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31 in 31

Top Prospects for Boston Bruins

McAvoy, Forsbacka Karlsson among those expected to contribute this season

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, the Boston Bruins.

One of the Boston Bruins' goals since general manager Don Sweeney was hired on May 20, 2015 was to restock the prospect pool. By trading for and keeping draft picks (22 in the past three years), the Bruins have an array of prospects to choose from in the years ahead, when they will need younger players to fill in around their core and remain compliant under the NHL salary cap. 

 

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Here are the Bruins' top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

 

1. Charlie McAvoy, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 14 pick in 2016 NHL Draft

Last season: Boston: 6 GP (Stanley Cup Playoffs), 0-3-3; Providence (AHL): 4 GP, 0-2-2; Boston University (NCAA): 38 GP, 5-21-26

Injuries to four regular defensemen forced McAvoy, 19, into action during the Bruins' six-game loss to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference First Round. He didn't look out of place and projects to be right back in the NHL lineup when training camp breaks in the fall.

Based on McAvoy's size (6-foot, 208 pounds), skating ability, vision and poise, it was no surprise that after leaving BU after his sophomore season he was ready for the pro game. But it would've been difficult to predict he would play so well so quickly, averaging 26:11 of ice time skating on the top defense pair with captain Zdeno Chara and the top power-play unit.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

2. Anders Bjork, F

How acquired: Selected with No. 146 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Notre Dame (NCAA): 39 GP, 21-31-52

It took Bjork, 20, until May 30 to make his decision, but after testing his skills against top-flight talent at the 2017 IIHF World Championship he chose to leave Notre Dame after his junior season and begin his pro career. The Bruins were overjoyed by that decision because if all goes right, Bjork (5-11, 183) will seize a job in their top nine, or possibly top six, this season.

"He's got a skill level that's pretty high-end," Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said. "He can make plays. He kind of dances on his skates a little bit ... light on his skates but strong on his feet."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

3. Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 45 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Boston: 1 GP, 0-0-0; Boston University (NCAA): 39 GP, 14-19-33

Forsbacka Karlsson, 20, left after his sophomore season and reported directly to the Bruins for several days of practice. He made his NHL debut in the regular-season finale on April 8.

Forsbacka Karlsson's two-way game was once compared to Bruins center Patrice Bergeron, a four-time Selke Trophy winner. At this stage of Forsbacka Karlsson's development, the Bruins hope the 6-1, 184-pound forward can be a responsible player who can challenge for a roster spot this fall.

Projected NHL arrival: This season

 

4. Urho Vaakanainen, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 18 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

Last season: JyP HT Jyvaskyla (SM-liiga): 41 GP, 2-4-6; JYP-Akatemia (Mestis): 3 GP, 0-1-1

With a smooth skating style that had Bruins brass saying his name in the same breath as Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Niedermayer this summer, the 18-year-old has them excited about the future.

The 6-foot, 185-pound defenseman made the jump to the Finnish Elite League as a teenager last season and held his own defensively. The hope is that Vaakanainen will be more than a shutdown defender as his game develops and an expanded role next season should give room for his offensive game to grow.

Projected NHL arrival: 2019-20 season

Video: Urho Vaakanainen speaks with Steve Mears

 

5. Zach Senyshyn, RW

How acquired: Selected with No. 15 pick in 2015 draft

Last season: Providence (AHL): 4 GP (Calder Cup Playoffs), 0-0-0; Sault Ste. Marie (OHL): 59 GP, 42-23-65

Senyshyn, 20, is coming off back-to-back 65-point seasons in the Ontario Hockey League. His speed is probably NHL ready, but the 6-3, 196-pound right wing will have to continue to get stronger and master the intricacies of the two-way game. The Bruins will have openings on the wing this fall, but Senyshyn will probably need more AHL seasoning before he's ready to play in Boston.

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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