At the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Studnicka lived out the dream of every hockey player in the world. He heard his name called out as a selection by an NHL franchise. Studnicka would be selected 53rd overall by the Boston Bruins. Now four seasons later, Studnicka is looking to make the NHL roster. If he doesn’t make it, the young forward’s career may be in jeopardy.
Jack Studnicka’s Best Chance at a Roster Spot
There hasn’t been a greater opportunity for a centreman in the Bruins organization for a long time. The departure of David Krejci has left a massive hole in the lineup that needs to be filled. Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have long been the top two centers for the team. Now one of them needs to be replaced. There are two players being eyed for the role. The first is nine-year NHL veteran Charlie Coyle. The second is a homegrown talent in Jack Studnicka.
Who Has an Edge?
There are two ways to view this situation. This team is ready to win now. The Bruins made significant roster additions in free agency and are hoping to make at least one more deep playoff run with this group. From that perspective, they might want to go with Charlie Coyle. He has the experience and was electrifying in his first postseason with the Bruins. On the flip side, Jack Studnicka is a younger player who has the tools to be successful at the NHL level. But he hasn’t quite found his groove against elite talent just yet.
Charlie Coyle probably has the edge here. The mentality of the front office and coaching staff is that they are all in on a Stanley Cup run. Last season’s trade deadline acquisitions signalled that. While getting Studnicka an NHL role should be a priority, this team will see Coyle as the better option for this season. Bruce Cassidy has publicly backed Coyle for that role. But that does not mean he doesn’t have to earn that spot.
Rehab For Coyle Benefits Studnicka
Last season, Coyle suffered a knee injury that caused him to undergo surgery this offseason. Rehab from that surgery kept Coyle out of the lineup for the majority of the preseason. Due to his inability to play, Cassidy was forced to find an alternative second unit centre. Studnicka was provided with that opportunity and he made the most of it. The young forward scored twice and assisted on two other goals over the course of four preseason games played.
Jack Studnicka Could Be A Factor This Season
While four points in four games is impressive, we cannot put all of our stock into that. It’s preseason. Teams are still finding their grooves and trying out their young guys. The rosters are better than an AHL team, but not quite as good as a regular-season NHL squad. But that still gives us hope. Studnicka has proven he can get it done at the AHL level. He put up 49 points in 60 games during the 2019-20 season and was on the NHL roster for some time last year.
Studnicka’s 20 games played last season did leave something to be desired. The young forward never really found his game and put together three points in that span. During that time frame, he spent time in the middle six. He played on David Krejci’s wing and spent some time centring Trent Frederic and Jake DeBrusk. That role could be his again this year. If Charlie Coyle struggles early, don’t be surprised if Cassidy gives Studnicka a look. He is a year older and has a better understanding of what awaits him at the next level.
Jack Studnicka is teetering on the edge. At 22-years-old, you have to wonder if he can capitalize on his talents. Many people start to write off prospects if they do not make the NHL by the time they turn 23 or 24. Studnicka figures to have a ceiling of a second-line centreman. If he doesn’t make the lineup on a regular basis this year, the outlook on his ceiling could start to suffer.
We have heard Jack Studnicka’s name for several seasons now. He is one of the top prospects in Boston’s system. But this could be a make-or-break season for Studnicka. If he can establish himself in any way, we know that there has been substantial progress in his development. But if he struggles, questions will arise. Can he be Boston’s next great 2C? Or will he be the next incarnation of Ryan Spooner and Danton Heinen? Only time will tell and this season could be the tipping point.
MONTREAL, QC – NOVEMBER 26: Look on Boston Bruins center Jack Studnicka (68) during the Boston Bruins versus the Montreal Canadiens game on November 26, 2019, at Bell Centre in Montreal, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)