*(Not affiliated with the Boston Bruins or the New England Hockey Journal)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Bruins prospect profile #15: Yury Alexandrov

Yuri Alexandrov, D
6-0, 185
June 24, 1988
Shoots: Left
Boston's 2nd choice, 37th overall in 2006
Signing status: Signed through 2012


Talent Analysis


Physical: Lacks ideal size for a defenseman at the NHL level with average height and below average strength at this stage of his development. . Good, not great skater. Accelerates out of the blocks well, but does not possess the kind of straight-line speed (forwards or backwards) or the lateral quickness to rate him as a "plus" skater. Very good passer; makes a crisp first pass and can transition the play from defense to the attack very well with his ability to put the puck on a player's tape and spring the jail break. Excellent in puck distribution, especially on the power play, where time and space is opened up in the offensive zone. Shot is only average; lacks the kind of power and heaviness that distinguishes other top point shooters from their peers. Struggled with his positional play and reads in AHL last season; has a lot of work to do and coaches indicated that something was lost in translation with the instructional aspect of developing him. Physical game is below average; will use his body to leverage players off the puck, but does not make big open ice hits and has problems moving big, strong power forwards from the front of his net.


Intangibles: Smart and experienced; has been playing against men since age 17, so no player in Boston's system has done more at a high level than Alexandrov has. Relies on his hockey IQ to make plays at both ends of the ice, though is more of an offensive presence/puck-moving defender than he is a shutdown presence. Was named captain of the Russian WJC team at age 19, so he does bring good immeasurables like leadership to the mix. Lack of English skills were a hindrance to his rocky transition to North American hockey and culture last season.

Bruins 2011 Development Camp Assessment

Did not attend

Projection

On talent alone, Alexandrov has the look of a second-pairing defender and low-end No. 3 or solid No. 4. However, his stock is down after a tough rookie AHL season that exposed some flaws in his defensive game. He had a tough time transitioning to North America, but could bounce back this season because he has the reputation as a hard worker and leader. He was once an early second-round pick in 2006, but he'll need to show a lot more than he did in 2010-11 to see that selection pay off for Boston. His spot on the list at 15 has more to do with the upside and flashes of intriguing talent he showed than for what he's actually accomplished. Barring some kind of huge breakthrough, he has virtually no chance of unseating the Boston top-six, but he could compete with Steve Kampfer for a spot as the seventh D. He'll have his work cut out for him, however, and he needs to play, not sit, so Providence might be the best place for him.

Quotable

“Obviously, there’s a language barrier there and [there's] cultural differences. Once he’s on the ice, he feels most comfortable and that’s a good thing. But there’ll be systematic things and nuances he’ll have to figure out. We’ve tried to attack that communication and tried to get better at it because there is a gap there. And the onus falls on him a little bit to understand that and immerse himself in that.”- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney on Alexandrov, Wilmington, Mass.; July 10, 2010

“You can tell when the game starts, his positional play, his understanding and his stick positioning is very, very good,” Sweeney said. “You can tell that’s been taught and built into his game. When you play against bigger and stronger players, you have to develop those techniques and he’s done that."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney on Alexandrov, Wilmington, Mass.; July 10, 2010

Bruins prospect profile #14: Michael Hutchinson

Michael Hutchinson, G
6-3, 190
March 2, 1990
Catches: Right
Boston's 3rd choice, 77th overall in 2008 Draft
Signing status: Signed through 2013

Talent Analysis

Physical: Big, lean frame takes up a lot of the net. Excellent size and athleticism for the position. Still adding muscle and mass to his body, but will be able to stand up well to net-crashers and heavy traffic outside his crease. Quick, instinctive goalie who is a prototype player for the modern age. Moves well laterally and goes down into a compact butterfly. Recovery from the down position is very good. Quick pads; stays square to the shooter and is tough to beat down low. Could stand to improve economy of motion and positioning. The rare right-handed catcher; pretty good glove hand. Good puckhandler who can clear the puck himself or move it up to the 'D' quickly. An all-around physical specimen who has the look of a good, solid NHL netminder one day but who still needs to tweak and refine his game. He had a solid, productive year with the Knights, but might return to junior for an overage year if Boston can't find room for him on the farm.

Intangibles: One of the nicest kids you'll meet; relaxed and personable-- genuinely enjoys playing the position. Can get into a zone and is nearly unbeatable when he does. Earned a third-round draft grade when he stoned the heavily-favored Brampton Battalion in the '08 playoffs while a member of the Barrie Colts. Handled the pressure of playing in London last season well enough, but consistency is still the biggest shortcoming in his game. Needs to find an element of intensity and focus and build on it, as he's skilled enough to be a player at the next level. He played pretty well in his rookie pro season all things told, and is building on a strong body of work.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

For the second consecutive year, Hutch was the best of Boston's four goalies at the D-Camp. He got off to a good start (despite getting cold-cocked by Jared Knight in the first skating session and missing the rest of the ice time- he was fine), and stayed consistent throughout. When on his game, he's tough to beat and against the prospects, they didn't get many pucks by him. He has nothing more to gain from these camps- this was his fourth as a participant and he should be ready for a solid AHL season as Anton Khudobin's backup.

Mike Hutchinson 2011 Development Camp interview

video

Projection

Hutchinson has the makings of a solid backup at the NHL level. His fundamentals are sound, but he is still a long way off from seriously competing for an NHL job. He beat out Matt Dalton and Adam Courchaine for AHL work last season, starting in Providence, going down to Reading of the ECHL and then working his way back up to Providence to close out the year. If he can address some of the consistency that's been lacking in his game over the past couple of seasons, he has a chance to open some eyes, because there are no real physical flaws there. He's a middle-tier prospect who has the potential to move up on the depth chart because of the things he does so well, but after seeing Tuukka Rask in the Boston system over the past several years, there is a clear distinction with Hutchinson in terms of ability and upside: he's a cut below. The Bruins can afford to be patient with Hutchinson, but something eventually will need to give, as Khudobin is more of a workhorse-type goalie. Hutch does give the Bruins some peace of mind if their goaltending depth chart took a major hit, and with his drive and competitiveness to go with his prototypical size, he could turn some heads this season and next.

Quotable

" Hutch [Michael Hutchinson] has got some areas that Bob’s [Essensa] really focusing on. He’s a big kid, moves well, made a nice play with the puck, he does have good puck skills. So we are, I mean as much as other teams get a book and shooters get a book, I think Bob’s got a real good feel for what Mike needs to work on and he’s starting to deliver that message. You know, it was a challenging year for Hutch last year, you know, he was up and down a little bit between there and the coach, just balancing out, getting him the ideal playing time, the number of shots that we wanted to see. You’re not going to work on some of that stuff in practice, you have to play games. And that’s music to Allen Iverson’s ears, but, you know, for the most part, we’re happy with the year of development, but he’s got to continue to work on those areas that Bob and he have identified."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 10, 2011

"(I want to see) Consistency. All the second year guys, they, every first year player goes through it, it’s very rare you find a guy that has a, you know, that goes like this all year and climbs a little bit, there’s usually some peaks and valleys and he had his. He’s a more mature, he’s a mature guy for his age, as far as goaltenders go, because sometimes you know, you hear it all the time that goaltenders can be a little goofy but I find him to be mature for his age. Pretty focused guy, hard worker, it’s just a matter of that big body and developing his technique and his athleticism to the level that it needs to be. I would assume he’s going to have a good year for us, just because of what I saw last year, because he’s a mature guy, he’ll get better. I don’t think you’ll see him go backwards. I think he’s, like I said, a pretty focused guy."- Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011

“I think that each year coming to these I feel more relaxed. This year I came in and right from the start, I felt really comfortable with the speed of the shots and the speed of everything, so I didn’t have that adjustment period for the first couple of days this year. I feel really good about the progress I’ve made so far.”- Michael Hutchinson to hockeyjournal.com, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“My goal is not to be back in junior hockey next year. So I’m going to do everything I can this summer to help me take the step to the next level.”- Michael Hutchinson to hockeyjournal.com, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“They’re at the biggest disadvantage. They’ve been off their teams and haven’t seen shots n game situations for an extended period of time. They have to knock some rust off. The shooters have the advantage.”- Sweeney, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

Bruins prospect profile #13: David Warsofsky

David Warsofsky, D
5-9, 170
May 30, 1990
Shoots: Left
Acquired from St. Louis for C Vladimir Sobotka; June 26, 2010
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical: Very undersized for the defense position, but has very good skating and hockey skills to compensate. A fine skater who exhibits outstanding four-way directional mobility. Tremendous backwards mobility and lateral/crossover ability. Very good puckhandler who can make the effective clearing pass and loves to jump up into the play using his speed and puck skills to motor through the neutral zone and back defenders up. Soft hands for on target passes in the offensive zone, and he's more of a puck distributor than an actual triggerman when playing the point. Possesses a big shot despite the lack of big size, but is a more effective scorer from the high slot, when he can rip off wrist and snap shots through screens. At a disadvantage physically because of his lack of size, but will initiate contact and is willing to take the hit to make plays. Refining his defensive play: has an active stick but still working on positional play and prone to trying to do too much in his own end/getting to running around. A bit of an agitator; will yap a bit and get under the skin of opposing players.

Intangibles: Has overcome the doubters and naysayers at every level so far; captained the 2008 U.S. NTDP Under-18 team and played in all 45 games as a freshman at Boston University in 08-09, earning a national championship and Beanpot trophy in the process. Very good vision and offensive hockey sense. Defensive awareness and decision-making need work; will try to carry the puck out of the zone from in front of his net or make low percentage passes that beg for turnovers. A good, solid character guy who is from the South Shore (Marshfield) and always dreamed of playing for the Bruins, then got to see them win it all for the first time in his young life this past spring, a powerful motivating force. A winner; won the 2009 Frozen Four in Washington, a gold medal at the 2010 World Jr. Championship in Saskatoon last winter and a bronze medal at the 2008 World U-18 Championship. There were whispers that his effort level wasn't what it should have been at BU last season, but he got good marks in his 10-game stint with Providence and gets a clean slate going into the 2011-12 season, his first full AHL campaign.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Warsofsky looked more settled and confident in his second development camp with the Bruins. Has the look and swagger of a guy who can advance the puck either with crisp passing or deft stickhandling. Still needs to avoid making the low-percentage play that will get him into trouble. Got caught failing to pick up backside pressure several times and turned it over. Also made some nice plays at the point in terms of puck control and possession, playing keep away with Anthony Camara on one memorable sequence in the first scrimmage.

David Warsofsky 2011 Development Camp interview

video

Projection
Warsofsky is one more small, but skilled defender the Bruins have added to the prospect stable (where he joins Andrew Bodnarchuk, Steven Kampfer, and Maxim Chudinov as sub-6-foot blue liners.) but it's hard to predict where he will play at the NHL if he gets there. He could be a top-four in the NHL, but realistically, he's probably a third-pairing guy who will see time on special teams on the PK and PP units. He's a long-term project, but Warsofsky is both skilled and tenacious; except for the lack of size, he'd be a high-end prospect, so he could overcome the modest expectations to be more than the sum of his parts in time. It's all about the upside with this guy. Is he going to be a big-time scorer from the blue line in the NHL? Probably not. However, he will get the chance to see a lot of minutes in the AHL and should see ample opportunities on special teams. He's expected to play a role offensively in Providence, so it will be interesting to see if he is ready for that challenge as a rookie.

Quotable

"I think it exhibits his hockey sense overall in terms of he wants to gain, he doesn’t want to force things offensively he wants things to open up. He’ll allow that, to have the patience to allow those things to open up. Rather than, we call it skating into the funnel so to speak. Where a lot of teams are trapped in the neutral zone and setting you up to turn it over. Versus allowing that guy to swing underneath, and make the underneath path and recognizing how I can effectively move the puck. And we’ve asked David in terms of, from defensively from the tops of the circles down. You know he’s going to have to engage and you have a really good stick, it’s just the laws of physics are going to apply. He’s a good skater, you know like do I think he needs to be a very efficient player. Yeah I do, and the margin for error for a guy who’s five foot nine is not very good. You know but if you’ve got the heart and the courage and the hockey sense to be able to utilize the tools you have, and we believe he does, then things will work out just fine and you’ll find your own place. "- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 11, 2011

"It's unbelievable to be a part of the Bruins organization and to be given the chance to fulfill a dream I've had for a good many years. Obviously, there are going to be some fans who are sad to see (Vladimir) Sobotka go, so I've got to show them that I can play this game and will one day hopefully be doing a lot to help Boston win a lot of hockey games. That would be a dream come true for me."- David Warsofsky to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

"I know that I'm not going to grow another two or three inches, but I am going to hit the weights hard to keep building my strength and give everything I have. I can't do anything about my height, but there are other factors I can control, so I'm all about learning as much as I can here this week, and then continuing to do the things I have to in order to play at the next level."- David Warsofsky, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“We did scout to potentially draft David. It just so happened that a team took him in front of us.”- Sweeney, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6, 2010

“I’m envious of the position he’s in, to be honest. David has challenges, but he’s got a skill set that will afford him the opportunity to go out and play. The smaller man does have a bit more leeway in the game now, as it’s composed, if he has the courage to go into areas and be smart enough and quick enough to take advantage of the skills he has.”- Sweeney, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6, 2010

Bruins prospect profile #12: Anton Khudobin

Anton Khudobin, G
5-10, 199
May 7, 1986
Catches: Left
Acquired from Minnesota in February, 2011 for Jeff Penner and Mikko Lehtonen
Signing status: Signed through 2013

Talent Analysis

Physical: Smallish, but cat-quick and athletic. Compact stance- does not take up much of the net, but relies on positioning and reflexes as opposed to taking away space from shooters. Aggressive, active goalie. Quick pads and good balance and recovery skills. Although active and the kind of goalie who will flop and flail at times under pressure, he's essentially a more of a butterfly technique-goalie who has solid fundamentals to draw from. Quick glove and blocker. Can be susceptible to getting beaten on high shots like many other undersized goalies. A battler; doesn't give up on any play and works himself into a rhythm, getting better as time goes on, much like Thomas does. Still working on his rebound control and anticipating where the shots are going to come from. Can lose focus and concentration at times- gave up a poor goal from long distance to the Colorado Avalanche last season because he quit tracking the puck carrier and lost situational awareness.

Intangibles: Several insiders have noted that Khudobin is a 'European version of Tim Thomas." He brings a similar mental makeup and attitude to the table with him. Instinctive in that he will abandon his technique in favor of getting anything he can on a shot. Popular teammate and character- will give Providence some legitimate top-notch puck-stopping prowess in the AHL. Mentally tough and able to shake off bad performances- does not go into prolonged slumps because of it. When "in the zone" can stop multitudes of shots- once posted a 70-save game while skating with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Did not attend

Anton Khudobin highlights courtesy of Houston Aeros Hockey Club (AHL)



Projection

Because of his age, we debated having Khudobin on the list, but in the end, he got the nod because he has some intriguing upside and potential as an NHL goaltender. His biggest challenge is being trapped behind two of the best in hockey in reigning Stanley Cup MVP and Vezina winner Thomas and Tuukka Rask. Khudobin was brilliant after being acquired from Minnesota at the trade deadline, going 9-4 for Providence while posting a .920 save percentage and nearly getting the Baby Bruins into the playoffs. He also has enough NHL experience to be a capable backup and see some playing time should anything happen to Boston's 1-2 injury-wise. Whether or not Khudobin will force a trade at some point is something to watch. He's a year older than Rask, but cheaper than what the Finn will command on his next contract in 2012. To keep Khudobin from bolting to the KHL, the B's gave him a two-year deal, with the second becoming a one-way situation paying him an NHL salary regardless of where he plays. It could be entirely possible that the B's see him as another diamond-in-the-rough who could be a long-term option for the team should he eventually get an opportunity. 10 years ago, Thomas joined the organization with an invitation to camp that he parlayed into a contract, but didn't get a real NHL shot with the Bruins until five years later at age 31. Time is on Khudobin's side.

Quotable

"Khudobin played great for us, he gave us a chance to win every night once we acquired him. He’s had good numbers throughout the AHL in his other stops, even in his call-up to the NHL he had good numbers. He’s not that far off, unfortunately, Timmy [Thomas] and Tuukka [Rask] are pretty good, so the guys in front of him, he’s going to have to wait his turn. But, Anton’s more like a Timmy, little more unorthodox, battles, whereas Hutch [Michael Hutchinson] is a little more like Tuukka with the technique, so it’s a good comparison, and hopefully, hey, if they each become as good as the guys we’re comparing them to, the Bruins are in good shape."- Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011

Bruins prospect profile #11: Tommy Cross

Tommy Cross, D
6-3, 210
September 12, 1989
Shoots: Left
Boston's 2nd choice, 35th overall in 2007 Draft
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical: Good, solid frame to be a shutdown-style defender. Possesses the functional strength for the defense position. Has had three major surgical procedures on his right knee (meniscus) since being drafted by the Bruins (he was picked after suffering the first injury to the meniscus playing baseball) and plays with a brace on it. Very good skater with a long stride and able to generate power with each step. Solid when moving backwards and laterally; able to keep opponents to the outside and has the quickness to jump up into the play at times. First pass ability is adequate; has the physical tools to outlet rapidly and lead the rush if need be. Big, powerful shot; he takes a little bit of time to get it off, but it is hard and heavy. Needs to work on his shot's accuracy. A physical defender who effectively uses his size and strength to pin opponents against the boards. Can play the game with an edge, but doesn't always bring the kind of sheer power or snarl that he's capable of. Like most collegians, will be challenged physically (and in terms of dropping the gloves) by peers who have been honing their fighting skills in the junior ranks and who already have some pro experience. Fighting isn't what Cross brings to the table, but given his playing style, he will be expected to step up to the plate at some point.

Intangibles: Top character player and leader. Elected captain of the '11-12 Eagles squad by his teammates, and also captained the USA Under-18 select team at the 2006 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. Exudes confidence and professionalism; a very mature, respectful, well-spoken player who leads by example and is a vocal presence in the dressing room. Some scouts questioned his hockey sense in his draft year; has all the tools to be a two-way defender at the next level, but may be more of a stay-at-homer in the mold of Mark Stuart if he reaches the NHL. Could stand to show more fire and aggressiveness at times on the ice-- can play a bit passively when the situation calls for more physicality and nastiness.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Cross participated in his fifth development camp (the B's began doing these right after he was drafted in 2007), but only his second in terms of full skating, drills and scrimmages because of the knee. He looked and acted like the seasoned veteran he is, leading the team through drills and looking poised and experienced in the various drills and situations. To argue that he looked strong because of his experience and familiarity with the events and expectations in development camp, not to mention the fact that he was one of the oldest players present, is to sell Cross a little short. He's a big guy who can skate and has a cannon of a shot- he showed that off, and Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney cited that he had a calming effect on his defensive partner, Dougie Hamilton. Overall, it was another solid showing for the former second-round pick, and the injury history is really the only thing holding him back from being projected as a safe and steady long-term bet for the Bruins, even if the ultimate upside may not justify the fact that the team traded a third-round selection to move up three spots to take him.

Tommy Cross Development Camp interview

video


Projection

Cross has the tools to be a solid second-pairing defender in the NHL, but where the questions come in are whether he has the proverbial toolbox and durability to do it. As long as he stays healthy, Cross should be a solid 5/6 defender in the NHL: He's an intelligent, hard-working guy, but the hockey sense is going to be critical, especially if you factor in the possibility that the numerous setbacks and surgeries have affected his psyche. Nobody but Cross knows for sure, but you wonder if he's thinking about the possibility of being one skate blade caught in a rut away from oblivion and how that impacts his play and approach. His time and space will become much less at the next level, so instinct will have to trump over self-preservation. It's a big question that lingers and can only be addressed by Cross continuing to play at a high level for Boston College and then seeing how he does when he turns pro. He established a career-high for points as a junior, and should be even more productive as a senior. Watch for him to sign with Boston when his year ends and join the Providence Bruins for their final games in the spring.

Quotable

"Tommy Cross I thought, he’s had his knee problems but I thought his skating and his mobility was the best that I’ve seen in a while. "- Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli; July 11, 2011

"Tommy [Cross]’s health is a real positive sign for our group. You know we were concerned about where he would be. And he looks like he’s back on track."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 11, 2011

"I think our guys are doing a great job at finding some players that seem to fit what we’re trying to do with our hockey club. A lot of good players, and I guess the obvious ones are always the ones we look at when we’re talking about first round picks and so on and so forth, the [Ryan] Spooners and [Jared] Knights and [Dougie] Hamilton, [Tommy] Cross, stuff like that."- Burins head coach Claude Julien; July 11, 2011

"Obviously, you know, we use the example of Tommy Cross here, he’s been here for four years now, I’ve seen him on crutches, I’ve seen him on the ice. So there’s an example of a guy that almost feels a part of your organization, you know, for a whole year because you’ve seen him so often."- Julien; July 11, 2011

"Tommy’s been through some, was a second round draft choice, so he’s had some acclaim behind him in terms of where he was selected. But he’s been patient about staying in school, and he’s a captain which obviously speaks volumes. Boston College runs a hell of a program so that, that’s a credit to Tommy in a leadership capacity. But we knew that, you know you watched last year when the military guys and Eric Kapitulik when The Program ran. You know Tommy was a guy that wanted to organize things and put guys together. So i think that hopefully will give Dougie a sense of confidence in getting more acclimated to our organziation . "- Sweeney; July 10, 2011

"He’s been facing some challenges, injury-wise that I would think that, he’s been around more an [observational] role two years ago, and then last year was full bore, so I think he’s been through some trials and tribulations that he can share with some guys."- Sweeney; July 7, 2011


"I feel great; I'm ready to go. Both legs feel fine and I'm just skating as much as I can and enjoying being here where I can continue to develop my game and improve in all areas."- Tommy Cross to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass; July 6-10, 2010

"Just being here and able to participate this week is huge for me. I've had some setbacks and have had to work hard to get back to this point where I feel good about my game, so I'm just excited to be able to be around the coaches and players and soak it all in and learn what I can."- Tommy Cross to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Boston Bruins prospect profile #10: Ryan Button

Ryan Button, D
6-1, 195
March 26, 1991
Shoots: Left
Boston's 2nd choice, 86th overall (third round) in 2009
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical: Does not possess ideal height for a defenseman (closer to 6-foot than his listed 6-1), but is long-limbed and in very good physical condition. Needs to continue to add muscle mass and strength, his biggest hurdle to making it as an NHL regular. Superb skater with high-end four-way mobility; can accelerate rapidly and use his speed to lead the rush. Very good on his edges, with the ability to make tight turns and change direction in an instant. Excellent athleticism; has fluid movement in his hips when pivoting and can handle the most elusive of skaters who attempt to jitterbug, or the fastest of them who will try to use their speed to gain position on the outside. Comes from excellent athletic stock: father is an accomplished triathlete, while cousin, Jennifer was an Olympic swimmer. Makes a good first pass and keeps his head up, looking to make the quick outlet. Can carry the puck at speed and lead the rush if he is inclined to do so. Shoots the puck well from the outside, but is more lethal with his wrist and snap shots when he steps in from the blue line and works inside the circles. Has not been all that productive because his WHL teams, the Prince Albert Raiders and Seattle Thunderbirds, struggled to generate a lot of offense in his time there. Solid defensively; takes the body and finishes his checks. Understands positioning and just needs to continue to gain experience and resist the urge to try and do too much.

Intangibles: A solid citizen and hard worker who is a good teammate. Works out in the offseason with several Edmonton-based pro players, including Boston fan favorite Johnny Boychuk. Humble to a fault; can be very tough on himself when he doesn't play to his and others' expectations. A leader; has the ability to inspire his teammates through his play or in the dressing room, where he is articulate and confident enough to speak up when something needs to be said. Outworked and outperformed higher bantam selections to earn a spot on the Raiders as a WHL rookie four years ago, so he understands that draft position doesn't mean much-- that it is what you do with the opportunities presented that matter most.

2011 Development Camp analysis

Another solid performance at development camp from one of the more veteran youngsters there- his third appearance in Wilmington. He showed off his fine mobility and the prior experience served him well. Button shows off his offensive potential in flashes, but has yet to put it together to the degree that he's capable. After his showing in Wilmington, he should finally get a chance at seeing some exhibition action for Boston after being returned to junior before the games started. There is nothing more for Button to learn at the d-camps- unless the team wants him there for leadership and to mentor the new prospects, he has proven that he has the skill to be a solid prospect. Now, he just needs to perform.

Projection

Button looks like a solid No. 4 or 5 in the NHL with a chance to develop into a middling No. 3 if he hits his offensive upside. One obstacle for Button is to resist being too safe or conservative- has the ability to open things up, so once he gets a feel for the pro game in Providence this season, would be good to see him spread the wings and jump into the play a little more. His size will not be an issue, as he has the skating chops and will likely be stronger than average given his diligent off-ice work habits. How far he goes and how quickly he makes the jump will likely depend largely on factors beyond his control, as Boston is pretty well stacked with defensemen under contract at present, but if he makes the same kind of statement in September that he did in July, he'll force the Bruins to re-think his timeline a bit. The team was thrilled to land Button in the late-third round in '09, and Bruce Cassidy did say that Button will likely have to carry more of the mail defensively for him in the AHL this season, so there will be a steady growth and development process given the team's current depth chart.

Quotable

"I thought Ryan Button had a good day today, I thought his play has come around. But, you know, on this short period of time it doesn’t really, nothing’s really changed for the good or bad. The projections that I have, that we have, remain the same."- Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, July 11, 2011

"You see the skating ability he has and we’ve worked awfully hard with him the last couple years to try and understand the d zone a little bit better. And be committed to some things there, he’s bought into that."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney on Button; July 11, 2011

"Well, he was drafted and he was a great skater, he still is, very mobile, can push the puck up the ice. He’s got decent hockey sense, that’s an area that most kid come out of junior, if they’re good skaters, get away with being able to do certain things because they can recover and that’s what we saw last year. Some of the things he probably got away with, with cheating up in the neutral zone to try to pinch off some plays, he got exposed a couple of times, and he knew it and he learned. We just want to see him, again, we talk about consistency in a defenseman because every mistake gets magnified when you’re back there, so he’ll have to go through that process. But he’s stronger than he has been, and that’s natural, every year at that age you get a little stronger, so that will help in his battles. That’s an area that he’s going to have to be a good contributor in, as a defensive, shut down type of guy."- Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy at 2011 Bruins Development Camp; July 8, 2011

"Maybe he’ll grow into the other part of it offensively. That’s something we’re looking at. But when you have guys like [David] Warsofsky, he’s down there, and [Matt] Bartkowski, pulling some guys that are going to play ahead of him probably, in those situations, his best chance would be to just be solid one-on-one, move the puck, keep it simple, I know it sounds like a clich√© but that’s how I see him down the road, and maybe his game blossoms offensively. But that’s not something that he should be focused on right out of the gate."- Cassidy on Button; July 8, 2011

"I'm just a lot more relaxed this year. I know the coaching staff, I know the trainer, I know the general managers; (Don) Sweeney. I just know everyone. I'm a lot more comfortable and I'm not afraid to come ask and I can also help the young guys out. They're here for the first time like I was last year, so I have the responsibility to help them out."- Ryan Button to B2011DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

"The first day (at camp) was a lot of team-bonding stuff; having to do stuff together, having to help each other out. Then, the second day was swimming and kind of helping each other again. It was all about helping each other; that was the main thing and objective to help your teammates. It wasn't about yourself, but your teammates. They told us straight out, 'We don't care about you, you don't care about yourself. It's all about your teammates-- it's all about the guy beside you. If they fail, then we all fail.' I think it was really good to start off with that and kind of bond us as a team-- well, we're not a team, but we're here for a good week, so it's good to know the guys and I think it really sped up the process of meeting people and getting on the same page."- Ryan Button, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010


“Actually, physically, he surprised me a little bit walking through the door. I think he hit a little growth spurt during the course of the year. I had seen him out in a very cold part of the world earlier in the year and he wasn’t as physically developed as he is right now. He’s done a lot of bit of work; he’s working with a bunch of pro guys in the off-season and the fruits of those labors are starting to bear forward. So, I’m happy with where he’s at right now. But again, he’s got a long way to go and he understands that. But he’s a good skater and yet you get on the power skating side and dial it down to little specifics and everybody has things to work on.”- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney on Button, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

Boston Bruins prospect profile #9: Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski, D
6-1, 190
June 4, 1988
Shoots: Left
Acquired by Boston from Florida with Dennis Seidenberg for Byron Bitz, Craig Wellar and a 2010 2nd-round pick (Alex Petrovic); March 3, 2010
Signing status: Signed through 2012

Talent Analysis

Physical: Live, athletic frame with room to grow. Will need to add bulk, but is on the right track in his physical maturation process. Good skater; moves well in all directions. Isn't exceptionally fast or agile but is able to keep puck carriers in front of him and can crossover and pivot fluidly. Decent passer; can hit the long clearing pass and moves the puck out of his end quickly. Puckhandling is a bit rough; better at making the safe passing play than having to carry it out under pressure. Has an underrated shot that he gets off quickly from the point; heavy and accurate. Very good defensively; understands positioning and likes to take the body. An effective open-ice hitter and does well at pinning his man along the boards and clearing traffic from in front of his own net. Keeps things pretty safe and simple for the most part, but has the mobility and potential to play more of a two-way game if he can improve his puckhandling and overall confidence.

Intangibles: Thinks the game well, with a good, solid instinctive feel for the defensive flow. Does the little things well. A mature 23-year-old who spent two years away from home with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL (Played with fellow Bruins prospects Carter Camper and Colby Cohen there) before spending two seasons at Ohio State closer to his Pittsburgh home. Had a chance to raise the Stanley Cup in June as a member of Boston's "Black Aces" and even handed it off to hockey operations director Ryan Nadeau, who appropriately enough, had a hand in bringing him to the Bruins as one of the team's NCAA scouts.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Did not attend.

Projection

Bartkowski looks like a lower-pairing, stay-at-home defender who could end up working himself into a fourth spot with special teams time if he can improve his puck skills. He impressed in camp and was the final cut, going over to Ireland and the Czech Republic with the big club before being sent to the AHL. The demotion seemed to effect him as Bartkowski got off to a slow start in his rookie pro season, but recovered well. He saw NHL action (several games against his hometown Penguins) and was exposed as needing more seasoning. If he can develop an ability to fight he'll be even more appealing, because he skates pretty well even if he is more of a vanilla type of defender who isn't dynamic. He's pretty buried on the depth chart right now, but the best thing for him will be to go down to Providence, work hard and earn a lot of minutes in his second year.

Matt Bartkowski NHL debut pre-game video from Raw Penguin

Click here to watch clip on You Tube

Quotable

"It was a hard decision to make (turning pro or staying in school) but in the end, I weighed my options with my family and we felt that signing with Boston was the best thing for me right now. I can finish my degree in the summers, but the situation was right for me to go ahead and take that next step, so I'm glad to be here."- Matt Bartkowski to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010.

"I consider myself a good defenseman who takes care of my own end first and sticks up for my teammates. I would say that's the biggest thing; just keeping things simple and making the right plays whenever I can."- Bartkowski to B201DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“‘Bart’ is a big, strong kid who got the highest accolades coming out of (Bruins) camp when he nearly made the team. He’s still learning and making a commitment on defense but is on the right track.”- former Providence head coach Rob Murray to New England Hockey Journal; December, 2010

Bruins prospect profile #8: Jamie Arniel

Jamie Arniel, C
6-0, 190
November 16, 1989
Shoots: Right
Boston's 4th choice, 97th overall in 2008 NHL Entry Draft
Signing status: Signed through 2012

Talent Analysis

Physical: Only has average size, but has done diligence in the weight room to build up his strength and fitness. Nice skater with good jump and the quickness and agility to get things done in all zones. Has the ability to separate in open ice. Solid puckhandler who can advance the puck in traffic and has quick enough hands to finish in close. Good passer and shooter who scored 30 goals in junior and could hit 20 in the right situation eventually. Forces turnovers with a tenacious forecheck and active stick. Hustles and finishes his checks. Plays with a little grit and jam, but doesn't have the size or temperament to bring a consistent physical presence and mean streak. NHL bloodlines.

Intangibles: Good defensive hockey sense; not overly creative, which will limit his production at the NHL level, but understands the game well enough to be a solid two-way forward. Works hard and earned a one-game recall to Boston last season as a reward for his efforts. Replaced Steve Kampfer at the AHL All-Star Game in Hershey, Pa. and played well.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Did not attend

Projection

The classic Jack-of-all-trades, master of none type player. As it stands right now, Arniel's upside appears to be as a third-line pivot. He's got good bloodlines and was a solid value pick for the Bruins three years ago when they traded up with Columbus to land him (interestingly enough- his uncle Scott Arniel, who played briefly for the Bruins in '91-92 now coaches the Blue Jackets). He's solid across the board and can play special teams, so in time, Arniel might be the kind of ideal option in terms of ability and salary cap hit to play on the lower lines and work him into the NHL. He's not all that big, but should be okay so long as he continues to work on his strength. He's not a blazing skater, but he's fast/quick enough. He doesn't score a lot of goals, but he's capable of getting some big ones. This isn't the kind of player who will garner a lot of headlines, but he's on a steady path of progression which should end up in Boston eventually. Just don't expect him to be a top-six forward who comes out of nowhere to be an NHL star-- this is a player you win with in the trenches...nothing more, nothing less.

