A year ago, the Boston Bruins were battling in a grueling Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues. This time around, the Bruins might have to wait until September/October to even consider appearing in the Stanley Cup Final again. The best odds to make the Stanley Cup Final, based on the regular season stats, from each Conference, are owned by the Bruins and the Blues.
Who might be the Bruins’ unexpected help coming later this summer? Strangely, we are not talking about the free agents the Bruins might sign. It’s the Black Aces. This term is used for a player who has a low realistic chance to even make the regular-season squad. However, with injuries piling up, out of nowhere, the Black Aces should be ready to serve the coaches. Even if it’s for only one game.
Jack Studnicka is the primary ‘Black Ace’. Studnicka, the 53rd-overall draft choice from 2017, has had a marvelous rookie season with the Providence Bruins in the AHL. He led the team with 49 points in 60 games. Last fall, the 21-year-old right-shot center played two games for the Bruins, recording one assist. If needed, Studnicka should be ready to help the Bruins as the top-six winger, or a bottom-six center.
Trent Frederic comes to the Bruins coaches’ minds as another valid option. The 29th-overall draft choice from 2016 ended up playing 15 games last year and added another two NHL games this year. The 22-year-old robust and blue-collar center is still waiting for his first NHL point. If the Bruins need more toughness outside of their NHL roster, Frederic should be ready to rock.
Pumping up Zach Senyshyn to be a star player as a former 15th-overall draft choice from 2015 sounds like a broken record. However, Senyshyn finally handled an NHL opportunity last fall. In four games played, Senyshyn impressed the Bruins’ coaches, as he recorded two assists. Senyshyn can play as a top-six winger and utilizes his speed. The 23-year-old right-winger seemed to fit in nicely playing with Charlie Coyle and Anders Bjork on the third line. Let’s see if these playoffs in the silent arenas will be a deafening impression made by him.
In terms of defensive options, Urho Vaakanainen rocked in his first few shifts last season. However, Mark Borowiecki’s hit to Vaakanainen’s head ended his promising campaign and turned it into a disaster. Attempting to rebound, Vaakanainen is slowly recovering his status as a mobile defenseman. The Finnish blueliner played in five games with the Bruins and another 54 for the Providence Bruins.
The second option would be Jakub Zboril. Similar to Senyshyn, the Bruins are still waiting for his coming-out party. Zboril seems like a decent defenseman for Providence, but that’s just not enough for the 13th draft pick. If the Bruins really need his services, he should be ready to obey that call.
The Bruins’ goaltending doesn’t need much glorification. It has already received William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals given up in the NHL. Nevertheless, if something horrible happens to both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak, Daniel Vladar might receive his improbable chance to shine. The 22-year-old Czech netminder has had an outstanding season for the Providence Bruins. He might look for a continuation of his season, as the AHL season has been canceled already.