This is a list of the players who displayed the best and most attributes at this development camp. Depending on how the categories are weighted, the list could easily be different with two or three players sliding off the list, and others moving up or down. This is not a list of what I think their NHL impact

Broadly speaking the categories I looked for included:

  • Athleticism, particularly endurance.
  • Agility: lateral motion and turning ability
  • Speed
  • Shot
  • Performance in drills
  • Performance in 3vs3 scrimmage and other simulated play
  • Effort

A couple honorable mentions who all improved day after day:

  • Ryan Lindgren, one of the youngest players at camp and by Friday was certainly performing better than a couple of defenseman who have been through camp before.
  • Trent Frederic, another of this year’s draft class. another of the US National Development team members who looks to have some solid upside.

#10

Sean Kuraly

Working the net front

In some ways landing at the bottom of a ranking list is worse than missing it. Kuraly wasn’t bad at anything. He also didn’t thrive at anything, except standing in front of the net and holding off defenders. As one of the oldest skaters at camp, and one of the few to be signed to a contract, he might well have been told to simply stay healthy because no one earns a roster spot in July.

#9

Oskar Steen

Steen Strides By

He didn’t show a lot of offensive flair, but when he did score it clearly wasn’t a fluke. He’s a terrier out on the ice, boundless energy, and no fear. He received the hardest hit of the week from Brandon Carlo on Tuesday or Wednesday, and when he was playing 3 on 3 with Wiley Sherman and Matt Grzelcyk, he went to the boards and took the puck from the (larger) opposing player.

#8

Cameron Hughes, this guy can skate, he’s got a good shot, he’s a solid passer, and he can handle the puck at speed.

#7

Charlie McAvoy

The reason he’s not higher on the list than the other defenseman is as much a matter of positioning during game play and my weighting of the factors listed above as anything else. There wasn’t anything bad about his work at camp, it just wasn’t as polished. I wonder what he’ll look like at next years camp with another year of building strength and endurance at Boston University.

#6

Jesse Gabrielle

Hard Earned Stretch

The first two things that will stick out to you after watching the Moosomin Saskatchewan native play are that he’s speedy, and happy to shoot the puck. Beyond that he’s a good puck handler, dropped back to defend in play, and passes well.

#5

Ryan Donato

I think some day, NHL coaches are going to like this guy. He’s not particularly flashy, but he does all the things he’s supposed to and did so consistently in drills and play. It wasn’t just skill that set him apart from certain players who spend the academic year around Comm Ave, it was consistency and effort.

#4

Danton Heinen

There’s a lot to like here, good speed, good passing, very agile, and a strong passer. Not much in the way of downside, except maybe size and even that’s not a huge concern with the way he skates. I think the bigger factors on if he makes the Boston roster this fall will be which side he ends up playing, and endurance.

#3

Wiley Sherman

Sherman Goes Low

After you get done gawking at Sherman’s size, pay attention to his everything else. He skates well, he was one of the few players who never looked tired on the ice, and he’s got a pretty nice wrist shot. Defensively he uses his stick well, doesn’t get caught up in chasing when he can simply deny access to the high percentage areas, and he uses all his tools fluidly.

#2

Anders Bjork

Anders Attacks

If there is a single player that went through the more challenging drills with more agility, and deftness not named Grzelcyk than Bjork I must have missed them. Even more striking is that he did them with more speed than anyone including the Terrier’s Alum. Bjork has finished two seasons at Notre Dame, the latter at a point per game, Bruins and Bjork fans should be hoping that when he’s done at school there’s an open contract and roster spot to slide him into somewhere in Providence or Boston.

#1

Dan Vladar

Constant Vigilance

I did consider putting someone else in this slot, but not very hard or for very long. Vladar was the best player on the ice all week. I started watching when camp opened on Tuesday, and spent the week looking for a hole in his game. It wasn’t his glove, it wasn’t his positioning, it wasn’t getting back up off the ice, I can’t fault his blocker and stick side combination, and he didn’t lose pucks in his feet. Another thing I didn’t see (and bear in mind no one was ripping off slapshots) was rebounds. Everything fell within a foot of his body and was smothered quickly, assuming it didn’t land in his glove.

