When the Boston Bruins decided it was in everyone’s best interest to send Fabian Lysell to the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, there was some controversy among Bruins fans on the internet. Even before the Bruins made the decision. I was of the opinion that it was the right move for both player and team.
Before we get into the hockey part of it, let’s clear up the business side. The Bruins locked up Lysell on August 9, 2021. By locking him up early, the Bruins saved money on the transfer fees to the Swedish Hockey League. By signing as an 18-year-old, the Bruins are able to slide his contract for two years unless he plays in 10 NHL games. And because there were signing bonuses involved, his cap hit drops each year the contract slides. And because he is in the WHL, his contract does not count against the 50-contract limit. Sound complicated? Trust me, it’s all good.
I was, and still am, a big believer that Lysell needed to get himself accustomed to the North American lifestyle. Everything from the people, to the food, to the pace of life is different in North America than it was for him in Sweden. He is with an excellent billet family who will help him along in any situation that may come up for the young man. Billets in Junior hockey are like a second family, and you wouldn’t get that playing in Providence where he almost certainly would have had a teammate as a roommate.
On the hockey side, Lysell has excellent coaching from the head coach and assistant coaches down to strength and conditioning coaches and a superb skating coach in his backyard if the need is there to tweak some things. Lysell will get more one-on-one coaching and skills training in Vancouver than he could get in Providence. I have previously gone into detail on these things, so I won’t rehash them here, but even if Lysell is one-and-done in Vancouver and heads to Providence next season (or after his WHL season is over) then we can all be thankful he was given the opportunity, as I am sure he will be.
I’m not going to go into great detail about Lysell’s game, everyone has seen the skating and talent he possesses. Instead, I will share the scouting report from FC Hockey with you:
Lysell is a truly electric talent, using his fantastic speed, hands and hockey sense to blaze around the ice and make dramatic things happen. He is a machine when it comes to zone exits and entries, taking no time at all to hit his excellent top gear while also having the hands and the crossovers to smoothly dart around or through traffic. Not only can he play fast, he also knows where to go and where his teammates are headed. Even more impressive, he’s not just blindly trying to go fast all the time, as he picks the right situations to stop, curl and set things up for his team in the offensive zone. He’s equally as dangerous in the cycle as on the rush, as he can circle the zone and play keep-away with the puck until he finds an opening. His passes are crisp and accurate, and he can make backhands, sauces and backhand sauces all look easy. He makes the job of opposing defenders extra difficult thanks to a great motor and a competitive focus, allowing him to go for a second end-to-end rush in a single shift if the first one doesn’t pan out. He also routinely applies his motor and work ethic on the backcheck. He lacks size and strength, but his elite awareness and slipperiness should mitigate that problem even after he moves to smaller ice. There is, however, one major knock on Lysell and that’s his shot. None of his wrist shot, slapper or one-timer have the power or quickness coming off of his stick to be dangerous, and it’s hard to see that changing long-term. Any goal he scores will primarily have to come from carving or sneaking his way to the home plate area. When defending, Lysell can stop moving his feet, just reaching with his stick. In doing this, he loses his mobility, his speed, and balance. When he does get the puck in the defensive zone, he doesn’t have that confidence that he has in the offensive zone. He tends to rush the play, and try to get the puck off of his stick rather than carry it. He can play with a bit of a bite in his game when frustrated, throwing his body around more and more. Putting on strength and working on his shot will be the main focuses moving forward. “Winger with great hockey IQ and skating. Lysell has impressive puck skills and is consistently creating quality opportunities for himself and his teammates. A constant threat, both with and without the puck.” TL; DR: Lysell is an offensively dynamic threat, with excellent vision and awareness. His feet and his hands are extremely quick, leading to a highly creative player in the opponent’s end. Moving forward, his shot needs some improvement and he’ll need to add strength.
FC Hockey hits the nail right on the head in their assessment. I would add just one thing, finding consistency which eluded him through the first 15 games of the season. Only once was he able to produce back-to-back offensively through those 15 games. But now, he’s found it and is sizzling hot.
The other thing I will add is, as said by FC Hockey, he can play with some bite and that leads him to take some penalties, most by any Bruins prospect covered in these reports. But it’s when he plays like that, he is most productive. If he can continue to play with that bite and lose some of the “lazy penalties” it will bode well for himself and the Bruins. It’s all part of the process.
The Bruins had to do some posturing to get Lysell to Vancouver. First and foremost, the Canadian Hockey League has an import limit rule and the Giants, with an import spot already taken, had to deal with the possibility of other players being loaned back by their NHL Clubs. It helped the Bruins that Assistant to the GM Scott Bradley lives in the lower mainland of British Columbia. And I’m sure the Bruins used the services of Lysell’s agent Gerry Johansson. Giants GM Scott Boner also just happens to work for Johansson’s agency.
I don’t usually discuss American Hockey League Defencemen here because there are some excellent people that already cover the Providence Bruins, but I need to chime in. Specifically, I am talking about Jack Ahcan and Urho Vaakanainen. I freely admit that it is possible that Vaakanainen did not clear COVID protocol and that is the reason why the Bruins chose to call up Ahcan in the absence of Charlie McAvoy and Jakub Zboril for the matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
COVID protocol aside, the Bruins made the right decision. Vaakanainen doesn’t turn 23 until New Years Day, compared to Ahcan, who turns 25 on May 18. Vaakanainen is in his fourth season with the Bruins with an expiring entry level contract. Because he signed as an 18-year-old and did not play in 10 NHL games, the Bruins were able to slide his contract for a season, hence the extra year.
