The Boston Bruins selected five players at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft over the course of the last two days. With that, the club’s top prospect rankings have no doubt shifted. On the day after the draft, with the dust settled, the time has come to take a look at Boston’s new top ten prospect ranking.
This ranking is strictly my opinion of the players. Factors include fit with the team, fit in the modern game, injury history, age and proximity to being a full-time NHL’er.
This will also be split into two parts, with numbers 1-5 today and 6-10 tomorrow morning.
1. D Urho Vaakanainen
The 2017 first-round pick appeared in 30 games for AHL Providence in 2018-19, scoring 14 points (4 g, 10 a). Vaakanainen also made his NHL debut, as he appeared in two games for the Bruins without a point. Vaakanainen brings a strong two-way game to the table and has the ability to read the play with ease.
There’s a puck moving element to Vaakanainen’s game that makes him a real good fit for the modern game. He’s got size, skill and can play a tough game if need be. This is a player that very well could be a full-time NHL’er in a year.
2. F Jack Studnicka
The 2017 second-round pick had a phenomenal season split between two OHL clubs in 2018-19. He scored 34 points (12 g, 22 a) for the Oshawa Generals before a trade sent him to Niagara. With the Ice Dogs, Studnicka tallied 49 points (24 g, 25 a) in just 30 games. In the playoffs, Studnicka averaged a point-per-game with eleven points in eleven games.
His speed and skill combination is the best among Boston’s prospect group, and it stands to reason that he will eventually fill a top-six role in the NHL. He’ll turn pro this fall and play a featured role with the Providence Bruins of the AHL.
3. F Trent Frederic
The thing with Frederic is that he never did project into a top-six role in the NHL. From the day he was drafted by the Boston Bruins, Frederic was viewed as a solid future third line center. That can be a valuable piece, but most teams expect more from their first-round selection. Boston tempered expectations right out of the gate.
Frederic has lived up to the billing. He’s a strong two-way center that provides steady play and a dose of toughness. It was hard to not be impressed with his compete and battle-level in his brief NHL cameo mid-way through the 2018-19 season. Smart money has Frederic in Providence to start the 2019-20 season, but don’t be shocked if he has a consistent bottom-six and penalty kill role by the end of the season. He’s close to making the jump.
4. F Anders Bjork
Time is almost out for the 22 year-old Bjork, who must find a way to stay healthy and produce at a consistent level. Sadly, for both he and the Bruins, he hasn’t been able to do either since he turned pro in 2017. Bjork has good offensive skills and a strong hockey sense, with his ability to score goals as his calling card. Boston could certainly use his potent shot in their middle-six.
Bjork will be 100% for training camp, according to Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney. He should get a chance to make the opening night roster in a secondary scoring role. Boston will have minimal cap space this summer and could lose Marcus Johansson to free agency next week. Bjork can score goals and has decent size. He’s got the tools to be a good NHL player.
5. D Jeremy Lauzon
The 2015 second-round pick has steadily developed in juniors and the AHL. He’s close to the NHL, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone to see him push for time in training camp. Lauzon looked solid in 16 NHL games over the course of the 2018-19 season, scoring his first NHL goal. He appeared in 29 games for AHL Providence and tallied one goal and six assists.
Offense isn’t his calling card, but Lauzon does have the ability to move the puck and has impressive skating skills. His defensive game is rock solid, and that is what likely gets him to the NHL. He very well could be Boston’s top recall option in 2019-20.