Boston Bruins Development Camp has come and gone. There were over a dozen returning players, new draftees and invitees. While I do wonder how it is they failed to invite any goalie prospects, and had Malcolm Subban filling in for Adam Morrisson, and University of North Dakota star, and Fargo Force alumni Zane Gothberg. There are literally dozens of colleges within driving distance of Boston, and if the goals of camp is to coach, develop, and protect the health of prospects then it makes perfect sense to have additional prospects in camp.
That said, camp was as always engaging. The progress some players made over the years is notable. No players stood out as not belonging, but trying to watch two dozen players at once is foolish. Below are the players who stood out most for one reason or another.
Cole Bardreau, of Cornell University stood out among the forwards showing great speed, lateral movement and hands.
Anton Blidh had a hard shot that was a little bit high at times.
Oleg Yevenko was the largest, and oldest of the prospects. The UMass Amherst defensemen didn’t exhibit great skating but was in the right place to use his stick well.
Billy Sweezey of Hanson, Ma was the youngest player in camp and it didn’t seem to mean much. Solid positioning, good skating, respectable size and still a year of high school to go.
Rob O’Garra clearly is an athlete with high level conditioning. The day camp opened when some of his campmates were flagging, he looked like he might be warmed up. The rest of week he never looked like he broke a sweat.
Wiley Sherman, more poised, more precise and clearly having filled out more than a little.
Colton Hargrove, the improvements in Hargrove’s game are pretty obvious, I’m willing to bet if the 2012 entry draft were redone the son of Rockwall Texas would go before 205 this time.
Kyle Baun, after Bardreau arguably the most impressive forward in the group. Good hands, good speed.
Matt Benning was hands down the most impressive player in camp. Not only was his positioning excellent he used stick, body, and skates to separate opposing players from pucks. Northeastern has itself a good looking young defenseman right now.
David Pastrnak seemed to have a bit of trouble keeping his skates on the ice and his uniform ice free, possibly new skates, possibly the sheer pace of camp, or possibly an ongoing skating issue, its hard to say in just a few viewings. I won’t be shocked if he’s invited to camp in September, but given that he’s still under contract to Soldertalje he likely will not break camp with either the Boston or Providence Bruins.
Of all the differences between this camp and years past, is how strongly management curtailed physicality. In years past no scrimmage was complete without double digit numbers of hits by players trying to make sure they remembered by management and each other. This year, there a scant handful. While development camp focuses on skill and athleticism, elusiveness is a skill and leadership may be doing the organization a disservice not to keep the players on their toes. And on the other end, physicality is a big part of the tool set of many players.
While several of the young men look really great among their peers, it is no measure of how they will perform against the AHL or NHL. Among the forwards, I don’t see anyone among the forwards I would project above the second line. Among the defensemen, assuming their trajectory continues at the same level two or three who could land in the second pairing in most NHL cities, and depending on circumstances you could see a top pairing player or two.