Well, you can never have too much depth after all right? The success of the Providence Bruins in the home stretch could depend on how well the Bruins organization has drafted, and the performance of veterans. Injuries have struck the big club in Boston, but the P-Bruins are yet to feel the effects.
Patrice Bergeron is down, and in typical Bergeron fashion, the man who once played with a punctured lung’s fractured foot will be evaluated in two weeks. Charlie McAvoy is also out for a while with a MCL sprain as the Bruins deadline moves look increasingly important to a P-Bruins squad hoping to remain uninterrupted to a playoff push.
The key to the P-Bruins success in the late in the season is simple. Veterans must live up to expectations and young players will need to perform. Organizational depth provides Providence with plenty of options.
Veterans Must Live Up to Expectations
The P-Bruins have an added veteran presence in Paul Postma. Postma has appeared in 210 games at the NHL level. He sits well above the AHL qualification for veteran status, which is above 260 games played at the NHL, AHL or European elite leagues level. AHL teams must have 13 players below that threshold, and Postma appears to be the hungry veteran P-Bruins fans would hope for.
Postma, the 6-foot-3 Red Deer, Alberta native, tallied two assists in a 6-3 win over the Charlotte Checkers. The win was Postma’s first AHL appearance in two years. Ice time was hard to find for Postma in Boston, who spent a lot of time on the dreaded TD Garden ninth floor and only appeared in 12 games. While no deals were made specifically to improve the P-Bruins at the deadline, he could be a nice pickup for the AHL squad.
Kenny Agostino is another veteran that will truly make or break the P-Bruins season. The reigning AHL Most Valuable Player has been shuffled around the lineup this season, and had early season hopes of making the Boston roster. Agostino had a total of four assists in wins against Charlotte and Hartford over the weekend.
When paired with Austin Czarnik and Jordan Szwarz, he gives Providence one of the league’s deadliest top lines. His playmaking ability gives Providence two lines capable of filling the scoresheet when dropped down to the second line. Agostino has played with veteran Josh Hennessy and Peter Cehlarik recently, with prospect Ryan Fitzgerald bumped up to the top line.
Young Players Must Perform, Stay Healthy
Speaking of Fitzgerald, the P-Bruins will need contributions from young players in the stretch run. The rookie forward, who missed a good chunk of the season due to injury, picked up a goal over the weekend. Bruins fans will also want to keep an eye on 2015 first-round pick Zach Senyshyn. The rookie has been playing on the P-Bruins third line recently but broke a six-game stretch without a point Saturday against Hartford.
Jeremy Lauzon is another true prospect to watch as the season progresses. The 2015 second-round pick was a plus-8 in his first 15 games of the season. After returning from a concussion in late January, Lauzon didn’t register a point and was a minus-6 in his first 12 games back. The young defenseman has tallied a pair of assists and is a plus-2 in the four games since then. A healthy, confident Lauzon would provide a nice boost to the Providence blue line down the stretch.
Injuries aren’t unique to the team in Boston. Most notably, prospects Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Jakub Zboril have been missing with upper body injuries. There may not be an organization better suited for injuries in terms of depth. Aside from a pair of fill-in call-ups from the Atlanta Gladiators, the P-Bruins have been able to roll with the remaining roster despite the injuries at both levels.
Potential For Additional Depth
Occasionally in the AHL, help is provided late in the season from college signings or major junior seasons ending. Providence fans shouldn’t expect too much of a glimpse into the future. Harvard’s Ryan Donato is an obvious possibility to leave school early, but many pundits think he’ll jet straight to Boston.
While on the subject of smart kids from Cambridge, Bruins draft pick Wiley Sherman is in his senior year at Harvard. If he signs with the Bruins, don’t expect an immediate impact this season from the 6-foot-7 defenseman on a crowded P-Bruins blue line. 2017 second-round pick Jack Studnicka’s Oshawa Generals aren’t expected to make a deep playoff run in the Ontario Hockey League, and he could be another late season addition to the forward group.