The Boston Bruins will have no shortage of talented young prospects this fall. The team had three consecutive first-round picks in the 2015 Entry Draft, including Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn—all of whom rank among the top 20 prospects.
Heading into the 2015-16 season, General Manager Don Sweeney insists the team is not in a rebuilding phase, but the departure of Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic suggests otherwise.
While the team’s current philosophy seems contradictory, what is unquestionably true is that the team will be strong up the middle and between the pipes, thanks to talents like Ryan Spooner, Alexander Khokhlachev, Malcom Subban, Zane McIntyre and many others. But with so many solid prospects in camp, the question of which players actually manage to don a Bruins jersey this season remains to be answered.
Kuraly, who was acquired in an offseason trade with San Jose, will be going into his fourth and final year as a collegiate player with the University of Miami (Ohio) this year. He has scored 29 points in each of the last two years with Miami, and will turn 23 years old in the New Year. Kurlay’s upside is likely limited at this stage in his career, but he is steady enough to find himself a role in the pros as a complimentary player. He’s a good two-way center overall.
19. (NR) Daniel Vladar, G, 6.0 B
Drafted 3rd round, 75th overall, 2015
Vladar’s potential mainly lies in his size. At 6’5 and 185 pounds, he fits the mold of where today’s NHL goaltenders stand—tall, with the physical ability to cover a lot of net. It seems that the days of the small, quick and unorthodox goaltender are dead, and Vladar is positioned well for the long-term because of it. He also has plenty of experience with the Czech Republic’s national program, which is a great experience for a young 17-year-old netminder.
18. (7) Ryan Donato, C, 7.0 C
Drafted 2nd round, 56th overall, 2014
Donato is a long-term project to say the least, but he does have NHL genes in his favor—his father Ted had a long career in the NHL. Ryan spent last season playing in prep school in order to maintain eligibility for the NCAA, which he will make use of for Harvard this fall. Having an Ivy Leaguer make it to the pros is not as uncommon as one might think, and Donato’s smarts could pay off in the NHL someday—but that someday is quite a few years away.
Miller is a brand-new addition to this list of prospects, and he was acquired in the trade that sent Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings. He has one of the hardest shots of any young prospect, and last year he broke out in the AHL, scoring 52 points in 70 games. He carried his success onto the playoffs, notching 10 points in 19 appearances. Miller will be one of the top prospects at training camp, and have a shot at playing time with the Bruins on a young defense corps.
16. (12) Peter Cehlarik, LW, 7.0 C
Drafted 3rd round, 90th overall, 2013
Cehlarik showed significant improvement last year playing with Lulea HF in the Swedish Hockey League. His 19 points in 46 games don’t seem like much, but the production represented a career-high for Cehlarik as a pro player. Unlike many of the lower ranking prospects on this list, Cehlarik still has considerable time to grow, given he is just 20 years old. Pro experience in Sweden has gotten him exposed to what it is like to play against grown men, which will only lessen his development curve.
15. (8) Ryan Fitzgerald, C, 7.0 C
Drafted 4th round, 120th overall, 2013
Heading into his third season with Boston College, Fitzgerald will be on the radar of many potential suitors if he doesn’t find his way into the Bruins lineup over the next year or two. That includes teams in Europe. He can score goals and he has a bit of feistiness to his game even though he is usually one of the smaller players on the ice. 25 points in just 38 games last year to go with 17 goals is pretty good for a sophomore campaign, and there is no reason Fitzgerald should not continue his collegiate success this year too.
14. (11) Matt Grzelcyk, D, 7.0 C
Drafted 3rd round, 85th overall, 2012
Grzelcyk was part of the Boston University team that went all the way to the Frozen Four final last season, along with fellow NHL prospects Matt O’Connor, Robbie Baillargeon and Jack Eichel. In one of the most dynamic offenses in the country, his numbers blossomed to 38 poionts (10 goals, 28 points) in 41 games. He also earned valuable leadership experience as the captain of the team. With a crowded blueline ahead of him in the depth chart, he will return to school for his senior year.
13. (NR) Zachary Senyshyn, RW, 7.0 C
Drafted 1st round, 15th overall, 2015
Senyshyn was Boston`s second pick in the draft this past summer, a selection that was supposed to have been made in the second round according to most scout’s evaluations. The Bruins decided not to take any chances. He’s a smooth score that was tucked away on a very deep team with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. He may not have been considered first-round worthy by a lot of NHL executives, but a few years from now, Senyshyn could be a regular producer in the pros.
12. (5) Zane McIntyre, G, 7.5 C
Drafted 6th round, 165th overall, 2010
McIntyre was a runner-up for the Hobie Baker Award last year, and posted three solid seasons between the pipes in the collegiate ranks. Alongside Malcom Subban, he is a top-notch goaltending prospect. The problem is that the Bruins have a plethora of goaltending prospects in the system. With Tuukka Rask, Subban and Vladar all in the system, McIntyre’s future is in the minors—where he will have to work even harder to prove himself.
11. (17) Danton Heinen, C, 7.5 C
Drafted 4th round, 116th overall, 2014
With 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in just 40 games last season with the University of Denver, Heinen ranked third in NCAA scoring, behind top Buffalo Sabres prospect Jack Eichel and Detroit Red Wings draftee Dylan Larkin. Like many players that go the NCAA route, Heinen is still raw and will likely play another couple of years in the collegiate ranks before getting a shot at any professional hockey. Even when he gets to that point, it will likely be with the Providence Bruins—not Boston.
Heinen may project as a top-two center someday, but when he finally does make his NHL debut it may not even be with the Bruins, a team with a logjam of prospects at the center position. Heinen is a player who is stashed away for the long term.