With opening night less than two months away, the Boston Bruins roster is far from set.
The futures of Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, have yet to be determined and some questions linger on offense.
The Bruins, however, have many prospects looking to make the jump to the NHL including defenseman Urho Vaakanainen. The Finish product has moved quickly through the system and does not have much left to prove in the AHL.
With the Bruins blue line far from certain, the 20-year old will be looking to make his mark.
The Bruins picked Vaakanainen with the 18th overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft.
Since being selected, he has impressed scouts with his two-way style of play. The young defenseman has opened eyes with his speed that has only added to his offensive upside. He has used his quickness to join the rush and make fast decisions with the puck.
Additionally, Vaakanainen has been praised for his maturity and decision making. He excels on both sides of the ice, which is important in today’s game.
Vaakaneinen has drawn comparisons to Scott Niedermeyer due to his skating ability which appears effortless.
Although Vaakanainen still has room to improve offensively, that part of his game should grow as he becomes more comfortable at the NHL level.
Last season, the Bruins prospect got his first taste of NHL action. The former first-round pick appeared in two games before suffering a concussion.
The injury kept Vaakanainen out for significant time. It was a missed opportunity for the young defenseman as the Bruins blue line dealt with injuries all season.
Even with his concussion issues, Vaakaneinen is still in a good position as the 2019-2020 campaign approaches. In 30 games for Providence last year, the Finland native had four goals and 10 assists. He will be coming off a strong second half, which will only improve his confidence.
Furthermore, Vaakaneinen almost saw action in the Stanley Cup Finals when Matt Grzelcyk was injured. Although he just skated with the team, it shows how highly Vaakaneinen is regarded within the organization.
Heading into training camp, the Bruins defenseman does not have many holes in his game. Vaakaneinen’s skating is elite, and he has proved that he can play a good two-way game. He has shown that he can play top-four minutes, which is important since Torey Krug, is continuously mentioned in trade rumors.
As Vaakaneinen tries to secure a spot, his main concern will be health. Although he was able to appear in 30 for Providence, missing significant time cannot become a trend.
A lot can happen between now and October third, but Vaakaneinen’s time in Boston could come sooner rather than later.