BRIGHTON – It’s obviously still early in Bruins training camp and the two separate groups haven’t even practiced together yet thanks to the week-plus trip to China, but a theme is most definitely developing for the Black and Gold.
Similar to training camp a year ago, the youthful wave of Bruins prospects are taking their preseason by storm in the very best way possible. A third-round pick just a couple of months ago, 18-year-old Jakub Lauko has two goals in as many games and has shown that he may indeed be a first round talent that was snagged a couple of rounds later.
“I’m never nervous, so I think it’s a good thing for me that I’m never nervous,” said Lauko, after suiting up for his first NHL preseason game for the Bruins. “So, yeah, [it was] just fun.”
There's a bevy of B’s young guns out there having “fun” right now.
Former BU center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is one of a trio of young prospects vying for the third line center spot in Boston, and the Swedish pivot currently leads all Bruins players in preseason scoring with three points in two games. JFK has shown the strong two-way abilities that he’s always been touted for, and his passing skill has been on display in setting up fellow youngsters like Jake DeBrusk and Ryan Donato around the net. Speaking of Donato and DeBrusk, each of those young wingers earmarked for the NHL roster has a couple of counts in two preseason appearances as well.
Zach Senyshyn may have come into camp slightly under the radar after a so-so debut season in Providence last season, but he deposited a couple of goals in Tuesday night’s preseason win over the Capitals in Washington.
Trent Frederic scored a goal in the first preseason game against the Calgary Flames in China, and has teamed with David Backes for a big, strong and physical crash and bang line to this point in the preseason as well. Jack Studnicka, Cameron Hughes and Axel Andersson have all cracked the score sheet as well, and big winger Peter Cehlarik had two assists during the two China games vs. Calgary as well.
So in a camp where a couple of young players could come away with NHL jobs if their preseason performances are up to snuff, the Black and Gold young guns have been that and then some to this point.
That’s great news for a Bruins team that’s become accustomed to young players breaking through over the last few years, but the bad news for all these talented youngsters is that it’s going to get tougher from here on out. With the China contingent and the Boston-bound B’s crew set to be reunited at the end of this week, the training camp competitiveness is about to ramp up a few notches. There’s also the simple fact that things get quicker, more physical and more intense as the preseason goes along, and the veteran players began to really fight for their spots.
It’s the natural rhythm of training camp, and it’s about to become a little more eye-opening for a kiddie corps that’s been great thus far in B’s camp.
“Every year players coming into training camp and whether you’re a third-year player, second-year player, there’s always competition and there’s always somebody pushing from underneath [the NHL level], or pushing on a [camp tryout],” said Sacco. “Every team has young players that are hoping to push through and leave their mark to get their opportunity to play in the NHL.
“Once you see more players with NHL experience start getting into the lineups, it becomes a little bit more of a challenge for those young players to maintain that level that they had early on in the preseason. The ones that do, then you quite frankly start looking at them more and giving them a longer look.”
That will be the million dollar question for each of these young guys. There are plenty of cautionary tales of guys that flashed early in Bruins training camps in the past, but then couldn’t maintain that performance once the lineups got a little closer to NHL ready toward the end of the preseason. But there are also players, like Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, on the current roster that just kept producing and performing as young talents that played their way into Boston’s NHL plans earlier than anybody could have projected when they were first drafted.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s another one of those guys in this Bruins training camp with so many of them off to a strong and promising start.