For Matt Grzelcyk, it was a pretty surreal experience making his TD Garden debut. He’s a Boston product born and bred, growing up a stone’s throw from the Garden in Charlestown, his father a member of the infamous “Bull gang” that maintains both the Bruins ice and the Celtics parquet. But there’s one other Boston characteristic that makes up Gryz. He is a product of Boston University. He spent 4 years right down Comm Ave from his future NHL team, his final two as captain of the nationally ranked squad. While he’s made his NHL debut already, it’s hard not to look into Agganis Arena and find two more Terriers who can make a difference in Boston for years to come.
We start with last year’s first round pick, a right-handed defenseman who has made a name for himself not only in Boston, but on the international stage as well. He is one of the few returning members of team USA in the World Junior championships, a marker that earned him an “A” from coach Bob Motzko. But what exactly is it about his game that makes him so anticipated in the NHL? It’s his excellence in all three zones. Check out this goal against Yale a few weeks ago.
He takes the puck off the face off and makes a smart pinch, knowing he had Jordan Greenway riding up to cover his spot. He dishes the puck back to Greenway, then drives hard to the net, getting the tip on what would be his second goal of the season. Smart plays from defense is what the B’s need clearly, both in terms of generating offense and maintaining a strong defense. He also has a wicked shot both in terms of his wrister and clapper.
Speaking of defense, he knows how to lay the body on, and hard.
That’s current NHLer Lawson Crouse getting absolutely obliterated in open ice by McAvoy. Not only is this a hard play, it’s a smart play, as Crouse was the leading forward with puck possession on the rush. The hit separated Crouse from the disc and gave the US easy time to skate back and get it.
So when should the Bruins expect McAvoy in the Spoked B? I’d say as early as next year or at least within two years. He will finish up his year at BU with a team that has expectations of a national championship and then honestly could make the jump to the pro level.
If you want to learn a little more about the Long Islander who has made Boston his new home, check out this video from earlier this season by BU student Jordan Thibault.
While there’s a tremendous about of buzz about McAvoy, you still can’t overlook the Swedish center known affectionately as JFK on BU’s campus. A second round pick, 45th overall, in 2015, JFK adds to the tremendous center depth that the Bruins already have. With an especially high hockey IQ, soft hands and a knack for face-offs, he’s tailor-made to be a Bruins center. First off, let’s see his scoring touch.
I don’t think there’s any explanation that needs to be made about how silky smooth that penalty shot goal was.
While he isn’t a top goal scorer, he makes sure he’s on the scoresheet. In his first season at BU, he led all freshman with 30 points, including 20 assists, and he’s on pace to get as many points with even more apples so far this year, and that’s not a bad thing. With scorers like Clayton Keller and Patrick Harper to play with, it means Forsbacka-Karlsson is being utilized something like a conductor in an orchestra, focusing on making smart plays and creating chances while letting his linemates with better shots get the goals.
Check out his nifty play against Michigan earlier this season.
He evades not one, but two checks coming down the right-wing wall, centers himself, gets the puck on the Michigan net minder, then gets out of the way, letting Jordan Greenway use his body to crash for the rebound. A combination of adept skating and smart hockey sense makes Forsbaska-Karlsson just the type of player the Bruins want to have.
When can JFK be expected to make his presidential debut with the B’s? He still has room to develop, especially in his skating game where he’s smooth but not explosive. He’ll certainly finish the year with the Terriers and could stand to be there at least one more year before jumping to his pro contract. Even then, there’s a logjam of players in front of him before he could make the NHL roster. By that time however, I think those players, such as Ryan Spooner and David Krejci, won’t be in Boston anymore.
So be excited, Bruins fans. Not only is there slightly-better-than-mediocre hockey being played in our own barn, there’s some exciting prospects right down the road who will make their name in the NHL soon enough.