Five takeaways from the Prospects Challenge:
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
The impressive performance of many of the Bruins youngsters in Buffalo underscores the opinion that Boston has quite a stable of up-and-comers. A couple of NHL scouts in attendance agreed with me that the Bruins brought the strongest group of young players. It’s going to be fun to watch these guys as they reach for the next level.
READY TO ROLL
Anders Bjork provided a glimpse of the offensive talents that have made him a highly touted prospect, scoring a goal in each of the two games he played in. “He made some really nice plays in tight. You can really see his willingness to get in there,’’ said Jay Leach. “He’s not timid. He’s not on the outside; he’s on the inside. He’s got that compete we’re looking for and the skill and speed.’’ Bjork is a lock to be on the opening night roster.
DOWN THE ROAD
It sure looks like the Bruins have found themselves a player in center Jack Studnicka, drafted in the second round, 53rd overall, in June. The 18-year-old, who will be the captain in Oshawa this season, was a pleasant surprise. “Very impressive. He made some high-end plays. He’s in the right slots. He does a lot of nice things,’’ said Leach.
Jesse Gabrielle played well in Buffalo. He wears his heart on his sleeve. Gabrielle has a lot to say on the ice, often accompanied by a smirk, and he gets on the nerves of opponents. Off the ice, he usually has a smile on his face. Here’s hoping that if he makes it – and I think he will, at some point – he continues to let his personality shine through.
THE OTHER GUYS
As far as the Devils, Sabres and Penguins were concerned, New Jersey’s Will Butcher was the most NHL-ready prospect, in my opinion. Buffalo has a fine prospect in defenseman Brendon Guhle, and Justin Bailey, Nick Baptiste and Hudson Fasching looked good. While Zach Aston-Reese didn’t do much in the two Pens games that I saw, I have no doubt he will have a good rookie season.