BUFFALO — I’ve been to enough Prospects Challenges to know that you shouldn’t put too much stock in how players perform here.
You just don’t know for sure what lies ahead for some of them. Consider that one of the better Bruins in Buffalo not that long ago was Jesse Gabrielle. Bet you haven’t heard his name lately.
Having said that, there were reasons to be encouraged in the two games the Bruins played – a 5-2 win against the Sabres on Saturday and a 4-3 loss to the Devils on Sunday.
Jack Ahcan, Sammy Asselin and Kyle Keyser played extremely well and are trending upward as main camp opens this week. Jesper Froden was a standout, as you’d expect an experienced, soon-to-be 27-year-old pro to be. He projects to be in Providence this season and he should have an impact right off the bat. Teenage draft picks Brett Harrison, Fabian Lysell and Ryan Mast had their moments.
Here are four notes from the final day in Buffalo:
Lysell ticketed for the Dub
Meeting with the media after Sunday’s game, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney made it clear that he expects Lysell, Boston’s 2021 first rounder, to play in the Western Hockey League this season.
“In all likelihood, Fabian will play in Vancouver. It was exciting to see him today get even more comfortable, when you see him in the open ice, being able to create offensively.
“He’s got some areas, in traffic, and some things that he’s going to have to be aware of, and defensively. All are things we believe we can teach those young players as long as they are willing and receptive to learn. But he’s got the skill set that’s pretty unique for us to be adding to our group and to be excited about,’’ Sweeney said.
“It will be important for him to play against kids in his peer group. We’re excited that he’s going to play over here. We do believe the transition to the smaller ice surface, especially with young guys, they have to play in the hard areas of the ice in order to be successful. He’s more than willing to do that but he’s got to find his space.’’
I had him down for a pair of assists on Sunday, although he apparently was credited with just one. Lysell scored an empty-net goal on Saturday.
“I think he felt very comfortable today,’’ said Bruins coach Ryan Mougenel.
“I thought he was a little bit of a different player. He’s an exciting player. Every time he touched the puck I got excited. I think he was feeling it for sure. He did a very good job — very good game for him.’’
Lyle not at his best
Coming off a strong rookie year with Providence, Brady Lyle’s play this weekend was not up to the standard that he set last season.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t think he had a great two games. I didn’t necessarily like his games at times. He was forcing a little bit too much. But that’s also to be expected for guys that want to push their game and it was obvious,’’ said Mougenel.
“Brady knows he’s best when plays develop for him, he’s not leading the rush, but a part of the rush. Offensively, he had a lot of kind of looking for that perfect play. He had a lot of drag in his game. He was dragging the puck a lot. So he knows what he’s got to do.
“Brady and I spend a lot of time together, so he knows he didn’t play the best that he could. But, again, getting the rust out, I think that was important for those guys. He’s a player that I think Butch Cassidy will like.’’
Good weekend for Mast
The Ontario Hockey League didn’t play last season, so the last competitive game that Ryan Mast played in with the Sarnia Sting was 18 months ago.
Boston’s sixth-rounder this year, the 6-foot-4 defensive defenseman had a strong weekend, getting better as the two games went on.
“A year off is a tough thing, especially for a big defenseman. His progression was great in the last two games,’’ said Mougenel. “I thought he was one of our best D, for sure.’’
With the departure of John Ferguson Jr., Boston’s executive director of player personnel and Providence general manager, to the Arizona Coyotes as assistant GM, the front office is down an experienced executive who covered a lot of ground for the organization.
To pick up the slack for the time being, the Bruins will spread out the responsibilities, Don Sweeney said on Sunday.
“Where we are right now, I feel comfortable in kind of doing it in-house and collectively. Dennis Bonvie will take on a little bit more of a head scouting role. Jamie (Langenbrunner) and Evan (Gold) will work in conjunction to handle most of the Providence duties and we’ll see where we’re at,’’ said Sweeney.
“We probably will add somebody at some point in time to augment our group, but several of these guys have been looking to do more and it’s a good opportunity for them.’’
Bonvie is a pro scout. Gold’s title is assistant GM and director of legal affairs. Langenbrunner is director of player development and player personnel adviser.