Bowers getting chance to reset with Bruins

📝 by Patrick Williams


The Boston Bruins think they might have something with Shane Bowers.

Boston acquired the 23-year-old forward, who was a 2017 first-round pick, from the Colorado Avalanche on Feb. 25 for goaltender Keith Kinkaid. The move also relieved a logjam in net for the organization in Providence, where prospects Brandon Bussi, an AHL All-Star this season, and Kyle Keyser can take on additional work.

There is potential with Bowers as well. He was drafted by Ottawa and acquired by Colorado via a blockbuster 2017 trade that sent Matt Duchene to the Senators. At the time, Bowers, the 28th overall pick in that year’s NHL Draft and was beginning his freshman season at Boston University.

He turned pro with the Colorado Eagles following his sophomore year in the spring of 2019 and built strong ties with the organization, totaling 154 games with the Eagles. But last week, Bowers had a new home.

“I mean, it’s always surprising,” Bowers said. “I wasn’t really expecting it. I got the call at the rink, so it definitely caught me off guard a bit. I loved my time in Colorado. I love the staff, love the team, the group of guys there, living there.

“That being said, I’m excited for the opportunity here.”

When the trade to the Boston organization went through, Bowers was in a battle with the Eagles for positioning in the thick of the Pacific Division playoff race. Now he has jumped into another fight, this one for supremacy in the Eastern Conference. Providence enters the week one point behind Hershey for the lead in the Atlantic Division, and three behind Toronto for the top spot in the conference; the Bruins host the Bears twice this weekend.

“Maybe we cross paths later down the road in the playoffs,” Bowers said of the Bruins and Eagles.

Providence head coach Ryan Mougenel likes what he has seen from Bowers, who made his debut with the club on Thursday in Bridgeport.

“He can skate,” Mougenel said of his newest project. “He’s got a pedigree, he’s got experience, and he’s a fantastic kid.”

In his first season at Boston University, Bowers was named to the Hockey East conference’s All-Rookie Team. A year later, he competed for Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver.

His rookie pro season saw him put up 27 points in 48 games before it was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Then came the truncated 2020-21 campaign, followed by his being limited to 37 games in 2021-22. And when he got the call for his NHL debut on Nov. 10, 2022, with the Avalanche, he registered just 1:46 of ice time before his night ended with an injury that eventually kept him out of action for nearly five weeks.

Bowers gathered 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 37 AHL games this season when the Boston-Colorado deal was struck.

Mougenel stressed that if Bowers had played his four full seasons at Boston University, he would be in only his second pro season. He is still relatively early on his development time.

“I like a lot of things in his game,” Mougenel said. “He’s come at a time when we’re fighting a little bit. I want him to play a little bit more free.”

Bowers has also walked into a tight dressing room and been welcomed quickly. Led by captain Josiah Didier, the P-Bruins also have a leadership group featuring veterans Mike Reilly, Chris Wagner and Connor Carrick — a trio with nearly 1,000 combined NHL games played. As with Providence clubs each season, this is a tight group; Boston demands that and brings in the personnel required to foster that environment.

“You’ve got to get to know the guys a little bit, the systems,” Bowers said. “[It’s] a group who’s been playing together all year. So just trying to find my role and fit in where I can and help the team to win here going down the stretch.”

Mougenel welcomes what Bowers can bring to a Providence club that has now received a jolt to its lineup.

“The one thing in the American League is every time you get an opportunity to get minutes, it’s an opportunity for somebody to see you.”