Let’s take it a step further. Zboril turns 25 on February 21 and will be two years older than Vaakanainen. While Zboril has shown glimpses in the past, it wasn’t really until this season that he proved he could be an NHL regular, that is until his injury last week. So, I ask you, is there still hope for Vaakanainen? Is it too soon to give up on him?
My issue with him is that he has not shown me the year over year improvement and in fact, has regressed in some areas. And for a former first round pick – 18th overall in 2017 – it’s not a good sign. I asked one NHL exec what he felt Vaakanainen’ s value on the trade market is and he replied “does the NHL still have 9 rounds in the draft?” That doesn’t mean some other team would not put more value on him as someone could see something differently – and age is on his side for a defenceman.
It will be interesting to see what happens with contract negotiations in the offseason. The Bruins gave Zboril a one-way deal upon his entry level contract expiring, however, the difference is that the Bruins were able to slide his contract for two seasons and thus was in the organization for five seasons before his second contract.
I wonder out loud if Vaakanainen expects the same one-way deal Zboril was given? And if he doesn’t get it, could he go back to Finland where he could play professional hockey and with a bigger payday? And how do the Bruins feel about a one-way deal? At issue is the fact that beginning with the 2022-2023 season, Vaakanainen will require waivers to be sent to Providence and with seemingly no roster spot available with the big club, do they want to pay him an NHL salary to play in the AHL? Considering they will likely be paying Chris Wagner and John Moore (unless traded) NHL money to play in the AHL, they will likely not want to pay Vaakanainen for the same. But no one knows for sure.
Providence Bruins Player Stats
Providence Bruins Goalie Stats
Maine Mariners Stats
Coming up this week:
Must watch this week on Friday and Saturday, Beecher versus Lohrei, Lohrei versus Beecher on back-to-back nights. If you can’t tune into that one then on the same nights you have Becker versus McFaul. And if you can’t tune into either, try Kuntar versus Gallagher on Friday night, all forwards versus defencemen. On Sunday, try and catch Harrison versus the Peterborough Petes as he goes up the recently returned Mason McTavish. Should be a good one! On Saturday, Gallagher’s BU squad plays an exhibition game against the Under-18 squad.
|CEHLARIK||Vs DIN||Vs LOK||Vs SEV||Vs MET|
|BYCHKOV||Vs JOK||Vs DIN||Vs ADM|
|ARNESSON||Vs VAX||Vs VAX|
|MANTYKIVI||Vs KAR||Vs SPO||VS HPK|
|GASSEAU||Vs LIN||Vs LIN|
|LANGENBRUNNER||Vs LIN||Vs LIN|
|KUNTAR||Vs BRN||Vs BU|
|BEECHER||Vs OSU||Vs OSU|
|LOHREI||Vs MI||Vs MI|
|BECKER||Vs CLK||Vs CLK|
|SCHMALTZ||Vs CC||Vs CC|
|DURAN||Vs PRN||Vs PRN|
|OLSON||Vs DEN||Vs DEN|
|MCFAUL||Vs ASU||Vs ASU|
|GALLAGHER||Vs BC||Vs U-18|
|HARRISON||Vs HAM||Vs OTT||Vs PBO|
|MAST||Vs GUE||Vs KIT||Vs ER|
|LYSELL||Vs KAM||Vs VIC||Vs VIC|
|SVEDEBACK||Vs YGT||Vs YGT||Vs YGT|
AROUND THE GLOBE
Fabian Lysell is sizzling hot with a 5-game point streak going. But it’s what he has done in those 5 games that is impressive. He has 5 goals and 7 assists for 12 points. More impressive is the fact he’s shooting more with 20 shots in those 5 games for a shooting percentage of 25%, compared to 44 shots in his first 15 games with a shooting percentage of 9.1%. No more passing up opportunities when the best option is the shot. That’s growth and something I’ve been waiting for.
Although he went pointless in Djurgardens 6-4 loss Sunday versus Leksands IF after playing 3-in-3, Oskar Jellvik had a strong weekend. On Friday, he scored twice in a 5-3 loss versus the same Leksands squad after registering 3 primary assists in an 8-3 thumping of Leksands on Thursday. Yes. I realize this is the J20 Nationell League, but he has been most impressive, sitting 11th in league scoring 9 points behind the leader while playing in 4 fewer games. He is eligible to play another season in the J20 next year, but at this rate he will likely see time in the Allsvenskan League.
For the second weekend in a row, Ryan Mast and his Sarnia squad have had a three-in-three weekend. It caught up to Sarnia on Sunday falling behind 5-0 before the first period ended. Mast is beginning to show some of the offensive potential some in the scouting world were talking about with a goal and 5 assists in his last 9 games.
Brett Harrison was kept off the scoresheet on Friday but bounced back on Sunday with a goal and a helper. Harrison has 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games and 7 goals and 4 assists in his last 10 games. He’s climbed up to second in scoring for the Generals 7 points behind Ty Tullio (Oilers’ 5th round pick in 2020) while playing 3 fewer games.
It pains me to put John Beecher in this spot because areas of his game are growing and developing quite well and that is being a shut down guy when he needs to be. He’s doing all the right things, skating hard, being tough to play against, using his size and speed to his advantage, being a force on the forecheck. But he is pointless in 7 games, the longest such streak on this list and at some point, he needs to produce offensively as well.
It was another tough outing for Philip Svedeback in his lone start last week giving up 6 goals on 19 shots in a 6-3 loss against Chicago. After going 5-0-2 in his first 7 games, he has lost three in a row and has given up 16 goals on 57 shots for a save-percentage of .719. Let’s hope for a bounce back this week as Dubuque have a back-to-back-to-back with Youngstown. He needs to get his confidence back.
Roman Bychkov missed the last two games due to injury.