As with every team in the NHL, the Boston Bruins can only learn so much from the first two days of training camp.
For Jim Montgomery and his coaching staff, Saturday’s exhibition against the Philadelphia Flyers will finally allow them to view a handful of players vying for a roster spot in game action.
Between prospects attempting to break through, established veterans trying to rediscover a lineup position, or a player looking to build off a productive last season truncated by injuries, Montgomery and the coaching staff have plenty of items to sort out.
With that in mind, here are 4 Bruins to watch for their preseason opener against the Flyers.
Lysell started camp skating on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Zacha. The 19-year-old has garnered many eyeballs since his first-round selection in 2021. In the last year, Lysell has put together strong campaigns with the Vancouver Giants in the WHL and for Team Sweden at World Juniors.
Likely skating with A.J. Greer and Jack Studnicka, Lysell will have his first opportunity to showcase himself and make his case for one of the remaining forward spots on Boston’s opening-night roster.
“This year I’m looking forward to — if I get the chance to play — contribute in the areas that I feel I can,” Lysell said. “I’m going to be prepared for it if that opportunity comes. I’m definitely going to try and make things happen out there.”
Lysell’s attention to detail is paramount for earning Montgomery’s trust as a full-time NHLer. His reps alongside Bergeron during the first two days should only help.
“Continue to make plays,” Montgomery said when asked about Lysell’s focus areas. “You know, that’s what we’re looking for, and then second and third effort on pucks.”
After struggling to produce at the University of Michigan for three seasons, Beecher might have found his offensive game. The 2019 first-round selection built off a solid showing in Providence late last year with a strong Rookie Showcase performance in Buffalo a week ago.
“I’ve talked about it a couple times, throughout the summer, just how much I worked on my offensive side of the game and my scoring touch and little things like that,” Beecher said. “I’m excited to show everybody what I’ve got now.”
Likely skating between Nick Foligno and Jake DeBrusk in the preseason opener, a confident Beecher hopes to showcase his added offensive touch in his quest for a spot on Boston’s bottom six.
“I think [my confidence is where I want it to be…it’s definitely huge for every player to see the puck go in the net,“ Beecher said. “My goal is to make the team.”
Once a fourth-line regular, Wagner found himself in Providence for most of the 2021-22 campaign. But he made the most of his callup from the AHL in Boston’s regular-season finale in Toronto with an 11-hit performance.
That season-ending performance earned Wagner a spot in three playoff games against the Carolina Hurricanes. And now, the Walpole native looks to recapture that lightning-rod style in his first opportunity this preseason to once again become a key cog on the fourth line.
“There’s ample enough time for people to make an impression because we’re looking for the best players who make the Bruins the best from day one,” Montgomery said.
Wagner will have to sift through a crowded group of potential fits on the fourth line. From established veterans like Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek to younger players like Oskar Steen and John Beecher, Wagner will have his work cut out for himself.
As one-third of the Bruins’ missed opportunities in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft, it took a while for Zboril to establish consistency in either Boston or Providence.
After a rocky start to his professional hockey career, Zboril finally found his stride at the NHL level before his season-ending injury a mere 10 games into his 2021-22 season.
Even with Anton Stralman signing his PTO on Saturday, Zboril’s ability to play his off-side will help him try and re-establish a spot in Boston’s banged-up defense.
“We’ll probably give everybody a different opportunity during camp,” Montgomery said. “I think Day 1 we’re starting with Jakub Zboril in that opportunity. We feel that Zboril, [Mike] Reilly, those two, in particular, have an ability to play the off-side as well as [Matt Grzelcyk] when he gets back.”
Zboril will likely skate alongside Connor Carrick and earn potential power play minutes Saturday.
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