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Bruins Prospects Challenge: Who impressed and who didn’t

Boston’s top young players participated in the annual NHL Prospects Challenge in Buffalo over the weekend, and a few notable names shined.

Boston Bruins Development Camp
John Beecher (left) and Marc McLaughlin.
Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Over the past weekend, the Boston Bruins sent several of its top prospects to Buffalo to participate in three games during the 2022 NHL Prospects Challenge. In matchups against Ottawa, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh, the Bruins went 2-1-0 and featured a few impressive performances from some notable names and even some surprise standouts.

First-rounders impress

Both John Beecher and Fabian Lysell lived up to their reputations as top prospects with fantastic efforts during the three-game tournament. It was Beecher, however, who stole the show by netting goals in all three games along with an assist for a four-point tournament. The former Michigan Wolverines forward is set to see extended ice time in Providence this season and could find his way up the ladder to the NHL at some point along the way.

Lysell only potted one goal, a shorthanded marker that showcased his skill, speed, and scoring abilities all in one. Boston closed out the tournament on Sept. 19 with a shootout win over Ottawa, 5-4. Lysell netted the winner, and good luck to any goaltender facing this shot on a breakaway.

New prospect, familiar name

A lot of talk over the past weekend concerned Luke Toporowski, an undrafted free agent signed to a two-way deal in June. If the name sounds familiar, it might be because Luke is the son of Kerry Toporowski, a famed (or infamous) former minor leaguer who found himself more in the penalty box than on the scoresheet.

However, Luke has taken a knack for scoring and is fresh off a dazzling career in the WHL in which he put up 199 points (96g, 103a) in 245 games. Toporowski tallied two goals and an assist in three games during the Prospects Challenge and gives Providence a new tool to work with and develop this season.

Blue-line blues

On a less positive note, Boston’s defensemen had mixed performances over the five-day tournament. The Bruins’ defense appeared leaky at times and failed to put in a true complete performance. Two players did stand out, however, for their two-way contributions: Michael Callahan and Kai Wissmann.

Callahan recently finished up his career at Providence College and saw action in over a dozen AHL contests late last season. Wissmann, meanwhile, has played professionally in Germany and is set to make his first foray into the North American pro hockey scene. The duo each recorded two assists and seemed comfortable for the most part.

Questions in the crease

Boston has a ton of depth at the goaltender position, but not much of it is quality. Brandon Bussi, an undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan who looked good in brief action to close last season in Providence, went 2-0-0 in the tournament but still looks a long way off from NHL caliber. In 125 minutes, Bussi posted a .860 save percentage, not ideal even for a small sample size though his defense let him down on occasion.

Bussi’s backup? 2022 draft pick Reid Dyck, who looked outclassed in his lone appearance in which he allowed six goals to Pittsburgh’s prospects. Dyck is young and will ply his trade with the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL this season. However, it wasn’t a memorable first impression for Dyck or the Bruins.