The Boston College Eagles and Wisconsin Badgers Sunday tilt (the teams split the weekend series in Madison after Wisco triumphed Friday night) featured three Boston Bruins prospects and all of them made an impact in BC’s 8-5 win in what was a highly entertaining game.
The larger story for the Bruins is that the reports of freshman center Trent Frederic’s unworthiness as a first-round pick may have been greatly exaggerated, as he currently leads the Badgers in scoring with six points in four games, posting a goal and three helpers in the Sunday loss. Full disclosure- your TSP founder was one of the critics of the selection, admittedly not seeing much top-six NHL forward potential at the U18 championship last April (and this despite Frederic getting a hat trick in one of the round robin games vs. Latvia). Red Line Report had Frederic outside the top-100 and didn’t see him as much more than a fringe fourth-liner, but the perception began to change when talking to former coaches and players who knew him better than any of the talent evaluators who buried him in the rankings.
There’s much hockey left in the season, but Frederic certainly appears to be silencing the critics in the early going.
Here’s what to like about him (film study of two games): Long, powerful stride gets him up the ice quickly…smart and patient; handles the puck well and makes good decisions in where he moves it. Creative. Uses his big frame to drive the net and is effective around the net.
Frederic has an aggressive offensive mindset- more than I (and others) gave him credit for. On JD Greenway’s first collegiate goal to tie the game (after BC had taken a 2-0 lead) in the second period, Frederic led a 3-on-1 that materialized quickly in the neutral zone because he jumped on a loose puck and caught the BC defense flat-footed. Granted, it was a 3-on-1 advantage, but Frederic showed an immense amount of patience to let Greenway drive to the far post before putting a perfect pass on his blade for the easy score. This apple came after Frederic had tallied to get the Badgers on the board, and he would add two more assists as the home team got within a goal of the Eagles after going down 6-2 at one point in the second period.
But Frederic wasn’t only Wisconsin Badger who turned heads in a losing effort Sunday…
Cameron Hughes, who was drafted by the B’s in the 2015 draft’s sixth round scored as pretty (and filthy) a goal you will see late in the second period to make it a 6-3 game when he wheeled back after a turnover in the high slot of the BC zone got him the puck alone in front of Eagles netminder (and Leafs 2016 third-rounder) Joe Woll. Hughes pulled the puck behind him and through his legs and then roofed the shot up under the crossbar. Forget it…just see the play for yourself and then imagine trying to do that at top speed as Hughes did.
The Alberta native is in position to break out in his junior season after some growing pains as a freshman and sophomore. Always ultra-talented, Hughes arrived in Madison at an alleged 140-150 pounds as a freshman and he wore down pretty early, according to one source close to the Badgers program. As a result, where he was once thought of as a top-60 prospect for the 2015 NHL draft, he fell all the way down to the mid-sixth round where Boston pounced. It’s looking like a solid value pick for the B’s in hindsight- Hughes is more of a passer/playmaker but that goal will be replayed over and over, and shows a deft finishing touch that the 19-year-old hasn’t gotten much credit for.
Not to be forgotten in the game was BC senior and alternate captain Ryan Fitzgerald, who was visible with his energy and two-way play and tallied a late empty-net goal by outworking his opponents on the back wall and then beating everyone to the front of the vacated cage. That play is what makes the 2013 fourth-rounder such an effective three-zone presence for the Eagles. He scored the goal through sheer will and hustle, and that it came via an empty net should not diminish the impact of the play itself.
Anders Bjork and Jesse Gabrielle have begun the season like gangbusters for their respective teams/leagues. It’s funny, because Bjork (5th round) and Gabrielle (4th round) weren’t drafted in the top-100 picks in 2014 and 2015, and yet they’ve been two of Boston’s most productive prospects over the past full season and about a month into the new campaign. It isn’t just about giving the team and scouts credit- give a lot to the two guys who took the later selection as motivation and have both put in the work off the ice to make sure the on-ice performance translates. If I’m Don Sweeney, I’d better get hot on signing both of these players. Bjork will have to play out his NCAA season first, but Gabrielle has between now and June 1 to come to terms- he’s done enough to earn that NHL entry-level pact in our view.
