One of the most common avenues for players nowadays to get to the NHL is through junior hockey. The prospects for the Boston Bruins aren’t an exception.
Whether it’s playing in one of the three major junior leagues in the Canadian Hockey League or in one of the junior leagues in the U.S., almost every player that comes out of North America has played juniors. It’s rare to see player jump right from high school to college anymore.
The Bruins have six prospects playing junior hockey in North America this season – one in the Western Hockey League, two in the Ontario Hockey League and three in the United States Hockey League.
Let’s take a look at those six prospects.
Fabian Lysell – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Regarded as the new top prospect in the Bruins’ system, Fabian Lysell is the Bruins first-round pick from this summer’s draft. He’s a highly-skilled right winger that’s a goal scorer. He has an excellent release on his shot and is crafty in tight areas of the ice.
Last season, Lysell split time between Sweden’s J20 Nationell, their top junior league, and the SHL, their professional league. In 11 games in the J20 Nationell, Lysell had 13 points in 11 games with Frölunda HC J20. He then skated in 26 games with Luleå HF in the SHL, with a goal and two assists.
There was talk of Lysell possibly joining the Providence Bruins, but instead, he will playing in the WHL this season with the Vancouver Giants. The 18-year-old was impressive during development camp and in the preseason. He already has an assist in a game played with Vancouver. There is a ton to like about Lysell and his game, and I imagine he will be up in either Providence or Boston in the next year or two.
Brett Harrison – Oshawa Generals (OHL)
While the main talk of the 2021 draft was the Bruins selection of Lysell, Brett Harrison was a great pick in the third round. He’s a bigger center that knows how to use his frame in the corners and win 1-on-1 battles.
If his 2020-21 season wasn’t derailed with COVID, there’s a chance he goes higher in the draft. With the OHL not playing a season, Harrison went over to Finland where he saw seven games with Koovee U20 of Finland’s U20 SM-sarja, the top junior league. He also skated in one game for Koovee in the Mestis league, the second-highest professional league in Finland. Harrison also was on Canada’s U18 World Juniors team, scoring two goals in seven games and winning gold.
This will be Harrison’s second season with Oshawa, playing in 58 games in the 2019-20 season, finishing with 37 points. He skated in four preseason games so far this season, with four goals and three assists. He’s in line for a big year with the Generals.
Ryan Mast – Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Another player effected by COVID, Ryan Mast, the Bruins’ fifth-round pick in 2021, did not play at all last season with the OHL getting cancelled. He’s a 6-foot-4 defenseman that is a defensive defenseman, using his big frame to play physically in his own zone.
He skated with the Sarnia Sting in 2019-20, and will return to them again for this season. In 31 games, Mast managed a goal and 10 assists.
How Mast gets back into the groove of things this season will be something to keep an eye on. Not playing in any live games for over a year isn’t exactly great, but it all depends on how Mast handled the time off. He picked up three assists in three preseason games with the Sting, so he doesn’t appear to be so rusty, but he’ll have to keep it up in the regular season.