Jack Studnicka ascended in Boston’s prospect rankings after the Bruins selected him in the second round of the 2017 draft. He followed up a stellar career in the Ontario Hockey League with a fine first impression with the Providence Bruins during his first professional hockey season in 2019-20.
The Bruins had high hopes for Studnicka in the 2021 pandemic shortened season. But Studncika’s path to becoming an NHL regular took a hit in that injury-plagued. He found himself back with the P-Bruins toward the end of the season as the big club added the likes of Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar at the trade deadline.
Studnicka turned that frustrating season into motivation as he stayed in Boston for off-season training. The results from his strength and conditioning itinerary: 15 lbs. of bulk.
The added muscle hasn’t hindered Studnicka’s ‘explosive’ skating traits one bit.
“I feel more explosive,” Studnicka said following Monday’s captains’ practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “I wasn’t just trying to put on all this bad weight, but I was just trying to get faster and more explosive. You know, I think it was just my body’s timing that’s kind of catching up. I weigh a little bit more so hopefully I’ll be able to push off guys and hold on to the puck longer and just gain more explosiveness.”
Studnicka weighed a little over 170 lbs when he arrived in Providence a few years back. His speed and quickness suited him well at the AHL level. He wasn’t as nimble at the NHL level as he witnessed first hand the increased physical nature of a 200-foot-game with added emphasis of puck possession.
A shorter off-season and COVID restrictions prevented Studnicka from using certain training methods following Boston’s playoff exit in the summer of 2020. This year, he benefitted from a summer full of training both off and on the ice. The scouts and coaches who saw Studnicka in action during the Foxboro Summer League or even a recent captains practice witnessed his newfound explosiveness firsthand.
“Just staying in town and making that commitment to getting bigger and getting stronger, for him it’s visible,” new Providence Bruins coach Ryan Mougenel said. “I was shocked. I hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks. He’s definitely put the work in of taking the message of getting bigger and stronger.”
Studnicka himself received the best of both worlds. With COVID restrictions loosened, he finally toured around some of the sights in the historic city of Boston during his downtime from training with fellow NHL peers like Charlie Coyle and Kevin Hayes in Foxboro.
“Last year with COVID, I didn’t get to see the city a lot. So I got out and saw it a lot, and I was working out down in Foxboro with [owner] Brian McDonagh at EPS,” Studnicka admitted. “They have a great group down there and a ton of NHL players who want to get better and work super hard and push each other. When you’re in that environment, it’s super easy to achieve goals and get stronger and faster.”
A more competitive environment awaits Studnicka with the start of training camp this week.
While Don Sweeney improved Boston’s depth with several free agent additions including Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, Tomas Nosek, Derek Forbort and Linus Ullmark, the Bruins enter another preseason slate with a question mark on the second line. Unlike the revolving door of wingers from year’s past, the Bruins have a significant void at center following David Krejci’s departure.
Coyle remains the odds-on favorite to fill the second line center vacancy, but he’ll have limited participation to start camp following off-season surgery.
Even as he battles for a roster spot, don’t count out Studnicka as a second line option in the long term. Certainly he’ll have to strengthen more areas of his 200-foot game to make his potential worthwhile. But if his off-season workouts are anything to go by, the Bruins may very well have another top-six cog to work with.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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