On May 27th, The Boston Bruins' American Hockey League farm team, the Providence Bruins, faced the end of their fifth consecutive playoff appearance with a 4-1 series loss to the Syracuse Crunch in the Calder Cup Eastern Conference Finals. This third round playoff exit caps off the P-Bruins' longest playoff campaign since they met with the same result in the conference finals in 2009 with a team that featured current Bruins Adam McQuaid, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand, and even Bruce Cassidy in the role of assistant coach. Evidently, the P-Bruins' success in the 2009 Calder Cup Playoffs has translated to some Baby B alumni playing a prominent role on Boston's current roster. Does that mean that we are bound to see some of the Providence Bruins' young talent playing with the big club soon enough?
Several Providence Bruins players have already made notable impacts in Boston. Noel Acciari, for example, has played a total of 48 regular season games spread out over two seasons, and is working to cement himself as a hard-hitting, fan favorite fourth liner. Austin Czarnik has similarly appeared in 49 NHL games and is a viable candidate for a roster spot in Boston next season. Alternatively, Danton Heinen has only appeared in eight big league games, but is a front runner to make the cut after training camp when the upcoming season arrives. Heinen tore up the AHL Calder Cup playoffs by scoring 9 goals and 9 assists for 18 points in 17 games played. His production earned him 2nd place in league wide postseason scoring, and 1st place in Providence Bruins postseason scoring. The 21 year old University of Denver product even broke a record for the most points scored in the postseason by a P-Bruins rookie with his 18 points, surpassing current core Bruins players Brad Marchand with 15 points, and David Krejci with 16 points. Given the presence of talented players such as Acciari, Czarnik, and Heinen on the roster, there is little doubt that room will be made on Boston's roster for some P-Bruins players to enjoy a lengthy tenure in the NHL.
When Bruins fans take into account that some of the Bruins' most talented prospects were not even on Providence's postseason roster, they have plenty of reasons to be excited. Boston's current defensive golden boy, Charlie McAvoy, played only four games with the Providence Bruins before being called up for six playoff games with Boston. Due to contract clause issues, he and fellow Boston University prospect Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson were prohibited from partaking in the Calder Cup playoffs with Providence. Another highly touted prospect, Anders Bjork, just decided to forego his collegiate career on May 30th when he signed an entry level contract with the Bruins, and therefore was not available to play on Providence's roster during the postseason. Ultimately, the thought that the Providence Bruins can achieve such great success, even without the help of some of the organization's most exciting young guns, is enough to make Bruins fans crazy with anticipation.
Providence's deep playoff run has given avid Bruins fans a lot to be excited about for the future. The Baby Bruins' postseason success is effectively indicative of the immense talent that is present in Boston's franchise. Despite a lot of the flak that they have received (sometimes deservedly so), the Bruins' front office is proudly showing off their deep roster, and the array of skills that so many of their players can showcase. Whether it be the postseason success of young P-Bruins players such as Noel Acciari, Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen, Sean Kuraly, Jake Debrusk, and Matt Grzelcyk, or other players in the Bruins' prospect pool, such as Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Bruins fans are undoubtedly looking forward to the future with a level of excitement and anticipation that they might not have felt in years.
The opinions expressed in this piece are my own. Above all, I believe the best way to learn is discussion, so please feel free to comment your own opinions, ideas, and feedback!