Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

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Haggerty: Bourque could give B's organizational depth

The Bruins pulled off a move on Memorial Day weekend.

It probably wasnt the hockey trade anybody was pining for, but it was the kind of low riskpotentially high reward move that has become as big a part of the Peter Chiarelli Era as collecting a seemingly endless army of ex-Senators players.

The Bruins dealt restricted free agent Zach Hamill to the Washington Senators for unrestricted free agent Chris Bourque. They have more than a month to come to terms with the Bs Hall of Famers oldest son.

The deal can be looked at from two different directions: They unloaded something they clearly no longer wanted or valued, and they have potentially added some good depth on the cusp of the NHL. Lets start off with the fact that any Bourque progeny skating around an NHL rink in a Black and Gold Bruins sweater is all kinds of right.

The most electricity running through the Beanpot Final in recent years was when Bourque scored the game-winning goal to win it for Boston University in the House that Ray Built. The Bruins have again become beloved in the city of Boston, and part of that comes from the organizations new-found willingness to give the favored sons of Massachusetts a chance to play for their boyhood favorites.

Whether Mike Mottau re-signs with the Bruins or goes elsewhere, the South Shore native has a big smile on his face after living out his lifelong dream of donning the Bs sweater. Theres no doubt Bourque has dreamed of skating for the Bruins after growing up in Boston watching his father carve out a Hall of Fame career with them.

But beyond that the kid can also give them some needed organizational depth.

The 26-year-old Bourque has proven everything possible at the AHL level, and is coming off a 93-point season where he registered 27 goals and 66 assists.

Hes scored 20 plus goals in every single full AHL season and has experienced a season in Europe with the KHL and Swiss League.

In 33 NHL games, however, Bourque has managed only one goal and three assists along with a minus-6 during cups of coffee with the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The left winger would appear destined to compete for a third line spot with the Bruins, and has the kind of speed and playmaking ability that should work in the NHL if theres enough strength in his 5-foot-8, 180-pound body.

If injuries crop up for the Bruins as they did last season and Bourque doesnt make the team out of camp, theres a capable offensive player in Providence that can step in the breach. Thats something the Bruins didnt have last season, and sorely needed when Nathan Horton went down with a concussion.

On the other side of the coin, Hamill was a bust for the Bruins. Theres no other way to put it when Hamill never developed into the playmaking center that Boston imagined he would become after selecting him eighth overall in the 2007 NHL Draft. He was selected one pick before Logan Couture by the San Jose Sharks, and the different development tracks experienced by the two players is stunning.

In 20 games with the Bruins he managed four assists and a plus-5, but never showed enough strength to handle the banging, bruising NHL. The 24-year-old also never topped 14 goals or 44 points in the AHL, and couldnt consistently harness the passing and playmaking that everyone saw in flashes from the young pivot. The final straw came last season during a 16-game run with the Bruins as Hamill played up and down the lineup. He showed some promise early, but once again sunk into a stretch of ineffectiveness and inconsistency. His final game with the Bruins came against the Pittsburgh Penguins: the lasting image of Hamill will be him getting buried in front of the net late in the third period with a chance to tie a one-goal game.

Its a play that showed Hamill getting to the right place at the right time to make a play, but not having enough strength to hold his ground when it came to finishing things off at the NHL level. There wasnt much interest in Hamill within the trade market, so it was more a change of scenery for a player that reminded the Bruins organization of a rare first round bungle by the Bs scouting department.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

Click here for the gallery.

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing. 

Bruins’ new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility to open Sept. 8.

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Bruins’ new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility to open Sept. 8.

The Bruins’ new practice facility has been years in the making and they will finally get to officially open the doors to Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton next month. 

The B’s players will start informal captain’s practice skates at the new facility on the New Balance property in these final days of August, but the team announced on Friday that the new facility will be officially opened to the public on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs, team president Cam Neely, general manager Don Sweeney and a number of players will be on hand for the opening ceremony and ensuing open house for the media. Also planning to attend from New Balance will be Owner and Chairman Jim Davis and NB Development Group LLC Managing Director Jim Halliday, along with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo. 

Following the formal portion of the event, Warrior Ice Arena will host the “Boston Youth All-Star Game featuring Bruins Alumni” which will feature local squirt players from the Boston communities of Allston-Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Hyde Park, South Boston and West Roxbury mixed in with members of the Bruins alumni. 

The Youth All-Stars will team with Bruins alumni and they will play the first official game before the ice is turned over to the current Bruins players for their training camp later in the month.

The Warrior Ice Arena gets its name from the Warrior brand of hockey equipment that is now a division of New Balance and comes with a 79-foot high Warrior hockey stick that greets visitors at the front entrance doors.

Warrior Ice Arena will be the B’s new and permanent practice home after the Bruins spent 25-plus years practicing in the suburbs of Boston at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington.