Ranking Bruins' top 10 prospects entering 2022-23 NHL season originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Bruins do not have one of the best groups of prospects in the NHL.
In fact, The Athletic's latest prospect pool ranking from February put Boston 27th out of the 32 teams.
However, there are plenty of intriguing players in the Bruins organization, including a couple with the potential to play meaningful roles in Boston in the not-so-distant future.
Here's our updated ranking of the Bruins' top 10 prospects.
10. Matthew Poitras, C
2021-22 Team: Guelph Storm (OHL)
2021-22 Stats: 21 G, 29 A in 60 GP
Poitras was the Bruins' second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2022 NHL Draft. He adds much-needed offensive skill, high hockey IQ and impressive skating speed to Boston's prospect pool. Poitras told reporters on draft day that he sees himself as a "skilled, gritty forward", and that he looks up to Lightning centers Brayden Point or Anthony Cirelli. If he comes close to becoming either of those two players, the Bruins should be quite pleased.
9. Riley Duran, C
2021-22 Team: Providence College (NCAA)
2021-22 Stats: 10 G, 9 A in 38 GP
Duran has climbed up the Bruins prospect rankings over the last year after an impressive season in Providence and being selected for the United States team at the 2022 World Junior Championships. Duran tallied five points (two goals, three assists) in five games for Team USA in Edmonton. He played very well at the tournament and showed the kind of offensive creativity the Bruins desperately need at center long term.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 12, 2022
8. Ryan Mast, D
2021-22 Team: Sarnia Sting (OHL)
2021-22 Stats: 9 G, 22 A in 59 GP
The Bruins clearly liked what they saw from Mast at development camp last month because they announced on July 18 that he had signed a three-year entry-level contract with the team. Mast has excellent size at 6-foot-5 and 213 pounds, and he's also shown some impressive playmaking ability in the OHL. His improved mobility and strong defensive game should help him continue to climb these rankings in the coming years.
"Ryan Mast, the way his body has changed. He's moving so much smoother," Bruins director of player development Jamie Langenbrunner said after development camp in July. "His confidence with the puck -- that was a big move from last season."
7. Oskar Jellvik, LW
2021-22 Team: Djurgardens Jr. (Sweden)
2021-22 Stats: 26 G, 29 A in 49 GP
Jellvik took a huge step forward in his development last season as both a goal scorer and a playmaker, and that was reflected in his stats as he blew away his previous career highs in Swedish junior competition. He loves to carry the puck and often makes the right play with it in the attacking zone. There's a lot of upside with his offensive talent, making him a prospect to watch closely over the next two years.
Oskar Jellvik brings a lot to the table as a 19-year-old torching his way through the J20 Nationell. Jellvik, as seen here, is good in transition and shifty with the puck on his stick. Watch him pull the 200IQ fake-call of the puck and steal it behind the net. Sneaky. #NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/5LnDZ1boTR
— Bruins Network (@BruinsNetwork) April 1, 2022
The Bruins will have plenty of opportunities to track Jellvik's progress in-person because he'll be playing at Boston College beginning with the upcoming 2022-23 season.
6. Mark McLaughlin, C/W
2021-22 Team: Boston College (NCAA)
2021-22 Stats: 21 G, 10 A in 33 GP
McLaughlin parlayed his impressive season with Boston College into an opportunity with the Bruins, and it went pretty well. His versatility is valuable as he can play center or on the wing, and he can even score some goals, too, as we found out early in his NHL tenure.
McLaughlin finished with three goals in 11 games for the Bruins last season. He's a candidate for a bottom-six role in Boston during the 2022-23 campaign, but there will be a lot of guys competing for those spots in training camp and the preseason. The most likely outcome is him starting in Providence and continuing his development in the AHL.
5. Johnny Beecher
2021-22 Team: Michigan (NCAA)
2021-22 Stats: 6 G, 9 A in 34 GP
Beecher was the Bruins' first-round pick in 2019 (30th overall), and his offensive game really hasn't developed as anticipated. Despite playing on some very talented Michigan teams over the last three seasons, Beecher was never able to crack double-digit goals. He finished with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 34 games for the Wolverines last season.
There's still a lot to like about Beecher's skill set. He's a very good skater and has enough offensive talent to be a good third-line center at the NHL level. His size at 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds is appealing, too, and he's not afraid to mix it up in the dirty areas of the ice. You don't have to worry about him making his presence known in all three zones.
