This week’s headliner for the Boston Bruins prospects update is Providence B’s winger Frank Vatrano, who tallied five goals in the first two AHL games of the season, in which his club went 1-0-1. With the AHL and NCAA seasons now underway, the B’s futures are all playing games that count around the globe. This week, we’ll kick off in the AHL:
Frank Vatrano, LW Providence Bruins
GP- 2 Goals- 5 Assists- 0 Points- 5 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 4
The undrafted free agent from East Longmeadow, Mass. looks like a real find after a Texas Hat Trick (four goals as opposed to three) on Sunday at home against the Portland Pirates. Vatrano spent two seasons with the NTDP after lighting up the Bay State minor hockey circuit and was always a talented scorer, but he struggled with his weight and conditioning, which led to his not being drafted. Originally a Boston College recruit, academic issues forced him out of that school before he ever played a single game and transfer rules meant he missed nearly the entire following season before playing 2014-15 with the Minutemen and leading the team in scoring right out of the chute. Vatrano signed with his hometown Bruins, scored his first pro goal last spring with the P-Bruins and now has 6 markers in his first 7 AHL games going back to last year. He can score from just about anywhere…two of his goals yesterday happened because he was driving to the net with some pretty good speed, while the other two were snipes from the circle, where he likes to set up and unleash his vicious shot. The 21-year-old will be called up to Boston if he can continue finding the back of the net at the AHL level, and Brad Marchand’s concussion might accelerate that transaction, especially if the Boston offense continues to struggle.
Austin Czarnik, C/RW Providence Bruins
GP- 2 Goals- 1 Assists- 2 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 2 +/- 4
Like Vatrano, the diminutive but highly skilled former collegian signed with the B’s last spring after passing through the NHL draft process. More of a set-up man than a finisher, the Michigan native has combined with Vatrano and Alex Khokhlachev to form a lethal top line that has combined for 11 points in the first two games. Czarnik is a blazer who puts defenders on their heels when he comes right at them at full sprint, while effortlessly handling the puck and he’s able to thread the needle with his passes. The two NCAA products impressed at their first pro training camp and it’s not unrealistic to think that both could see some NHL time in Boston this season if injuries take a toll or the B’s offense can’t get out of first gear. Czarnik is probably not ready for primetime, but other than his 5-8 frame, he plays a mature, refined game.
Alex Khokhlachev, C Providence Bruins
GP- 2 Goals- 0 Assists- 3 Points- 3 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 2
Koko is off to a good start, and it’s nice to have skilled linemates with the ability to finish. Stacking all the eggs in one basket offensively has paid dividends for Bruce Cassidy, as the 22-year-old Russian is the team’s most experienced and talented forward. If he wants another crack at the NHL sooner rather than later, this is the kind of start that will aid him in making his case. Either that, or it provides the Bruins with a boost in value to make a trade. Bottom line- with a dangerously aggressive shooter like Vatrano to go with a speedy waterbug in Czarnik, Koko supporters can’t point to his surrounding cast if he fails to produce in this setting.
Zane McIntyre, G Providence Bruins
GP- 2 MIN- 121 GA- 6 GAA- 2.97 Spct- .915
Because of Malcolm Suban’s lower body injury, the rookie played both of his team’s games in the AHL’s first weekend slate, coming away with his 1st pro win on Sunday after losing to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in OT on opening night. He was very good in his first start, but the free-flowing game yesterday opened things up a bit for him. Luckily, Vatrano bailed him out (Czarnik and defenseman Ben Youds had the other goals) and he can look forward to building on his season going forward. McIntyre is an outstanding prospect, but he’s also proving that some of the internet calls for him to play in the NHL right away were about as unrealistic as you can get. Goaltenders don’t need to be rushed, and given what the B’s have looked like in the first two NHL games, throwing a young player to the wolves, even in a backup capacity, would have been a disaster.