Another development camp has come and gone. The prospects will by now all have had their exit interviews and been told what they need to work on.

Jeremy Louzon had his best day of camp today showing off his best puck handling and shooting to date.

Charlie McAvoy, the kid’s got wheels and when he uses them, he’s capable of leaving most players behind.

Ryan Fitzgerald had nice precise passing, and good skating in play.

Stephen Dhillon should be happy with the week he had, not only did he improve as the week went on, he drew raves from the crowd making a high end post to post save, and on a separate play was left naked with an on coming 3 vs 0 and gave them nothing to shoot at.

Ryan Lindgren had a very pretty goal against Malcolm Subban at a time in play when Subban was clearly trying to stop every puck.

Cameron Hughes showed quite well in play with speed, showed off nice hands all week, and while I can’t say he slacked off in drills, he shined more in play.

Dan Vladar came out of the net to handle the puck and made me cross off another potential hole in his game.

Oskar Steen, after doing well in the drills all week, I think what I liked most about him, aside from never looking tired, and not quitting on plays is that there isn’t a single stretch of ice he failed to use during play.

Jake Debrusk had a really nifty goal during play that drew audience appreciation and left the goaltender a bit disgusted.

Tomorrow you’ll see the top ten post of prospects based on camp performance, and soon a break down in the style differences between goalie prospects Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban, don’t forget you can find me on Twitter @PuckSage, on Google+, and Facebook with purely the posts and my page.

Day three showed more of the separation between the top prospects and everyone else. After camp I’ll go through my notes and put together a top ten list for all the gentleman at camp. I will not however be including three players; Matt Grzelcyk because he is enough better than any of the younger skates that it just isn’t useful to compare him. Likewise, it’s pretty clear Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban were told basically take repetitions so we can talk to the younger goalies, stay healthy, work on tracking the puck and stay healthy.

Emil Johansson has a shot worth taking note of, and is more than happy to play physically against whoever is in reach, and he does so with more discipline than some of the young defenseman I’ve seen at this camp.

2016 Development Camp

Sean Kuraly, deft at all the puck handling and skating drills.

Drill instruction

Jeremy Lauzon, has looked better each day, performed the drills well.

Sean McCavoy showed he can take pucks in his skates and get them to his stick in one move at least once.

Kuraly working the net front

Wiley Sherman keeps showing me more, he was making tight turns in about the same space on top of everything I’ve already said about him. During the one on one drills, when defending he was the only defender in either session

Cameron Hughes warmed up and got through the most difficult drills flawlessly.

Anders Bjork not only went through the drills with notable skill, he did it a faster speed than anyone else.

Ryan Lindgren looked best during the one on one drills, and looked solid against the better forwards.

Staying Focuced

Brandon Carlo has me convinced he’s almost certainly going to get quite a few more penalty minutes than points with the physicality and intensity he’s displayed in camp.

Ryan Donato looks to be in the top third of the forwards overall, but hasn’t been spectacular at anyone thing, or bad at anything at all.

Kuraly breaks out

Today was a chance to see more of the players in smaller groups. There was a lot of activity leaning slightly more heavily towards individual attention helping players use their edges a bit more and make better cuts and turns.

Matt Grzelcyk has nestled into the on ice leadership slot well enough one wonders where and when he’ll have a letter on his jersey. The skating, puck handling, passing and shooting that made him stand out after he was drafted clearly haven’t diminished even a little despite a few injuries during his college career.

Wiley Sherman isn’t just a big dude, he’s a big dude with good skating, good endurance, an active stick, and a respectable shot. While other players are bent over and spent towards the end of the practice, I never saw him winded during any drill, today or yesterday.

Sean Kuraly of Dublin, Ohio looks very mature for a reason, he’s 23 years old. Just watch him drill for a bit and you’ll be impressed by his shot release.

Stephen Dillon the invite from Fort Erie pulled out a split today making a save that was fluid fast, and induced a nicely appreciative swathe of sound from the spectators. The youngest player in camp had a more even day today, and seemed to have fully settled in.

Trent Frederic had an apparent split in ability between pure drills, and simulated player versus player action. He looked notably better in the latter.

Ryan Lindgren was on the ice today, looking like he was still skating the kinks out early and settling in to the drills nicely.

Jakub Zboril looked his best today in a one on one drill against Oskar Steen.

Nationalities:

  1. Americans: 14
  2. Canadians: 7
  3. Czechs: 2
  4. Swedes: 2
  5. Fins: 1
P1060015

#53 Fitzgerald aces a puck handling drill.

Tallest: Wiley Sherman Lightest: Cameron Hughes 160lbs

Another year of watching the Bruins prospects is upon us and while the show was fun, there were some big disappointments. Some of the most intriguing prospects were not on the ice. Rob O’Gara is no where on the list even attending this years camp, Matt Benning was likewise conspicuous by his absence. Zachary Senyshyn is down and out with mono, and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson is not attending for “personal reasons”. Worse, only the absence of the latter pair is explained. With the utter lack of quality in the Boston Bruins defense this year not seeing O’Gara and Benning is likely cause for concern.

A few players stood out in multiple areas. I thought Heinen, Steen, and Kuraly had the most developed shots. The release from all three is hidden  until the puck is two feet off the blade of their stick. Matt Grzelcyk as the grizzled veteran of the skating contingent looked to have slid into a leadership role demonstrating all the drills, and showed the high end agility, puck handling and shooting we’ve come to expect from the healthy and fit version of the Charlestown native.

What might be the most pleasant surprise is Daniel Vladar who looked like he could have stopped pucks for another six hours. He is a big, tall goalie who unlike a lot of guys approaching his six and a half feet he doesn’t seem to lose the puck when its on the ice right around his pads and skates. Day one is hardly the time go projecting NHL career lengths for anyone but he made the skaters work for the very few pucks that went by him, and had a quiet efficiency of movement.

Wiley Sherman is another of the jumbos, he seems to have put on some muscle filling out a body that looked a bit scary his first year at camp. That first year you’d watch him recovering between drills or at scrimmage and you’d see his jersey get sucked into his ribs when he breathed. To go with the muscle his straight line speed is certainly adequate.

Brandon Carlo should probably get the “Anthony Camara” award for body contact as he pressed hard on forwards during drills and the center ice simulate play.

In the first half of day Stephen Dillon looked a bit ragged and the skaters put more than a couple pucks past him in the early drills, repeatedly going to the same spots. As he warmed up and settled in the Niagara Icedog (and youngest player in camp) looked better and better.

The biggest takeaway from the group as a whole is the most noticeable separation between the most agile third of the players present, and the rest of the group. Not surprisingly small and very small men like Steen, Grzelcyk, and Fitzgerald were near the top of the chart.

Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre were on the ice early today doing goaltending drills with the staff, but did not participate in the general session with the youngsters. The most impressive player of the day was hands down Daniel Vladar who didn’t flinch from contact, tracked the puck well, and used pads, stick and glove to great impact.

Based on only the players currently signed to the Bruins, what we know about the coaches, players, and management. Here’s a quick look at what it may look like.

  1. Marchand – Bergeron – Hayes
  2. Beleskey – Krejci – Backes
  3. Vatrano – Spooner – Pastrnak
  4. Hargrove – Acciari – Nash

Bergeron and Marchand staying together is about as close to a sure thing as you’re going to get in Boston right now. For balance, something Julien is in love with, that’s why Hayes and Beleskey both start out in the top six. I can’t see Julien loving the idea of the current third line, but unless he’s going to flip Backes and Pastrnak for more defensive responsibility on the third line, and more speed on the first, it could well happen. The fourth line is going to come down to who has the best camp and what the biggest needs are.

Currently I have the penalty kill units looking like this:

  • Bergeron, Chara, Marchand, McQuaid
  • Krejci, Acciari, Miller, Liles

With the lines above I can see Hargrove and Backes both taking shorthanded time up front, which is part of why I projected Hargrove over Randell, but I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see a platoon of players go through the fourth line and bottom of the defense this year even if/when more players are added.

Defensive pairs have everyone’s attention right now, and here’s a possible look at the future.

