The Boston Bruins have always been able to find talent from the college circuit. Both Torey Krug, Frank Vatrano, and Noel Acciari are all college free agents whom were acquired by the Bruins when their collegiate careers came to an end.
However, the Bruins have recently looked to the NCAA rinks to draft some prospects before they hit free agency, and some are just beginning to develop in Providence, such as Zane McIntyre, Tommy Cross, and Ben Sexton.
Boston continues to hone in on the college ranks for prospects, and the current class may be its best yet.
Grzelcyk was the captain of Boston University, and he might be just the blueline prospect that the Bruins need. Boston has suddenly seen a lack of depth at defense in the minor leagues, and Grzelcyk, graduating from BU this season, is a player who could contend to make the roster next season.
While he may not exactly be ready to crack an NHL roster next season, JFK is another Bruins prospect playing at Agganis Arena. Forsbacka-Karlsson had a terrific freshman campaign with the Terriers, and he is expected to be back next season as well. However, it might not be surprising to see the Bruins give him a look in training camp.
Bjork is a left wing, unlike most of the Bruins NCAA prospects at the forward position, who are mostly centers. One of the top forwards on Notre Dame, Bjork was a fifth round pick to the Bruins in 2014. Bjork had a tremendous sophomore year with the Fighting Irish, scoring 32 points in 35 games. He was a +28 as well, and one of the reasons that the Irish were one of the top teams in Hockey East all season. His stock has risen as a prospect, and he’s someone the Bruins should start to become excited about.
Heinen is a part of a top line that has contributed over 100 points this season as one of the top three forwards with the University of Denver. Now Heinen and his Pioneers will head to Tampa Bay to play in the Frozen Four. The Langley, British Columbia native was a fourth round draft pick of the Bruins in 2014, and is one of several centers that the Bruins system boasts.
A 2013 fourth round draft pick, Fitzgerald is the leader of a Boston College team that made it to the Frozen Four despite not even making the Hockey East championship. The Eagles led the conference in the regular season, and Fitzgerald is a big reason behind their success. Going into his senior season next year, Fitzgerald has a better chance of joining the Bruins or Providence than, say, JFK, but the Eagles are a team that always can contend for a national title, so he may choose to return. For more connections to the Bruins, Fitzgerald is local, a North Reading native, and is the cousin of current Bruins forward Jimmy Hayes.
Like Forsbacka-Karlsson, Donato was a freshman in 2015-2015. He played with Harvard under his father and former Bruins forward, Ted Donato. Ryan also played for USA at the World Junior Championships, and like many other Bruins center prospects, is a two-way forward. Unlike a few other center prospects, however, he isn’t the fastest skaters, but he is one of the smartest platers on the ice in any game that he plays. Donato was at Bruins camp this past year, and he likely will be back.