.
“The Bruins are very pleased to be adding Jesper to our organization,” said Sweeney. “We have tracked Jesper’s growth in the SHL where he has proven to be highly productive, competitive, and a smart, two-way player. Jesper is very excited to join a competitive team with the opportunity to compete for a roster spot.”
Froden has been a solid two-way player for the P-Bruins this season with an impressive offensive skill set. He’s not young at 27 years old and after an impressive preseason, he could be used as a bottom-six piece should the Bruins continue to mix and match their bottom lines.
Wagner Adjusting in Providence
It would have been easy for Chris Wagner to put his head down and sulk after being sent down at the beginning of the season, but he has gone about his business professionally, as well as being a leader for the young players early in the season. Wagner, who plays in all situations, has one goal and five points with 47 shots fired on the net, second to Senyshyn’s 53. You have to wonder if his time with the Bruins is done.
Last season, despite providing energy, he struggled on the Bruins’ fourth line, and with the free-agent signings this offseason, the writing was on the wall for Wagner that it was going to be tough to make the roster. He was placed on waivers on Oct. 9, then when he cleared, he was sent down to Providence, something that was not really a surprise to him.
“In camp, you kind of walk around and notice a couple of things,” said Wagner. “Maybe I was hyper-aware of what’s going on. But I wouldn’t say I’m a delusional person either. You kind of sense things might happen. But you never really know until you actually know. My mind always ends up preparing for the worst. That’s the way I am. I wasn’t a thousand percent shocked. But still, when it happens, it’s kind of crazy. It’s tough to deal with.”Chris Wagner (from “Chris Wagner, aching to return, keeps a good attidue after Bruins demotion: You’ve still got have gratitude” The Athletic, 11/24/21)
Of course, Wagner would like to be back in the NHL, but being buried in Providence is where he is at. He has the right attitude and hoping that sometime this year he will hear his name called back to Boston.
The COVID lockdown appears to be easing in Providence as they sent Jack Ahcan and Steen to Boston on Saturday and Ahcan found himself in the lineup on the bottom defensive pairing with Derek Forbort. Both players were returned to the AHL Sunday. The hope is the P-Bruins can continue their season this week after their three games this past weekend were postponed.
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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.