The Boston Bruins announced their roster for the 2021 Prospects Challenge to be held September 17-19 at the LECOM Harborcenter and hosted by the Buffalo Sabres. The Bruins and Sabres will be joined by the New Jersey Devils. The Pittsburgh Penguins usually take part in this round robin tournament but will not participate this year.
The Bruins will play the Sabres on Saturday September 18 at 3pm and the Devils on Sunday September 19 at 1pm. The Devils will play the Sabres on Friday September 17 at 7pm. The Bruins, for whatever reason (one I would never understand anyway), have been hesitant to stream any of their games at this event but the Sabres and Devils have in past years so, if you’re wondering how you can watch these future Bruins, may I suggest following the Sabres and Devils on social media for updates.
LECOM Harborcenter and fans will be subject to the policies and guidelines issued by any federal, state, county or other governmental entity that govern the COVID-19 pandemic and admission into the facility at the time of the event. At this time, per New York State and CDC guidance, fans who are unvaccinated will be required to wear a mask at all times within LECOM Harborcenter. Masks are optional for fans who are fully vaccinated.
The COVID-19 Pandemic wiped out the 2020 Prospects Challenge. In 2019, the Bruins finished with a 1-1-1 record – defeating the Penguins 4-3, losing to the Sabres by the same score, and dropping an overtime decision to the Devils 3-2.
Returning from that 2019 roster are goaltender Kyle Keyser, forwards Alex-Olivier Voyer (who was an invite in 2019), Oskar Steen and Jakub Lauko. Joining them from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft are Fabian Lysell – 21st overall, Brett Harrison – 85th overall and Ryan Mast – 181st overall. Players in the NCAA are not able to attend this tournament as it would void their NCAA eligibility.
Here’s a look at the full roster:
Here are some thoughts on the invites from yours truly:
MARC BOUDREAU – SAULT STE MARIE GREYHOUNDS
Boudreau last played hockey during the 2019-2020 season for the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL, his rookie season. As you know, the 2020-2021 season was wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 6-foot, two-inch Left Winger scored 4 goals and 8 assists in 59 games.
Boudreau was a third-round pick, 59th overall by the Greyhounds at the 209 OHL Priority Selection after posting great numbers with the Toronto Marlboros Under-16 squad – 25 goals, 38 assists in 68 games. While his rookie numbers in the OHL were nothing great, the lost season took away any opportunity for those of us with eyes on the game to see where his offensive production would take him in his second OHL season. So, we wait.
Boudreau has a tremendous work ethic. He is constantly on opponents with the puck trying to create turnovers. He gets in on the forecheck and does an above average job there, He likes to play the body and he will get in front of the net to battle. He shows great hands in tight when battling. He also has the ability to avoid traffic and find those quiet areas to make him a pass option for his teammates. He also has a great snap shot he can get off quickly.
OUTLOOK: Since he was passed over in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, Boudreau will re-enter the draft for 2022. But for now, he is a free agent able to sign with any team before the first game of the NHL season, or else he re-enters the draft. I don’t see a contract at this point with the questions about his offensive projection. But it gives the Bruins a close look for the 2022 draft – and if undrafted again, the Bruins could then sign him as a free agent. Players always remember who gave them the opportunity.
JACOB HUDSON – MONCTON WILDCATS
Hudson played parts of five seasons with Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and went undrafted in the NHL Entry Draft twice. His diminutive size – 5’8” and 175 pounds – probably turned most teams away.
In total, Hudson played 218 career QMJHL games amassing 43 goals and 65 helpers. He spent two seasons as an Alternate Captain with the Wildcats and last season as captain where he broke out with 15 goals and 17 assists in 22 games, and then added 3 goals and 7 assists in 5 playoff games. He will be attending St. Xavier University to play hockey this season while getting his education.
While small, Hudson has tremendous lower body strength which surprisingly, makes him difficult to knock off pucks. He is a beast when it comes to zone entries with possession. He is a quick, smooth skater who can play with pace, but knows when to slow down the play to create opportunities for his teammates. He uses his shot and superb passing skills as tools to keep the opposition guessing as to what he will do and backing up defensemen.
Hudson is a three-zone player who likes to leave his mark on the game on each shift, be it in the offensive zone, or the defensive zone. The Bruins like players who work hard and Hudson works hard.
OUTLOOK: If the Bruins were to sign only one of the CHL invites they have appearing, my guess would be Hudson. There is a larger sample size with Hudson the others don’t have and you can’t argue with the skills, work ethic and leadership qualities he brings to the table and the Bruins put a high value on those things.
NOAH DOREY – KELOWNA ROCKETS
Dorey is the type of defenseman Bruins fans like. He’s big at 6’3” but is not quite filled out at 195 pounds. But he will get there. The Kelowna Rockets left shot blueliner was passed over at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft.
Dorey only played in 9 games last season scoring once and adding 2 assists. During the 2019-2020 season, he only played in 13 games for the Rockets, so it’s safe to say there wasn’t a lot of opportunities for NHL scouts to have eyes on him. He is so versatile and smart, the Rockets even used him at left wing when injuries depleted their forward group. He was a 4th round pick of the Rockets, 88th overall, at the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft.
Dorey isn’t flashy, but he will do whatever is asked of him. Coaches describe him as a sponge, absorbing every tidbit of instruction they give him to improve his game. Dorey is a very fluid and smooth skating defender. He has an ability to shake off the forecheck and transition to offense. Personally, I think his transition game is underrated in some circles. His puck handling skills are high, especially in tight. And he enjoys the physical game.
OUTLOOK: Like Boudreau, there are two options: Sign a contract before the NHL season begins or re-enter the draft. I believe the latter is what will happen. Again, it gives the Bruins brass a better look at the player in preparation for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft.
JEREMY BRODEUR – FREE AGENT
Brodeur played Major Junior for the Oshawa Generals (are we seeing a trend?) from 2014-2015 though 2016-2017 seasons and yes, he is the son of Hockey Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. He posted a career 70-40-10 record with the Generals ending with a 2.81 goals-against-average and .909 save-percentage. in his final OHL season, he formed a tandem with current Bruins prospect Kyle Keyser.
Brodeur was never drafted into the NHL and since his days with the Generals has bounced around from one ECHL squad to another and the SPHL. He also had a brief stint in Europe. Most recently, he was with the New Jersey Devils affiliate Binghamton Devils of the AHL.
Just looking at the number of goalies the Bruins have signed to NHL contracts that will be with the big clubs as well as Providence and the Maine Mariners of the ECHL, so the chances of an NHL contract are next to nil. Even an AHL contract seems unlikely as he would be looking for ice time split with Callum Booth with Maine. But if/when Tuukka Rask returns, the Bruins will have a log jam at the two lower levels.
One would think Keyser will get both starts, but since they are back-to-back, Brodeur may get an opportunity. It’s then that he will have to open some eyes. But these invites usually get a shot at rookie camps as well.
At 6-feet, Brodeur doesn’t exactly have great size for a goaltender. Unlike Marty, who played a hybrid style, Jeremy Brodeur plays the modern butterfly style. He is very athletic and positionally always in control in his crease and will never give up on a puck. Speak to anyone associated with him in hockey and they all say the same thing: “Few work as hard as he does to improve his game.”
OUTLOOK: As mentioned earlier, with the sheer number of goaltenders the Bruins have under contract, it’s hard to imagine Brodeur getting a contract. But with Keyser, Booth and Troy Grosenick all on expiring contracts at the end of this season, a one-year AHL contract to play in Maine is a possibility.