Boston Bruins: Did they get a steal in signing Samuel Asselin?

The Boston Bruins have announced the six signings to their AHL affiliate, including prolific junior goal-scorer, Samuel Asselin. Did the Bruins get themselves a hidden gem?

Alongside five interesting signings for the Boston Bruins’ affiliate, the Providence Bruins yesterday; signing Samuel Asselin stands alone as probably the most interesting one. Asselin is a prolific 21 year-old goalscorer. He had a very good season with the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL, topping the league’s goal scoring chart. Unfortunately for him, Asselin wasn’t able to repeat the Memorial Cup from 2018.

The Quebec native started his junior career in the QMJHL in 2014 playing for the Shawinigan Cataractes. In his third season with the Cataractes, he was named as captain of that side. In January of 2018, the major change came for Samuel Asselin; he was traded to play for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, where he ended up winning the QMJHL Championship followed by the prestigious Memorial Cup.

Last September he was traded again, this time to the Halifax Mooseheads, where he didn’t have an easy start. From the beginning of his junior career, Samuel Asselin was more of a pest, a bad guy on the ice.

“I love to be in my opponent’s face,” Asselin said last September. Not many players from Halifax were that thrilled about getting Asselin to their team. It was maybe a similar situation to the one between Marcus Johansson and Brad Marchand.

“It’s about respect,” said Asselin that time, and that was something Marchand told Johansson after his trade as well. Once you get such a player on your side, you are excited about not facing him anymore, but having him battling for your team.

“I can score, I can pass the puck, I think I’ve got pretty good vision but I can always play both sides [of the puck], I can play in my zone. I’m a good two-way forward. I think that’s my biggest asset,” Asselin described himself 10 months back.

The Canadian center sees himself as a very good two-way forward. Any connections to Patrice Bergeron? Same as Bergeron, Asselin had some troubles speaking English initially. However, in the past season, it wasn’t about Asselin being a ‘pest’ or a tough guy anymore. He definitely used those abilities as he collected 60 penalty minutes in 68 games.

In his QMJHL career, that was his “career-best” in that department. It was a change in his offensive output which made Samuel Asselin so valued on and off the ice for Halifax.

Samuel Asselin winded up scoring 48 goals and adding 38 assists for 86 points. That led his team in goals and points. For comparison, Raphael Lavoie, the second round draft choice (38th overall) by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, gathered 73 points playing mostly as a right-winger on the same team as Asselin; Lavoie can play as a center as well. Another good reference for the Boston Bruins signing Samuel Asselin to a two-year deal!

It doesn’t necessarily indicate a lot, but on the team, with some high-end draft prospects, Asselin was the most productive player, even better than some of the centers. But let’s get back to the initial thought about his vast improvement over the past season.

Given the number of penalty minutes over his young career, Asselin never gave up on ‘being in the opponents’ faces’ style of hockey; he just added 48 goals total to that. This kind of number made him the Top Goalscorer in the QMJHL. In points, he was the 10th best in the league.

In the playoffs, his team-leading offense continued with nine goals and 17 points. However, this was the point where Lavoie demonstrated his big-league qualities. In the playoffs for the Halifax Mooseheads, Lavoie collected 32 points to lead his team to the both Cup finals.

However, in the President Cup Final as well as in the Memorial Cup Final, it was the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies who claimed the silverware. Interestingly for the Boston Bruins fans, Jakub Lauko, their third-round draft pick from 2018, skated on the winning side of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Nevertheless, for Samuel Asselin, he had already managed to win both the QMJHL championship and the Memorial Cup. This time around, he learned a much bigger lesson.

The Boston Bruins got themselves a very interesting player with signing Samuel Asselin. He plays a rough-and-tumble style when required but can back it up, at least in his junior hockey, with plenty of goal scoring. From September on, it will be very entertaining to see what he can show in Providence Bruins colours.