Jack Studnicka established himself as one of the promising prospects in the Boston Bruins organization since David Pastrnak.
The 6-foot-1 centerman, selected 57th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, garnered significant notoriety for his constant highlight-reel abilities at every level of hockey he played in.
Studnicka pushed for a roster spot entering his third training camp in Boston. But a deep Bruins’ roster made along with Studnicka’s relative inexperience at the professional level provided a tough hill to climb for the 21-year-old.
Yet, despite the disappointment at starting his first professional season in Providence, Studnicka acknowledged his preseason struggles as he aims to polish certain areas of his game down at the AHL level.
“I don’t think my game was at the level it needed to be to make the NHL. I don’t think my game was as good as it could be,” Studnicka said earnestly about this preseason. “But I think I had a good showing in terms of my work ethic and my details and my 200-foot game.
“I think offensively my touch just wasn’t there; hanging on to pucks in the offensive zone and making plays in tight areas. It just wasn’t really polished to the point where I wanted it to be.”
Making the jump from juniors straight to the NHL isn’t easy. There’s no shame in starting the season at the AHL level — however short his Providence stint may be — to develop into a more well-rounded player.
It will only benefit Studnicka too get his “pro legs” under him in Providence. The talented Canadian playmaker will see top-line minutes with the Baby Bruins compared to Boston where he would’ve likely played third or fourth line minutes.
The Bruins are bound to run into a stretch where they’re all banged up. That comes with the territory following a long postseason run. They’ll need guys like Studnicka, Anders Bjork and other young sparkplugs in Providence to provide the team with energy at some point this season.
Cassidy expected this. Unlike year’s past, he didn’t envision a plethora of prospects competing for open roster spots. Instead, the younger players competed to impress the Bruins’ brass for future trips up I-95.
Studnicka discussed all of those factors with Cassidy and Don Sweeney at the end of camp. He’s using that constructive feedback as motivation heading into the start of the AHL campaign.
“My goal was to play in the NHL and obviously I fell short,” Studnicka said. “I think getting sent down gave me more motivation than disappointment. I’m motivated right now to round out my game and polish my game and show that I can get called up this year.
“It’s always been a message of I know what type of player I am and they know what type of player I am. “And it’s just playing to my identity, being confident to be an offensive player. Just go down to Providence and polish my game and work on all of the little details and things I need to do to get to the next level.”
There’s a learning curve for every young hockey player entering the league. Studnicka is living proof of that as he hopes to learn and grow into a three-zone hockey player.
In fact, Studnicka already took notes from the successful centers around the league, especially from the longest-tenured Bruin and four-time Selke Award winner.
“Even before I was drafted to the Bruins, in my NHL draft year someone I keyed in on was Bergeron. If you’re going to watch someone I think it should be Patrice Bergeron,” Studnicka said about learning from the four-time Selke winner.
“If you sit there and watch how he handles himself, takes care of himself and prepares himself for stepping onto the ice, guys are drawn to him because he is always doing the right thing. I don’t think I could handpick anyone better to look at and learn from.”
Learning under Bergeron, Studnicka couldn’t have asked for a better mentor.
As he does with almost everyone in the organization, Bergeron took Studnicka under his wing during training camp. The 2003 second-round selection offered all sorts of advice to the young Studnicka from the start of camp to the time Studnicka found out his fate.
“[Bergeron] texted me as soon as he caught wind that I was getting sent down to Providence,” Studnicka said. “For a player with the status that he has in the National Hockey League to go out of their way to better you is definitely a good feeling.”
Studnicka entered Boston with high expectations of landing one of the final roster spots. His future remains bright despite facing his first bit of adversity at the pro level.
But the Windsor, Ontario native isn’t feeling any pressure as he focuses on fine-tuning his game down in Providence.
“Nope,” Studnicka said about feeling pressure to live up to the hype. “I love to play hockey. I don’t spend a lot of time comparing myself to other people. At the end of the day, this is what I love to do, and I don’t feel any added pressure.”
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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