On the pro side, it’s been a disappointing start for the Providence Bruins, but not altogether unexpected when you consider that they’re without Frank Vatrano (though he likely would’ve made the Bruins out of camp), Alexander Khokhlachev (KHL), Seth Griffith (lost on waivers to Toronto) and a couple of key youngsters in Austin Czarnik and Danton Heinen (both in Boston) plus Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara on defense (also in Boston). We expect to see one or more of those latter names back at some point, but give goalie Zane McIntyre a lot of credit- he’s gotten off to a great start after his final 2016 start left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth. He’s outplayed Malcolm Subban by a wide margin…some of it is Subban’s fault, but the team has some holes, so there are going to be some bumps in the road this season.
Bruins Amateur (NCAA/major junior/junior) Prospects as of 10/17/2016
|Anders Bjork, Notre Dame||HE-NCAA||4||5||5||10||2|
|Jesse Gabrielle, Prince George||WHL||6||5||4||9||6|
|Trent Frederic, Wisconsin||Big10- NCAA||4||2||4||6||2|
|Jakub Zboril, Saint John||QMJHL||6||2||3||5||2|
|Zach Senyshyn, SSM||OHL||5||4||0||4||8|
|Cameron Hughes, Wisconsin||Big10- NCAA||4||1||3||4||4|
|Jeremy Lauzon, Rouyn-Noranda*||QMJHL||2||1||2||3||0|
|Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, BU||HE- NCAA||3||1||2||3||2|
|Ryan Fitzgerald, BC||HE-NCAA||4||1||2||3||2|
|Jack Becker, Sioux Falls||USHL||7||2||1||3||6|
|Charlie McAvoy, BU||HE-NCAA||3||0||2||2||0|
|Ryan Lindgren, Minnesota||Big10- NCAA||2||0||0||0||0|
|Cameron Clarke, Ferris St.||WCHA- NCAA||4||0||0||0||2|
|Ryan Donato, Harvard**||ECAC- NCAA||0||0||0||0||0|
|Wiley Sherman, Harvard**||ECAC-NCAA||0||0||0||0||0|
* Jeremy Lauzon out indefinitely (UBI/concussion)
** ECAC regular season begins November 4, 2016
Pro and European Prospects as of 10/17/16
|Joona Koppanen, Ilves Jr.||U20- Finland||11||7||9||16||2|
|Emil Johansson, Djurgarden IF||Sweden- Elite||7||0||2||2||6|
|Colton Hargrove, Providence||AHL||2||1||0||1||0|
|Colby Cave, Providence||AHL||3||1||0||1||4|
|Matt Grzelcyk, Providence||AHL||3||0||1||1||2|
|Linus Arnesson, Providence||AHL||3||0||1||1||0|
|Anton Blidh, Providence||AHL||3||0||1||1||0|
|Jake DeBrusk, Providence||AHL||3||0||1||1||2|
|Oskar Steen, Farjestad BK||Sweden- Elite||8||1||0||1||4|
|Sean Kuraly, Providence||AHL||3||0||0||0||7|
|Justin Hickman, Providence||AHL||3||0||0||0||15|
|Chris Casto, Providence||AHL||3||0||0||0||2|
|Zane McIntyre, Providence||AHL||2||1||0||0.57||.969|
|Malcolm Subban, Providence||AHL||2||0||2||4.18||.857|
|Dan Vladar, Providence||AHL||0||0||0||0.00||.000|
|Peter Cehlarik, Providence*||AHL||0||0||0||0||0|
|Brian Ferlin, Providence*||AHL||0||0||0||0||0|
* Peter Cehlarik and Brian Ferlin- injured