The Boston Bruins received a recent boost from the play of rookie defenseman Jack Ahcan.
The undrafted free agent signing in the spring of 2020 out of St. Cloud State made his NHL debut during the 2020-21 pandemic-shortened season, but scored his first NHL goal this week in the B’s victory over the Chicago Blackhawks, and is showing signs of being the small but dangerous two-way defender that he was in college as captain of the Huskies. His goal was done on pure effort and instinct, getting the puck off a turnover and skating to the middle of the ice to change the shooting angle before firing a quick wrist shot past Chicago goalie Kevin Lankinen.
Ahcan was in the lineup because of a recent injury to Matt Grzelcyk, but once the veteran was able to return in Boston’s Saturday evening game against Arizona, the youngster was out. His time as a Boston regular is coming, but it is not here yet. Grzelcyk is the established blue liner, and just as he had to bide his time when Torey Krug was the undersized regular on the back end before him, the team cannot afford to play two smaller ‘D’ on the left side. The limited returns have looked promising, and the 24-year-old Minnesotan is having a strong season in Providence, but he’s not quite ready for prime time.
This week, we take a closer look at the young blueliner, along with four other Bruins future hopefuls who have been showing upward mobility in recent weeks with improved play and production in their respective leagues.