Boston Bruins: Prospect Urho Vaakanainen is NHL ready

Oct 20, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen (58) warms up against the the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Boston Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen (58) warms up against the the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Bruins top defensive prospect Urho Vaakanainen is on the verge of being a top-six player in Boston.

With defensemen Torey Krug signing with the St. Louis Blues in free agency and captain Zdeno Chara still deciding if he is going to return to the Boston Bruins for a 15th season, it is starting to look like it will be a little different and younger look on the blue line next season.

General manager Don Sweeney re-signed Matt Grzelcyk to a four-year, $14.75 million deal to rejoin Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo as top-four defensemen. Also re-signed was Kevan Miller and Connor Clifton is coming off a postseason that saw him play effectively.  Jeremy Lauzon will be in a battle in training camp for a position on a regular basis in Boston.

With the Bruins blue line trending to a younger grouping, one prospect that is on the verge of finding himself with the Bruins in the near future and taking regular shifts is Urho Vaakanainen.

Drafted 18th in the first round of the 2017 Entry Draft, Vaakanainen has quickly become one of the top defensemen with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League and the club’s top defensive prospect, which has earned him two short stints in Boston.

Two years ago, the 21-year old Vaakanainen made his NHL debut and played in two games for Boston. This past season, he found himself in the lineup for five games and showed that he is capable of being an NHL defenseman on a nightly basis.

Vaakanainen turned heads at the 2018 World Junior Championships with Finland and that carried over to the Bruins training camp where he impressed enough to make a serious name for himself.

In 54 games with the P-Bruins last season, he had five goals and nine assists, but he is a smart player that makes quick, safe decisions. His offensive game will never be mentioned in the same breath as Krug’s, but his overall game has evolved the last two seasons in the minors where he is on the cusp of being with the Black and Gold full time sooner rather than later.

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When the league is able to get training camps up and running still remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, when the Bruins are able to begin their camp at Warrior Ice Arena, there is going to be a battle for the final spots on the blue line that will be worth keeping an eye on. Don’t be surprised to see Vaakanainen win one of those spots and begin the season in Boston instead of Providence.