  • Chara – K. Miller
  • Krug – McQuaid
  • Liles – Grant

During Miller’s best play last season he played with Chara and looked respectable doing it. Krug proved last year he’s worth every bit of the money he’ll be getting this year, not just with his offensive numbers but by picking up more even strength play, and even some limited penalty killing. Alex Grant is a right shot defenseman and that is something rare in the Bruins system at the moment.

The extras are Seth Griffith who I could easily see displacing Hayes, especially given his past chemistry with Bergeron and Marchand, and Rob O’Gara who’s known to be a level-headed, strong skating, all purpose defenseman.

I won’t be a bit surprised when one or two of the currently unsigned RFA guys are brought back in, particularly Joe Morrow who I would slot in ahead of more than one player in the current six.

Goalies are almost certain to be: Rask and Khudobin. Partly because of experience, partly to make McIntyre and Subban less attractive in the expansion draft.

The Power Plays:

  • Krejci, Pastrnak, Hayes, Bergeron, Krug
  • Marchand, Spooner, Backes, Chara, Vatrano

Both units maintain several pieces from last year and allow Chara to be saved for more five on five play while still having at least one thirty goal scorer on each unit. With Backes on the second unit you also get a strong faceoff man who is the opposite hand from Spooner opening more options for set plays from faceoffs.  Again, Griffith, or one of the other prospects could displace Hayes, Vatrano, or Pastrnak fairly easily.

For those interested in the cap implications click here.

Other players on the bubble between AHL and NHL this year: Colin Miller and Joe Morrow who both played in Boston last year but are unsigned, Tyler Randell, Tommy Cross (who’s new contract surprised me), Danton Heinen who is highly regarded but still cutting his professional teeth, and Zach Senyshyn who had 45 goals in the OHL last year.

Free agency is underway and the Pacific division is as wide open to winning as it was last year. No division title is won in July, but it can be lost.

Anaheim Ducks: C-

The biggest strength of the Ducks off season so far is not signing any hideous contracts. That’s about all that can be said for it though. They finished 17th in scoring last year and the only player they have signed since July first is a retread journeyman defenseman. Nate Guerin was drafted back in 2002 by the New York Rangers and has played in an unimpressive 205 regular season and 7 post season NHL games since. Hardly the most optimistic of starts to the off-season.

Arizona Coyotes: C

Given their likely spending budget the Coyotes had a decent start to free agency picking up Jamie McGinn to play along side some of their youngsters. He’ll bring some size to the team. Other signings included depth players like goalie Justin Peters. They still have a lot to do to be a playoff team, maybe this is the year they go young?

Calgary Flames: B-

The Flames went out and addressed needs. They signed Chad Johnson to a one year deal at a team friendly number. Johnson is emerging as a strong goaltender and had very good number playing behind last years woeful Buffalo Sabre. Troy Brouwer is now their highest paid forward, which would be very odd on many teams, but at under $5m its a decent contract on a team that’s best forward are on or just ended their entry level deals.

Edmonton Oilers: C+

The Edmonton Oilers signed three players, Milan Lucic, Jonas Gustavsson, and Mark Fraser. Fraser is a big bodied defenseman who has spent most of the time since being drafted in 2005 in the AHL collecting just 219 NHL games. It’s worth noting he played in the New Jersey Devils system with Adam Larsson, but they were not very frequent linemates. Gustavsson is a quality backup goaltender which is something they need as only three teams finished with more goals against last year. Milan Lucic was signed for more money than another other player on July first. He’s quite familiar with Peter Chiarelli, Andrew Ference, and Benoit Pouliot from their time in Boston, having won a Cup with the first two. Lucic and Oskar Klefbom appear to be the long range plan for the Oilers as both are signed the end of the 2022-23 season. The signings themselves weren’t egregious, but defense, defense, defense were the first, second, and third needs of the team and they didn’t do much to address those.

Los Angeles Kings: B

Jeff Zatkoff who used to be in the Kings system having played for the Monarchs for a couple years. He may well see serious NHL time after playing well as part of the Penguins Stanley Cup run. The rest of their signings were all second (or lower) tier players with former Washington Capitals center Michael Latta as the most recognizable nationally, Tom Gilbert is a well traveled depth defenseman who is fairly reliable but not flashy, and last was the signing of Zach Trotman a defenseman with decent tools who was Mr Insignificant of 201o. Getting all three for under $3m is a pretty nice deal, especially given the taxes in California. There wasn’t a lot of need here, and also rather little cap space.

