He might not have logged a single minute of ice time during the Bruins' run to the Stanley Cup Final last spring, but Jack Studnicka was there every step of the way — serving as a "Black Ace" for a franchise gearing itself for his eventual ascension into the NHL ranks.
In his role, Studnicka and a slew of other Providence call-ups served as added insurance for Boston, taking part in regular practices with the usual suspects on Bruce Cassidy's roster and competing in intrasquad scrimmages. The regular reps at Warrior Ice Arena might not have been flashy, but they were instrumental to a young pivot like Studnicka — who had only logged nine games of pro hockey up to that point in his promising career.
"To see that type of competition firsthand and live was unbelievable. ... I think it was a confidence booster for sure, to be able to be a part of that," Studnicka said Tuesday during a virtual town hall. "I think the organization and the team did a very good job at making us feel like we were a part of it and to stay ready. Another thing, I think I got a lot better as a hockey player, because we were skating every day. And we were able to, with the group we had, pick on certain things we needed to get better at, just because we had that time and that luxury. So I think, you know, skating every day with a good group of hockey players and then at night, watching NHL playoffs, definitely, I think was a confidence booster, like you said, but I think also, in terms of development, I think I was able to get better during that experience."
If his following campaign down in Providence was a byproduct of those practices, can you imagine what the dynamic forward could do with a few playoff games under his belt?
Studnicka's stock in Boston's prospect pipeline has soared since inking his entry-level contract in April 2018, with the B's second-round pick (53rd overall) in the 2017 NHL Draft ranking third among all AHL rookies this season with 49 points over 60 games.
Although COVID-19 ended Providence's season prematurely, Studnicka is holding out hope that a resumption of the 2019-20 NHL campaign would signal another call-up to Boston for a Cup run — one that could hold much more opportunity than serving as an extra body during morning skates.