Johnny Beecher a one-man wrecking crew on this shift pic.twitter.com/HY78iVzBk4
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) March 13, 2022
The 2022-23 season will be a very important one for Beecher as he attempts to prove his worth against tougher competition and potentially earn a role in Boston.
4. Georgii Merkulov, F
2021-22 Team: Ohio State (NCAA)
2021-22 Stats: 20 G, 14 A in 36 GP
Merkulov led the Buckeyes in goals last season and then made a smooth transition to the Providence Bruins, where he tallied five points (one goal, four assists) through eight games late in the 2021-22 campaign.
The Russian forward has a ton of offensive talent. In fact, it's possible Merkulov could be a top-six contributor at some point if he keeps developing at a steady pace. His scoring ability, as seen in the highlights below, is quite impressive.
— NCAA Ice Hockey (@NCAAIceHockey) February 5, 2022
— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) April 21, 2022
Merkulov is more than a goal scorer, though. He has the vision and playmaking talent to make difficult, accurate passes to set up quality scoring chances.
— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) April 16, 2022
There's plenty of room for improvement in the defensive side of Merkulov's game. If he can become a more well-rounded player in Providence, it would not be surprising if Merkulov finds his way to Boston at some point in 2022-23.
3. Brett Harrison, C
2021-22 Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)
2021-22 Stats: 27 G, 34 A in 65 GP
Harrison is arguably the best center prospect in the Bruins' organization, and he's coming off an excellent season in the OHL where he set career highs in goals and assists, and then tallied seven points (three goals, four assists) in six playoff games.
Harrison is a three-zone player with impressive offensive skill, including a hard shot and smooth skating. He's a big, strong forward who loves being around the net and will throw around his weight whenever necessary.
— Oshawa Generals (@Oshawa_Generals) April 29, 2022
The Bruins signed the 2021 third-round pick to a three-year entry-level contract earlier this month.
2. Mason Lohrei, D
2021-22 Team: Ohio State (NCAA)
2021-22 Stats: 4 G, 25 A in 31 GP
Lohrei is by far the Bruins' top defenseman prospect. One of the first things that jumps out while watching him is his size. He's an imposing figure on the ice at 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds. There also aren't many holes in Lohrei's game. He's a strong defensive player, his decision-making under pressure is impressive, he has a high hockey IQ and he's made great strides offensively, especially as a playmaker.
Lohrei has the potential to be a very good two-way defenseman at the NHL level for a long time. He's returning to Ohio State for his sophomore season, but after that, it shouldn't take him long to get his first opportunity in Boston.
But first, Lohrei has to continue his rehab from a recent knee procedure.
ð¥ B's defense prospect Mason Lohrei on his rehab from a knee procedure: "Itâs going well...Iâm in a later phase now. Just trying to strengthen as much as I can and get back on the ice soon. I start skating in a couple weeks here."#BruinsDevCamp | @MassGenBrigham pic.twitter.com/NVdDFpPvs9
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 15, 2022
1. Fabian Lysell, RW
2021-22 Team: Vancouver Giants (WHL)
2021-22 Stats: 22 G, 40 A in 53 GP
Lysell was the Bruins' first-round pick (21st overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, and he's exceeded expectations after a tremendous debut season with the Vancouver Giants -- his first full campaign playing in North America. The Swedish winger was particularly impressive in the playoffs, when he led the Giants to a historic first-round upset of No. 1 seed Everett. Lysell tallied 21 points (four goals, 17 assists) in 12 playoff games for the Giants.
It's easy to get excited about Lysell's game. He has incredible offensive skill. His goal-scoring instincts are fantastic, but he's also a quality playmaker and an excellent skater. He loves carrying the puck into the attacking zone and putting opponents on their heels.
Lysell is currently playing a key role in Sweden's quest for World Junior gold in Edmonton. He tallied an assist during Sweden's 2-1 win over Latvia in Wednesday night's quarterfinals matchup, setting up a semifinal showdown against rival Finland on Friday. Lysell has posted five points (one goal, four assists) in five games at the tournament, including arguably the top goal of the competition so far:
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) August 12, 2022
Lysell could make the NHL roster with an impressive training camp and preseason. The Bruins were 15th in goals scored last season and lacked the secondary scoring to beat a more well-rounded Carolina Hurricanes squad in the first round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Lysell's high-end skill and speed would be a tremendous boost to Boston's third line. But the Bruins shouldn't rush his development, either. Patience is important with a player this talented.