Bruins Prospect Camp opened today. I expect to get to see some of it in person this week. For several prospects this is possibly more important than their draft year combine. If they fail to make a favorable impression today they may just find themselves moved so far down the totem pole they could be dumped from the system, or traded off before they even get to the main camp once.
As usual the Bruins have brought in some young players unattached to any organization and while they bear watching, there are other players who will overshadow them with good play or bad. For the expected high performers, this is where we they will prove not only that they must be retained but that they are better option than players currently expected to return from last years roster or any potential free agent or trade acquisition. Here are the five with the most on the line.
5) Tommy Cross. After knee injuries wiped out two years of potential appearances, the 2007 2nd rounder has to prove he’s capable of staying healthy for an extended period. As a big body who can, when healthy, skate well he’s got the potential to replace the as of yet unsigned Mark Stuart. While he’s likely to stay in college another year or two, it would be hard to imagine him saying “later guys” to an invite to the main training camp if it called especially in light of his injury history.
4) Jordan Caron. With his collar bone injury last year at the hands of WJC teammate Caron lost not just a chance to play at the international stage, but the opportunity to truly shine his fourth year in the QMJHL. With Joe Colbourne having left the University of Denver, Caron another of the Legion of Centers in the Boston organization has had his future turned a bit murkier. Even Colbourne’s acquisition is less of a potential stumbling block than the drafting of Tyler Seguin.
3) Maxim Suave. Like fellow Legionnaires Caron and Colbourne the addition of Seguin plays heavily into his future. Given his modest size on a team trying to get bigger at forward, he will have to make sending him back to Providence a very, very hard decision if it is made at all. While he played six games in the AHL last year, its an open question if he’s ready to make the leap into the NHL ahead of some of the other Bruins prospects. He was one of the final youngsters sent home from camp last year and played in the Bruins preseason. I’d love to see a big push from this guy, he’s got speed, passion and a solid shot.
2) Yuri Alexadrov. This man was the buzz of the Bruins prospect camp last year. Unlike most players at prospect camp he’s been playing against professionals for two seasons. His last two seasons have been spent in the KHL where he lead all defensemen on his team in ice time. As a small, agile, and smooth skating two way defenseman it’s unlikely he’ll get short changed on opportunities to prove he can contribute at the NHL level. However he has more to prove than most with the “Russian Factor” hanging over his head. He did have a contract to playout and faithfully did so, but the KHL is not the NHL, and I doubt the Cherepovets use a system similar to the Bruins. Nor will his team leading ice time translate that well to the NHL, his 19:43 in the KHL was only 1 second higher on average than Andrew Ference. On a team that wasn’t overfilled with talent, only one player had twenty goals, Alexandrov was also second in +/-.
1) Tyler Seguin. Given his exceptional year in the OHL and the thousands of blog posts, news articles, videos, and press conferences that discussed him the prospect camp might seem like a formality. Hell, with the way management has discussed bringing him along similar to how Stamkos (or Thornton) was, the only surprise will be if we don’t see him in camp and on the roster this fall. But this week is more a matter of dealing with the, preliminary, success of having been drafted so highly. He will face some envy and resentment from some of the players who rightfully believe he is a danger to their career. Whether its a part of his personality to do so or not he will be expected to take some sort of leadership role as well. If all the posturing of the draft hype, and his accomplishments in the OHL last year with a rather austere supporting cast are pointing in the right direction he should be the best player in camp. So on top of all the on ice drills, off ice workouts, the packs of press, and getting to know a couple score new names and faces, he gets the joy of pulling miracles out of the faceoff circle and delivering a premier performance.