September is here and that means hockey is coming!

September is one of my favorite months of the year. Summer’s not quite done but the evenings are cool enough to put on a sweater. The first sight of leaves changing and Dunks is serving the pumpkin stuff again. Kids are returning for a new school year and hockey players are arriving for their first camp or returning to gear up for another season. So on this past Monday, the Bruins released their roster for the upcoming three game Prospects Challenge tournament in Buffalo.

Forwards: Samuel Asselin, Anders Bjork, Scott Conway, Trent Frederic, Jacob Gaucher, Dante Hannoun, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Robert Lantosi, Jakub Lauko, Tom Marchin, Pavel Shen, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka, Alex-Olivier Voyer

Defensemen: Axel Andersson, Max Martin, Riley McCourt, Andrew Perrott, Jordan Sambrook, Wiley Sherman, Alexey Solovyev, Urho Vaakanainen, Cooper Zech

Goaltenders: Taylor Gauthier, Kyle Keyser, Dan Vladar

Jacob Gaucher, Dante Hannoun, Alex-Olivier Voyer, Max Martin, Riley McCourt, Andrew Perrott, Jordan Sambrook, Taylor Gauthier are all undrafted and unsigned. These players are attending camp on an invite.

With rookie camp opening today and the Prospects Challenge beginning Friday at the Harbor Center, this might be a good time to take a look at a few of the younger guys in the B’s system. While I will have my eyes on the usual and well known high-profile prospects such as Lauko, Studnicka & Vaakanainen, I’m also very interested in seeing how a few more perform. Here’s five.

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Anders Bjork:

Not drafted very high in 2014 but after putting up 52 points in 39 games as a junior at the University of Notre Dame in ’16-’17, there was excitement as he signed his first professional contract with the B’s. He spent the majority of his playing time with the big club that season and looked to have the makings of a player. Then came the injuries. In his two pro seasons he has not been able to eclipse the 40-game mark and stay on the ice. Shoulder issues ended both of those seasons. Some have speculated on where Anders ceiling is or could be for production at the NHL level but it is just that: speculation and speculation only. Hopefully he’s carrying a rabbits foot or has gone to see the witch doctor about the juju that’s been following him these past few seasons. I’m excited to see what he can do.

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Samuel Asselin:

A non-drafted player who is on the smaller side with offensive abilities. Listed at 5’9″ and 180 pounds, he may not fit the mold of your prototypical center. But he was able to find the back of the net and create plays in the QMJHL last season. 86 points in 68 games with the Halifax Mooseheads. It will be interesting to see if those skills transfer over to the pro game. Hopefully the B’s caught lightning in a bottle on this signing.

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Oskar Steen:

Another center of smaller stature (5’9″ 187) with big offensive upside. Originally drafted by the Bruins in the 6th round of 2016 he has spent the last two seasons playing pro in Sweden. From the numbers, his development is happening at a fast pace. In the SHL he recorded 7 points in 45 games his first season and jumped to 37 points in 46 games his second. He might be a long shot to make the big club this season out of camp but we’ll all be hearing more from him by the sound of it.

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Axel Andersson:

A 2018 second round pick of the Bruins. Is said to have big offensive upside, above average skating ability and sees the ice well. Known for his play making and being strong on the power play. No real shot of making the club out of camp but with uncertainty on defense beyond the 2019-20 season it’s good to have players coming up in the system.

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Cooper Zech:

An undrafted D-man that tore up the BCHL at over a point per game having 69 points in 58 games in ’17-’18. He followed that by leading the Ferris State Bulldogs in scoring last season as a freshman with 28 points in 36 games. Could be another diamond in the rough for Don.

I’m sure there’s a plan in place for for the Bruins this season and a loose one for the seasons following. Maybe some of these players fit into this plan and maybe they don’t. Either way I am glad that September is here and it’s a good thing to hope, dream and look forward to what may be.

You can find me on Twitter at @stnolan74 along with the rest of our writing team!

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