Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson aka “JFK” earned his second consecutive Hockey East player of the week honor after his BU Terriers defeated reigning HEA champs- the Northeastern Huskies- over the weekend. He shared the honor with BC’s Austin Cangelosi, scoring the opening goal in the clinching 3-2 win Sunday, while assisting on the other two, culminating in a Chad Krys-winning strike with about 25 seconds left in regulation.
Breaking news alert- We’re hearing via a reliable NHL source that JFK turning pro after the NCAA season wraps is close- (EDIT- we’re going to take a step back and soften the language since the source is not JFK- we were wrong to write the post with such definitive language and for that we apologize to JFK and- K.L.) The BU sophomore is leaning towards signing with Boston at the conclusion of his final sophomore year contest. While he’s not a dynamic player who will grab you, JFK’s game is all about the details- he does everything well and coaches love having him because of the high trust factor. That’s not to say that he grabs you with blistering speed or pace on every shift, but for those who are students of the game, JFK needs no explaining- he just gets it. And, you win with players like him in your lineup at any level. We’re not sure if he’ll play in Boston right away or sign an ATO to finish the year in Providence, but we do feel strongly that JFK’s Boston debut is not that far off, regardless of how things play out in the immediate timeline.
No word on Charlie McAvoy or Anders Bjork yet, but we believe the B’s will go hard to get both on NHL deals this spring. The big question remaining is when the contract(s) can be signed- regardless of whether BU wins the HE tourney this weekend or not, they’re a sure bet to make it into the NCAA tourney with an at-large bid, so Bruins fans will have to wait. Same holds true for Bjork and his Notre Dame Fighting Irish- they’re one of the Hockey East’s four remaining clubs, and look like they’ll make the NCAA tourney as well. These three players are priority targets and don’t forget about Ryan Fitzgerald (more on him at the end of the post- scroll down), either- he wraps his NCAA career with Boston College as well after a strong four seasons even with down numbers as a senior (with good reason).
The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers took a tough loss over the weekend with freshman D Ryan Lindgren (Big-10/B1G All-Freshman team selection and All-B1G Honorable Mention) lost for the season due to a lower-body injury. Believed to be a fractured tibia, Gophers coach Don Lucia announced this week that the 18-year-old and 49th overall selection in last June’s NHL draft will have surgery to repair the damage. Lindgren is expected to make a full recovery and will likely be prepared to participate in the August World Jr. National Evaluation Camp.
Lindgren played for the gold medal-winning Team USA squad this past winter, though missed the epic championship game against Canada due to injury. Watch for him to be a leading candidate to captain the 2018 USA World Jr. team, and he’s expected to be joined by fellow B1G freshman standout (and US NTDP mate) Trent Frederic. Frederic, who was just returning to the University of Wisconsin lineup from a hand injury around the time the USA pre-tourney camp roster was announced, did not make the cut. Several NHL sources felt that was a mistake, and Frederic is considered a near-lock (barring injury or Mayan-inspired end of days event) to make the 2018 squad.
Kudos to @FinnProspects for doing a nice laydown of Joona Koppanen today, recapping the B’s 2016 5th-round pick’s sensational junior (U20) season with Ilves in Finland. Now, before you get too excited- some context is in order. Koppanen is not ahead of the developmental curve- he didn’t put up the big numbers (23 goals, 54 points in 38 games) by playing for the Ilves Tampere (Tuukka Rask’s old club) senior team- he was playing against a lower level of competition. 18-year-olds with high-end NHL potential tend to make those top pro teams at a younger age. So, while not raining on Koppanen’s parade- he deserves for credit for more than doubling his production in the same league from a season ago, it’s an apples and oranges comparison if you’re looking to make the ubiquitous upside argument- he’s a fifth-round pick who won a gold medal in last April’s U18 world tourney as a clampdown/defensive center (no points in 7 games), but with his 6-5 size and hockey sense, could one day work his way into the NHL mix. Just don’t expect him to do it as a top-6 option…at least, that’s not how he projects today, and that’s even with the impressive point totals in the U-20 circuit. Follow the Finns on Twitter and check out the Koppanen piece- it’s a solid review of a player who is lost in the sauce a bit among the many prospects in the Boston organization at present.
