As the NHL preseason nears its start, the 31 teams across the league are inviting their young prospects to training camp.
In Boston, Don Sweeney and company have been faced with replacing various key cogs in the lineup following the departure of David Krejci and the losses of Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug within the past two seasons. While the pandemic gave players such as Jack Ahcan, Anton Blidh, and Oskar Steen opportunities to play in meaningful games, a majority of the talent seen last year has not looked ready to take the next step forward.
Training camp this year will serve as a serious opportunity for some players to prove they deserve a chance with the Bruins, with all three of the 2015 first round draft-picks on the hot seat.
While he has spent a majority of his time in Providence, Zach Senyshyn has only scored once in his 14 big league appearances. His lack of size, paired with his sub-standard puck skills have negated the speed that made him an attractive selection out of Sault Saint Marie of the OHL.
Jake DeBrusk has been able to show flashes of the player that earned a nearly four-million dollar extension after the Bruins fell to the Blues in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals, but he looked completely lost at stages during the 2021 season. DeBrusk failed to surpass 15 goals in a season for the first time in his career, only managing five goals in 41 regular season games, before being relegated to a healthy scratch as the year carried on. The 24-year-old was able to seemingly find his stride in the playoffs, finding the back of the net twice in 10 appearances.
Jakub Zboril’s experience has been the most confusing of the three, as the defenseman has tiptoed the line between being a stellar AHL talent and an average NHL player. In his first full season this past year, Zboril was able to see 42 games of action. The chances of the Czech native getting increased ice-time this year is unlikely.
Going a bit younger, the Bruins will look to showcase the talents of former University of Maine standout Jeremy Swayman as he looks to earn the job as the starting goalie, following his rise to stardom in Tuukka Rask’s absence last year. Swayman put up a record of seven wins and three losses in 10 regular season appearances, ending the year with a 1.50 GAA and a .945 save percentage. While the team signed Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark to a deal as well, both will split time while Rask recovers from surgery for a torn labrum in his hip.
In this year’s draft, the team opted to take Swedish forward Fabian Lysell with their first selection, building up their reinforcements on the wing, an area of need in recent years. Lysell spent the previous season competing above his age division, managing still to score twice for Lulea HF of the SHL. While Lysell most likely won’t see consistent action this season, it will be interesting to see how a player billed as one of the best skaters in the draft class develops in Bruce Cassidy’s system.
The Bruins will begin their preseason campaign on Sunday, Sept. 26 as they travel to Washington D.C. to take on Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.