How good are the Boston Bruins prospects? That depends on who you talk to. Some think the Bruins have some good prospects and some are not as high on their prospect pool. Whether or not you are high on the pool, one thing is for sure, you are going to see a lot of them in Boston during the 2021-22 season.
The pipeline between the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) and Boston has already been used when bottom-six forwards Nick Foligno and Anton Blidh went down with injuries. Oskar Steen and Jack Studnicka were called up and saw some game-action for coach Bruce Cassidy. They will not be the final players called up from Providence this season, but if there is a need in the very near future, here are two players worthy of being called up.
As mentioned above, Steen already played one game in Boston, on Oct. 24 in a 4-3 Bruins win over the San Jose Sharks. There is no question that he played well on the Black and Gold’s third line and he even found his name on the scoresheet at the end of the game with his first NHL career point. Leading 3-1 in the second period, Steen attempted to clear the puck into the Sharks zone, but it hit Jake DeBrusk, and went ahead of the third-line left wing, who beat the defensemen to the puck and buried a shot that turned out to be the game-winning goal.
Steen played just under 11 minutes in the game, but the 5-foot-9, 199-pound 23-year-old who was selected 165th overall in the sixth round of the 2016 Entry Draft, displayed his skill and strong skating against San Jose. He was sent back down to Providence later in the week and he has continued his strong start to the season with the P-Bruins.
In six games, he leads Providence in goals with five and points with 10. He is on the first line and is a key member of the power play. He has been on the first line at right wing, despite being a natural center, mostly with Jesper Froden and Steven Fogarty with Studnicka still in Boston. With the Boston bottom-six struggling, it’s not crazy to think that Steen could be inserted into the lineup to change things up.
On the first day of free agency in July of 2018, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney signed defensemen John Moore to a five-year, $13.75 million contract with a $2.75 million cap hit. Things have not gone well for Moore since signing the contract as he has been hampered with injuries during his tenure in Boston. This season, Moore was placed on waivers in October, only to clear them. After playing one game on Oct. 22 against the Buffalo Sabres, he was sent down to Providence.
When a veteran gets sent to the AHL, there are two ways it can go, good or bad. For Moore, it has been good. The 30-year-old, who was the 21st overall pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2009, has worked hard on each shift this season with the P-Bruins and played his physical brand of hockey. For the first time in a long time as a member of the Bruins organization, he looks healthy. He has four assists and five points in five games for Providence, but his overall play is encouraging.
With the Boston defense still a work in progress early in the season, Connor Clifton has been out of the lineup a couple of times early in the season as a healthy scratch. Moore played in one of those games, while Jakub Zboril played in the other. Moore played better than Zboril did when given the opportunity. With the struggles recently of the blueline, it might be time to bring Moore up and give him a chance on the third pairing.
There are other prospects playing well in the AHL that might get a call to Boston during the season, but Steen and Moore have played better than their teammates in Providence and deserve a shot in the NHL sooner rather than later. With the Bruins’ bottom-six and defense struggling, giving both of these players an opportunity is worth a shot.
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.