4 Bruins Takeaways From Buffalo Prospects Challenge

Four days and three games in Western New York wrapped up for the Boston Bruins prospects in the Buffalo Prospects Challenge with a 3-2 shootout win over the New Jersey Devils prospects Monday. There were some Black and Gold prospects that stood out in the three games and the prospect pool might not be as bad of a pipeline as some people think (from ‘Boston Bruins rank No. 32 in NHL Pipeline Rankings for 2022,’ The Athletic, Aug. 22, 2022).

Winning two out of the three games, the Bruins prospects now head back to Boston and some will get ready for the beginning of training camp, while others will head to their teams for the upcoming season. With another Buffalo Prospects Challenge in the books, here are some prospects that had a good weekend ahead of training camp this week.

Toporowski Impresses Ahead of Camp

In June, Luke Toporowski signed a two-year contract with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL). He was moved around during the three games by coach Ryan Mougenel and even got some time on the top-line with Johnny Beecher and Marc McLaughlin. He also got some time with Matthew Poitras and Fabian Lysell in the top six.

Toporowski had two goals in the first game against the Ottawa Senators in a 5-4 win, then he came back and had an assist on Beecher’s goal in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The undrafted left-shot certainly opened some eyes with the speed and skill that he displayed.

Scoring is nothing new for Toporowski as he is coming in from a strong fourth season in the Western Hockey League (WHL). Between the Spokane Chiefs and the Kamloops Blazers, he combined for 35 goals and 28 assists. After an impressive weekend, he more than likely has earned himself a shot in camp with Boston.

Beecher Had a Strong Tournament

Speaking of Beecher, he had a strong three games in Buffalo and hopes to carry the momentum into training camp. If there is one thing that the Bruins lack right now, it’s young center depth, but the former University of Michigan standout is quickly climbing up the center depth chart.

John Beecher Bruins Draft
John Beecher, Boston Bruins, 2019 NHL Draft (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Beecher scored the game-winning goal in the first game against Ottawa, added a second goal against the Penguins, and then capped off the tournament with a goal against the Devils Monday on a nice wrist shot breaking down the left side. A strong skater, Beecher is someone who can play in all situations and he plays with a ton of confidence.

Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Charlie Coyle, if healthy, will have the top three center spots nailed down, but Beecher is a young player that can make a big push in camp to get the fourth line center spot, especially with Tomas Nosek’s flexibility of being able to play on the wing.

Lysell Looks Ready for Training Camp

One of the biggest questions entering training camp for Boston is where Lysell ends up this season. Does he get a shot in the NHL with a bottom-six spot or does he end up in Providence playing top-six minutes? Ahead of camp, the 21st overall pick of the 2021 Entry Draft started to make a case for himself for the 2022-23 season.

Fabian Lysell Boston Bruins
Fabian Lysell, Boston Bruins (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

In the opening game against Ottawa, he scored a shorthanded goal when he used his speed to get to a rebound. Over the three games, Lysell played in all situations, including at the point on the power play, while also getting a shot on the same line with Beecher. In the three games, he showcased his speed and skill creating multiple scoring opportunities for himself and his linemates. He ended the tournament with the game-winning goal in the shootout.

There is no doubt that Lysell is going to get a serious look in camp and preseason games to get a shot to make the roster in Boston. All he did this weekend was make a stronger case for himself and prove that he is going to make it difficult for first-year coach Jim Montgomery to send him down to begin the season.

Bussi Bounces Back & Dyck Struggles

It was not the best tournament for goalies Brandon Bussi and Reid Dyck. A lot of goals were allowed and they did not get much help from their teammates, especially in the second game against the Penguins when Pittsburgh scored four power play goals.

Bussi was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan University last March after his career ended in an NCAA tournament loss to Northeastern University. After getting his feet wet in five games last season with the P-Bruins, it was not the start to the upcoming season Bussi was hoping for, but he finished the tournament with his best performance.

Related: Boston Bruins Top 15 Prospects Heading Into 2022-23

After giving up four goals to the Senators, he allowed just two goals to the Devils in the shootout win, while also turning back both shootout attempts. This is going to be a big season for the 24-year-old, who will battle with Keith Kinkaid and Kyle Keyser for time in Providence.

Dyck was under fire most of his performance against the Penguins with his teammates putting him under fire with penalties. Selected in the sixth round and 183rd overall this summer, Dyck allowed four quick goals, before he settled down and allowed two the rest of the game. The 6-foot-4 netminder will now head to the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL this season, where he’ll need to make more strides in his development. 

If there is one thing we learned from the weekend is that the Bruins’ prospects pool might not be as bad and not as deep as we think. It was just three games, but Mougenel should have been encouraged with some of the things he saw and the potential roster he’s going to have this season in Providence.

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