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Bruins assign top prospect Fabian Lysell to WHL team in Vancouver

Fabian Lysell was the Bruins' No. 1 selection — 21st overall — in July's entry draft.
Fabian Lysell was the Bruins' No. 1 selection — 21st overall — in July's entry draft.Bruce Bennett/Getty

In need of more time and seasoning, and maybe an extra milkshake or two, top Bruins prospect Fabian Lysell was shipped west to British Columbia on Thursday and will begin his North American hockey experience this season with the WHL Vancouver Giants.

Lysell, a speedy Swedish forward and clever stickhandler picked 21st in this summer’s draft, was demoted just hours before the Bruins took on the Flyers in a preseason game at the Garden.

In two exhibition games with the varsity, Lysell logged nearly 33 minutes in ice time, landed four shots on net, and picked up an assist — the primary helper on Jack Studnicka’s goal Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

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Fabian Lysell gets in some work during a recent practice session in Brighton.
Fabian Lysell gets in some work during a recent practice session in Brighton.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Lysell, 18, showed promising flashes of NHL-caliber talent, but even with his speed, he would be challenged to compete day to day at 5 feet 11 inches, and 172 pounds. He’ll now have a season to gain some weight, add some muscle, and have a more reasonable shot at turning pro next season, be it with the Bruins or AHL Providence.

“For him, it’s about getting comfortable and playing in traffic,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “I thought he did well, made some plays, wasn’t timid at all in terms of attacking. So there’s a lot of good there. I think it was a positive experience for him. Now it’s go get better there and see where that leads.”

The Giants, who years ago delivered Milan Lucic to the Bruins lineup, open their regular season Friday night at the Victoria Cougars.

The Bruins also returned Brett Harrison, a 6-2 center, to the Oshawa Generals, where he posted 37 points in 58 games in 2019-20. Also 18 years old, he was chosen No. 85 overall in this summer’s draft. Because of COVID-19 interruptions, Harrison logged only one game in Finland last season.

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“I thought he’s a smart player; he really is,” said Cassidy, who didn’t suit up Harrison for either of the first two exhibition games. “We felt he could have played and handled himself well. He’s a pretty clever player. I liked his hockey IQ.”

Studnicka gets it straight

Cassidy went with a 20-man lineup vs. the Flyers that likely will closely resemble the group he’ll employ for the season opener Oct. 16 against Dallas at the Garden.

He returned with his top line, among the NHL’s best, of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. And with presumptive No. 2 center Charlie Coyle still recovering from offseason knee surgery, Studnicka pivoted Taylor Hall and Craig Smith.

Jack Studnicka skates against Philadelphia's Cam York in the third period of Thursday's preseason contest.
Jack Studnicka skates against Philadelphia's Cam York in the third period of Thursday's preseason contest.Maddie Meyer/Getty

Studnicka, noted Cassidy, has been more of a straight-line player in camp, choosing not to make high-risk plays that too often can lead to nowhere, or worse (turnovers, opposition breakaways).

“The more games, reps, that Jack can get with those top-six guys, the better off he’ll be,” said Cassidy. “He may get moved around, depending on a lot of things, his play first and foremost.”

Cassidy noted that this is an important camp for Studnicka, who is entering his third pro season and has a reasonable chance to remain with the varsity rather than be assigned to the WannaB’s.

“I think he’s a little cleaner in his play with the puck,” said Cassidy. “He’s less busy. Jack’s willing to try things. He’ll try some behind-the-back stuff, no-look plays.

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“I think some of those were working against him early on, and I think he has a better understanding of just making the plays in front of him. When there is an opportunity to do something more, he’ll hopefully step up and do it.”

The bottom six, which had trouble scoring last season, had Erik Haula between Jake DeBrusk and Nick Foligno, followed by a Cam Hughes-Trent Frederic-Chris Wagner trio.

On the back end, franchise defenseman Charlie McAvoy paired with Derek Forbort, and Matt Grzelcyk with Brandon Carlo. Jakub Zboril and Connor Clifton made up the third pairing, leaving Brady Lyle and Mike Reilly as the extras.

Jeremy Swayman, seen here battling Philadelphia's James van Riemsdyk, got the start in net for the Bruins Thursday night.
Jeremy Swayman, seen here battling Philadelphia's James van Riemsdyk, got the start in net for the Bruins Thursday night.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Ex-Maine goalie Jeremy Swayman, expected to share the varsity job with Linus Ullmark, made the start in net, with Cassidy to choose between Troy Grosenick or Callum Booth as his backup

Roster cuts ahead

The Bruins will be back at the Garden on Saturday night to face the Rangers, then close out the preseason with a pair of games next week — Monday in Philadelphia and Wednesday at the Garden vs. the Capitals. Look for more roster trims after the game against the Blueshirts, paring down to 23-25 players.


Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at kevin.dupont@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeKPD.