Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings

If you’re wondering whether there has been a change in where I ranked the players at the start of the season, the answer is yes.

The criteria is this: 1) Must be playing in any league outside the NHL including the AHL and ECHL. 2) Must be drafted by the Boston OR 3) Signed as an undrafted free agent to an NHL contract 4) Must be under 25 years of age (as of September 15, 2023) 5) The Bruins must hold their rights beyond July 1, 2023.

This means players such as Luke Toporowski, Matt Filipe, Jack Ahcan, Nick Wolff, Oskar Steen, Joona Koppanen, Matias Mantykivi and Samuel Asselin are not included. I’m also considering Jakub Lauko promoted to Boston because that’s where I think he’ll be.

So, what do I use as the basis? First is NHL potential/upside. It’s pretty self explanatory, but a player with a higher upside will have a higher ranking. Not only do I use my own opinion but I talk to those around the player to get their opinions. Second is longevity. Yes, that plays a role. Does that player have a particular skill set that another player doesn’t have that will keep him in the NHL longer? Third is development both year-over-year and in season. A player with an upward trajectory will be ranked higher than a player that has flatlined or regressed (there are a few in the latter category).

We all know what has been written about the Bruins prospect pool. This is by no means to contradict those. In fact, it probably reaffirms them. They’ve got what looks like a sure fire second line winger and second pairing defenceman with a couple of forwards that have second line potential. The rest are third and fourth liners. Where I differ with some of the opinions out there is that they are quality third and fourth liners (in a few cases) and last time I checked, you need them to make up a hockey team. What’s lacking is the top end talent for obvious reasons. You will never see them on any Top-100 lists, but that does not mean they aren’t NHL players.

In the past, I have reluctantly not included goaltenders as I feel that their development takes longer than a skater’s development and it sometimes makes it harder to project. However, I have included them here. You could take that to mean one of two things: 1) the strength of the goaltenders or 2) the lack of overall strength of the skaters, take your pick.

Here are my rankings:

30 – Michael DiPietro – Providence Bruins – Goaltender

One thing DiPietro has going for him is age – he is still younger than Brandon Bussi and Kyle Keyser. His never give up on pucks attitude has garnered him several OHL, CHL and WJC awards. Acquired from the Canucks in a trade, some feel that Vancouver did not do what was best for his development. Maybe Mike Dunham and Bob Essensa can get him back to what once made him successful. It’s a steep uphill climb though, because on this list, there are four goaltenders ahead of him. He certainly has the determination and the drive, but that may not be enough.

29 – Dustyn McFaul – Clarkson Golden Knights – Left Defence

Even before the Bruins selected 181st overall at the 2018 Entry Draft, I was a fan of the pick if only because he was the type of player you take a chance on late in the draft. Already a very good defensive defenceman with excellent leadership qualities he showed some offensive potential in the OJHL. Unfortunately, the offence never materialized in 4 years with Clarkson University. Now, McFaul is returning for a fifth season in the NCAA. It remains to be seen if the Bruins offer him a contract once his season is over, but it’s not looking promising.

28 – Quinn Olson – Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs – Center/Left Wing

When the Bruins selected Olson late in the third round of the 1019 Entry Draft, I was intrigued. I would have liked it more if he was a late fourth, but still intrigued. Coming out of the AJHL we knew he could score and put-up points. But after 4 years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Olson didn’t put up more than 7 goals in a season or 25 points. In one word: disappointing. Like McFaul, Olson has decided to return to school for a fifth season. There’s a lot of depth ahead of him, especially with multi-positional players for him to overcome.

27 – Shane Bowers – Providence Bruins – Center/Left Wing

There was a time that Bowers was considered an offensive threat whether it was playing U17 or U18 in Canada, or in the USHL, or for Boston University in NCAA hockey. He even had a very good first AHL season in 2019-2020. Acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a trade for Keith Kinkaid, he was the Ottawa Senators first round pick in 2017 (28th overall). Injuries have slowed him over the last couple of seasons so he’s become a reclamation project for the Bruins. He’s great with board play/coming off the wall and behind the net. He’s also a good defensive player. We’ll just have to wait and see what the Bruins can get out of him.  

26 – Cole Spicer – Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs – Center

Despite a smaller physique, Spicer plays a high-energy, tenacious game with a motor that doesn’t stop. He’s put-up offensive numbers at different levels in the past, but if I am being honest, I believe his average puck skills and average Hockey IQ prevents him from doing so at the pro level. Another season with the Bulldogs will tell the story. At worst he could fill in a fourth line energy role and he could find success in that. At best, he can develop offensively and fill a third line role with secondary scoring. For now, he is trending towards the former.

