Amid a thin prospect pool from a quality perspective, the Boston Bruins may have themselves a future bright spot.
2021 first-round selection Fabian Lysell arrived with a bang during his first season of North American hockey. The Swede showcased a dazzling scoring touch with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, notching 62 points on 22 goals and 40 assists in 53 games during the 2021-22 campaign.
Lysell carried over the momentum into the rescheduled 2022 World Junior Championships this summer, where he notched six points in seven games in a Bronze Medal effort for Sweden. His stout development continued at last weekend’s prospects challenge in Buffalo, where he produced timely offense on both the power play and penalty kill, and again in even strength situations.
The Bruins sense a high ceiling for Lysell. So much so that, at the start of training camp, head coach Jim Montgomery placed Lysell on a line with former New Jersey Devil Pavel Zacha and captain Patrice Bergeron.
“I think it’s important that you give players that you think have potential to play in those spots an opportunity to play in those spots,” head coach Jim Montgomery said of putting Lysell with Bergeron. “If you put them with fourth-line players, maybe they don’t get to see what they can do in terms of making plays and jumping through holes.”
The first few days of camp usually present coaches with a chance to look at unique forward trios and defensive pairs. Every team has a better idea of their 23-man roster for opening night by the end of the preseason.
As Brad Marchand heals from off-season hip surgery, Lysell finds himself in the mix for a roster spot. Another strong camp similar to last year could land him one of the 12 forward spots for their season-opener in Washington on Oct. 11.
Of course, Lysell could find himself on another line within the next week. But no matter where he starts the year, the 20-year-old Lysell has already gained a wealth of knowledge of Bergeron and his attention to detail.
“It’s a special thing to get an opportunity to practice with such highly skilled guys like that. It’s something I’m trying to enjoy every time I practice, and I try to learn as much as possible,” Lysell said. “He’s one of the best players in the world.”
What stood out in Lysell’s two days with Bergeron?
“His overall game and all the small details on how good he is with the stick…and communicating,” Lysell said of what he’s learned from Bergeron. “If there’s something coming up, he’ll talk about it right away, and you understand really quickly what he means, and maybe you can change up the route you’re going, or whatever, right away. You just have to be alert at all times and try to take in as much as possible.”
Bergeron can relate. After all, he was a young hopeful entering his first training once upon a time, hoping to make an NHL roster.
The five-time Selke winner, himself, learned from Glen Murray and Sergei Samsonov in the fall of 2003. He impressed the Bruins’ brass enough to secure a spot with the big club at just 18 years of age.
“My first scrimmage at main camp was with Glen Murray and Sergei Samsonov. I’ll never forget that,” Bergeron recalled. “Those are the guys you look up to and have experience. I think that’s what we can share with them. It’s also great to have the young energy on your wing. I think it is something that can be very beneficial for young guys coming up.”
Lysell learned a bit of the NHL lifestyle at last year’s camp before heading to Western Canada. After an initial adjustment, he acclimated himself to the North American game.
There wasn’t one particular instance where Lysell felt things clicked. But his confidence kept growing, especially after his illness during the originally scheduled World Junior Championships in December before the COVID postponement.
“I think it came kind of natural,” Lysell said of his junior hockey progression. “I can’t remember if there was a certain moment, but I think after world break– and after the World Juniors coming back after I got sick and it got canceled, that’s when everything started clicking a little more, and you’re getting used to the North American rink.”
Bergeron witnessed Lysell’s raw talent briefly at last year’s camp. With more of a front-row seat this time around, the captain senses a more confident Lysell in his second go-around.
“From one camp to the next as a young performer, I think you gain some confidence, you’re comfortable coming back and you know what to expect. And I’m sure that’s what’s happening for him,” Bergeron said. “He had a great year in junior, and he’s trying to carry that over and prove that he’s a great player that deserves a spot.”
An aging core needs an injection of youth at some point. Lysell’s skillset could give the veteran-laden Bruins a needed shot in the arm.
His professional hockey journey is only beginning. Regardless of where he starts the year, Lysell will never forget his first two days skating with arguably the greatest two-way players in NHL history.
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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