While I’m not going to predict any career trajectories based off of a bit more than an hours on ice observation. Some players did stand out for one reason or another. Here’s the quick hits.

  • Ryan Spooner, has filled out and looks stronger and larger but hasn’t lost even a hint of speed or agility. When I spoke to him after practice he was extremely focused on playing in the NHL this fall.
  • Colton Hargrove who is headed to Western Michigan showed off some high end hand eye coordination. He’s a big, solid guy who grew up a Mike Modano fan in his native Texas. Said he sees similarities in his game to Milan Lucic.
  • Adam Morrison is more concerned with focusing on refining his game this year than where he plays. He said he was in Boston during the spring for the playoffs but slightly surprised by the atmosphere at development camp.
  • Malcolm Subban drew a lot of attention and is a more active goaltender than many, the OHL stud goaltender and first round pick is wearing his Bellville Bulls pads.
  • Hamilton has put on some muscle, his wrist shot looked smooth and quick.

When Don Sweeney spoke after practice he mentioned that while no one will make the team out of development camp they expect some of these campers to come in and push for a job. The chance to push aside a veteran does exist. From his comments other, I would guess there are three forwards and one defenseman at camp who can be expected to supply the most pressure.  I think any of the veterans who show up this fall out of shape or try and sleep walk through camp might find themselves in a different uniform before the season starts.

There are some differences this camp to previous ones. First off six goaltenders makes for not a great deal of crease time. The total roster on the other hand is smaller than in past years. Part of this reflects the depth of the Boston team and the fairly young players already on it. Another part may well be the pending lockout. A player in the locker room did mention the pending labor dispute and that it might affect the season. With the turnover in some other NHL teams management offices I can imagine young players going to where they expect a better change to play in the NHL next season, whenever it may be, than to a deep perennial playoff team.

The most asked, least answered question in regards to the Boston Bruins moves in the last four months has to be: Why do we need another goalie? The answer to that may just be that the Bruins suits lack confidence in the twenty-five year old Finn.

Why would they lack confidence in what the constellation of Boston media luminaries line up in his camp describe in terms that make one wonder if Rask might not be the perfect goaltender? Well, three reasons. First is the question of health. A twenty something who has two seasons ended by injury in row does not speak to long term health. The knee issue was the warning shot. The groin hit center of mass.

Second in performance. The first year of his expiring contract was his best. He played 45 games. He had sub 2.00 goals against average. With five to ten more games his .931 save percentage might have earned him a Vezina. It was a solid season he stepped up when Thomas was injured and did a more than presentable job. The next season? Not so much. Yes he was outplayed by Thomas. That isn’t the problem. His save percentage dropped drastically. His GAA shot up. Last season, his save percentage rebounded slightly, but he still only managed a record of 11 -8-3. Worst, is his playoff numbers. In the playoffs his career sv% is two or three notches below his regular season numbers.

Last and most telling is his confidence is indisputably not what it once was. When you watch him in games he plays far deeper in the crease, often standing with his backside thrust over the goal line. When he’s interviewed he’s very, very quiet without the sorta quips that made him a media darling when he first landed. Most of all when things go poorly, where’s the rage? When he had that monumental moment of rage in Providence that ended in thrown milk crates, and equipment strewn everywhere he had confidence. You can’t getthat upset if you don’t believe you’ve been wronged (and he probably was) you have to believe your judgement and knowledge are superior to the other sides. He did. Tukka Rask had the same breed of transcendent, coolly confident swagger you see from Patrice Bergeron and other elite athletes from time to time. It’s gone.

That confidence is gone. Like Tiger Woods, he’s just not as effective after losing his brio. As with Woods, or other players who have suffered a setback, we don’t know if Rask will ever get that natural braggadocio back. Even aside from the health concerns, this is huge.

The chances that a goalie was signed in the Spring, Adam Morrison, another was added just a week or two ago in Svedberg, and then the drafting of Malcolm (@SubbZero30) Subban, and now the development camp invitation to Parker Milner of Boston College might not be aimed at a 38 year old who had one year on his contract exists. It not only exists, it is staring everyone in the face who can see past the end of their nose. Rask is unsigned at this point and I don’t see the Bruins blinking first. The goalie market shrank when the Penguins acquired and extended Vokoun. Bobrovsky being shipped to Columbus didn’t expand the market. It got smaller again when Pavelec was signed.

Unlike Price or Pavelec Tuukka Rask has never spent even one full season as the designated number one guy. The most regular season games he’s played is 45, and that same season accounts for more than half his career minutes played. Cory Schnieder is worth more money, he’s gotten an increased workload each season and responded well. In fact his numbers are better than Rask’s. It would be foolish for Rask and his camp to take much longer in getting him signed.

The Montreal Canadiens will enter the draft with few desperate needs. They had a horrible season that included chaos in the administration, coaching Non-Francophone-roulette, injuries galore and substandard performances from key players. Realistically though given the previous years performance, the growth of players like Paccioretty and Diaz going nuclear isn’t reasonable.

The top need would be for an effective center for the two lines. With the third pick it’s unlikely the draft will be over before they choose. Russian Mikhail Grigorenko could be just the pick. Having played in the Q this season he spent his first North American hockey season playing right in the Habs backyard. With a set of solid numbers and a high ranking by NHL Scouting Central and International Scouting Services all year, he might just be the best option. He could also be gone.

Riskier because of injury, but less likely to bolt to the KHL is American Alex Galchenyuk. An injury cost him nearly all of his season, but he had a strong performance at the NHL Entry Draft Combine. He also picked up four points after returning from his knee injury. Virtually the same size as Grigorenko, Galchenyuk was just the fourth American born player to be taken at number one in the OHL priority draft.

Other names that are less likely, but could still happen are Radek Faksa of the Kitchner Rangers. Another big body, the left shooting center just finished his rookie season in the OHL, and represented his native Czech Republic at the World Juniors. Filip Forsberg is the top ranked European, but like Thomas Hertl of the Czeck Republic might be downgraded similar to college players for the shorter seasons of many European leagues when compared to the major junior or NHL seasons.

While I don’t see a defensemen as the most needs based move, I’m not their general manager or head of scouting. there’s a lot of good blueline talent. There is even a very slight possibility Yakupov could drop to third. Another option is drafting a top goaltending prospect, like one Malcom Subban.

The big question affecting the draft and all else is how well management feels negotiations are progressing with key players on expired contracts at the time of the draft. Carey Price and P.K. Subban have to be considered priorities 1a and 1b, while both are RFA’s the NHL’s dead letter known as the offer sheet remains a possibility for both. There aren’t many starting goalies of any quality available this off season, and arguably none of Price’s ability. Subban is also an intriguing option for a team moving upwards. He’s about the same age as the young forward cadre and Edmonton and on the New York Islanders.