San Jose Sharks: B

When you go to the Stanley Cup finals and you aren’t losing anyone to free agency, there isn’t a lot to do. The Sharks added Mikkel Boedker who has proven himself able to produce in the playoffs. The Sharks need more of that, just as they could have used his speed in June against the Penguins. Solid signing that should enhance the team without damaging chemistry.

Vancouver Canucks: D

The Canucks needed to add youth, speed, and quality defense they did none of that. They added Loui Eriksson fresh of a contract year performance, and two players unlikely to play a combined 20 NHL games this season. Possibly their best move was signing Doug Jarvis as an assistant coach.

 

It’s early in Free Agency, just a couple days in, but all of the top players are signed so it is time to grade the teams.

Boston Bruins: C-

Their biggest need was on defense. Not just a high end player that eat twenty two to twenty five minutes a night, but someone who can pick up the defensive slack as Chara ages and with Seidenberg a thing of the past. They failed to do that. Their second biggest need was to fill out the right side, and they did that with a hand in glove signing of David Backes. Style wise, experience wise, attitude wise it would be harder to find a better right wing for the team even if there is a decent amount of risk. Third on the list was filling the bottom six and getting depth at forward that can be called up from Providence and provide veteran leadership there. They first didn’t make the mistake of resigning Chris Kelly long term (or at all, so far), and brought back Tyler Randell, and added Riley Nash which are solid signings. They also signed an injury prone backup goaltender who will at least fit into the room comfortably being a retread.

Buffalo Sabres: B+

The Sabres did what they needed to continue a rebuild that is going along solidly but they took on some risk to do so. Kyle Okposo brings size, skill, physicality, playoff experience and undeniable injury history to the Sabres. They added some minor league depth, but honestly there wasn’t a lot for them to do. They have some RFA’s to resign who play a big part in the Sabres machine, and are targeting Jimmy Vesey, but they have enough depth at all the skating positions they should with only reasonable health at worst still be in the playoff conversation in late November assuming they get Rasmus Ristolainen, and Marcus Foligno signed without alienating anyone. The biggest failure would be in letting Chad Johnson go and picking up Anders Nilsson who has largely been a 3rd goalie as the seeming replacement.

Detroit Red Wings: C-

Generally peaking when your two most notable UFA acquisitions are a former all star known for scoring who barely does any more, and a former agitator who barely does that anymore you’ve already admitted you’re rebuilding. Except the Red Wings haven’t done that, and yet they went and grabbed Tomas Vanek who has seen his stats plummet in the last few years, and Steve Ott who has had exactly one twenty goal season in his career. Ott will be thirty-four when the puck drops in October. It is quite hard to be optimistic when a team that 23rd in the leagues last season in Goals For does nothing noticeable to help themselves in that category. What about Frans Neilsen you say? Good question. He’s undeniably talented, but he is also 32, the least well known of the three (outside Long Island), and has never cracked 60 points. Did Zetterberg and Kronwall lobby that hard for players who listen to the same music as they do?

Florida Panthers:  B+

On paper the Florida Panthers have spent the last several days sweeping up all the talent they need to maybe, just maybe become the front runner for Atlantic Division Title. They inked Jason Demers long term, and they also made two sneaky smart pickups signing Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault both playoff tested guys still at the height of their athleticism. If there is a concern in the moves made over the off season as a whole, it is that the team may have gotten worse defensively. That’s a bit concerning given that their number one goaltender is within a season or so of playing in his 1000th NHL game.

The Montreal Canadiens: C-

While there is nothing wrong with the talent the Canadiens have brought in, one wonders what is wrong with the decision making process in the front office. The mantra according to both deed and word is to have a locker room without personality problems, at least that was the official reason for moving Norris trophy winner P.K. Subban. But when you bring in Alex Radulov and Andrew Shaw to the mix any observer can be forgiven for wondering if there wasn’t perhaps if that official reason wasn’t even close to the skin of the matter. Al Montoya as a backup is nearly as confusing as the other moves as their were several backups available with better career numbers.

