Player: Jack Studnicka
Last Season: Providence Bruins
Stats: 60GP, 23G, 26A, 49PTS
Acquired: 2017 Draft - 2nd Round, 53rd Overall
Was there really any doubt who would be number one on this list?
It’s early, but it’s looking like the 2017 Draft could be a gold mine for the Bruins: with their first three selections, they grabbed Urho Vaakanainen, Studnicka, and Jeremy Swayman. While the other two are solid prospects in their own right, Studnicka stands on his own atop the Bruins’ prospect heap.
When the Bruins chose Studnicka in the second round in 2017, he had just finished a 67-point OHL season (in 75 GP) - decent, but the OHL is often a points bonanza. In his next season, he recorded 77 points in 71 games. OK, getting better!
In the season after that, with hype already building among Bruins fans due to a five-game stint in Providence that saw him record 5 points, Studnicka played 71 OHL games split between two teams, and recorded 94 points.
Needless to say, he had arrived.
Still, OHL success doesn’t always translate into immediate pro dividends. But for Studnicka, he went straight from the OHL to the AHL playoffs, where he recorded a goal and an assist in 4 games. With all of that behind him, expectations were high for Studnicka’s first full AHL season this past campaign. How did he do?
He passed his test with flying colors.
Studnicka finished the season with 23 goals and 26 assists in 60 games. Among AHL rookies, Studnicka was 4th in goals, 8th in assists, and 3rd in points. He led the Providence Bruins in points by a healthy margin, 10 points ahead of second-place Paul Carey. His rookie campaign led to him being named an AHL All Star and being named to the AHL’s All-Rookie Team, and led to him setting a new AHL record for shorthanded goals by a rookie (7).
On top of all of that, Studnicka made his NHL debut as well, playing in two games with the big club. In one of those games, he recorded his first NHL point, an assists - in Montreal, no less.
So...All-Rookie Team. Lead your team in scoring. Finish in the top-5 in league scoring among rookies. Make your NHL debut. Record your first NHL point. What do you do for an encore? ...In all likelihood, more of the same: continue to grow in Providence, and occasionally get a shot to show your stuff in the NHL.
To be honest, it’s kind of hard to see a scenario where Studnicka cracks the NHL roster out of training camp next season. Sure he’s young, he’s driven, and he seems to be ready...But he’s a natural center being played like one, and the Bruins are pretty deep at center right now. Still, the B’s top two centers are nearing the ends of their careers (yes, sorry...even Patrice Bergeron will retire someday), and Studnicka appears to be next in line.
As is the case with many young forwards, Studnicka will likely start his NHL career with some play on the wing. Plenty of others players have benefited from this, and there’s no reason to think Studnicka will be any different. The goal for next season will be to continue to develop with the lion’s share of his games in Providence, and to ideally get a few games of NHL action as well.
If his OHL progression and his AHL debut is any indication, the Bruins organization should be in for a treat.
Projection for next season: Providence’s leading scorer, with a handful of NHL games as well - including his first NHL goal.