Boston Bruins

World Junior showcase highlights what Bruins did, and didn't do, at draft

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World Junior showcase highlights what Bruins did, and didn't do, at draft

A year ago Bruins fans were energized and excited while watching the World Junior summer showcase and witnessing a potential star in the making as Charlie McAvoy skated, moved the puck and obliterated forward prospect Lawson Crouse with a huge open ice hit. Perhaps it’s no surprise eight months later McAvoy was already in the NHL and paying dividends on that massive potential with an impressive playoff performance averaging a massive 26 minutes of ice time in six postseason games for the Black and Gold.

Unfortunately, it’s a much quieter summer showcase from Team USA this time around from a B’s perspective.

A couple of B’s draft picks, defenseman Ryan Lindgren and center Trent Frederic, are at the USA Hockey camp vying for world junior roster spots, but it’s 5-foot-8 Kailer Yamamoto that’s taken the summer hockey exhibition by storm. That’s the same skilled, explosive Yamamoto that the Edmonton Oilers took 22nd overall and just four spots after the Bruins played it safe in the first round with solid, stay-at-home defenseman prospect Urho Vaakanainen.

Yamamoto scored, assisted and was a dominant force by while skating on a top line with lottery pick Casey Mittelstadt and fellow first rounder Logan Brown for Team USA vs. Sweden on Thursday. He certainly didn’t look undersized or unable to easily handle the higher level of international play, and instead resembled Johnny Gaudreau, Tyler Johnson or any number of feisty, productive and small NHL wingers making their way in the league these days.  

Clearly, it’s impossible to accurately evaluate it at this point because Vaakenainen could turn into a solid 10-year pro that will more than justify his selection by Boston, and Yamamoto faces odds stacked against him when he’ll be one of the smallest players in the NHL once he gets there. But the league is trending toward the tremendous speed and skill that Yamamoto brings to the table, and that’s not changing anytime soon. The bottom line is that it’s somebody else’s draft pick that’s got the hockey world oohing and aahing this week at the summer showcase.

The situation is all the more striking with former Bruins Director of Scouting Keith Gretzky now working as an assistant GM with Peter Chiarelli in Edmonton. That’s the very same Oilers team that happily scooped up the dynamic Yamamoto after the Bruins, along with the Sharks, Blues and Rangers passed on a potentially explosive winger while instead settling on a solid, no-frills defenseman with a lot of work to do offensively.

It certainly felt a lot better from a Bruins perspective last summer when they had the hot prospect making all the highlight reels at the showcase event. 

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Kenny Agostino's OT goal lifts Bruins over Flyers

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Kenny Agostino's OT goal lifts Bruins over Flyers

BOSTON – The Bruins continued to pick up wins in the preseason by all different methods. 

On Thursday night it was a bit of an ugly, penalty-filled affair with the Flyers, but the Bruins improved to 3-0-0 in the preseason with a 2-1 overtime victory behind a Kenny Agostino breakaway goal on a nifty double-move in the extra session. 

Agostino finished with the game-winner and a couple of points after feeding Postma for his game-tying strike in the third period as well.

The Flyers took the initial lead in the third period on a seemingly innocuous play that started with Matt Grzelcyk and Paul Postma getting caught chasing the puck in transition. Travis Sanheim fired a shot from the outside of the left circle and somehow got the perimeter attempt past Tuukka Rask after he’d stopped the first 21 shots he’d faced through two periods. 

Postma made up for any miscues immediately afterward when he fired a bomb from the high point that shot that rocketed past Brian Elliott for the game-tying goal. The Postma score came immediately after Grzelcyk was stuffed on his own scoring attempt after a nice Danton Heinen feed set him up directly in front of the net. 

Otherwise Thursday night’s preseason game was about the face-off violations that slowed the game to a crawl, and the ridiculous seven slashing penalty calls made as the NHL looks to crack down on their enforcement of potentially dangerous slashing plays.