The boys are back!
Yes, after a record-breaking season in 2022-23, a heartbreaking playoff elimination, and a summer of anticipation, the Boston Bruins have hit the ice for the upcoming season. While the Bruins continue to ramp up for the new campaign, the team sent a group to the NHL Prospects Challenge over the weekend.
Boston finished 1-2-0 in the round-robin event and saw several of the organization’s top prospects, along with several rookie camp invitees, make waves. Fabian Lysell, who looks to break into the NHL squad this fall, headlined a group of notable names that included former first-rounder John Beecher, forwards Georgii Merkulov and Matthew Poitras, and lofty defenseman Mason Lohrei.
Though Bruins’ fans are familiar with these top prospects, several other players had noteworthy performances. With preseason approaching fast, these fringe players are ones to watch over the next few weeks.
F Luke Toporowski
After registering 199 points during a five-year WHL career, Toporowski’s offensive game translated well at the pro level with Providence as the 21-year-old notched 15 goals and 14 assists in 47 regular season games. The forward added two goals in the postseason to cap a strong rookie campaign. In this year’s NHL Prospects Challenge, Toporowski led the Bruins to their lone win in the opening game against Pittsburgh with a pair of goals. Over his WHL career, Toporowski showed a consistent uptick in scoring production. If he continues on this trajectory, the upcoming season could be a significant one for Toporowski.
D Michael Callahan
Another Bruins prospect coming off a strong first professional campaign, Callahan signed with Boston ahead of last season and spent the full year at the AHL level following a four-year career down the street at Providence College. Callahan faces a long road to break into the NHL side, with a bevy of defensive depth above him. But at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, Callahan brings the type of physicality Boston could use on the back end and it’ll be interesting to see how Callahan presents himself in preseason.
F Adam Mechura
An unfamiliar name for most Bruins fans, Mechura was a camp invitee after a strong season for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL in which he notched 26 goals and 26 assists in 58 games. The 20-year-old, who won silver at the World Junior Championships with the Czech Republic, is 6-foot-4 and showed good hands and shooting ability throughout rookie camp, something he was known for at the junior level. Keep an eye on this one, as Mechura could impress enough to earn a contract with Providence.
F Trevor Kuntar
Kuntar is set for his first pro season after a strong three-year career at Boston College. A prolific scorer in the USHL, Kuntar has already showed glimpses of his offensive prowess during the Prospects Challenge. An immense scorer in the USHL, Kuntar struggled his first two seasons in the NCAA before a 13-goal, 16-assist junior season launched him into the pro game. Kuntar is still young and raw, but the former third-round pick will get a full season with Providence to ply his trade.
G William Rousseau
The Bruins appear set at goaltender for the upcoming season, with both Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman forming the tandem up top and Brandon Bussi the incumbent starter for Providence. But Rousseau is an interesting one. The grandson of Montreal Canadians great Bobby Rousseau, the 20-year-old undrafted netminder put together a stellar season with the Québec Remparts, going 35-8-1 in regular season play before a 16-2-0 postseason record to lead his team to a Memorial Cup title. While there’s still room for improvement, Boston may be wise to ink Rousseau to a minor league deal and get him some pro minutes at ECHL Maine.