The Boston Bruins development camp was held last week and if it didn’t have a new top of the first round pick to draw people, some of the campers we’ve seen in the past were more than compelling enough on their own. Two notable prospects will be graduating this year. And one youngster in his second year made huge strides.

Malcolm Subban was a surprise pick to some just over a year ago. The goaltender, and older brother of Jordan Subban who was the Vancouver Canucks selection this June was the most recognizable name at camp. Even without the bright Belleville Bull’s color pads he sported last year, the athletic net minder will draw your eye again and again. The book on Subban coming into camp last year was that his glove side needed some polishing.

#81 Malcolm Subban

#81 Malcolm Subban

This year, I don’t think I saw him beat to the glove side even once. When I asked him about the way his save percentage climbed year over year, he credited his teammates contribution and talked about his maturity as a goaltender. Despite facing nearly a full shot more per game this year over the previous season, and taking time to play in the World Juniors the key numbers were unequivocally better. In 2011-12 he had a very respectable .923sv% and GAA of 2.50, in 2012-13 he turned in .934 and 2.14. Even more indicative is the change in his post season numbers. His 2011-12 Memorial Cup playoff stats line was 6gp, 2.93 GAA and .917sv%, while 2012-13’s number improved to 17gp 2.00 GAA, and a .933Sv%. Not surprisingly he won Canadian Hockey League goalie of the week twice, and the best Sv% and best GAA in the Ontario Hockey League.

Year over year the most improved prospect was easy to spot. More than one observer at the week’s workouts and scrimmages had to be pointed at a roster to realize the young defenseman they saw this year, was the same one they saw last year. Matt Benning’s camp was a bit curtailed by injury last summer. His hockey season however boosted his stock, and tagged him as someone more than willing to work to get to the next level.

#86 Matt Benning at Bruins Dev Camp

#86 Matt Benning at Bruins Dev Camp

A sixth round pick out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League who jumped to the USHL this year, and won the league championship under Jim Montgomery with the Dubuque Fighting Saints. In the fall hockey fans can look for Benning in black and red at Northeastern University, making the transition with him will be Fighting Saints teammates Mike Szmatula and  John Stevens.

#86 Matt Benning Defenseman

#86 Matt Benning Defenseman

Anthony Camara came into camp having had the best junior season of his career. He was successful as a physical menace and as a points producer. Thirty-six goals and sixty points through the regular season by itself would have punched his ticket to Providence, and likely to being a late cut in Boston if that’s all he did. That is not however the case. Camara earned his place on an international squad for the first time representing Canada in the WJC. Then he went to the playoffs with the Barrie Colts and racked up nine goals and a point per game in 16 appearances.

What’s interesting about Camara is that he’s not one of those elite prospect like Subban or the exiled Tyler Seguin, he was a late third round pick. Only ten percent of the players drafted in 2011 have played a single NHL game. None have been from the third round. When Camara first came to the Bruins Development camp just days after being drafted he was clearly a project. His shot was so-so, he managed to drive himself into one of the stanchions, and his skating was on a level with Glen Murray and Milan Lucic’s first season.

#51 Anthony Camara #76 Rob O'Gara #88 Matt Grzelcyk

#51 Anthony Camara
#76 Rob O’Gara
#88 Matt Grzelcyk

At some point in the last two years, the major components of that changed. Camara entered what will be his last OHL season with a career high of 9 goals. He ended it with 36, and in less games than any of his previous seasons. While his skating isn’t going to be shaming speedsters like Carl Hagelin and Emerson Etem, or ice dancer Jeff Skinner he’s improved to the point where you only notice his skating by the fact that you no longer notice his skating. Camara’s work ethic is quite healthy, writers and fans noticed it, as did Bruins staffers. During a press conference Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned Camara by name four times in eight minutes. He didn’t seem at all displeased to be doing so.

 

A quiet camp session with a few drills and scrimmages. The players had shuttle runs before getting on the ice. Some of the players seemed sharper today, a few others seemed to be wearing.

Adam Morrison had his best day in the net today, controlling rebounds along with the rest of his game.

Matthew Lindblad shows some smooth movement, made a couple real nice cross ice passes and is well aware of where other players are on the ice.

#85 Mitchell Dempsey #79 Matthew Lindblad #72 Chris Casto

#85 Mitchell Dempsey
#79 Matthew Lindblad
#72 Chris Casto

Zane Gotheberg, as he reminded me this was his fourth development camp, the first happening when he was just 17 , is best described in two words: crisp, consistent. Early in the camp or late, the beginning or middle of a session and its the same story.

#80 Brian Ferlin #83 Seth Griffith #88 Matt Grzlecyk

#80 Brian Ferlin
#83 Seth Griffith
#88 Matt Grzlecyk

Matt Grzelcyk showed more physicality than last year, also scored on a nifty backhand roofer.

Wiley Sherman hustles up ice

Wiley Sherman hustles up ice

Chris Casto reminds me of defensemen like Matt Greene of the Los Angeles Kings and Dennis Seidenberg of the Bruins.

#81 Malcolm Subban in goal #82 Alex Cord #68 Colton Hargrove #90 Casey Bailey

#81 Malcolm Subban in goal
#82 Alex Cord
#66 Colton Hargrove
#90 Casey Bailey (Number obscured)

Wiley Sherman is a raw big body who will probably project to be about 225-230 for regular NHL play.

