Our first stop will be in the American Hockey League (AHL), where we find prospects of the Boston Bruins and Vegas Golden Knights who have adjusted well to life in the professional ranks. From there, we will make a quick stop in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) to check in a Calgary Flames draftee who had a big week with his new team.
Jeremy Swayman Honored for Huge Weekend
We spent a lot of time in this column raving over forwards and defensemen and their untapped potential and don’t give a ton of love to the guys between the pipes. That will change today as we lead with Swayman, who is off to a tremendous start with the Providence Bruins.
Last season, the Bruins had the luxury of having Dan Vladar in goal, who posted a .936 save percentage (SV%) and 1.79 goals-against average (GAA) in his 25 AHL starts. They currently have a two-headed monster in the blue paint with Vladar and rookie Jeremy Swayman leading the way.
Swayman got two starts this past week and won them both. He made 25 saves last Wednesday to pick up his first professional shutout in a 3-0 win over the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Then on Friday, he stopped 26 of 28 shots to beat the Hartford Wolf Pack 5-2. This morning, he was named the AHL/CCM Player of the Week for his efforts.
Boston’s 2017 fourth-rounder (111th overall) is coming off a successful career at the University of Maine. In 2019-20 he won the Mike Richter Award for being the best goaltender in college hockey by posting a .939 SV% and 2.07 GAA in 34 games and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Swayman’s professional career could not have started better, even if it was a Hollywood script. He is 7-0-0 with a .942 SV% (third in the AHL) and 1.57 GAA (second in the AHL). He and Vladar have a combined .929 SV% and 191 GAA and are a huge reason why the Bruins are off to a 9-2-1-0 start to the season.
Jack Dugan Keeps Producing
Staying in the AHL and with a Providence connection, Dugan is another rookie has who made a seamless transition from the college ranks to the pro game.
The Henderson Silver Knights lead the entire AHL with 11 wins and 22 points through their first 13 games of this shortened season. They have had a balanced offensive attack with four players already with a double-digit point total. There is a three-way tie in scoring with 12 points between Dugan and veterans Ryan Murray and Danny O’Regan.
While goaltender Oscar Dansk stole the show by making a career-high 48 saves in Sunday’s 3-2 win over the San Diego Gulls, Dugan helped set up two of Henderson’s three goals. After getting the secondary assist on Murphy’s first-period goal, he racked up a primary assist on Jimmy Schuldt’s eventual game-winning tally early in the third period.
This was the 22-year-old forward’s third multi-assist game of the season, and he is up to 11 in total, which are the second-most in the league. Setting up his teammates is nothing new for Dugan, who had 71 assists in 75 career NCAA games at Providence College.
Ryan Francis Makes Huge Splash
Back on Jan. 18, the Saint John Sea Dogs paid a hefty price to acquire Francis from the Cape Breton Eagles, giving up forward Dawson Stairs and their first and second-round picks in the 2023 QMJHL draft. Last Wednesday, the Sea Dogs played their first game since Nov. 18, 2020, and the young forward made an immediate impact on his new team.
In his team debut, he scored a natural hat trick with three second-period goals then added a fourth tally for good measure to cap off a 5-3 win over the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. On Saturday, Francis had two assists in a 5-4 overtime win at the Moncton Wildcats. He finished the weekend off with two more assists in Sunday’s 6-3 victory over the Titan. His four goals and eight points earned him QMJHL Player of the Week honors.
Prior to the trade and his season being paused, Francis had six goals and 21 points in 15 games with Cape Breton. The 2020 fifth-round (143th overall) pick of the Flames now 55 goals and 167 points in 201 career QMJHL games.