In case you haven’t heard, Bruins prospect Jack Studnicka has arrived to Bruins camp with an extra 15 pounds to his name.
Fortunately for Studnicka, this isn’t the same extra 15 pounds I’m walking into Warrior Ice Arena (salad and Reese’s Cup diet, substitute french fries for salads) with. It’s a healthy 15 pounds of muscle, achieved through an offseason program and extra work with Brian McDonough’s Edge Performance Systems in Foxborough. To be honest, I always get a little nervous when we start hyping up a player’s added weight. As obvious as it may seem — especially for a player as light as Studnicka — weight hype often feels like the start of the end. It’s kinda up there with ‘best shape of my life’ commentary.
But for the Bruins and Studnicka, the obvious hope is that it’s enough to help Studnicka, who has appeared in 22 NHL games over the last two seasons and seemingly has little left to prove at the AHL level, stick with the Big B’s.
“It can work both ways,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said of Studnicka, who checked in at 171 pounds last year, and his added poundage. “You’ve got to be careful how you put it on. It’s got to be good weight. If you’re just packing it on to have a little more corner weight, so to speak, then it can affect your ability to recover your strength on the puck.”
Adding some more meat to the bone was always a must for Studnicka, especially as a center with high-ceiling aspirations, and as a center who enjoys getting to the front of the net and extending plays and looks with tips and deflections.
“Those are some things we want to see out of Jack; just being a little stronger on his feet with balance, so core work to be able to absorb some some of the contact, the sort of chip hits where he’s going through traffic and a guy gets a piece of him. He can keep his balance and keep going and keep puck possession because Jack has a willingness to go into traffic,” said Cassidy. “He likes to play in there. He likes to have the puck around the net and those dirty areas.
“So you’ve got to be strong on it if you’re going to be at your best.”
At 22, Studnicka is far from a finished product. And though the Bruins loaded up at center this offseason — they signed Erik Haula and Tomas Nosek, and have talked about potentially moving Trent Frederic back to his natural center position — the opportunity for Studnicka to stick with the Bruins has never been greater with David Krejci now in the Czech Republic. The Bruins have long earmarked that spot for Studnicka, too, and specifically this past season, where they essentially told Studnicka that he was going to play in a top-six role for Boston or not at all. They stuck to that plan for almost the entire season, too.
And it was just a few years ago that Cassidy and the Bruins saw a similar transformation from David Pastrnak following the 2017 postseason, and Pastrnak’s on-ice results since then have undoubtedly done the talking, with a Rocket Richard Trophy to his name and the fifth-most goals in hockey over the last four seasons.
“A lot of the young guys who walk through the door need to bulk up,” Cassidy admitted. “It’s how much weight should you put on to be efficient? How much is realistic? For Jack, it happened to be a little more because he was a little lighter. But we saw it with David Pastrnak. I’ve talked about it all the time, his progression from a boy to a man almost in terms of his physique and how it helped his game. So we’re hoping that translates with Jack.”
But the results have go beyond the scales and gym work.
“Now, it’s hockey time,” Cassidy acknowledged. “You’re out of the gym, you’re doing more maintenance in there during the year with an 82-game schedule, practicing so much than building [muscle]. So hopefully the time he spent in there [pays off] and he’s able to keep most of it on and be a positive for him.”
Here are some other tidbits and notes from the first official day of training camp…
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.