#50 Linus Arnesson #79 Matthew Lindblad

#50 Linus Arnesson
#79 Matthew Lindblad

Malcom Subban addressed the low points of his game between last year and his visibly in camp, and even more so in the jump in his stats. Interestingly he had three assists in the regular season, and one in seventeen playoff games and you don’t hear much about his puck handling ability.

Linus Arnesson apparently no one told him European defensemen aren’t supposed to play physically, or if they did he probably knocked them down three or four times.

Development camp is fun to watch because you get to see what the coaches and scouts see in players that might never show on the ice. Having been to camp the past several years I like larger groups than this better. With the larger groups there’s a wider spectrum of talent, and you can point to individual standouts much easier. I also find it is easier to concentrate on players. I also think that with the larger groups the players go at it a little hard trying to stand out.

I looked at my Blackberry at 5:07am on Saturday. Three of the people I follow on twitter were already in position downtown. Ya, I was unlikely to get a great spot. I didn’t much care, but it was amazing to see knowing that the forecast included a hot morning and thunderstorms as late as six pm Friday.  Like thousands, and thousands, and thousands of others I got on the Blue line at Wonderland with friends after barely escaping the first tshirt vendor of the day.

The train was full before we left. The train was Tokyo full when we got to Boston. It was about 8:25 when we switched over to the Green line for the ride to Copley. Fans everywhere showed their appreciation for the team.

Bruins fans show love for #30

Fan ages ranged from these two young ladies above, to

…who clearly appreciates nice young men. Boston’s hockey fans look a lot like Boston itself,

long memories

an appreciation for the finer things in hockey,

one can’t go to a Bruins game, or even the parade and not notice how much love, so many different people have for the team.

Boston Public Library

No parade featuring the Boston Bruins would be complete without recognizing some of the broadcasters, and Jack Edwards and Naoko Funayama were on hand and smiling. Sadly, no one reported seeing Rene Rancourt.

Jack Edwards & Naoko Funayama aboard a duckboat.

With the fun tees and signs just about down, and having covered the coverage, the next post is on the players.  It should be noted that despite several days between winning the Cup and the parade, a full million people in attendance, there were no major disturbances and certainly, no riots.

I finally got to camp Friday, took extensive notes via WordPress for BlackBerry and had them disappear into the ether after hitting post.

Here’s what I saw and heard, as I recall it.

Alexandrov: Still skates damned well, seems to have added some mass as well. Made use of positioning, body contact, and stick in drills and scrimmage. He’s the most professional of all the players at camp. Not surprising since he’s played in the KHL which is about equal to the AHL. He’s economical and does what’s needed to do the job without overplaying the body, puck or shot.

Fallstrom:  From what I’d read around the internet I honestly wasn’t expecting much, I was pleasantly surprised. He can skate with the fastest of them, he kept his stick on the ice, and seemed to both pass effectively and contain passes well.

Cross: In someways he reminds me of a cross between Mclaren and Gill. He’s physical, big, very upright and uses stick and body to good effect.

Donald: Got a huge pop out of the crowd with a shootout goal in the scrimmage. I didn’t think he did that well in the drills as he made little or ineffectual use of his upper body and stick, but was very strong on his skates and well positioned. Good balance too. To a lesser extent than Cross, also reminds me of McLaren.

Cantin: Big hits, he was a wrecking ball in the scrimmage, it was fun to see and kept everyones head up. Otherwise I didn’t really notice him positively or negatively.

Knight: Comes as billed. He’s a crease front presence who will charge into and through traffic with and without the puck. I liked watching him in action. I’m hoping to see him in Boston if not this year (unlikely) than next year when contracts like Sturm, Recchi and Ryders have expired. I suspect he’ll end up back in Juniors this year but may finish the season in Providence if there run goes longer than his Junior team since he’ll be 19 in January.

Gothberg: Got better and better as the day went on. Looked shakey early, and then managed to just plain rob Seguin and a couple others in the shootout.  He was the youngest player in camp, he’ll probably not even get a sniff of the NHL for five years, which would make him a creaky 22 at that point.

Warfsofsky: He looked much better in game play than in drills. Reads plays well, positions himself well, good skater, and takes reasonable chances with his body.

Dalton: I only really got a good look at him when he stayed on the ice while Suave skated after the others.  Looks to have developed a bit more confidence, didn’t let in any bad goals that i recall.

Suave: While he didn’t participate in drills or the scrimmage he skated and took shots on Dalton after the rest had gone to the locker room. He didn’t appear to be favoring either leg and didn’t stop for at least 20 minutes. Nice quick shot.  I hope he’s 100% by regular camp because at worst it will light a fire under the backsides of certain complacent right wingers.


Seguin: I’m nearly certain he’ll make the NHL one day.  He showed more personality on the ice than I was expecting. He seems a touch cerebral/abstracted off the ice, it may just be a dislike of cameras but I got the impression he’d told a joke or two during scrimmage and drills.

There were obviously other players there, these are the ones I noticed more than twice.

The place was packed according to the Bruins the head count for observers was about two thousand.

Julien, and Chiarelli could both be seen laughing and enjoying themselves while watching.  I also met Darryl of Pro Hockey Weekly and RotoWire, good guy. We talked for several minutes as Suave and Dalton were on the ice. If you intend to go next year, plan on getting there a bit early if you want to sit, last years crowd was about one fourth the size. I should be at regular camp in a few weeks.