It is no secret that the Boston Bruins have a weak prospect pool. That is what years of questionable drafting will do to a team. Arguably their top skater prospect, Jack Studnicka, has had trouble obtaining a permanent spot with the big-league club. In 20 games this season, he registered a goal and two assists. Naturally, this lack of production led the Bruins to send him back to Providence.
With Studnicka being only 22-years-old, he certainly has time to develop. This season was disappointing for him, but he did fairly well in the AHL in his limited action. In 11 games played, he had 7 assists, but no goals. Those aren’t dominating numbers, but it shows he has the potential to be a good playmaker. However, with the team having a lot to do this off-season, it is hard to determine if he will make their opening night roster.
At this said time, it is challenging to envision that Studnicka can replace David Krejci on the second line. It is why the team should prioritize re-signing the latter this off-season. However, Studnicka should be given a real chance to compete for a spot in the bottom six. Both the third and fourth lines struggled immensely and may benefit from a real shake-up.
In his limited play with the Bruins thus far, it is clear that he looks more comfortable playing center. He has had some time on the right wing, but it just does not seem to mesh well with his game. He is a pass-first player who plays with more finesse than a physical edge. Therefore, he could be a decent replacement for Sean Kuraly on the fourth line. They could even switch Charlie Coyle to the right wing and put Studnicka at the center on the third line, too.
But can Studnicka really secure a spot with the Bruins?
If Studnicka does not show significant improvement at training camp, he will spend more time in Providence. That would be a hard pill to swallow for fans, especially with how important of a prospect he is. Yet, the Bruins know their Stanley Cup window is closing with their aging core. Thus, Studnicka needs to stand out and take that next step with his offensive game.
It would be marvelous to see him finally blossom into a true NHL talent, especially with this team inching closer to a retooling period. We will have to wait and see what the Bruins do with their off-season moves. If they are a bit conservative, it will show that they have trust in Studnicka’s game. He will then of course need to reach their expectations.