Ottawa Senators: No Grade

While they didn’t throw too much term or too much money at any big name free agents and certainly there are occasions when the signing you don’t make is the best deal of the off season, they failed to improve. That said, they did a lot of major movement towards the middle of last season, and didn’t have a lot of roster spots to fill.

Tampa Bay Lightning: No Grade

The Bolts didn’t have a lot of needs from the UFA market, if any at all. And they made no moves there. They did lock up most of their core and have a good deal of room to sign up the RFAs they have at loose ends.

Toronto Maple Leafs: C-

The Leafs added two UFAs worth naming since free agency opened, and the same thing can be said about both of them. They are tough, physical, blue collar players who can be nice contributors.  What Matt Martin and Roman Polak aren’t are cornerstones or top of the roster players. Neither is really even a middle of the roster player. Toughness, and even headedness are great but this team’s needle hasn’t been pushed closer to playoff participant yet.

Some quick impressions on free agency so far:

  1. Major, obvious mistakes don’t seem to be as common as three or four years ago.
  2. Even though the Coyotes got Goligoski, I expected their aggressive young general manager to do more today.
  3. Did anyone tell Columbus what day it was?
  4. Marc Bergevin seems dead set on proving that the most important part of being the Canadiens General Manager is to speak French because I can’t see how his moves would match up with his stated opinions on players, attitude, and the rest.
  5. The Sharks made a shrewd move in picking up Mikkel Boedker that adds much needed fleetness of foot and a guy who stands and delivers in the post season. Kudos!
  6. My instant winner for worst move for worst move of the day would have been Vanek getting two or more years of term, but the Red Wings short circuited that by getting him inked for one year.
  7. Familiarity breeds good deal? Lucic signed with his former general manager, Eriksson signed to play with his international linemates, Khudobin signed in a city he played in before, Campbell went home to Chicago and Radulov was reunited with Shea Weber in Montreal.
  8. If Connor McDavid really does end up playing with Milan Lucic he should enjoy the hell out of it, Marc Savard enjoyed the hell out of it, David Kreci road him to a Stanley Cup, and playing with a living breathing bulldozer with a 30 goal, Stanley cup pedigree can’t hurt his career at all.
  9. While there have been some really interesting trades lately, and the UFA class had a good number of middle tier players, the RFA class this year is probably where the value is.
  10. Kyle Okposo has traded playing second fiddle to John Tavares to doing the same for Jack Eichel. arguably he falls behind Evander Kane, and Ryan O’Reily too. I’m not convinced he went to a better team now or in three years.
  11. The Oilers are clearly happy to spend money, one wonders however if the current General Manager will be any more successful there than the last half dozen.
  12. Speaking of RFA’s, does anyone else have the sneaking suspicion Monahan and Gaudreau to end up playing with the gritty, big bodied Troy Brouwer?
  13. Unless he stopped answering his agent’s phone calls, Kris Versteeg may just have run out of places to sign.
  14. Yannick Weber signing in Nashville probably spawned a ton of snarky tweets, posts, and headlines… and I have declined to look for them.
  15. New Jersey Devils fans who got all tingly over the trade for Taylor Hall can return to hating their ownership and management as the sexiest signing of the day was Devante Smith-Pelly.
  16. Jonathan Marchessault is clearly a warm weather boy having traded his Bolt in for a Panther.
  17. The twitter poll says Jason Demers is the best available free agent, and he is arguably the best defenseman available, I’m not sure he gets to the $6m plateau he is rumored to want.
  18. I don’t think I understand the goaltending choices made today. Zatkoff was a good get for the Kings, and another familiar face in a familiar place, but Montoya signed while Enroth waits? And Reimer going to play the role of Schnieder in the two goalie mess the Panther’s crease has become as Luongo reprises his waning years in Vancouver. What gives?
  19. Jimmy Vesey is likely to be the bludgeon teams use to negotiate deals with young RFA’s for the next six weeks, but he might just be best off signing in Nashville after all.