With the preseason in full swing and the regular season just 14 days away, the Bruins are trying to finalize their roster.
Over the years, the B’s have notoriously been known as the team trying to include more youngsters into their lineup. With some roster spots open, the black and gold prospects are trying to put their best foot forward this preseason, but which will make the team?
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson or “JFK” as many fans call him, has been in the Bruins system since 2015. The B’s drafted JFK in the second round at 45th overall. Forsbacka Karlsson was a steal for the Bruins, as he has tremendous upside.
The 21-year-old center played his college hockey for Boston University, earning the assistant captain title during his sophomore season. JFK was very impressive at the NCAA level, accumulating 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 78 games.
The rookie star spent his last season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL where he made a great first impression at the pro level. While in Providence, JFK tallied 32 points (15 goals, 17 assists) in 58 games, while also adding a goal in four playoff appearances. His point totals were very impressive, but JFK does more than just rack up points.
JFK is a very creative passer, making his play-making ability one of his biggest assets. He has a tremendous work ethic and is a great two-way center who would value learning from a player like Patrice Bergeron. He can easily produce offense, it just comes natural to him. Along with his play-making ability, JFK can also score, as he has a terrific shot.
With a center spot open, it is likely that Sean Kuraly makes the leap to the third line, giving JFK a chance to slot in as the Bruins fourth-line center.
Much like Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic also has a shot at making the Bruins roster. Frederic was drafted by the Bruins in the first round (29th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. Like JFK, Frederic is also a center.
The 20-year-old played his college hockey at the University of Wisconsin, also earning the assistant captain title in his sophomore season. While at Wisconsin, Frederic accumulated 65 points (32 goals, 33 assists) in 66 games played -- extremely impressive for a kid transitioning into college hockey.
There is a huge comparison between JFK and Frederic. Frederic signed an entry-level contract with the Bruins during last seasons campaign and he too ended up spending some time with the Providence Bruins. Frederic played 13 games for the P-Bruins last season and tallied eight points (three goals, five assists).
Frederic is a big two-way center who is mainly known for his terrific defensive skills. He really amped-up his offensive game while at Wisconsin, proving that he can and is willing to learn how to better his game. He has the whole package when it comes to becoming an NHL centerman; size, skill, hands. His one downfall is his skating ability, but that isn’t too much of a concern as he’s a big-bodied player. If Frederic can prove to the Bruins coaching staff that he’s ready for a stint in the NHL, we may see him get that open center spot this season.
The Bruins defense is pretty much solidified, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a young defenseman to work his way into the lineup. Zboril has been working hard ever since he joined the Bruins in 2015. The B’s drafted him in the first round (13th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
Zboril did not play college hockey. However, he did play for the Saint John Sea dogs of the QMJHL (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League). It isn’t extremely important that defensemen rack up points, but in 114 games played, Zboril tallied 94 points (28 goals, 66 assists). Zboril made a significant jump during the 2016-17 season where he scored 41 points in 50 games. The Bruins noticed that, and the next season he was with the Providence Bruins.
Zboril’s first season with Providence wasn’t too impressive, and many fans began to speculate if he would even work out. In 68 games, Zboril tallied 19 points (4 goals, 15 assists). Again, this is not very impressive but it was his first season at the pro level.
What we saw last season in Providence was how great Zboril’s agility was. He could effectively step up on forwards in the neutral zone and break up a play. Zboril can also attack defense with speed and join the offensive rush. Zboril is a big guy who has a powerful point shot, he’s a very talented all-around defenseman.
Zboril has definitely had an up-and-down progression, his offensive game in Providence wasn’t too strong, but he still brings a physical, defensive style to his game. Zboril still has plenty of time to mature as a scorer and defender. If he wants to crack the Bruins roster though, he’ll need to step up his game during the preseason. He may benefit from another year at the AHL level.
Peter Cehlarik has been in the Bruins system for a while now. He was drafted in the third round (No. 90 overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. He has spent the past two seasons with the Providence Bruins and also saw some playing time with the NHL Bruins.
Throughout his time in Providence, Cehlarik tallied 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists) in 84 games played. This doesn’t seem like a lot, but Cehlarik has really improved his game while in Providence.
Cehlarik can certainly score goals even though he is not a pure goal scorer. He makes the players around him better, finding ways to make plays. He has a really high hockey IQ and has a nose for the net. He’s strong and is dangerous around the net, always looking to jam the puck home. He’s got a big frame for someone trying to make the NHL and it’s been a learning period for him since coming to the pro game, but this year could be the year he makes the team.
Cehlarik provided a pair of assists in the Bruins 4-3 shootout win over the Flames in Shenzhen on September 15. If Cehlarik does not end up making the squad, he will be a serviceable call-up.
Jack Studnicka is one of the youngest Bruin players competing for a roster spot. At just 19 years old, it’s either Boston or back to the Oshawa Generals for the youngster. He will have to go back to Oshawa due to an agreement the AHL has with the CHL, OHL, etc.
Studnicka was drafted in the second round (53rd overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He was a great player from the start, but after being drafted, he increased his point totals in Oshawa by a lot. He went from scoring 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists) in the 2016-17 campaign to scoring 72 points (22 goals, 50 assists) in the 2017-18 campaign. He really took a huge step forward in his development after being drafted by the Bruins.
Studnicka saw some time with the Providence Bruins last season, tallying five points (one goal, four assists) in five games, proving he can play at the pro level. He’s a big centerman who puts as much detail into his defensive game as he does the offensive game. He has a very high compete level and takes many key faceoffs in important situations. He’s a very explosive skater who is great at scoring goals and making plays. He’s a great two-way player who is showing he has what it takes to compete at the NHL level. Even though Forsbacka Karlsson and Frederic are ahead of him development wise, don’t sleep on this kid.
Some players not mentioned include Jeremy Lauzon, Jakob Lauko, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Urho Vaakanainen. Players we know will most likely be on the team include Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork, who are standouts among Bruins youngsters.