Zach Senyshyn, RW Saulte Ste Marie Greyhounds
GP- 8 Goals- 6 Assists- 2 Points- 8 Penalty Min- 0 +/- -3
Senyshyn continues to score consistently for his club, adding a couple of more tallies this week for his team leading six (he’s also tied with 2016 draft prospect Timmy Gettinger for the points lead with 8). He has impressed with that speed of his, using his acceleration and powerful stride to catch defenders flat-footed and motor around them while driving the net. He has such a heavy shot that he gets off in the blink of an eye, and you would think that teams would figure out to defend him, as there isn’t a great deal of complexity to Senyshyn’s game- he just goes up and down the wing and takes a straight path to the net. It’s probably a lot more easier said than done.
Jeremy Lauzon, D Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
GP- 7 Goals- 2 Assists- 9 Points- 11 Penalty Min- 12 +/- +9
The 52nd overall pick continues his point-per-game pace, picking up 1g and 2 helpers in three games this week after the previous update. He’s just five points away from equaling his rookie season point totals (done in 55 games) and with his smooth skating and instinctive play at both ends, is shaping up to be a fine choice where the Bruins got him.
Jakub Zboril, D Saint John Sea Dogs
GP- 4 Goals- 0 Assists- 0 Points- 0 Penalty Min- 6 +/- -1
Zboril is still looking for his first point of the season, but there is no reason for panic, as the offense will come. When you watch him (on film in my case), his skating is the first thing that jumps out at you. His acceleration is smooth and gets him out of his own end quickly. With a strong defensive core in place on the Sea Dogs, he isn’t logging the kind of minutes Lauzon is, and watch for him to break through soon- likely with a multi-point game that will get his production back on track.
Jake DeBrusk, LW Swift Current Broncos
GP- 5 Goals- 2 Assists- 2 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 9 +/- 1
After scoring goals in each of his first two WHL games after being returned from Boston, DeBrusk did not find the back of the net in three contests this week. He did put up a couple of assists, and while his point totals aren’t anything to write home about, the focal point of Swift Current’s offense will pick up the scoring pace.
Jesse Gabrielle, LW Prince George Cougars
GP- 5 Goals- 4 Assists- 0 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 10 +/- -1
Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City Americans
GP- 5 Goals- 1 Assists- 5 Points- 6 Penalty Min- 19 +/- -2
Good offensive week for the fan favorite, who scored his first goal of the season and is tied for second on his team in points behind center Parker Bowles. Not sure how long he can sustain the production, but Carlo is expected to shoulder a heavy load this season with a multitude of opportunities to compete against top competition in a key role.
Jack Becker, C Sioux Falls Stampede
GP- 4 Goals- 1 Assists- 1 Points- 2 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 1
Daniel Vladar, G Chicago Steel
GP- 1 Min- 160 GA- 7 GAA- 2.63 Spct- .901 W-L-T: 1-1-0
After allowing six goals in his first USHL start, Vladar settled in, allowing a single goal in relief and then posting a shutout for his first North American win this week.
Save for Danton Heinen (1g, 1a in season opening 5-4 OT loss to Air Force) no other B’s prospects whose college seasons began this past weekend found their way on the score sheet: Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Ryan Fitzgerald, Matt Benning and Cameron Hughes all saw action. Anders Bjork did not suit up for Notre Dame. Ryan Donato, Rob O’Gara and Wiley Sherman have yet to get started. Matt Grzelcyk is still injured an expected to miss the first few weeks of the Hockey East season while he recovers from knee surgery.
Peter Cehlarik, LW Lulea (SHL)
GP- 4 Goals- 2 Assists- 2 Points- 4 Penalty Min- 0 +/- 1
It was a hot week for Cehlarik who posted 2 goals and 3 points in two games for Lulea. He’s a skilled scoring type winger who is expected to sign with Boston at the conclusion of his season in Sweden and either finish the year in the AHL or he might even see some big league time- there’s a lot of hockey to be played between now and then. However, watch for him to be a full-time North American player in 2016-17.
Maxim Chudinov, D St. Petersburg (KHL)
GP- 18 Goals- 5 Assists- 2 Points- 7 Penalty Min- 34 +/- -8
No change to offensive stats from last week for Chudinov in two more games played.
Emil Johansson, D HV71 (SHL)
GP- 6 Goals- 0 Assists- 1 Points- 1 Penalty Min- 8 +/- 0
The 2014 seventh-round pick registered his first point of the season with an assist in one game played this past week.