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Longshot to Lock: Which prospects could make a case for the final roster?

Boston’s training camp roster is deep this year, and some of its young talent may be making a case for ice time this year.

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NHL: SEP 23 Preseason - Flyers at Bruins
Jakub Lauko.
Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Boston Bruins training camp is here and underway! And if there’s one thing that gets New Englanders through the cold, harsh winters, it’s Bruins hockey.

Ahead of the 2021-22 NHL season, much has changed on Causeway Street. Franchise goaltender Tuukka Rask and top-six talisman David Krejci have departed, and a youth revolution mixed with some exciting free agent signings have fans and Boston brass alike thinking about what the upcoming season might look like on the ice.

While many of the names on Boston’s training camp roster are relative unknowns, there are a few young names that pop off the list as potential depth pieces on the Bruins’ roster. Aside from the top prospects like Jack Studnicka and Urho Vaakanainen among others who have had more than just a cup of coffee at the NHL level, here’s a few names to look out for as camp continues.

Jesper Froden

Following a strong performance at the NHL Prospects Challenge in Buffalo, N.Y., Froden has continued to prove himself in Bruins training camp. At 27, Froden is more than just some kid out of Sweden. Although never drafted into the NHL, Froden stood out in the Swedish top flight for the past two seasons and moved stateside to sign a two-way deal with Boston this summer. Early in camp, Froden has taken shifts on the top line alongside Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron — both of whom have praised the Swede for his skillset.

Brady Lyle

Another talented skater who has seemingly come out of the blue, Lyle signed with the Bruins organization in the spring of 2020 shortly before the COVID pandemic wreaked havoc on minor league hockey. Lyle hit the ice last year with Providence and saw 25 games, scoring seven goals and adding seven assists along with a plus-8 rating. With good size and a wide-open competition for third-pair defensemen, Lyle has started to set himself apart from other prospects in the conversation for NHL minutes.

Jakub Lauko

Remember him? In 2018-19, it seemed inevitable that Lauko would become a regular contributor for Boston at some point in the future. But over the last two seasons, the Czech winger has faded away in Boston’s prospect conversation, and not for a lack of production. An injury-ridden 2019-20 season and a pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season has seen Lauko drop down the Bruins organizational depth chart. Now healthy and ready for a full slate, Lauko is re-emerging as a potential piece on offense. Lauko has been skating with his compatriot, David Pastrnak, early in camp — part of an experimental line with Cameron Hughes — but the former third-round pick has proven he can provide offense consistently at the AHL level, and might be a good fit in the NHL soon.

Jack Ahcan

Ahcan emerged last season for Boston as the Bruins fought through injuries at the back end throughout the 2021 season. A four-year college star at St. Cloud State and former Hobey Baker finalist, Ahcan played only three times for the Bruins last season but has drawn high praise from P-Bruins coaches and others in the organization. Despite being undersized at 5-foot-8, Ahcan could serve a similar role as Torey Krug (also undrafted) did in his time with Boston. It’s a stretch for sure to say a 24-year-old with three NHL games under his belt could turn into Krug, but don’t be surprised if he carves out a role for himself this season.

Samuel Asselin

That Lauko goal from earlier, notice who dished out the assist? Asselin has quite literally climbed the ladder to etch his name into Boston’s roster conversation. The leading scorer for ECHL affiliate Atlanta with 52 points in 53 games in 2019-20, Asselin featured for Providence last season and had 16 points in 25 games for the Baby B’s. He signed an entry-level deal with Boston over the summer and shined during September’s Prospects Challenge in Buffalo. Still a relative longshot to crack the NHL roster, Asselin has shown he can improve and adapt quickly to higher levels of play, certainly a positive for the 23-year-old.