25 – Jake Schmaltz – North Dakota Fighting Hawks – Center/Left Wing

The Bruins selected Schmaltz after a decent rookie season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. He spent two years with the Green Bay Gamblers where he had two productive seasons. He made quite the impression with the University of North Dakota as a freshman with 8 goals, 24 points in 39 games. But the stats plummeted as a sophomore to 12 points in 34 games and for the first time in his career he was a minus player. An injury and illness during the season may or may not have played a role, but we’ll have to see how he bounces back next season. In the meantime, he has been passed by several players. I’m just going to have to wait to see if this season was an abnormality.

24 – Curtis Hall – Providence Bruins – Center

Hall put up decent numbers in the USHL before joining Yale University in NCAA Hockey where he became a point-per-game player as a sophomore. In 3 seasons with Providence, he has appeared in 102 games, scoring 4 goals and 6 assists. He did better with Maine Mariners of the ECHL scoring 5 goals in 8 games and was a point-per-game player in the playoffs. To say that it has been a disappointment for the 6’3”, 212-pound pivot who has great straight-line speed and works his butt off, is an understatement. In 2019 he was thought of as potential top six upside by many, but has since been passed.

23 – Mike Callahan – Providence Bruins – Left Defence

Callahan was originally drafted in the 5th round in 2018 by Arizona. The Bruins acquired his rights in February 2022 and signed him to an ELC. He had a great sophomore year with Providence College but was never able to replicate that in his final two seasons. His skill set comes with limited NHL potential but he comes with loads of character and leadership qualities as evidence by his three years as captain at Providence College. He could carve out a career as a shut down defenceman but there’s room for only so many of those.

22 – Mason Langenbrunner – Harvard Crimson – Right Defence

In many ways, when the Bruins selected Langenbrunner in the 5th round in 2020, it reminded me a lot of the McFaul pick in 2018: A shut down defender who has shown some offensive upside. He skates very well has very good puck skills, he’s a right shot and he pays attention to detail. Langenbrunner will need a lot of development time as he was a long-term project when drafted – making the 2020 draft cut-off by just one day. I know folks will look at his 1 goal and 0 assists as a freshman and question his offensive upside. But it was a get acclimated season for him. I’m more interested in what he does in years 2 and 3 and if it works out better than it did for McFaul, he will move up this list.

21 – Reid Dyck – Swift Current Broncos – Goaltender

If you’re just going to look at stats then you can ignore Dyck because the numbers just aren’t there. However, you have to fully understand the situation he has been in to fully appreciate his level of netminding. Despite horrible numbers, he was one of Canada’s top-3 players at the WJC U-18. Dyck was nothing short of spectacular at the Top Prospects game. He has good size; his mobility is good and there are things to work on especially puck tracking. But he’s a project and he is trending in the right direction. At this point it’s hard to pinpoint his projection but we will keep an eye out on his development.

20 – Kyle Keyser – Providence Bruins – Goaltender

We all know that goaltenders take longer to develop, and when the Bruins signed Keyser as an undrafted free agent, it was lauded as a good move. Because of the slide rule, they also got 5 years of service under that ELC. But we also know that injuries can derail a player’s development and that is the case with Keyser as he has rarely played a full season since signing. Keyser has great athletic ability and will do anything to stop a puck with his never give up on a play mentality. The Bruins first have to sign the restricted free agent and then hope we see a full season to fully understand where he is at.

19 – Jackson Edward – London Knights – Left Defence

Quite easily the most physical player on this list, Edward has good size and a frame that is almost filled in. He is a solid skater who can throw some bone jarring hits. He will need to learn to pick his spots as he can sometimes take himself out of the play looking for that hit. He lost a year of development (this should have been his third OHL season) but he did break out offensively this season for the Knights on a team that is very deep on the blueline. At this point it’s safe to say he projects as a bottom pairing physical, shut down defenceman and we’ll see how he progresses next season with the Knights.

18 – Ryan Mast – Sarnia Sting – Right Defence

I have the same issues with Mast today as I had the day the Bruins drafted him: I don’t know if his offence can translate to the next level. What makes matters worse here is that once OHL trade deadline came, Mast was reduced to a shut down role – one he did extremely well I might add. He’s a big body who isn’t as physical as he could be. He skates very well backwards and laterally and is just good enough skating north to jump into the play and yes, even carry the puck. He’s also one of the better defencemen at using his long reach to break up plays. A broken jaw where he missed a month also slowed him down this season. I think he can carve out a career as a shut down defenceman in the sixth spot.

17 – Frederic Brunet – Victoriaville Tigres – Left Defence

The Bruins do not shy away from selecting second time draft eligible players and Brunet is one of the few they have selected on this list. He had a tremendous season that ended up with him as the runner up for the QMJHL defenceman of the year. He was probably the best powerplay quarterback in the Q this season and can seemingly create offence out of nothing. At 6’2” he has size but will need to pack on some pounds, can play a physical game and while I wouldn’t say he has any particularly elite skills he does well with most. He projects as a bottom pairing defenceman with a powerplay option.

