Organizational overhaul leads to deeper Boston Bruins Top 20 prospect group

By Pat O'Rourke

Frank Vatrano - Boston Bruins

Photo: Frank Vatrano rapidly rose through the Boston Bruins prospect ranks this season with 36 goals in 36 AHL games (courtesy Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire).



10. (NR) Austin Czarnik, C, 6.5B
Signed as an undrafted free agent, 2015

Czarnik had as good a rookie season in the AHL as anyone could’ve imagined, with 20 goals and 61 points in 68 games. After he went six games without recording a point in November, he didn’t go more than three without recording at least a point the rest of the season.

Given his lack of size (5-foot-9, 161 pounds), there are questions as to whether his game will translate at the NHL level. However, the same was also said when he starred at Miami (Ohio).

9. (NR) Jeremy Lauzon, D, 6.5B
Drafted: 2nd round, 52nd overall, 2015

In his third season in the QMJHL, Lauzon exploded on the scene with 50 points and a plus-40 rating in 46 games as Rouyn-Noranda finished in first place in the “Q” in the regular season. Lauzon served as the power play ace for the Huskies, teaming up with Philippe Myers to create a dynamic duo on the Rouyn-Noranda back line.

While additional work still needs to be made on his defensive game, Lauzon’s stock rose in 2015-16 as he emerged as an elite offensive defenseman in the CHL.

8. (7) Brandon Carlo, D, 8.0D
Drafted: 2nd round, 37th overall, 2015

His size, reach, and physicality alone suggested Carlo, a second round pick by the Bruins in 2015, could be a top-pairing defenseman. His 2015-16 campaign, his third in the WHL, solidified that notion.

Carlo, a stay-at-home defenseman, made tremendous strides on his offensive game last season, with his plus-eight a vast improvement from the aggregate minus-28 he put up through his first two WHL seasons.

7. (17) Colin Miller, D, 6.5B
Acquired from Los Angeles via trade, 2015

Miller had an excellent start to the season with the Bruins, with 11 points in his first 25 games to go along with a plus-seven rating. Miller thrived offensively, playing second- and third-pairing minutes, but wasn’t up to snuff defensively to remain in the Bruins lineup in the second half of the season.

Miller is a gifted offensive defenseman who has the potential of being a top-four defenseman, but needs to work on his play when the puck isn’t on his stick.

6. (6) Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, C, 7.5C
Drafted: 2nd round, 45th overall, 2015

Patrice Bergeron 2.0. That’s what Grzelcyk – and many others – have coined the 19 year old Swedish center with a season of college hockey under his belt.

Forsbacka Karlsson quickly became David Quinn’s go-to pivot in his freshman season with the Terriers, which was no small task as he had to fill the role undertaken by Jack Eichel just a season prior. He earned himself a spot on the Hockey East All-Rookie team.

The Swede is mature beyond his years in all three zones, his skill and hockey sense his greatest attributes. He won’t be sticking around Comm. Ave much longer.

5. (9) Jake DeBrusk, LW, 7.5C
Drafted: 1st round, 14th overall, 2015

Another dynamic offensive talent, DeBrusk is a smooth skater with a plus-shot and has the ability to be among the best pure goal scorers of any player in the Bruins system, as demonstrated by his 42 goals in 2014-15 with Swift Current. His total sagged to 21 in 61 games (0.34 goals per game in 15-16, down from 0.58 in 14-15), but could be a dark horse to break camp with the Bruins, following a good offseason.

4. (2) Jakub Zboril, D, 7.5C
Drafted: 1st round, 13th overall, 2015

A bit of a head-scratcher when he was taken 13th overall by the Bruins in 2015, Zboril has a good NHL upside with a strong two-way game. While not flashy, he’s an effective puck mover and a good skater. While his offensive numbers were down in his second season playing for the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs (0.4 points per game in 2015-16, down from 0.75), his plus-minus rating spiked from plus-two to a plus-10 in his sophomore season.

3. (13) Zach Senyshyn, RW, 7.5C
Drafted: 1st round, 15th overall, 2015

While he put up 26 goals and 45 points in his first full OHL season, questions lingered regarding Senyshyn’s productivity after being buried in the Sault Ste. Marie lineup that saw seven forwards score 20 goals. The real potential of the 19 year old first round pick would be realized in 2015-16, when he received more top-line minutes, facing tougher competition. All Senyshyn did was lead the Greyhounds with 45 goals and was one of the league’s best goal scorers.

Maybe the most well-rounded among Bruins prospects, Senyshyn is a combination of size, skill, creativity, and hockey sense – a combination that screams of future NHL success.

2. (1) Malcolm Subban, G, 7.5C
Drafted: 1st round, 24th overall, 2012

A rough start and a fractured larynx sandwiched what was an impressive season for Subban, who could be in the NHL next season.

Subban began the 2015-16 season with a cringeworthy .847 save percentage through his first six games, allowing 23 goals in those contests. In the final 20, however, he looked more like the netminder the Bruins took in the first round of the 2012 draft, with a .928 save percentage and 2.20 goals against average, allowing more than three goals just once.

With Jonas Gustavsson set to be a free agent, Subban will push for the backup goaltender role for the Bruins next season.

1. (NR) Frank Vatrano, LW, 7.5C
Signed as an undrafted free agent, 2015

Vatrano went from an unheralded, undrafted free agent signing to the Bruins top prospect in a matter of months. The 22 year old, who played two seasons at UMass, had an AHL-leading 36 goals in 36 games in his first professional season. The next closest goal scorer – Hershey’s Chris Bourque, with 30 – needed 72 games to reach that number. Factoring in his eight goals in 39 games with the NHL Bruins, he had 44 goals on the year.

A skilled player with a lethal shot, Vatrano lost 15 pounds and improved his conditioning upon signing with the Bruins. The improved condition looks to have had a profound affect on his game.

Follow Pat O’Rourke on Twitter via @patorourke_29

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