Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

  • Facing an obvious numbers crunch, and with Jack Studnicka at a crossroads in his career and in need of a fresh start, the Bruins solved two problems with one move Thursday night, as the team traded Studnicka to the Canucks in exchange for two prospects.

    The move was announced shortly into the third period of Thursday’s game between the Bruins and Red Wings.

    “We made the commitment from a roster standpoint in what direction we were going to go and really, it was an opportunity for Jack,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said after the game. “He’ll go to a team that was looking for a younger center that could probably grow with their group and they have significant injuries and I think he goes and gets a really good opportunity right away that he probably wouldn’t have gotten here.”

    (Naturally, the Bruins officially traded Studnicka a mere 20 minutes after David Krejci left Thursday’s game with an injury, but the move was indeed finalized before that occurred.)

  • Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Jack Studnicka (23) during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 24, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Jack Studnicka (23) during the third period against the Tampa Bay Lightning at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports)

  • But the trade does put an end to the hope that Studnicka, drafted with a second-round pick in 2017, would emerge as a long-term solution to the Bruins’ obvious future hole at center.

    It also comes after what was an impressive training camp effort that showed some promise, but ultimately failed to translate when it mattered, as Studnicka had a turnover that led to a goal against and was assessed two penalties in just 8:01 of time on ice in an Oct. 20 shootout win over the Ducks.

    Once Studnicka failed to get in another game after that ugly contest, the writing was on the wall.

    “It’s really hard,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said when asked how hard it was to get Studnicka meaningful minutes at center. “I mean, we have four centers that are perfectly slotted, and if a center gets hurt, we have Pavel Zacha who has played there numerous games in the league.”

    Montgomery, to his credit, was not the first Bruins coach to have a noticeable issue when it came to finding an opportunity and a long enough leash to give an extended NHL look at Studnicka.

  • MONTREAL, QC - MARCH 21: Jack Studnicka #23 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. The Boston Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in overtime. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

    MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 21: Jack Studnicka #23 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period at Centre Bell on March 21, 2022 in Montreal, Canada. (Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

  • But the fact that it didn’t work out is an interesting one, because the Bruins themselves really believed in Studnicka’s long-term potential, and the numbers in the AHL (34 goals and 96 points in 117 total games with AHL Providence) gave them legitimate hope.

    So, what happened?

    “You know, it’s a good question overall because his initial on-boarding was really good [and] his trajectory was really good,” Sweeney said. “During the COVID year, which was disjointed for a lot of players, he just kind of stalled just a little bit and then it was up and down with opportunities, in-and-out. No fault of Jack’s, but maybe more fault on ours in terms of not being able to just get him fully acclimated to the level that he had been playing at the AHL and producing, you know, tried it in different positions, played him on wing a little bit.

    “Just didn’t find the traction when he had his opportunities to really take advantage of it. And I think Jack would admit it he didn’t play his absolute best hockey, even the other night. But he’s a great kid. He works awful hard, really cares, probably is hard on himself to allow some mistakes to just pass through.”

    When it was clear that this was more of an inevitability than anything else, Sweeney knew that trying to waive Studnicka down to Providence wasn’t going to work, and that it was better to get something than nothing.

  • And for the Bruins, that ‘something’ will be goaltender Michael DiPietro and defenseman Jonathan Myrenberg.

    The 23-year-old DiPietro, who is not related to former NHL goaltender and Winthrop, Mass. native Rick DiPietro in case you were curious, comes to the Bruins after a 2021-22 campaign spent almost entirely in the AHL, with a 15-13-4 record and .901 save percentage in 34 games for AHL Abbotsford.

    DiPietro, a third-round pick of the Canucks back in 2017, has compiled a 39-25-6 record and .905 save percentage in 74 AHL games since 2019, and has made three NHL appearances in his NHL career, with an 0-2-0 record and .771 save percentage.

    He’ll join a relatively organizational pool in net that already features Kyle Keyser and Keith Kinkaid at the AHL level. Both goalies have started off strong, with Kinkaid posting a 1-1-1 record and .923 save percentage, while Keyser is off to a 2-0-0 start with a .933 save percentage.

    “Organizational depth for us in that position is never a bad thing,” Sweeney said. “The guys have done a really good job. Kyle’s off to a good start, Keith’s played well, and [Brandon Bussi’s] played well.”

    How that rotation shakes out in terms of playing time for every goalie remains a work in progress.

  • VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 9: Goalie Michael DiPietro #75 of the Vancouver Canucks readies to make a save during the team warm up prior to NHL action against the Calgary Flames on February, 9, 2019 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)

    VANCOUVER, BC – FEBRUARY 9: Goalie Michael DiPietro #75 of the Vancouver Canucks readies to make a save during the team warm up prior to NHL action against the Calgary Flames on February, 9, 2019 at Rogers Arena. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

  • In the case of Myrenberg, the Bruins are hoping that Sweden continues to favor the Black and Gold.

    “Well, we’ve done a little bit of legwork there and our guys, coincidentally over the last little while, had seen Myrenberg play quite a bit,” Sweeney offered. “P.J. [Axelsson]’s got a lot of familiarity with the player, done a lot of legwork over the last few days when these conversations started to pick up and we do feel there’s some upside to this player. He’s young, he’s taken a growth spurt, he’s at 6-foot-3 now, so he’s got some length. His numbers at the junior level, really good, got some experience at the SHL, playing in the Allsvenskan now.”

    Drafted with the No. 140 overall pick in 2021, the right-shooting Myrenberg is off to a solid start with Mora IK in Sweden’s second tier with one goal and three points in nine games, and represents a ‘project’ of sorts for the Bruins, but at a position of need for the franchise.

    “I think there’s a development upside here,” Sweeney offered. “There’s a little longer development time associated with this player, but just a good opportunity to add to the depth of the organization.”

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