Caron makes Bruins; Johnson placed on waivers

Caron makes Bruins; Johnson placed on waivers
September 29, 2013, 1:15 pm
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(AP Photo)

The Bruins officially made it down to the 23 players they will start the regular season on Sunday morning by putting Nick Johnson on waivers after an outstanding camp where he led the Bruins with four goals scored.

That meant the 13th forward spot belongs to 22-year-old Jordan Caron after he got stronger and better during a preseason that hit with a crescendo with a goal scored in Friday’s finale. Caron said the very conscious need to win a job in the closing week of training camp put him in mindset that brought the very best out of him.

“Every day I knew I had to come in [to camp] and work really hard in order to win a job,” said Caron. “Everybody wants to play in the NHL. It’s the best league in the world, so there are always going to be guys that are pushing. It’s really hard to get here, and it’s even harder to stay. When you have a job to lose it really gets you even more into it.

“The last few games were better, so I just need to build on that and feel confidence. I had some really good chances and was really hard on the fore-check, and I need to keep doing those things to help myself offensively.”

Of course Johnson also scored a goal in that 5-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets in Saskatoon, but in the end the Bruins weren’t ready to put Caron on waivers and risk losing the former first round pick. He’ll need to improve on the player that underwhelmed with 18 points and a minus-5 rating in 47 AHL games last season, and had little impact in 17 games for the Bruins once the lockout had ended.

Caron was a consistent physical presence in his last couple of preseason games, and was getting to the front of the net on a consistent basis with his 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame. That’s what the Bruins want to see out of the Quebec native.

“The last couple of games there was a little more urgency in doing the things that we talked about,” said Claude Julien. “His whole camp is what we know about Jordan. He’s reliable and does the things we ask him to do, but we also asked him to do a little bit more. It wasn’t just because he scored a goal, but he also had some chances, and he worked on the penalty kill and different things.

“He seemed to generate a little more, and that has to continue. He’s still a young player that the organization doesn’t want to give up on too early. So we feel as coaches that we can help him improve, and we’ll help him in those areas like in front of the net. If he improves there then hopefully he’ll give us a little more production, and a little more offense.”

As for Johnson, he took the demotion to the AHL like the 27-year-old professional that he is and seemed determined that he’d be up to help the Boston hockey club at some point this season.

“It wasn’t an easy conversation. Those kinds of players understand. Individuals are different,” said Julien. “In the little bit of time I’ve gotten to know him, he’s a really quality person. In his mind he says ‘I’m going to keep working hard because I have a feeling I’ll be back here this season.’

“So there’s a confidence in his voice, and some determination. That’s what you want to hear. I’m sure he’s disappointed, and I would hope he’s disappointed. But at the same time you have little doubt that he’s going to work his way back here.”

With Carl Soderberg questionable for Thursday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning after hitting a rut on the ice, Caron might even go from barely winning the 13th forward job to being in the opening night lineup.