Arniel 2008 video draft profile

Click here to see Arniel on YouTube

Quotable

“Jamie is pretty multidimensional in terms of where he can play and the kinds of things he’s able to do. I don’t know that he’ll be that No. 1 center in the NHL, but he’ll be the kind of dependable guy that the coach feels comfortable putting out there to play a lot of different roles for the team.”- former Providence head coach Rob Murray to New England Hockey Journal; December, 2009

“Jamie is using his natural speed effectively this year to score goals and be a dynamic player that was maybe lacking in him (last season). His ability to play a more consistent game has been noticeable; we’re pleased with his performance when we review the games as opposed to wanting more from him.”- Murray to New England Hockey Journal; December, 2010

"(The All-Star Game) was definitely a lot of fun. I was a little nervous going in; not sure what to expect, but the guys were great, we ended up winning the game and I had a pretty good time."- Jamie Arniel to New England Hockey Journal; February, 2011

"(2010 training camp) was definitely big for me. I worked hard over the summer and pushed myself more than I ever had. I ended up sticking around, and when the team sent me down, they told me that I stayed a lot longer than they had thought I would. They said that I had a chance to be a depth player for the Bruins this season, so that provided a lot of motivation for me to start."- Arniel to NEHJ; February, 2011

"Last year, we could see that Jamie had the skill but he left us wanting more. That has not been an issue this season. He’s playing as well as anyone."- Murray to NEHJ; February, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boston Bruins prospect profile #7: Steve Kampfer

Steven Kampfer, D
5-11, 197
September 24, 1988
Shoots: Right
Acquired from Anaheim for 2010 fourth-round pick (Justin Shugg- Carolina via Anaheim) , March, 2010
Signing status: Signed through 2013

Talent Analysis

Physical:Undersized but skilled defender got a decent look in primetime last season, and if not for a knee injury suffered late in the season while down in Providence, might have gotten into a Boston playoff game. Good skater with nice blend of speed and quickness. Moves well laterally and backwards. Likes to jump up into the play and has a separation gear that can get him past defenders when he sees an opening. Fine passer who can start the play up and out of his zone quickly. Possesses a nice shot; better with quick wrister or snap shot than he is firing a slap shot from the point. Good transition man who can get the puck out quickly. Like most defenders his size, he has his hands full when trying to move bigger, stronger forwards out from in front of his net or fighting for pucks along the walls. Chippy and rugged; adept at making contact in the open ice. Positioning still needs improvement, but Kampfer clearly showed he has enough NHL tools to be a player.

Intangibles: Had some controversy coming out of college, but obviously showed the Bruins something, as he was named captain and wore the 'C' in Boston's two rookie games played against the Islanders prospects last September. A hard worker who did what the team asked of him- just needs to keep his head down and continue on the path of success without letting any of the distractions that come with being a pro athlete get the better of him.


Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment


Did not attend

Projection

Sees the ice well and has the kind of hockey sense to go with his wheels and puck skills to be a solid puck-moving defenseman in the NHL, albeit a middle-tier kind of guy. However, given his still developing potential, Kampfer could break into the top-four someday as a useful offense-minded player and specialist. The key for the B's and Kampfer will be to pair him with more of a shutdown/defensively responsible player. The trade (originally drafted in the fourth round in 2007 by Anaheim- missed being eligible for the 2006 draft by 10 days) originally didn't look all that great on paper, but Kampfer has been better than advertised and is a player to watch this season. Watch for him to be this year's Adam McQuaid, in that barring a major setback at camp, Kampfer's NHL experience gives him the inside track to make the Boston roster in October as the seventh defenseman. He'll have to bide his time as a healthy scratch in all likelihood, but he'll be ready to take over for anyone in the top-six if injuries occur. A year ago, McQuaid made Mark Stuart expendable, and in today's economics in the NHL, were Kampfer to do the same to another higher-priced player, GM Peter Chiarelli has shown a willingness to make the moves necessary to fee up roster space.

Kampfer rookie season NHL highlights

Click here to see Kampfer on YouTube

Quotable

“I think it helped me out a lot. I was excited to get out there, I was excited to sign with the Bruins. Going out there and playing with guys of that level and starting my development going forward was a big help.”- Steve Kampfer, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“I need to work on my defensive game. It was something that we talked about at the end of the year, just positioning, stickwork and just getting stronger in the corners and moving guys out of the way. Overall, I gotta get better in every aspect of the game, but those are the things I gotta keep working on.”- Steve Kampfer; July, 2010

“As a kid coming out of college, you could just look at Steve in his first few (AHL) games and the way he conducted himself off the ice and see that he was a little more ready for pro hockey than some of his peers were. He’s carried that over in his first full season and been a strong, consistent player from Game 1 up to now.”- former Providence head coach Rob Murray; December, 2010

Bruins prospect profile #6: Jordan Caron

Jordan Caron, RW
6-2, 205
November 2, 1990
Shoots: Left
Boston's 1st choice, 25th overall in 2009 Draft
Signing status; Signed through 2013


Talent Analysis


Physical: Big frame with natural strength and a wide skating base. Should add another 10-15 pounds to get to his maximum playing weight. Average skater; straight-line speed is good and has decent East-West agility for a big man. Lacks a an explosive first-step and can be exposed when playing in games with a quick tempo requiring rapid changes in direction. Still, demonstrated that when he gets up to speed that he has a breakaway gear and uses his hockey sense/anticipation to get a step on defenders and compensate for his average suddenness. Superb hands; handles passes cleanly and can advance the puck up the ice, or protect it down low and on the cycle. Excellent shooter with an NHL-ready release. Shot is hard and heavy; he generates a lot of power and torque on it. Can roof it from the outside or in close- proved that when scoring an NHL goal against the Washington Capitals. Caron is not an overly physical, nasty player with a mean streak, but he does initiate contact and use his big body to shield the puck well in the offensive zone. He goes hard to the net and like most players of his type, sets up shop in front and is difficult to move. Responsible defensive player who can play any role on a team and could make an initial impact on the bottom-six.


Intangibles: Solid feel for the game. Has an easygoing personality that belies a good competitive drive; he beat out other more skilled players to earn a spot on the 2010 WJC team because he brings certain attributes that can't be taught/are appealing to any team's makeup such as size, strength and two-way play. Caron is never going to be a 'rah-rah', in-your-face kind of guy, but is starting to exhibit solid leadership traits that will serve him well. Intelligent and easy to work with; makes a concerted effort to address his faults and isn't a player who dismisses the observations and suggestions from his coaches. Struggled with making the adjustment to the AHL when he was sent down after making the Bruins roster out of camp (with Marc Savard out); admitted to B2011DW that he was disappointed and put too much pressure on himself in Providence.


2011 Development Camp assessment
Did not attend.


Projection
It was a tale of two seasons for Caron in 2010-11: He made the NHL out of camp and played pretty well for Boston in a limited role, gradual break-in situation. However, when he became a victim of the numbers game and was sent down because he wasn't playing in Boston, he struggled mightily and only showed off his upside in flashes. In fairness, last season's P-Bruins were a young, inexperienced team that was up-and-down all year, and Caron's inconsistency was a microcosm of the team's larger non-playoff dynamic at work. Caron is tougher to project at the NHL level because he is still very much a work in progress. The Bruins saw a top-six forward and solid power winger in him to draft him where they did (and they indicated that he was pretty high on their '09 board). However, other NHL teams saw him more as a third-liner and checking guy, and that's what he did for Team Canada, so whether he can improve his skating and his hands can be enough to score at the next level is going to be the biggest factor in how effective he'll be in the NHL. He's a smart, coachable kid who has a very good reputation in the dressing room and is willing to work. He has the hands to be a 30-goal guy in the NHL one day, but whether his feet and overall skill will get him into the top-two lines to get that kind of ice time remains to be seen.


