After announcing their final round of roster cuts from training camp on Oct. 11, the Boston Bruins have their roster in place for the 2021-22 season. While there were no real surprises, there is plenty of talent that was sent down from Boston to the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL).
Under first-year head coach Ryan Mougenel, the P-Bruins will begin their season Saturday night at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Rhode Island against the Bridgeport Islanders. With a new NHL and AHL season beginning, there are bound to be injuries in Boston that will force some call-ups from Providence. With that said, here are five prospects to keep an eye on in Providence this season, after Bruins general manager Don Sweeney announced the Providence roster Friday.
Once the disappointment of not making the roster in Boston goes away, the Bruins talented center will stay sharp with the P-Bruins. Studnicka did everything that was asked of him in training camp and in the preseason games, but in the end, he was a victim of a numbers game. Could he have stayed in Boston and centered the fourth line? Yes, but getting first-line minutes in Providence will be better for him to stay sharp.
Charlie Coyle is ready to begin the season after offseason knee surgery and the likelihood that he plays all 82 games is extremely slim. Injuries could even happen at the other center spots in the lineup, which would mean that Studnicka will find himself in Boston at some point. He is starting the season in Providence, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s back wearing the Black and Gold.
Signed as a free agent in June, Froden had an impressive showing at the Prospects Challenge in September in Buffalo and he had a solid camp and preseason in the games he did play in. Like most of the other prospects, he fell victim to the depth ahead of him. The 27-year-old will find himself in the top-six in Providence, and he could even find himself next to Studnicka.
Over the last two seasons playing for Skelleftea in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL), he had 34 goals and 69 points. In the preseason games he did play in, he was a very good skater, had good skills and you could see the offensive potential he has. He looks NHL-ready, but will benefit from time in the minors.
Last season, Lyle made a name for himself in the 25-game shortened season in Providence with seven goals and seven assists. He had his moments in camp and in preseason games, but he is another prospect that will see top minutes in the AHL.
At 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds, the 22-year-old has the body to handle the physical play in the NHL. He has a promising offensive game and the right-shot defensemen will also see power play minutes with the P-Bruins on top of his top-pairing minutes.
Signed as a free agent after his senior season at St. Cloud State University in 2020, Ahcan quickly worked his way up to Boston last season in his first professional season for three games when the Boston defense was hit with injuries. He averaged over 20 minutes a night for coach Bruce Cassidy.
At 5-foot-8, he is not big by NHL standards for defensemen, but he is a good puck-moving defenseman that has a good shot. In 19 games with Providence last season, he had one goal and 10 points. In his four seasons at St. Cloud State, he had 21 goals and 82 assists. At 24 years old, he should see a lot of time in the AHL, with the next couple of seasons being key in his development.
Selected 18th overall in the 2017 Entry Draft, Vaakanainen has played 16 NHL games, including nine last season, but the 22-year-old has not been able to carve out a full-time role in Boston. There is no doubt that the talent is there to be an NHL defenseman, but he has not developed the way the Bruins had hoped he would to date.
Of all the blueliners in the minors, he is the most NHL-ready defenseman they have, but there is a list of left-shots ahead of him. Health has not been too kind to Vaakanainen, but if the Bruins have needs at the trade deadline to fill in Boston, he could draw a lot of interest from other teams in making a deal.
There is no shortage of other players to watch down in the AHL for the Bruins. Some of them should be ready for a quick call-up to Boston should injuries mount during the season. As always, we will keep you updated here at The Hockey Writers with all the Black and Gold prospects in the Bruins Prospect Report throughout the season.
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.