16 – Philip Svedeback – Providence Friars – Goaltender

There is still a lot of developing to do for Svedeback and that is why it’s difficult to place goaltenders on these lists. He was drafted in the 4th round in 2021 coming out of the J20 Nationell where he was one of the top goaltenders. He had a good season in the USHL before joining Providence College where all he did there was give his team a chance to win almost every night. He has size, he’s athletic and he’s been working on his technique. What he needs more than anything is time to hone his skills and it appears the Bruins have that with their goaltending situation.

15 – Ty Gallagher – Boston University Terriers – Right Defence

Honestly, when the Bruins were able to grab Gallagher in the 7th round in 2021, my initial reaction was that his skillset says he should have gone higher. He was very good for the USNTDP, he had an excellent WJC U-18 and he had a great freshman year with Boston University and followed that up with a very good sophomore year. Although he didn’t get the offensive opportunities he did his first year, he is still half-a-point per game player over 2 seasons. He can skate and join the rush and he can rip the puck. If he has the season I expect next year, he will move up this list.

14 – Jonathan Myrenberg – Mora IK – Right Defence

When the Bruins acquired Myrenberg from the Vancouver Canucks, most Bruins fans didn’t know much about him other than he was widely considered one of the Canucks top prospects and their best right-shot defensive prospect. Entering his draft plus one year he had a phenomenal season in Sweden’s J20 Nationell. He even got a stint at pro hockey in the SHL. His best quality is his defensive game but on loan to HockeyAllsvenskan this season he showed some strong offensive abilities. He will play pro in the SHL next season and then likely come over to Providence. Then, we’ll get a true taste.

13 – Andre Gasseau – Boston College Eagles – Center/Left Wing

When the Bruins drafted Gasseau in the 7th round (2021) from the USNDT he played the next season with the Fargo Force putting up respectable numbers. I don’t think anyone expected what we saw as a freshman with Boston College this season. That alone suggests he should be higher on this list but, those ahead of him have one advantage: a longer proven track record at this point. If the big bodied Gasseau, who already has an NHL frame can skate, play a two-way game and can score or set up goals can improve on his season he will surely climb on this list.

12 – Trevor Kuntar – Boston College Eagles – Center/Left Wing

Kuntar showed consistent improvement in both his play and production over three years with Boston College. Interestingly enough, if you’re using NHLe Kuntar projects as a low end second line center. Kuntar is a big body with an NHL frame. He has a powerful shot that until now he could use to beat goaltenders from anywhere. He’s hard working with a high compete level and a willingness to drive to the net. He also has speed and puck skills. He is probably best suited to play wing and tops out as a third liner who plays a 200-foot game.  

11 – Riley Duran – Providence Friars – Center

I will admit Duran has been one of my favorite prospects to watch if only because of his motor, tenacity and his willingness to give 100 percent every time he steps on the ice. That itself was enough for Team USA to add him to their Olympic squad. He will get in on the forecheck, he will battle for pucks, he will drive the net – all necessary attributes. He’s not going to provide much in the way of offence but he’s the type of player that will excel in a bottom six role who can move up in a pinch for brief spells and not look out of place.  

10 – Marc McLaughlin – Providence Bruins – Center/Right Wing

Bruins fans got a taste of McLaughlin when the Bruins signed him as a free agent and he scored 3 goals in his 11 NHL games. This season saw McLaughlin hit close to the half point per game mark in the AHL. He’s a very intelligent player and a strong skater. He has leadership qualities having already been a captain at the USHL and NCAA levels. His strength though is his defensive game. He will put up some points but I think we need to temper expectations. I think he’ll fill a bottom 6 role, be a good PK’er able to play a shut down role and provide some offence.  

9 – Oskar Jellvik – Boston College Eagles – Left Wing

So, some may be wondering why I dropped Jellvik when he did what I expected him to do in his first season at Boston College. It’s not so much what Jellvik didn’t do as it is those, I had previously ranked below him having an exceptional development year. Jellvik is crafty with the puck on his stick. He can make plays seemingly at will but he can also score. In the J20 he was a driver on his line, not so much as a freshman at BC but it’s still early. He projects as a third liner who can provide secondary scoring and move up in a pinch for short stints.

8 – Dans Locmelis – Lulea HF – Center

Locmelis is easily the most difficult player to rank on this list. He is coming off a great season in the Swedish J20 Nationell league that he forced Latvia to bring him to the IIHF World Championships. Don’t expect much as he’s there as the 13th forward to gain experience for future years. What makes him difficult to rank is we don’t know what he can do on the smaller ice. He can score, he can make plays, he skates very well, will attack the net, finds seams and lanes and is already well accomplished defensively. At this level, he can drive a line. For now, middle six pivot seems about right.