Quotable


“I think I gotta work on my speed again and my explosion. If I can do that, I think everybody here is gonna have his chance. So I gotta keep working out and going on the ice a lot to make sure I’m ready in September.”- Jordan Caron at Development Camp, July 2010

"Being on (Team Canada) was huge for me. It was a big goal to make that team and be able to play with so many of the best players in the world. It was a great experience, even though we didn't win. I think it helped me a lot to have a chance to make the NHL this year, and it taught me that I gotta keep working hard and working on my game."- Caron; July, 2010

"Jordan's quiet; he's not going to tell you that he knows the expectations are there. But I just like their (Caron and Joe Colborne) daily approach; it's no-nonsense, it's I want to get better, I need to get better. Recognizing that I need to get better, and that's an important aspect of anyone's development curve. And I think that it sets a great example for the rest of our guys. If we can find the guys that have been earmarked as first-round selections who set the bar for everybody else, then we're heading in the right direction. But I would expect that regardless of what round you're drafted in, each and every one approaches it that way, then we're headed in the right direction as well."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney at Development Camp, Wilmington, Mass.; July, 2010

“It was a numbers game for Jordan. He wasn’t sent down because of anything he did or didn’t do. When you’re a 20-year-old, you need to be playing (not sitting in the press box) every night, so it was strictly a decision to get him that playing time.”- former Providence head coach Rob Murray, December, 2010

"I think it helped me a lot playing in the best league in the world. I was playing with Patrice Bergeron and (Mark) Recchi and learned a lot from them, just being around the team and seeing how professional they are."- Jordan Caron; February, 2011

"In the first four or five (AHL) games I thought I did pretty good. But there was a five-10 game stretch where I lost my confidence a bit. I started thinking too much and that’s what happens when you don’t score goals."- Caron, February, 2011

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bruins prospect profile #5: Maxime Sauve

Maxime "Max" Sauve, C/LW
6-2, 190
January 30, 1990
Shoots: Left
Boston's 2nd selection, 47th overall in 2008
Signing status: Signed through 2013

Talent Analysis


Physical:Tall, lanky build: and has more room to fill out. Upper body will need more strength training and development. Explosive skater; Erupts out of the blocks and puts defenders on their heels when he attacks them with his high-end speed. Also shifty with his east-west movement, but Sauve's greatest strength is his ability to come right at the teeth of a defense and still be able to get himself into position to generate scoring chances. Good puckhandler; handles the biscuit at top speed. Goes to the net with his stick on the ice, looking to cash in. Solid shooter; not overpowering, but is able to get rid of it quickly and finish off chances in close. Quick hands on the deke make him lethal when he brings the puck in alone at full gallop. Defensively responsible, but clearly an offensive-minded player. Durability has been the issue with him thus far: suffered a significant ankle injury in his final junior season, then missed eight weeks of his rookie AHL campaign with a fractured wrist. Needs to prove he can handle the grind without being on IR. Even with the lost games, still scored 21 goals as a first year pro.


Intangibles: Sauve may have the most underrated hockey IQ of any prospect in Boston's system; simply did not get enough credit for his vision, puck distribution and ability to see things opening up beforehand. Son of J.F. Sauve, former NHL and longtime pro (Max was born in France while his dad was playing overseas) and nephew of longtime NHL goalie Bob Sauve. Cousin, Philippe, was an NHL goaltender with the Phoenix Coyotes and had a cup of coffee with the Bruins in 2007. As such, Max grew up around pro hockey and not only understands the requirements, but has the discipline to mold himself into a player. Quiet, shy player who is not yet comfortable with the spotlight, but is getting there.


2011 Development Camp assessment
Did not attend


Projection
If he continues to develop as expected, Sauve could eventually become a top-six forward, but realistically, he's going to have to make his bones on the third- or fourth lines initially if he can crack the Boston roster. Given his excellent skill set and hockey intellect, he could earn some time on the power play and penalty killing units. Has the speed and moxie to do it at both ends of the ice. Probably a second- or third-line winger, but does have a higher ceiling than fellow Quebec prospect Jordan Caron in our view. Sauve is a player who has the speed, hands and sense to be a going concern and when you think about the matchup nightmares he could one day pose if he's skating on a line with Tyler Seguin or perhaps Alexander Khokhlachev or Ryan Spooner, it brings his potential more into perspective. Sauve got lost in the shuffle in junior a bit because he played on such a bad team. Look for Sauve to make his NHL debut this season as an injury fill-in, though he does have a shot at winning a spot in Boston out of camp. Realistically, he will likely benefit from another year in Providence and should be ready for full-time NHL duty in 2012-13.

Quotable

"I’m a playmaker; I make some plays and score some goals. I’m not 100 percent right now, but I skate fast and am working on it every day.”- Sauve to hj.com; April, 2010

"Max has not looked out of place in this, his first taste of pro hockey. His speed is a real asset, and when you consider that he's not fully 100 percent yet, you can start to gain an appreciation for just how quick he is when completely healthy. I think he's benfited from getting into the games and now has a better understanding for what is expected of him at this level and the next."- Providence Bruins head coach Rob Murray to hockeyjournal.com; April, 2010

"Sauve looked real good when I saw him. He used his speed well, attacked the net and has a real nose for the net. He's still getting knocked off the puck too easily, but there is some upside with this kid."- NHL scout to B2011DW; April, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bruins prospect profile #4: Alexander Khokhlachev

Alexander Khokhlachev, C
5-10, 180
September 9, 1993 in Moscow, Russia
Shoots: Left
Boston's 2nd choice, 40th overall in 2011 Draft
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical:
Does not have ideal height, but is stocky with a thick build. Good skater who is more quick than fast. Master of his edges and can make extremely rapid turns, stops and starts. Not a burner, but elusive and slippery with the ability to separate in open ice. Low to the ice and strong on his skates- fights through checks on his way to the net. Deft stickhandler who can make dazzling moves in space and in traffic. At times quicker with the puck on his stick than he is without it. Determined and relentless when looking to find the back of the net- makes everyone around him better. Lightning-fast release on an accurate wrist shot; can score from in close and from the outside as well. Picks the corners and could hit 50+ goals in the OHL next season if things break right for him. Underrated backhand- able to get it upstairs with very little room to work with. Effective at wheeling into corners and coming out with the puck to generate scoring chances. Protects the puck well despite the lack of size. Does not have the size or makeup to be a physical player, but doesn't shy away from contact and will do honest work along the boards and in front of the net.

Intangibles:
Outstanding offensive hockey sense and vision- aggressively attacks defenses and has the ability to create for himself and linemates. Plays with passion and exuberance but doesn't always give the same kind of effort/intensity in the defensive zone as he does when carrying the offense. A natural feel for the game and has the kind of game-breaking dimension that Boston has not possessed in abundance over the last 10 years or so. His English is still a work in progress, but he was taking classes in Windsor twice a week and gave an honest effort at engaging the media in Wilmington. By the time he's ready to seriously compete for a spot in Boston, he should be well acclimated and comfortable. Nickname is "Koko" Good, solid kid who is going to be a fan favorite and well-liked in the room for his easy smile and passion for the game. Wants to be a player and will likely improve the intensity levels as he gets more comfortable in North America.

2011 Boston Bruins Development Camp Assessment:
Going to Wilmington was an eye-opener for Khokhlachev who keenly felt the pace, tempo and physical demands of the five-day camp experience. His conditioning and fitness level wasn't where it needed to be, but understandable given the fact that he was only about 12 days removed from having been drafted. He showed off his high-end talent and skill in flashes, though wasn't able to carry the play in quite the same fashion as fellow OHLers Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight. Still, it was clear to any who watched him that he is one of the most skilled prospects in the Boston system.

Development Camp video: Alexander Khokhlachev
video


Projection
Koko has the kind of pure talent to be a top-line NHL player one day. His youth and the fact that he had just one year in North America makes him a bit of a wild card to project, but with his quick hands, feet and a real head for the game, the second-round pick could end up being one of the real steals in this draft with impressive upside. Red Line Report listed him as one of the top-5 best value picks of the entire draft (4th overall) in the July issue. He has all the makings of a star and should only get better as he matures. By this time next year, Koko could possibly emerge as Boston's top prospect, and to be frank- you can make the case that he already is. These rankings are subjective, so putting him atop the list makes perfect sense, we just want to see what he does at Boston's training camp in the fall and in his second OHL campaign assuming he goes back to junior.

Quotable:

"[Alexander] Khokolachev, just going through our drafts, Khokolachev, again, very skilled. He arrived in not the greatest shape but I know he’s going to take care of that as the year progresses, as the summer progresses."- Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli , July 11, 2011

"I mean, he’s a young kid too and this is a different environment for him. He’s got some things that we’re going to identify going forward throughout the summer and going back that he’ll get in better shape and he knows it. But when the puck drops he makes plays. He sees the ice so very well. He’s probably a little unselfish that we’re going to get him to shoot the puck a little bit more. But he’s a really good kid and he wants to play over her. So we’re just going to continue to work with him. I mean, this is hard. He doesn’t really have, he’s got Besa [Tsintsadze] now that he can speak Russian to but he’s not bad, he understands it pretty well. So being able to communicate with him and being very direct in terms of what he needs to do in order to take advantage of, as you pointed out, the high level of skill that he has and the hockey sense that he has."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 10, 2011

"Well, watching some of the in tight drills, especially the small ice games, he’s got excellent hands in tight, he freezes goaltenders, he gets pucks up in tight, so certainly the skill and goal-scoring ability is there. His conditioning needs to get better, but he’s one of the, what usually happens, these young guys, it’s an eye-opener, their first camp. I don’t think they truly realize how good of shape professional players are [in], so he’ll get that part of it down. But like I said, I like his instincts around the net."- Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bruins prospect profile #3: Ryan Spooner

Ryan Spooner, C
5-10, 185
January 30, 1992 in Kanata, Ontario
Shoots: Left
Boston's 3rd choice, 45th overall in 2010 Draft
Signing status: Signed 3-yr ELC; July 19, 2011

Talent Analysis

Physical:
Lacks ideal size, but has worked on adding strength and mass to his frame. May top out at about 190 pounds at his peak, but hockey skills will compensate. Blazing skater with explosive first few steps and separation gear. Can really fly in a straight line, but is also very good on his edges and able to move laterally like a darting waterbug. Will burn defenders with his pure speed, but can also turn opponents inside-out with shifty moves in traffic. Excellent puckhandler who can carry the biscuit both in space and under pressure. Uses combination of tremendous hands with head and shoulder fakes to create space for himself and open up shooting and passing lanes. Very good shooter who can roof the puck top shelf from the outside or use quickness of hands for the finish off the deke or with lightning strikes in close. In terms of pure talent and offensive ability, Spooner is at the top of the list for Boston's prospects Skilled passer who can set the table with the best of them- a dual threat who has the soft hands to make all the feeds at speed and through traffic. Not all that physical, but will go into traffic and is willing to take the hit to make the play. Increasing awareness of the defensive nuances as he gains more experience and sees ice time in a lot of different situations. Played well for Providence in a three-game stint at the end of the season, scoring a pair of goals and three points in the AHL.

Intangibles:
Vision and offensive hockey sense top notch. Solid work ethic; wants the puck at crunch time and has the natural instincts to finish when the game is on the line. Spooner's always on the go and can quickly sense openings and make the right play. Hunts opposing defenses and goalies: using his speed and agility to circle and seek an opening, then exploding into it with the quickness and violence of the ocean's ultimate predator, the shark. A good, solid kid who is well spoken and exhibits the requisite confidence and attitude to be a gamer one day. His departure from Peterborough last November had a tinge of controversy to it, but to Spooner's credit, he took the high road once he arrived in Kingston.

2011 Boston Bruins Development Camp Assessment:
The fan favorite for his high-end offensive skills and production in all facets including drills and scrimmages. Centered the camp's most effective line with wingers Brian Ferlin and Justin Florek. Showed that he is progressing defensively in terms of picking up the backcheck, aggressively forechecking and keeping an active stick to thwart the puck carrier and take away passing options. All in all, Spooner's progress since the B's drafted him has been notable, and he showed off the kind of talent and confidence that should see him earn an NHL job soon.

Development Camp video: Ryan Spooner

video

Projection
Spooner could be Boston's long-term answer for what looks like the loss of veteran pivot Marc Savard to post-concussion syndrome. He's a similar smallish high-end pivot and playmaker, but a significantly better skater than Savard in terms of quick burst and top speed. Spooner has top-six forward written all over him, but may have to bide his time on the third line with players like Tyler Seguin and David Krejci ahead of him in the pecking order. Spooner could see time in the pros at wing, but he's best suited up the middle, where the team can take advantage of his creativity and skill. The difference between Spooner, Jared Knight and Dougie Hamilton is miniscule: Spooner could just as easily sit atop the Boston prospects depth chart.

Quotable:

"Well, for a guy like [Ryan] Spooner, one of the things that we told him at the end of last year and at the camp, at development camp and at training camp, was he has to put the time in to get better, to get stronger, to get bigger. And he did. He did do that, and all the testing showed that, and there’s still room to improve, but he, you could tell, we take the testing very seriously and Ryan put the time in and you could see it in his play, even. He had a little more spring in his step with the puck, he had a little more bulk in his, he was able to protect the puck a little bit better."- Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli , July 11, 2011

"Ryan Spooner is a great example, he went through all of training camp last year and pushed it. And then it was decided for him to go back, physically it probably would have been a stretch for him. But he’s stronger, there’s no reason why those guys shouldn’t be encouraged. I mean we’ve had guys, you guys well know, emerge out of our camp the first year and play. "- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 11, 2011

"Well, we’re very excited to have Ryan as part of our group, first and foremost. He’s a highly skilled player, he plays at high, high speed, something we want to continue to have in our organization and I think he’s going to make other players better. He’s got a real good mind for the game, I love the fact that he came down to Providence at the end of last year unsigned, but wanted to come and play hockey and wanted to kind of be a sponge to absorb, he wanted a taste. You could just tell that the kid is gung-ho; he wanted a taste of what it was going to be like to play against bigger, stronger players. And he came in and did very well, we asked him to shoot the puck a little bit more and he did that. I think that most of his growth has come off the ice, to be honest with you. I think he’s maturing, as all these kids are, but he’s kind of understanding the work he needs to put in, and particular areas that he needs to pay attention to, and it’s starting to translate on the ice, you know, he talks about feeling better, his, he’s got a better, even overall shape, and size in the right areas and stuff. So you know, some real good progress with Ryan, we’re excited to see where he’ll be come September."- Sweeney; July 9, 2011

"[You know [Ryan] Spooner’s a very dynamic player. Well they[Spooner and Knight] both are, just in different ways, but these are the guys you kind of wait for September to really watch because they are going to be the best guys out, well should be. And I don’t think they’ve disappointed anybody so those are guys, the guys you watch down the road. Because I think they have a legitimate shot to push on people for jobs here."- Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Boston Bruins prospect profile #2: Jared Knight

Jared Knight, RW
5-11, 205
January 16, 1992 in Battle Creek, Michigan
Shoots: Right
Boston's 2nd choice, 32nd overall in 2010 Draft
Signing status: Signed 3-yr ELC; July 18, 2011

Talent Analysis

Physical:
Not tall, but thick-bodied and naturally strong. Close to his physical maturation already with not a lot of room left to add muscle mass on his frame. Squat, powerful build with low center of gravity. First step is average; lacks explosive burst, but straight-line speed is fine. Shows the ability to separate from defenders in open ice. Demonstrates agility in his movements, especially when gaining the zone and crossing over to shake opponents and open up passing/shooting lanes. Sniffs out offensive chances and takes his game to a higher level. Hands are elite- a nasty, wicked shooter who can find the back of the net at will. Can wire it top shelf from the outside, or crash the net and beat the goalie with quick moves in close. A relentless player whose feet are always moving. Aggressive and determined whenever the puck is anywhere near him on the ice and goes hard to the net. Soft hands for giving and receiving passes- an underappreciated playmaker who proved he can set the table this season when Nazem Kadri turned pro and Knight was a veteran top liner on a young, inexperienced team. A physical presence who gets up under bigger players with his low center of gravity and then lowers the boom. Defensive game is much improved from where it was previously and shows his commitment to being a better player. Diabetes has not affected his ability to perform at a high level.

Intangibles:
Scoring instincts and knack for finding the back of the net are off the charts. He's one of those players who is always around the puck-- as if it follows him around on the ice. Like every good scorer, he wants the puck on his stick at crunch time and he delivers more often than not. A dedicated gym rat; works his butt off in the weight room, so size will not be an issue for him in the pros. Like other players with his condition, he has his diabetes under control and shows no signs of it affecting his play or energy. Has strong family support and good values. Has the respect of teammates and opponents alike for what he brings to the table and how he carries himself. Earned an invitation to Team USA Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid after going back on a U.S. NTDP commitment for the OHL, a sign that he has become the kind of valuable player who can help Team USA win the 2012 World Jr. Championship.

2011 Boston Bruins Development Camp Assessment:
Along with Ryan Spooner, Knight was the best Boston prospect at development camp. He showed significant improvements in his strength, conditioning, skating and confidence. A year ago, he was impressive but still figuring things out. This time around, Knight was leading the way and played with a lot of energy and verve. Spooner is more flashy and dynamic, but Knight simply does not get enough credit for his dangerous scoring/finishing skills and his nonstop motor.

Development Camp video: Jared Knight

3rd Day
video

Projection
Knight projects as a top-six scoring winger who could push for 40 goals in the NHL one day and could be a consistent 30-goal threat from year to year. At his floor, he's a third-liner who will play a solid two-way game. The style comparisons to Ryan Callahan are valid, and the two share some remarkable similarities in terms of size and style, as well as developmental path. Knight also reminds of a young Mark Recchi in that he is not the most explosive skater, but has excellent hands and a knack for generating scoring chances. You don't want to create unrealistic expectations for a player like Knight if he doesn't hit his target ceiling, but at the same time, he was the 32nd overall pick for a reason. The talent, drive and moxie is there and he appears to be just scratching the surface of his potential. He's going to have a tough challenge to win an NHL spot in the fall because of his junior situation, but he is physically ready to make a run. Knight might earn a 10-game audition if he can impress enough at training camp and during the exhibition season.

Quotable:

"So you see it firsthand, so, a guy like [Jared] Knight, he was already last year in tremendous shape and this year he’s even improved."- Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli , July 11, 2011

"[Jared] Knight was your typical up and down, north south style of winger. Got to the net, you know he would muscle his way through there and get second chances. I think he got a goal, I cant remember, I certainly noticed."- Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011

"Well your hopes are that everybody gets away healthy, first of all, I mean, obviously Jared [Knight] drives to the net and it’s probably typical, I was talking, actually, to Doug [Hamilton] and Marc Cantin, two guys in the OHL, it wasn’t any surprise to them that it was he who ran into Hutch [Michael Hutchinson] but Mike’s fine and Jared’s not going to change his game. "- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 7, 2011

"Jared’s a little more ready-made in terms of his physical stature and what he’s going to be as a physical player. The cerebral part of the game for him, you know, we’re going to continue to work upon and I think we did that in Providence, when they got a snapshot."- Sweeney; July 7, 2011

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Boston Bruins prospect profile #1: Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton
6-4, 193
June 17, 1993
Shoots: Right
Boston's 1st choice, 9th overall in 2011 Draft
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical:
Excellent size, with long limbs and natural athleticism. Projected to play at 215-220 pounds at his physical peak. Very good skater with quick acceleration, top speed and four-way mobility. Strong backwards skater with the ability to crossover quickly. Good passer and puck mover with the ability to make the short, intermediate and long stretch passes. Big point shot-generates power and torque and keeps it low for deflections. Likes to shoot and drive should only become more powerful as he fills out and gets stronger. Underrated wrist shot with quick release and accuracy. Likes to sneak in from the back door to put the puck in the net. Active stick. Uses big body to box out forwards from in front of his net. Strong along the walls and in the corners, and will get better with the added mass and physical maturity. Not a big open-ice hitter, but understands body leverage and not afraid to initiate contact. Angles well and will only get better as he continues to develop. Gets into trouble when he stops moving his feet and overthinks it. Will fight if called upon, but not particularly adept at doing so (not his role), even if he understands the need to defend teammates.

Intangibles:
Above average hockey sense, but still figuring out the defense position. Good worker and attitude. Bright, intelligent and comes from excellent athletic stock. Hamilton's developmental curve has been nearly vertical since last summer, when he helped lead Team Canada to gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in August, 2010. Although some question his natural feel and instincts for the game, others are confident Hamilton will develop into an accomplished two-way presence. He's shown the potential to reach an impressive ceiling in the NHL one day, but there is some risk with this player as well. Leadership potential, but not a rah-rah type and more of an unselfish leader by example, who is one of the guys and does his part to put the team first and do the little things needed to win.

2011 Boston Bruins Development Camp Assessment:
In similar fashion to Tyler Seguin a year ago, Hamilton came into camp with a lot of fanfare and didn't produce all that much during the scrimmages even if he did show off his impressive skills and talent. During the various drills and skating sessions, he showed off a fluid, powerful stride and the ability to make tight turns and change directions quickly. Not afraid to shoot the puck, he wasn't rewarded with goals, but showed the willingness to tee off when he had the chance. He also moved well laterally along the blue line, opening up shooting lanes with his mobility.

Development Camp video: Dougie Hamilton
video

Projection
Hamilton is not quite ready for primetime, but that's more in the context of Boston's established top-six defensemen and some of the prospects who have been in the system a little longer. The defending Stanley Cup champions have the luxury of taking their time with Hamilton; he's still light in his frame and will likely benefit from more playing time in the OHL with Niagara. He's a solid kid with tremendous genetics working in his favor, plus the discipline and work ethic to make something of himself as a pro. He is good enough to develop into a top-pairing defender with offensive upside and power play/penalty killing effectiveness. Even if Hamilton fails to reach his impressive ceiling, he should be at the very least a solid middle pair guy given his pure size and speed/skating ability. However, given that the B's took him ninth overall, much more is expected of him.

Quotable:

"Each day I thought he played better, was more comfortable. He walks the line so well, he’s got the poise, I thought he carried the puck a lot in today’s session with strength and confidence. just, he has the poise, the vision and his passing is good and he’s got size. So by the time he’s ready to play he’ll be two hundred-plus so to get a defenseman who’s tall, rangy, and can make those fine offensive plays and still have the range and the ability to play shutdown because I believe he will have that. Obviously it’s a great type of player to have."- Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli , July 11, 2011

"If he can get to two-twenty that’d be great and he could. With his frame and he’s still growing. I think he’s still growing like from we had one posting measurement at some point towards the end of his season and he’s grown like a quarter of an inch or a half an inch since then so it’s got to be done properly and I’m sure he’ll do it. I know he’s conscientious about that. His parents are two former Olympic athletes. He’s got core strength too so like two-ten would be great."- Chiarelli; July 11

"I think it’s just been nice to get him into our camp and kind of start to fine-tune some of the things you see during the course of the season. And you know he can do a lot of these things. Where it goes will really be up to him. You know he wont know that until he gets on the power plays at the next levels, he knows he can do certain things at the junior level. And you know his physical stature helps him get away with some of that stuff. I would say at this point in time ,the decision-making is really what it will come down to as to where his impact will be. And you really, a lot of times don’t get that until you do go through these experiences and playing against guys that will expose you when you do run around."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney, July 11, 2011

"I mean, that’s a good pairing. I mean, first of all, it’s a rather large pairing, you know and Tommy’s [Cross] really filled out, obviously, he’s had some injury troubles so it’s good to see him, you know, on full speed, full capacity, no limitations to what he’s doing on the ice. And he’s got kind of a calming influence for Dougie [Hamilton]. You know, like I talked about yesterday, Dougie’s looking to get up ice. He’s comfortable on the power play, he’s looking to be physical. You know he’s going to be a well rounded, you know, well rounded player with a two way component. Where that fits in on the high side, one or the other we won’t worry about that today that’s for sure. We just continue to work with him and get him to understand and process the game, you know as speeds go up. "- Sweeney on Hamilton-Cross pairing; July 10, 2011

"At six-foot-four, [Hamilton] moves very well. Very well. And he’s got a good skill set with the puck, without it, we’re just trying to fine-tune some of the things defensively. You’re not going to see, from a camp like this, in terms of you know, we might do a little power play in the scrimmage-wise, or whatever the case may be, but you’re not going to see the guys do that. I mean the ice gets chopped up, it’s a little frantic, the guys haven’t played together. So anybody that comes in here is not going to see somebody wow you with you know, there will be some wow moments, but overall it won’t be that way. I think we want, first and foremost, Dougie as well as everybody else, to feel comfortable in being part of this organization. So he comes in, in September, and he does work between now and then that will put him in the best light to challenge and to continue to get better. He’s got a lot of upside, I don’t think anybody in our organization feels that he’s pigeonholed in any capacity, be it defensive d-man, offensive d-man. I think he’s just going to be a real good, solid two-way player and we’re excited to have him."- Sweeney on Hamilton; July 9, 2011

"I mean, a guy like [Dougie] Hamilton, for example. For a big guy, at 6’5”, [6’4”], he moves pretty well, he’s pretty fluid, you know, most guys who are eighteen years old are still growing into their body, they’re a little bit clumsy, but he’s got very smooth feet for a big man and gets around the ice very well. I haven’t seen him play, obviously, I don’t do the scouting, but I imagine that’s going to translate and that’s why he was the ninth pick, because of his skating and his, he looks like a heady player, he has a good stick. Again, he’s one guy for sure that I’ve noticed that looks good and again, you don’t know until September comes around, until he’s playing against men, but he sure looks like the real deal out there for the past forty-eight hours."- Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy; July 8, 2011