The Bruins have a serious “X-factor” in the organization, and he happens to be their top prospect.
Fabian Lysell has quietly become a human highlight reel in his recent games, mainly for Team Sweden in the World Junior Championship. The skating and skill stands out. And he’s even showing some grit.
Ideally, the Bruins are able to stay patient with Lysell, who’s looking like a Pastrnakian steal at No. 21 overall in the 2021 NHL Draft. But since the Bruins’ roster is in the position it’s in – short on ascending talent, leaning on aging veterans for high-end production – there’s been plenty of conversation as to whether Lysell could crack the NHL roster as soon as this coming season.
How likely is it that Lysell starts doing this in a spoked ‘B’?
The Sports Hub’s own Ty Anderson and I talked about this very topic in the latest episode of the Sports Hub Underground podcast. Listen above for a quick clip of the Lysell portion of the program. We’re in agreement that it’s highly unlikely Lysell is in the Bruins’ lineup on opening night, because he’d be due a $100,000 bonus if that happens, and Boston is hanging by a thread on the cap as it is.
However, head coach Jim Montgomery isn’t closing the door on Lysell appearing at the NHL level at some point in the 2022-23 season. And intriguingly enough, he’d almost certainly play a top-6 role. It wouldn’t make much sense to make a 20-year-old skill guy grind it out in the bottom-6.
But Lysell literally hasn’t played a professional game yet. It would be shocking if he went straight to the NHL at all, let alone maDe an impact. With that in mind, Ty does believe he makes his pro debut in 2022-23, just with the Providence Bruins in the AHL, as David Pastrnak did in 2014-15.
“I think he’s playing pro hockey this year, I don’t see him going back to the WHL, I don’t think that benefits him, but I don’t think it’s in the NHL at the beginning of the year,” Ty said. “I think they’re going to follow the Pastrnak plan. He started in Providence [in 2014], he was [scoring] nearly a point per game, he was undeniably good, [Boston] had an opening, and said, ‘We’re gonna put him up here.’ There is that possibility with [Lysell].
“I don’t disagree that he could give them a good jolt of life out of the gate, but I do think that having him play in the AHL, having him get used to a more physical game, a game that’s going to test his patience – he does have a bit of a temper – with bigger, stronger men, I think that’s important. So, let him make some mistakes, let him learn in the AHL, and bring him up after 30, 35 games.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 28: Fabian Lysell #68 of the Boston Bruins attempts to control the puck during the first period against the New York Rangers in a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 28, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Of course, it’s not Lysell’s fault that the Bruins are starved for high-upside young players in the pipeline. And, in a somewhat related issue, that talent drain could force them to overpay to re-sign Pastrnak beyond the 2022-23 season. Lysell is a right-shot forward who is likely to settle in as a right wing in the long-term, so he could feasibly replace Pastrnak, but can the Bruins afford to let “Pasta” walk for nothing?
Ty and I agree the answer to that is a big, fat NO. But I digress. On Lysell, the best plan would be to give the kid a little seasoning in the minors before he makes the jump to the NHL. But once the Bruins get into the swing of the season and someone’s struggling – Ty mentioned Craig Smith as a possibility – bring up Lysell, if only to inject some juice and competition into the proceedings.
Either way, you’re probably going to have to endure the first chunk of the season, certainly opening night, with Lysell marinating in the minors. But if the Bruins get hot later in the season, ideally at full health, it’s possible that Lysell factors into that.
If Boston wants to realistically contend for a Stanley Cup this season, they may need him.