7 – John Beecher – Providence Bruins – Center/Left Wing

You’ve heard me say this a thousand times: You need all types of players to fill out a roster. That’s what Beecher is here. The combination of size and speed is enough to have you drooling. If he learns to use them more consistently, he can drive a line. His offensive game didn’t materialize as much as some expected. But once he puts everything together, he can drive a line in a bottom six role, create havoc on the forecheck and be a premiere penalty killer and even play a shut down role. Again, you need those types of players and if the Bruins can get that out of him, I’m sure they will be happy.

6 – Brett Harrison – Windsor Spitfires – Center/Left Wing

I have to say that even though I was a big fan of the Bruins drafting Harrison a year and a half before the actual draft, this season has been a bit disappointing. In fairness to him, injuries to start and finish the season hampered him. You have to like that he can score with a variety of different shots in his arsenal. What he has to find in the AHL next season is consistency, his skating and to be harder on pucks. If he can find all that he can be a third liner that can provide secondary scoring. I also believe that his game is better suited on the wing than the middle.

5 – Brandon Bussi – Providence Bruins – Goaltender

Bussi should be the poster child for taking advantage of his opportunities. He spent three seasons with Western Michigan and in 77 career games had a 46-25-5 record with a 2.61 GAA and .910 SV%. He began his pro career with the Maine Mariners, but injuries in the AHL forced his callup. And the rest is history. He’s got size, mobility, athleticism and strong technique. The scary part is he will only get better with continued professional coaching. One day, together with Jeremy Swayman, they will form a formidable 1A and 1B.

4 – Georgii Merkulov – Providence Bruins – Center/Left Wing

Merkulov had a very impressive AHL rookie season and you have to be impressed with his offensive skills. He can create chances for himself and his teammates and is most dangerous with the man advantage. He has an excellent shot but can also make plays, and is an excellent skater with a strong separation gear. His play away from the puck both offensively and defensively is the only thing keeping him away from the NHL sooner rather than later. Once he gets that, he’s a middle six player who will provide secondary scoring in bunches.

3 – Matthew Poitras – Guelph Storm – Center/Left Wing

Poitras had an absolutely phenomenal season in the OHL. Was it expected? Well, the season he had was expected next year so it has come early. To maintain this status, he has to improve even more next year. Not only did he carry his line and made everyone better, but he put his team on his shoulders and carried them when it appeared they were down and out. He pursues pucks with tenacity, has elite vision and playmaking skills and an underrated shot he needs to use more often. And he’s accomplished on the dot. He is a driver with top-six potential.

2 – Mason Lohrei – Providence Bruins – Left Defence

How quickly perceptions change. From a reach when selected 58th overall in 2020 to untouchable at the most recent trade deadline, Lohrei possesses great size with mobility, superb offensive instincts and an ever-improving defensive game. He has the ability to be a one-man breakout, a superb playmaker from the back end, can quarterback a powerplay and has a powerful and heavy shot. Lohrei has the ability to carry a pairing as a number 3 but will most likely be Charlie McAvoy’s regular partner when all is said and done.

1 – Fabian Lysell – Providence Bruins – Right Wing

Despite hitting a wall at the World Junior Championships and beyond, Lysell remains the Bruins top prospect in these eyes. His transition to North America has gone well beginning with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL last season. He carried it over to the Providence Bruins this season until he ran into that wall. Still, there is no denying he is an elite level skater and combined with his stickhandling abilities has an elusiveness that few have. He is an elite playmaker from the wing, can drive a line and will fill a top-six role with Boston in short order.

The Bruins prospect pool is widely viewed as the second or third worst in the NHL. Maybe at the top end? But when I examine prospect pools from the top end to the bottom end – remember, it takes all types of players to build a team – I place the Bruins a little bit higher than the experts – in the 23rd to 24th range.

Where does that leave the Bruins?

I think they are set in net for years to come. With the exception of Lohrei, their defence, which was once a strong suit can use some improving. Up front they have some promising forwards in Lysell, Poitras and Merkulov who are likely second liners. The rest will fill in the bottom six. What’s missing is that bona-fide top line player.

One player that would be/should be on this list if not for the Bruins holding his rights only until June 1? McKeen’s Hockey released their Top Prospect Rankings and when ranking the top-5 drafted Europeans playing in Europe, he was an honorable mention.

Follow me on Twitter @dominictiano

Published by Dominic Tiano

Following the Ontario Hockey League players eligible for the NHL Draft. I provide season-long stats, updates and player profiles as well as draft rankings.

One thought on “Boston Bruins Prospect Rankings

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: