Overall the 2019 Bruins dev camp was an exercise in confirmation bias.

The Don Sweeney and company trotted out several of this years picks, and most of the recent picks not playing in the NHL or AHL for the full year last season and compared them nose to nose and tail to tail. I can tell you the overall assessment they arrived at of the group of properties and invitees as a whole.

There’s a couple axis of examination they’ll have applied to the group the important ones are:

  1. The returning draftees performance and testing results versus prior years.
  2. This years draftees versus players drafted in a similar place in previous years.
  3. Returning invitees versus their own previous results.
  4. This years draftees versus their performance at the combine and the aggregate
  5. Coachability

I suspect the conclusion they came to is that there’s no one who participated in this years on ice events who is so  far behind the pack they don’t belong on the same ice surface. Most of the players they expected to progress did. Aside from the (mostly older) standouts I mentioned in my last post there are a couple players of note.

Josh Maniscalco (defenseman) is heading back to Arizona State for a second year, and he’s got reasonable wheels, and a nice set of hands.

Casey Dornbach (right wing) is a Harvard man, and as he’ll be 22 on July 7th, one of the older guys in camp. He drew the eye nearly every time he was on the ice. Agile, good speed and a solid shot.

Samuel Asselin is interesting in two regards, he’s shown the last two season in the Q to be a playoff performer, and his overage season saw him more than double his previous years points. He looked comfortably among the top third of forwards at camp and Providence fans will see him up close.

Justin Richards another invitee was intriguing. You just sort of blinked a few times and he had the puck, and was taking a shot or making a pass and then boom his cloaking device activated again. Just plain gone.

John Beecher looked like he had good fundamentals, but is likely to be at college two years, and maybe a year in the AHL after that.

As always you can find the podcast I co-host Two Man ForeCheck anytime you need a hockey fix. This week we’ll be looking at free agency, the 2013 draft class, and more. Or possibly none of that, most of it is made up as we go along.

 

 

This is one of the odder years at camp. There’s no clear star among the prospects. Most of the upper 20% of the roster are headed to college next year. I don’t see anyone with enough bouyancy that I can say “I can’t wait to see them at main camp in the fall.” It was also the most lightly attended by fans camp I’ve been to.

Of this year’s draft picks I got the most eyeball time on Quinn Olson, and Matias Mantykivi. Neither will be cracking the lineup anytime soon. Both are late birthdays with Olson turning eighteen on May 9th, and Mantykivi on June 21st. The latter played in Finland last year, and is listed at 143lbs, and five foot ten. If he were at his current size to block a shot in the NHL he might well miss time. Both are good skaters and receive passes well, make solid passes. Mantikivi needs to work on his shooting angles, Olson I didn’t see as much.

Of the 2018 draft picks I saw two standout. One positively, the other Dustyn McFaul. Early in the on ice session I saw him cutting corners on drills, and what appeared to be giving up. By the mid-point it was clear he was having some sort of conditioning or injury issue as he was clearly, visibly gassed. Fortunately for him, he’ll have at least a year or two in upstate New York to work out his issues while at Clarkson. Curtis Hall looked even better than last year. When I left camp at the end of 2018 I said he had an outside chance at squeaking into the 4th line. Today did nothing to detract from that and he showed better than the majority of the prospects in the drills shooting, passing, and above all timing both well.

If there is a threat among the forward crop to take a Boston job this fall, it is Oskar Steen. I’ve always liked his attitude, positioning, and skating. Over last year and this his shot and passing have elevated. You can tell just from watching him move that he’s put on more muscle, and learned to use it efficiently with and without contact with other players. He’s still far from the biggest guy on the ice but no one got an extra inch of room from him.

Marek Zachar is an undrafted invitee who had two seasons in the Q with the Sherbrook Phoenix and has since returned to Europe. His resume shouldn’t convince anyone he’s the next Martin St Louis, even if they are of like size, but there does appear to be something there. Matt Brown was likewise undrafted, and if the scoring leader for the Des Moines Buccaneers, and in the top 20 in the USHL for points, not to mention top 10 in goals wasn’t on people’s draft list, I’m curious to know why. The talk today was that he was sneaky good. If he can crack an NHL lineup in the future he might be the whiff of this years draft. Smooth, assertive, and clearly there for more than just to be seen.

Nick Wolff is fascinating to watch. Similar dimensions to Brandon Carlo, an attitude more like Connor Clifton, and very sound positioning. If he hasn’t already peaked in his development guys need to start getting nervous now. He could well be that rare four year college defenseman who makes the jump straight to the NHL without a year adjusting to the pro-life in the AHL. In addition to the defensive positioning that will buy him dinner, he showed off some hands with a nice pass and a couple stuffs that’ll spring for dessert.