By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Boston Bruins have announced their roster for next weekend’s 2019 Prospects Challenge in Buffalo.
Up front, the Bruins will be led by Samuel Asselin, Anders Bjork, Scott Conway, Trent Frederic, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko, Tom Marchin, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, and Jack Studnicka.
The names that should be at the top of your watch list here: Bjork and Studnicka. Potentially as a duo, actually.
If the Bruins decide to utilize Charlie Coyle as a top-six wing next year (maybe to Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci’s right on the second line) and move him away from his center position, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will once again be in the market for a third-line center. That would make B’s top prospect Jack Studnicka an obvious candidate (along with Frederic). And with Bjork looking to work his way back to a full-time NHL gig after back-to-back, season-ending shoulder injuries, this group getting on the same page in this mini-tournament could pave the way for them to get an extended look as a fit for Boston’s third line (with Danton Heinen skating as the defensively-responsible wing).
Lauko is another one to watch here, too. Drafted with the 77th overall pick in 2018, it didn’t take long for Lauko’s wheels to wow. The 19-year-old probably isn’t ready to jump to the grind of pro hockey just yet, but after scoring 21 goal and 41 points in 44 games and then adding six goals and 13 points in 19 playoff games for Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (QMJHL) last year, we’re officially entering that “next step” territory for the Czech Republic native.
The Bruins will also bring forwards Jacob Gaucher, Dante Hannoun, and Alex-Olivier Voyer on an invite basis. The 6-foot-3 Gaucher had 12 goals and 24 points in 68 games for Val d’Or (QMJHL) last year, the 21-year-old Hannoun scored 108 goals and 279 points over a 314-game career in the WHL, and Voyer comes to B’s camp after scoring 29 goals and 58 points in 68 games for Sherbrooke (QMJHL) a year ago.
On the backend, Axel Andersson, Wiley Sherman, Alexey Solovyev, Urho Vaakanainen, and Cooper Zech will be the Black and Gold’s prospects and future mainstays that make the trek to the HarborCenter.
Vaakanainen is the closest NHL-ready prospect of that bunch, though the 5-foot-9 Cooper Zech showed some offensive promise with the P-Bruins last season (two goals and six points in 16 AHL games after leaving Ferris State).
Defenders Max Martin, Riley McCourt, Andrew Perrott, and Jordan Sambrook are also attending on an invite basis.
Martin has had at least 32 points in his last three WHL seasons, McCourt set career-highs in goals (six) and points (32) in 47 games for the OHL’s Flint Firebirds last year, and Perrott played in 53 games between the London Knights and Owen Sound Attack (OHL) last year. The 6-foot-3 Sambrook, meanwhile, dominated as an over-ager in the OHL last year, with 17 goals and 49 points in 67 games for the Soo Greyhounds. Sambrook was originally property of the Red Wings, as Detroit selected him in the fifth round (No. 137 overall) in 2016.
In net, the Bruins will be led by Kyle Keyser and Dan Vladar.
Keyser and Vladar are really battling for the Providence platoon job opposite Max Lagace, with experience favoring Vladar, as he’s played 102 pro games between the AHL and ECHL compared to Keyser’s one playoff game in Providence.
Taylor Gauthier, another invite, will serve as the third goaltender. The 18-year-old posted a 15-30-2 record and .899 save percentage in 55 appearances with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars last season.