BostonBruins.com - The Bruins' first four selections in the 2014 NHL entry-draft included the likes of David Pastrnak (1st round, 25th overall), Danton Heinen (4th round, 116th overall) and Anders Bjork (5th round, 146th overall). While each member of that trio has made an impact on the Bruins NHL roster this season, Ryan Donato (2014 2nd round, 56th overall) is working to prove he could be close behind.
Donato has lit up the score sheet at every level. In his final two years playing at Dexter School in the USHS, the Scituate, Mass., native racked up an astounding 131 points over 61 games. Harvard University was the next step, where, after his sophomore season, the dynamic two-way forward was named the Ivy League Player of the Year. This season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound forward has come flying out of the gates.
The junior has scored a point in each of the Crimson's first five games, and has become an indispensable player for 13th-ranked Harvard. Donato leads the team in goals (3) and points (7), and has been a key contributor on special teams with two power play goals and a shorthanded goal - all the while recording a 62.9% faceoff win percentage.
After starting the season 7-3, the P-Bruins are experiencing their first rough patch of the season. Providence has dropped their last three games, including two consecutive 4-3 overtime losses. A bevy of injuries to the Bruins' NHL roster has resulted in four of the top five scorers for the P-Bruins being called up to Boston at various points this season.
Austin Czarnik (seven games, 4-6-10), Kenny Agostino (eight games, 3-6-9), Jordan Szwarz (six games, 5-3-8) and Danton Heinen (four games, 1-7-8). With Agostino, Swarz, and Heinen with the big club, some of the fresh faces on the Providence Bruins have had to step up.
First year-pros Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Ryan Fitzgerald, and Zach Senyshyn each appear to be coming into their own.
Forsbacka Karlsson scored in each of his first two career AHL games. However, the former BU Terrier went the next seven games without a goal. The Swede appears to be turning a corner, as he has recorded four points in his previous four games (2-2-4). He ranks second on the P-Bruins in points (4-5-9) behind only Czarnik.
Like Forsback Karlsson, Fitzgerald has gone through a recent surge and provided a scoring boost for the P-Bruins. Fitzgerald has seen time at all three forward positions this season, and has recorded four points over his last four contests (3-1-4).
Senyshyn has followed a similar path. The Ottawa native showed off his playmaking in the P-Bruins latest game against the Springfield Thunderbirds, earning three assists in what was his first career multi-point game at the professional level.
After 13 games, the Providence Bruins stand at 7-4-2, and sit in fourth in the Atlantic Division with 16 points.
When the Bruins selected Urho Vaakanainen with the 18th pick of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, many fans were unfamiliar with the slick-skating Finn. In the 2016-17 season, Vaakanainen was one of the most youthful players in the Finnish Elite League at just 17 years old. The youngster played quality minutes for JYP over 41 regular season games and 14 playoff matches.
This season, playing with SaiPa, Vaakanainen has been a steady presence on the back end. Now 18, the defenseman leads his team in plus/minus (plus-6) and plays a team-high 23:30 per game. His time on ice is also the 8th highest mark in the entire Finnish Elite League. Playing heavy minutes against grown men in Finland, Vaakanainen has shown glimpses of his potential to someday be a smooth-skating lockdown defender at the NHL level.
Notes and Numbers
- Anton Blidh, who appeared in 19 games last season for the Bruins, has posted three goals and an assist for four points in 13 games in Providence this season.
- When healthy this season, Peter Cehlarik has been a point-per-game player for the P-Bruins, with a 3-3-6 line in 6 games. The Slovakia native played his first 11-career NHL games last season with the Bruins, and is currently with the NHL team after a recent call-up.
- Defenseman Emil Johansson scored his first career professional against the Springfield Thunderbirds in the 4-3 OT loss on November 12.
- In limited action in the AHL, goalie Daniel Vladar has posted a 1.46 GAA and a .949 save percentage in two games for Providence. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound goaltender has also appeared in five games for Boston's ECHL affiliate, the Atlanta Gladiators (2.58 GAA, 9.18 save percentage).
- Defensemen Jakub Zboril and Jeremy Lauzon are tied for the Providence team-lead with a +7 mark.
- After being named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season, Ryan Lindgren has posted 2-2-4 so far in 12 games for the No. 7 Minnesota Gophers.
- In nine games for Ferris State University, defenseman Cam Clarke has scored a goal and notched two assists.
- Eighteen-year-old Victor Berglund has played 13 games for MODO hockey in the Allsvensken League, recording five assists in that span.
- Finnish forward Joona Koppanen has recorded six assists in 15 games playing for Ilves of the Finnish Elite League.
Austin Czarnik 10
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson 9
Kenny Agostino 9
Jordan Szwarz 8
Danton Heinen 8
Ryan Fitzgerald 7
Tommy Cross 7
Trent Frederic 10
Cameron Hughes 8
Ryan Donato 7
Cam Clarke 3
Jack Becker 1
Ryan Lindgren 1
Wiley Sherman 1
Jack Studnicka 17
Cedric Pare 8
Joona Koppaenen 6
Victor Berglund 5
Urho Vaakanainen 2
Oskar Steen 1
Forsbacka Karlsson 2