The 2017-18 season has been following a pretty similar script to previous seasons in the Atlantic Division. There are a few strong teams at the top of the division, and everything else looks a little less inspiring. There's not a ton of depth.
So as we hit December, where there's not a ton of movement in the standings anyway, it might be as good a time as any to look ahead with some prospect-system check-ins. There is plenty of intrigue there as far as the Atlantic Division goes. So let's have a look at where things are for each team, including our way-too-early 2018-19 watch for players who can make an impact a year from now.
The Bruins have graduated a number of prospects this season, with Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen rounding into full-timers. That raids their prospect pool quite a bit, but there's still some depth there -- starting at the AHL level, where the Providence Bruins are among the league's best teams this season.
First-year pro Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson has made the transition smoothly and is a top producer for the P-Bruins. Meanwhile, first-rounder Zach Senyshyn appears to be coming along as an AHL rookie with 10 points in 20 games. He's going to require some patience, but the talent is there and the points will come.
Below the AHL level, the Bruins have some particularly strong prospects in the NCAA ranks. Harvard center Ryan Donato is one of the best players in college hockey this season, averaging 1.50 points per game for the Crimson. Over at Wisconsin, 2016 first-rounder Trent Frederic has been rounding out into a higher-end, two-way center as a sophomore. He should be on the U.S. World Junior team in a fairly prominent role.
Over in Europe, the Bruins' most recent first-rounder, Urho Vaakanainen, is excelling for SaiPa in Finland. The 18-year-old leads the team in average ice time, at 22:15 through 19 games. He'll likely be patrolling the blue line for a very deep Finland squad at the World Juniors.