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Studnicka willing to switch from center to wing to make Bruins

Prospect hoping versatility helps get him to NHL sooner

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- Jack Studnicka is willing to do whatever he can to make the Boston Bruins lineup when training camp opens in September, including switching positions.

The 20-year-old center, Boston's second-round pick (No. 53) in the 2017 NHL Draft, told Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner during exit meetings after last season that he would be willing to play wing if it meant reaching the NHL sooner.

"Anything to help the team win, in my eyes," Studnicka said during Bruins development camp in June. "I'll play any position. Obviously, like I've said, my goal is to be with the big club. Whether that's right wing or center, that's for them to decide."

"I think going into any camp, you're in the wrong place if your goal isn't to make the team."

The Bruins are set at center with Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Charlie Coyle. But even before forward Marcus Johansson signed with the Buffalo Sabres as an unrestricted free agent July 6, Boston had an opening for a wing among its top six forwards after Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk.

Studnicka (6-foot-1, 171 pounds) played wing for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2017, but Bruins general manager Don Sweeney sounded reluctant about a position shift.

"I think we're going to leave him in the middle of the ice," Sweeney said. "In talking with our coaches, he has a skill set that we would like to see develop offensively. We've talked about players, Krejci and such, Jack has a lot of similarities -- being able to slow the game down, play with pace and protect the puck and get pucks to people in offensive situations. I would like to see him develop that rather than trying to fast-track his opportunity to play a game or two in whatever situations.

"But if he's the right guy, then fine. We'll move him over, he's perfectly comfortable doing [it]."

Studnicka knows what it's like to compete for an NHL job. Last season he was among several forwards jockeying to be the Bruins' third-line center, but he was sent back to the Ontario Hockey League with Oshawa, which eventually traded him to Niagara on Jan. 8. He finished the season with 83 points (36 goals, 47 assists) in 60 games.

After Niagara's season ended, he joined Providence of the American Hockey League for the second straight spring. He had two points (one goal, one assist) in four AHL playoff games.

"I think every time I'm in Boston or Providence, you gain experience and become more comfortable," Studnicka said. "You get to know guys better 1-on-1 and just get to see that vibe that you belong and you're comfortable and just be able to compete."

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