Fabian Lysell skated the first laps of his pro career Wednesday at the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, performing on-ice drills at rookie camp with fellow recent draftees, young AHLers, and a few undrafted pro wannabes.
On Thursday, the first-round pick will join a group of 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies at the Buffalo rookie tournament, where they’ll have a practice Friday and games against the Sabres at 3 p.m. Saturday and Devils, 1 p.m. Sunday.
Lysell’s play will largely dictate where he goes after that.
“It’s just a big honor to be here, first and foremost,” said the speedy right winger, drafted 21st overall in July. “I’ll just try to acclimate myself to this level and this [smaller] rink and try to be curious and learn new stuff everyday, and then we’ll take it from there. I’m open to everything right now, but definitely looking forward to what comes.”
Safe to say he has options. Lysell, a baby-faced 18-year-old, recently toured the campus of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, who hold his Canadian junior rights. He could return to Sweden, where he is under contract with SHL Luleå for two more years. If he impresses this weekend, he could earn an invite to Providence camp. The varsity gathers next Wednesday for off-ice testing, and the start of drills the next day.
Lysell, wearing No. 68, flashed some of the skating ability that had the Bruins thinking he was a steal at 21st overall in the July draft. He wasn’t in full flight often on Wednesday, but he zipped around. He was willing to go to the corners and the net. His stick skills were noticeable.
In that way, he’s like Jakub Lauko, the third-round pick (77th overall) from 2018, with whom Lysell was paired in a few drills. Lauko showed well, burning a few defenders and making a couple between-the-legs dangles on the rush. Though they are unlikely to crack a deep Boston roster, Lauko and Lysell are the most dynamic of the young pups Boston will bring to Buffalo.
“Their speed and their separation stands out right away,” said new Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel, who is overseeing the B’s rookies this week. “That excites you. They can skate and create ... and have the courage to do it.”
Lauko, 21, is a third-year pro, after spending his first year as a Bruins draftee in the QMJHL (Rouyn-Noranda) and overcoming a knee injury as a first-year Providence Bruin in 2019-20. Last year, the left wing rounded out his profile at the AHL level, producing five goals and 19 points in 23 games. He’ll likely play preseason games for Boston, with an eye on earning a big-league job on the fourth line.
“Every time he steps on the ice, something happens,” Mougenel, who spent three years as an assistant to former Providence coach Jay Leach. “I think he’s really going to push. He’s the type of player Butch Cassidy likes. He’s got some abrasiveness that really showed up last year, along with the skill package. He’s the real deal. We’re very happy with how he’s come along.”
If Lysell’s development path mirrors that of David Pastrnak, the Bruins will be thrilled. Pastrnak, drafted four spots lower and seven years before Lysell, arrived in North America before he had established himself as a pro in Sweden. The 25th overall pick in 2014 lit up that year’s rookie camp, did a short stint in Providence, and was soon on his way to becoming the No. 1 right wing in Boston.
That is uncommon. The Bruins have no such expectations for Lysell, who has limited pro experience (26 games in the Swedish Hockey League). His main tasks this week are to absorb the work habits of the slightly older pros around him, and ask questions.
Lauko could tell him that patience is necessary for even the most willing-and-able prospects.
“We have the ability to have players marinate in the American League, and when they’re ready, they seem to go up when their games are tight and good,” Mougenel said. “[Lauko] could probably go somewhere else and be pushed into duty and not be ready. He’s worked on his game, feels good about his game, understands some of those things that go into being a pro.”
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After seven years in the Bruins’ organization, John Ferguson Jr. is moving on.
The Arizona Coyotes hired Ferguson, 52, as assistant general manager and GM of their AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners.
Ferguson was most recently the Bruins’ executive director of player personnel, logging heavy miles scouting the pro and amateur levels. As such, he was a trusted advisor to both current GM Don Sweeney and former GM Peter Chiarelli on potential trades and signings. He also spent the last five years as Providence GM.
“Wishing John Ferguson and his family much success and happiness in joining the Arizona Coyotes,” Sweeney said in an email. “I enjoyed working with and learning from John as he contributed to the Boston Bruins in multiple areas. He worked tirelessly to strengthen our affiliation agreement with the Providence Bruins as well as contributing valuable insight and experience to personnel decisions throughout the Bruins organization.”
The Bruins did not immediately name a replacement.
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In addition to Lauko and Lysell, the Bruins’ roster for the Buffalo tournament included: forwards Samuel Asselin, Matt Filipe, Jesper Froden, Curtis Hall, Brett Harrison, Ian McKinnon, Oskar Steen, Eduards Tralmaks and Alex-Olivier Voyer; defensemen Jack Ahcan, Victor Berglund, , J.D. Greenway, Brady Lyle, Ryan Mast, Andrew Peski and Nick Wolff; and goaltender Kyle Keyser. Forwards Marc Boudreau and Jacob Hudson, defenseman Noah Dorey, and goaltender Jeremy Brodeur were invited players not under contract.