The Providence Bruins’ blistering pace has come to a halt of late. At 2-3-1 in their last six, the Baby B’s are looking to regroup to hang on to the Atlantic Division’s fourth and final playoff spot. They can now fully focus on that playoff run as the trade deadline is behind them. For AHL clubs, it’s something out of their control. The organization makes decisions that may not necessarily be in the best interest of the minor league team, but Monday’s deadline wasn’t devastating to playoff aspirations in Providence.
Deadline Ends Donato’s Stint in Providence
Ryan Donato was the only player to leave the organization before the deadline. Boston pulled the plug on Donato’s stint in the organization after less than two full seasons. Perhaps too soon, but that’s an argument for another time. In those seasons, the 23-year-old didn’t actually spend a lot of time in Providence, with just the 18 games played this season.
For the sake of analyzing the trade through the lens of a Providence impact – while Donato’s time in the AHL was limited, he had the potential to be a difference maker in P-Bruins sweater. In a lineup that relies a lot on its speed and possession to generate goals, Donato provided a different dynamic. He had the skill to generate and create his own offense. When he did, you won’t hear many people question if his shot was NHL-ready.
Gemel Smith is one player, in particular, that’s showing the ability to create his own offense at the AHL level. His release rivals Donato’s, and this most recent weekend brings him up to 27 points in 28 games this season. The only player close to that kind of point per game production on the roster is Paul Carey, the 29-year old midseason addition is also proven offensive talent at this level.
If there’s a reason Providence can withstand the loss of Donato up front, it’s the additions of veteran pieces like Smith and Carey. Another good sign is Boston adding depth at center in Charlie Coyle. Assuming health, Providence will remain strong down the middle for the stretch run. Jordan Szwarz, Trent Frederic, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (when he returns) combine for a two-way center group among the best in the league. Combined with a host of defensemen that have gained NHL experience this season, it’s a difficult matchup for opposing offenses.
More Depth Only Benefits P-Bruins
The Bruins made a move to add Peter Cehlarik and Karson Kuhlman to the Providence roster Monday. It was more of a paper move at the time, as the two forwards needed to be on the P-Bruins roster for AHL playoff eligibility.
It’s very possible the duo will contribute in Providence before the end of the season and into the playoffs. Boston’s second trade to add winger Marcus Johansson with draft picks on deadline day could have a positive ripple effect in Providence. When the injured David Pastrnak returns, Providence should have its best possible team intact.
Cehlarik still leads Providence in scoring despite a recent stint in Boston, and Kuhlman was playing his best hockey before the call-up. Either would be welcomed additions. Cehlarik was a big piece of a power play that was once top ten in the league. The P-Bruins have dipped to 22nd in the league at 17.2%. Cehlarik’s absence is likely only a part of the problem, but anything would help to try to get back on track.
The NHL trade deadline can be a nerve-wracking time for fans of AHL teams with playoff aspirations of their own, but Providence survived relatively well. Boston moved more draft picks than player assets. Donato will be missed, but adding two NHL players to the organization creates enough depth that the core group of P-Bruins is still around to make a playoff run. Without any more moves possible, Providence should enjoy more consistency with its roster than any other point this season.
A life-long follower of the game of hockey. Communications experience with the AHL’S Portland Pirates, and a former coach at the college club level. Covering the Providence Bruins and prospects.