Prior to each season, whether a prospect is playing in the Finnish Liiga, Sweden’s J20 Nationell, the NCAA or the Canadian Hockey League, I attempt to come up with expectations for each player and I call them forecast.
I have a little formula I use that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t work. But the majority of time it does me well. I then run those numbers by people in the game whether they are coaches, scouts and sometimes teammates and make “adjustments” based on their valued input. More often than not, they agree so there isn’t much tinkering.
I have never shared the information publicly until writing about it here for the first time early this season. And now, I think it’s time to share them again and what the players actually did accomplish in their seasons and what it means, if anything.
I have broken them down into two groups with notes on each player.
Matias Mantykivi fell short of his forecasted production and surpassed his production of 12 goals and 19 assists, albeit in 51 games, by the skin of his teeth. However, his defensive game, which was already very good has become exceptional. Is there any offensive upside to his game? Well, when the games become more important, he is stepping up his game. He has 2 goals and 6 assists through his first 8 playoff games this season, doubling the output he had in 14 games a season ago. But, is it enough to earn a contract from the Bruins? We will find out soon as his rights expire on June 1, 2023.
Dans Locmelis pretty much hit the nail on the head with his production. The rangy center’s production was almost in line with another J20 Nationell player we will discuss further down. At times through the season, he could put his team on his back and carry them when things weren’t going as well as they should. However, they were upset in the playoffs and Locmelis’ production actually dipped. He’s heading to U-Mass to play in the NCAA next season and begin his transition to the North American game.
Oskar Jellvik, all things considered had a smooth transition to North America. Yes, he fell a little short of my expectations statistically, but you just never know how things will translate on the smaller ice surface. Things out there just happen a little quicker. Moving forward, it comes down to how he does as a sophomore now that he has a year under his belt.
Andre Gasseau did more than anyone could have expected as a freshman. The best thing about the season he had? Well, it’s that he got better as the season progressed finishing with .81 PPG. That also means expectations for him moving forward have also gone up and it would not surprise me to see him hit those marks.
Trevor Kuntar has been one of my favorite prospects over the last couple of seasons even though he fell a tad short of where I had him. However, the Bruins saw enough to sign him to his entry level contract and I would have done the same if I were them. He is legit ready to turn pro, even if it is with Providence.
Mason Lohrei may be the one player that I set expectations too high for simply because he was coming off knee surgery and those things take time to get back to 100%. And still, he wasn’t that far off the pace that I had set for him. As the knee got stronger and he got more and more into game shape the production began on an upswing.
Mason Langenbrunner It was a “get your feet wet season” for Langenbrunner with the Harvard Crimson. Selected in the same draft (5th round in 2020) as Kuntar, Lohrei (who have since turned pro) and Riley Duran, is a very long-term project. He has raw talent and skills that will take some time to develop for one of the youngest players drafted in his draft class. I didn’t have many expectations for Langenbrunner this season. For me, it’s how that development curve rises over the next three seasons.
Cole Spicer, like Langenbrunner, it was all about getting his feet wet with Minnesota-Duluth. While I set what I thought was achievable production for him, he fell a little short. Spicer has found success at every level and I am not pushing the panic button here. With more ice time and opportunity in his sophomore year expected, that is when we’ll see how Spicer progresses.
Quinn Olson has decided to return to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a fifth season and that may be the best thing for him. After two productive seasons in the AJHL, his offensive game never really took off in the NCAA as expected.
Jake Schmaltz had a disappointing season to say the least. I don’t want to make excuses for him but he played through injury and illness at times. But to the point that his production was cut in half from a season ago? He needs a bounce back year next season with the University of North Dakota.
Riley Duran certainly raised some eyebrows last summer with Team USA at the World Junior Championships by not only making the team, but contributing 2 goals and 3 assists in 5 games. It was reasonable to expect a modest jump in his statistics as a sophomore. He fell short with his 8 goals and 12 assists but he had a great start to the season with 7 goals and 2 assists in his 8 games. But just one goal in his final 21 games left me wanting more. In fairness to Duran, he did battle through injuries.
Ty Gallagher is one of the more intriguing 7th round picks the Bruins have had in a long time. After a freshman season in which the blueliner put up 5 goals and 11 assists for Boston University, I set expectations high for his sophomore season. Again, I don’t want to make excuses but Gallagher did not get the quality offensive opportunities or powerplay opportunities he was accustomed too. When he did get them, he delivered and I have no doubt he would have reached them with more opportunities. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say he will spend one more season at BU and then turn pro.
Dustyn McFaul completed his senior year with the Clarkson Golden Knights and it was his best offensive year for the shut down defenceman. McFaul missed time to start the season with an injury and will return to Clarkson for a fifth season, second as captain next year. Don’t expect much in the form of offence but if he keeps raising his defensive game, he may get a pro shot.
Matthew Poitras may be the most confusing player on the list falling well short of the number of goals I had set him with but making it up in helpers in spades. He really has developed into an elite playmaker at this level, finishing second in the OHL in assists but first in assists per game. And he was nominated as a finalist for the Red Tilson award presented to the OHL’s most outstanding player. Next season, he will challenge for the OHL scoring championship.
Brett Harrison missed the start of the season (and Bruins’ camp) with a broken leg. He also missed time near the end of the season with what the team would only say was a lower body injury. In total, Harrison missed 11 games and if we were to look at it in per game terms then he reached expectations. As he prepares to turn pro, the question for the Bruins is: does he play center or the wing? He has spent more time on the wing then in the middle this season.
Ryan Mast had a lot of things go against him this season. First it was a broken jaw that caused him to miss 17 games, and second, after trade deadline in early January he lost all his powerplay time to the players the Storm brought in. And yet, if you take my expectations of his production on a per game percentage, then he fell exactly where I had him pegged at. He’s under contract already and it’s up to the Bruins if they want him to turn pro with Providence next season or return to the OHL for an averaged year.
Jackson Edward may just be the toughest player to play against on this list and he had the fifth most PIM in the OHL. He played second pair on one of the best blue lines in the OHL. After a zero goal and 6 assist season a year ago, there were questions about his offence. He blew it out of the water even getting powerplay time early in the season while his Knights waited for reinforcements in the back end.
Frederic Brunet is the one player on this list that has the same question posed over and over: Is he legit? No one can ever be sure when talking about players at this level and what it means for the NHL or professional hockey. Brunet was on pace to hit his targets this season then saw him explode following a trade to Victoriaville where he had 10 goals and 28 assists in 30 games. At the time I said “if you put talented players with talented players, good things will happen”, and they did. But that doesn’t mean it translates to the pro game.
Jonathan Myrenberg I must admit, was a player I only saw a couple of times while watching others until the Bruins acquired his rights from the Vancouver Canucks. He’s a big defenceman who can move really well and plays with a lot of poise in his own zone. I believe there is some offensive potential to be tapped, but it remains to be seen how much. He Should be playing with Linkoping HC of the SHL next season and will likely attend Bruins Development Camp in the summer.