Speaking of getting lost in the sauce- Ryan Fitzgerald has had a disappointing senior season after going off as a junior in 2015-16. He’s been dealing with a nagging high ankle sprain, and anyone who knows about the impact that injury has on one’s skating, understands the lack of production from the North Reading, Mass. Native and 2013 fourth-rounder. When you factor in that Fitzgerald has never really had the blazing speed commensurate with a player of his physical stature but has always made his bones with a tremendous hockey IQ and slick hands, the injury really held him back. TSP isn’t sure what is next for him in terms of signing with Boston or perhaps pursuing his options via free agency on August 15, but we wish Tom’s eldest boy well going forward. He’s been a standout performer at BC since arriving there for the 2013-14 campaign, and he’s always tended to be overlooked when the topic of Bruins prospects came up. The reality is- we always knew he was going to be a good D1 college player, and he delivered the goods as promised. However, his real test will come when he joins the pro ranks, so whether he signs with his childhood team or moves on to another NHL locale, his feistiness and intelligence will serve him well as he pursues his pro hockey dreams.
Playoffs are underway or soon to start- now the real fun begins!
Here’s the updated stats lines for all Bruins prospects as of 3/15/2017:
Amateur Prospects as of 03/15/17
|Zach Senyshyn, SSM||OHL||56||41||21||62||31|
|Jesse Gabrielle, Prince George||WHL||59||33||29||62||86|
|Anders Bjork, Notre Dame||HE-NCAA||35||19||28||47||14|
|Jakub Zboril, Saint John||QMJHL||48||9||30||39||44|
|Ryan Donato, Harvard||ECAC- NCAA||31||18||18||36||23|
|Trent Frederic, Wisconsin||Big10- NCAA||28||15||18||33||32|
|Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, BU||HE- NCAA||36||13||18||31||30|
|Cameron Hughes, Wisconsin||Big10- NCAA||34||7||24||31||14|
|Ryan Fitzgerald, BC||HE-NCAA||32||9||19||28||42|
|Jeremy Lauzon, Rouyn-Noranda||QMJHL||36||5||21||26||38|
|Charlie McAvoy, BU||HE-NCAA||35||4||20||24||51|
|Jack Becker, Sioux Falls||USHL||40||10||8||18||34|
|Cameron Clarke, Ferris St.||WCHA- NCAA||35||1||10||11||26|
|Wiley Sherman, Harvard||ECAC-NCAA||31||0||10||10||22|
|Ryan Lindgren, Minnesota||Big10- NCAA||32||1||6||7||65|
Pro and European Prospects
|Joona Koppanen, Ilves Jr.||U20- Finland||38||23||31||54||18|
|Danton Heinen, Providence||AHL||49||11||23||34||12|
|Jake DeBrusk, Providence||AHL||59||13||21||34||19|
|Peter Cehlarik, Providence#||AHL||40||18||15||33||12|
|Colby Cave, Providence||AHL||61||11||19||30||41|
|Matt Grzelcyk, Providence||AHL||55||5||19||24||12|
|Sean Kuraly, Providence||AHL||48||11||10||21||31|
|Colton Hargrove, Providence||AHL||52||7||11||18||47|
|Emil Johansson, Djurgarden IF||Sweden- Elite||49||7||10||17||26|
|Noel Acciari, Providence||AHL||29||6||8||14||11|
|Anton Blidh, Providence||AHL||39||8||6||14||30|
|Rob O’Gara, Providence||AHL||44||4||8||12||18|
|Chris Casto, Providence||AHL||49||1||10||11||38|
|Austin Czarnik, Providence#||AHL||7||2||6||8||2|
|Justin Hickman, Providence||AHL||23||2||1||3||17|
|Oskar Steen, Farjestad||Sweden- Elite||47||1||2||3||8|
|Linus Arnesson, Providence*||AHL||18||0||1||1||4|
|Brian Ferlin, Providence*||AHL||2||0||0||0||0|
|Zane McIntyre, Providence
|Dan Vladar, Providence
|Malcolm Subban, Providence||AHL||28||9||12 (1)||2.49||.915|
# Cehlarik, Czarnik recalled to Boston
*Arnesson, Ferlin injured
Tyler Randell, Tommy Cross, Alex Grant > age 25- not listed