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30 in 30

Top prospects for Boston Bruins

Replenished pipeline could start paying off in NHL this season

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com is providing in-depth prospect analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Boston Bruins.

One of Don Sweeney's goals when he replaced Peter Chiarelli as Boston Bruins general manager in May 2015 was to replenish the prospect pipeline.

Trading defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames and forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for draft picks and prospects, plus keeping most of their picks, allowed the Bruins to make 16 selections, including nine in the first two rounds, in the past two NHL Drafts.

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Those picks, combined with the players who were progressing through the system, could give Boston a bright future.

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

1. Frank Vatrano, C

How acquired: Signed as free agent March 13, 2015

Last season: Providence (AHL): 36 GP, 36-19-55; Boston: 39 GP, 8-3-11

The 5-foot-9, 201-pound forward was the top goal-scorer in the American Hockey League and showed a knack in the NHL. The former University of Massachusetts-Amherst player went through some growing pains in his first full professional season but gained experience and figured out ways to contribute without scoring.

"Points aren't everything sometimes," Vatrano, 22, said. "Sometimes you'll play good for 10 games and you're not finding the net or getting points. So I think it's just keep playing your game that you always play and try not to get away from it just because you're not scoring. Don't hold your stick tighter or change the way you play. I think for me it's being an energy guy, be physical, be good in all areas and be reliable everywhere."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

Video: Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney on drafting McAvoy

2. Charlie McAvoy, D

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

Last season: Boston University (NCAA): 37 GP, 3-22-25

Any time the name Drew Doughty comes up in reference to a defenseman prospect, you know the expectations are high. McAvoy (6-foot, 208) thrived as the youngest player in NCAA hockey last season (18) and could be in the NHL after one more college season.

"As advertised for me," Sweeney said of McAvoy's performance during Bruins development camp. "Obviously it's not a physical environment. There's competitiveness and battling for pucks and space, but we're not looking for players to step up in the neutral [zone], which Charlie has shown he has a willingness to do and wants to do. Even as a freshman in college he was looking to do that. He moves around so very well. I think we look at the two-way component to his game, and the upside on both sides of the puck, those are guys that log a lot of minutes at the NHL level and I think he tracks in the same regard."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

3. Malcolm Subban, G

How acquired: Selected with No. 24 pick of 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Providence (AHL): 27 GP, 14-8-5, 2.46 GAA, .911 SV%

Subban, 22, was beginning to look like a future NHL No. 1 goaltender when he sustained a fractured larynx after being hit in the throat by a shot during warmups with Providence on Feb. 6. He missed the remainder of the season but said he will be back at full strength this season and hopes to be able to pick up where he left off.

"One of the biggest improvements in my game, when I was on a roll last year, I was being more calm in the net," Subban (6-2, 200) said. "I wasn't moving around as much and staying more compact. I think that's why I was able to play so consistent."

Projected NHL arrival: This season

4. Danton Heinen, C

How acquired: Selected with No. 116 pick of 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Denver (NCAA): 41 GP, 20-28-48; Providence (AHL): 2 GP, 0-2-2

Heinen, 21, had a solid sophomore college season, including three more points than the 45 he had as a freshman, and improved his two-way game. He signed a three-year, entry-level contract April 11, and the Bruins are counting on the 6-1, 185-pound forward to push for an NHL job.

"He's the type of player, he can play with good players because he's got a high hockey IQ and he's got really good skill," Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said. "I think anywhere you put him he's smart enough to figure it out."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

5. Brandon Carlo, D

How acquired: Selected with No. 37 pick of 2015 NHL Draft

Last season: Tri-City (WHL): 52 GP, 4-23-27; Providence (AHL): 7 GP, 0-1-1

Carlo, 19, has the size (6-5, 200) to be a force, but the Bruins don't want to pigeonhole him as a stay-at-home defenseman.

"I don't think he's ever going to be a high offensive guy," Pandolfo said. "But he'll be a good shut-down guy that can [score]. He sees the ice well enough and he can make some plays."

Projected NHL arrival: Next season

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