The Boston Bruins are in a great position to make their way back to the Stanley Cup, thanks to veteran stars and youthful supporting cast. And as those veterans grow older, Boston will be on the lookout for younger players to replace them. Luckily, the B’s have a vast collection of young talents that aren’t even on the major league roster. Here are five future star players to look out for over the next few years. Honorable mentions: Zach Senyshyn and Anders Bjork.
5. John Beecher
Production for US U18 Team: 15 goals, 28 assists, 43 points, 63 Games
Beecher looked quite spectacular during his time developing with the US U18 team. It was enough for the Bruins, who have recently picked great players in the draft, to select him in the first round of this year’s draft. While he is a good player already, we will know for sure just how good he can become after seeing him at Michigan this upcoming year. What we do know for a fact is that Beecher is extremely athletic. He is a fast skater with great acceleration time, not needing to take many strides before hitting his full speed.
Beecher also can’t really get pushed around or knocked down, as he has great balance in addition to a big frame. How big? 6′ 3″ and 210 pounds, which for reference would be tied for the fourth tallest on the Boston Bruins. He appears to be a strong defender as well, as he was on the penalty kill unit last year. He also always appeared willing to block shots when needed. While he occasionally played a bit lazy, when he wants to turn it on he can.
GM Don Sweeney explained his decision to draft the future star, a decision that has been questioned by many. “We looked at the athleticism, the size, the skating ability, just felt that he can play two positions, there’s room for growth in his game, he’s a big, strong guy,” Sweeney said.
4. Trent Frederick
2018-19 Stats with Providence Bruins: 14 goals, 11 assists, 25 points, 55 games
Frederic played football and hockey at De Smet Jesuit High School before playing two seasons for the U.S. National Team Development Program. He was drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft but agreed to play hockey at the University of Wisconsin. In his freshman season, Frederic was named to the All-Big Ten second-team, Big Ten All-Freshman Team, and Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He finished fourth among all freshman in points-per-game. After another stellar season in which he was an alternate captain, Frederic signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Bruins.
Trent Frederic is big and physical, traits the Bruins could utilize at the NHL level. Cassidy seems to agree, as after Frederic fought in his first game with the B’s, Cassidy said, “Great scrap, good for him. We need some of that. There are a lot of younger players in the league now, so it can’t be (Zdeno Chara) and (David Backes) policing 20-year-olds every night. You need a little bit of our younger guys to stiffen up.”
He’s got leadership qualities and plays a Bruins-style game. He just needs to show an offensive polish, as he struggled last season in both Providence and in the majors after not earning a single point through 15 games. His second season in the league should bring more offensive to the forefront of the game of the future star.
3. Jakub Lauko
Position: Center/Left Wing
Stats in the QMJHL: 21 goals, 20 assists, 41 points, 44 games
Most analysts thought he was going to go in the second round, yet the Bruins snagged him in the third round. Lauko nearly got a point per game during the regular season, which is still impressive even though it wasn’t in the NHL or AHL. His speed and acceleration are outstanding, and his shot is an incredible addition to an already great game.
His hockey IQ is exceptional for someone so young. Plus his impressive work ethic should help him gain some strength and aggressiveness over the next few years. While I don’t expect him to be in the NHL for a couple more years, he at the very least will be a second or third-line player.
2. Jack Studnicka
Stats in OHL: 36 goals, 47 assists, 83 points, 60 games
Jack Studnicka almost made the Bruins roster both of the last two years. Forget future star, he could be a great player this year! But since Boston is famously patient with player development, we should see him play most of his first season in Providence. He’s a better passer than a scorer, though he is exceptional at both. He has great size and speed. He does need to work on his strength and IQ, but experience in Providence should soothe any worries surrounding those issues. I could see him as the woefully underrated David Krejci’s, or even Patrice Bergeron’s, eventual replacement.
“He had a very good U-18 at Worlds and very skilled,” assistant GM Scott Bradley said. “We think he can play both wing and center. There’s room to develop. He’s close to 6’2″, but he’s light – his frame is light. But, we look forward to developing the frame and see what we have there.”
1. Urho Vaakanai
Stats in Providence: 4 goals, 10 assists, 14 points, 30 games
If the Bruins didn’t have such a deep defensive unit, Urho Vaakanainen would be playing for Boston right now. Last year, Vaakanainen cracked the Bruins opening night roster as a 19-year-old. He got into just one game before getting a concussion. Yet despite this, Bruce Cassidy still talked about Vaakanainen as a future star of the Bruins defense. Vaakanainen excels in transition, with an elite skating game. He enjoys playing two-way hockey and is great at setting up teammates. Urho should one day be a second or first-line defenseman. He most likely is the organization’s future replacement for Chara as his career nears its end.
“He’s a confident kid,” Don Sweeney said after drafting him. “I think he understands what his strengths are, in describing himself as a very, very good skater. He’s got confidence because he’s played against men the last 11⁄2 years. We think there’s a lot of upside on both sides — as a 200-foot player, getting back, being able to transition pucks, and also being able to cover the ice.”
While all on this list could be important for the Bruin’s success in the future, Urho will definitely be a factor on a contending Boston roster. If you didn’t notice, the majority of the players on this list are centers, EXCEPT Urho. In just a few years he could be lining up opposite of McAvoy on one of the best defenses in the league.