Haggerty: Development camp continues to illustrate B's success


Haggerty: Development camp continues to illustrate B's success

WILMINGTON, Mass. The members of the first Bruins Development Camp six years ago still walk down memory lane with the Boston front office about it from time to time.
Milan Lucic will still casually mention to Bs assistant general manager Don Sweeney just how tough that first development camp was prior to his solid rookie season with the Boston Bruins.
Clearly that first class of prospects including Lucic and David Krejci was a big success, but the Bruins continue looking for bigger, better, greater ways of doing things in the world of player development.
Weve tried to improve and tweak, and find areas on and off the ice that we can improve on, said Sweeney. Ive talked with Milan Lucic in the past a number of times about how hard the first one was. We didnt have any kind of blueprint to go off of, but our goal was to see how far we could push these kids to get them ready for training camp in September.
What weve found in some of these camps is that the kids emerge from them ready to compete, and have won jobs with the Bruins as a result of it. Thats the ultimate goal.
The Development Camp is the brainchild of Sweeney and has continuously done a remarkable job of getting wave after wave of young players ready for potential calls to the NHL level. Power skating, drills centered around effort and toughness near the net and off-ice bonding sessions have always been staples of the program, and the results are difficult to ignore.
Lucic, Krejci, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Jordan Caron, Vladimir Sobotka and Matt Hunwick have all developed into NHL players as Bs development camp alumni, and that speaks to both the commendable job drafting by the Bruins scouting department and noticeable improvements in the player development process.
Its an ever-evolving project for the Bs organization, but both the camp and its results speak to the rising stock Sweeney is enjoying while contributing to a Boston brain-trust that includes Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning, Cam Neely and a group of trusted advisors and scouts.
It may not be this season or even two years from now, but its not difficult to see the Harvard-educated former Bruins defenseman running an NHL program as a general manager.
Nobody makes a team out here this week. Weve been very consistent in saying that, but the impression they make on us and hopefully we make on them is very important. Torey Krug is a good example of that, said Sweeney. He hadnt been at a camp, but we certainly followed and recruited him as a free agent. Thats a good example of how we set up the camp, keep it small in numbers and get to know these kids on a personal level.
Hopefully they get to know us as well, so they can get to know us, get comfortable with us and use us as resources. The questions that they may have should be answered.
Unfortunately Harvard prospect Alex Fallstrom is unable to participate in the on-ice drills due to an injury suffered late in the season while playing for the Crimson, but the other 22 Bs prospects were out on the ice showing the future is indeed bright in Boston while enjoying continuous success at the NHL level.
Dougie Hamilton looks, sounds and acts like a cornerstone NHL defenseman ready to learn at the feet of Bs captain Zdeno Chara, and capable of becoming the same kind of offensedefense hybrid producing 25 quality minutes per game.
Ryan Spooner might need some seasoning and strengthening at the AHL level, but his offensive skills, hands and playmaking were off the charts Thursday afternoon among the best and brightest Bs prospects.
Malcolm Subban was leaping and energetically flying from post-to-post while challenging shooters, and showing the kind of competitiveness and fire Boston is used to seeing between the pipes as six goalies compete throughout camp.
Alex Khokhlachev might have been the most promising forward of all as a 19-year-old Russian that will either be playing in the KHL or the NHL as a skilled scorer already ready to jump to the next level as a teenager.
That doesnt even mention Jared Knight, Matt Grzelcyk, Brian Ferlin, Torey Krug or Tommy Cross as Bs prospects that have stood out in the past, and are fully capable of developing into NHL players someday soon.
The development camp is perhaps one of the best examples the Bruins can put forth about all that they stand for as a hockey organization, and the tough-minded, proud mindset that is the Bruins Way the grinding, blue-collar, hard-edged philosophy that allowed them to win a Cup two seasons ago.
The hockey syllabus ranges from the way Bs players are expected to comport themselves on the ice, the dos and dont of Twitter as an NHL players, and everything in between.
The best part about this camp is that everybody in the organization pitches in, and pulls their own weight from the simplest things like getting lunch to guys running on-ice drills or John Whitesides running the off-ice stuff, said Sweeney. I love that aspect of the camp, and the kids take notice of that and they love it.
Im grateful the organization supports it and everybody chips in. Theres no one way to run it whether its with Matt Chmura preparing them for questions the media might throw at them, or the social media stuff which continues to be an important part of all our lives and has so many twists and turns to it that all these kids need to be exposed to and educated on.
Sweeney and the Bruins have come a long way from that first grueling week in July with a group of fresh-faced Bruins prospects that transformed into bearded Cup champions over the course of five years.
But one thing that will never change: the steady flow of hungry, young hockey players that show up in Wilmington every summer ready to make their mark on a Black and Gold organization ready to embrace them.
Theyre here again in July, and ready to be the next wave of Bruins stars like Lucic, Marchand, Krejci and Seguin before them.

Talking points from Bruins' 2-1, overtime win in Detroit


Talking points from Bruins' 2-1, overtime win in Detroit

GOLD STAR: Solid night’s work from Ryan Spooner, who finished with the OT game-winning strike and was solid throughout the game as the de facto No. 1 center. He had four shots on net, six generated shot attempts and won 12-of-19 face offs as he continues to improve in that area while training camp rolls along. Spooner is trying to hold onto the No. 3 center spot in the lineup despite the addition of David Backes via free agency, and Friday night’s big boy performance with speed, playmaking and skill showed exactly what his potential can be when he puts it all together. It was also a nice little bounce-back from an up-and-down game on Wednesday night against the same Detroit team when he struggled in the face off circle and was part of a team-wide malaise.

BLACK EYE: It wasn’t necessarily a bad night for Brian Ferlin, but it was more of the invisible variety with just a registered hit and one face-off taken in 13 minutes of ice time. The forward earned some NHL time with the Bruins a couple of years, has battled concussion woes over the last year plus and is trying to push his way back into the crowded forward picture during this training camp. While he certainly showed some toughness and skill around the net a couple of years and didn’t seem shy about going there on Friday night, the results just weren’t there and Ferlin didn’t have much of a presence in the game. In general it was a pretty decent performance for the Bruins, so Ferlin’s game was quiet more than problematic.

TURNING POINT: Credit the Bruins coaching staff for switching up the lines in the third period, and that sparked the offense a bit after zero goals through the first 40 minutes against Detroit. Zach Senyshyn was moved with Danton Heinen and Riley Nash, and they became a threat in the third period before Heinen broke through for the game-tying goal from his knees. That score allowed the B’s to push things into overtime, and then Spooner made it a quick extra session by snapping home a shot from the slot after a good effort from Joe Morrow down low. It all was made possible by the adjustment to the lines that took place between the second and the third periods.

HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Morrow is battling to hold onto his NHL roster spot with the Bruins, and that is absolutely underscored by the news that Christian Ehrhoff is being brought to Boston on a PTO. So it was expected that the young D-man would come out with something a little extra after a mediocre performance in his preseason debut, and the left shot D-man was an impact player in the win for the Black and Gold. Morrow dropped the gloves with young tough guy Givani Smith in the second period as part of a B’s group that played with a little bit of an edge on Friday night, and then he won a battle down low in overtime to set up the Ryan Spooner game-winner. Morrow had two hits, two shot attempts, the assist and the fight in 19:48 of ice time, and showed that he’s ready to battle in camp to hold onto his spot.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 – the number of goals in two preseason games thus far for Danton Heinen, who scored important game-tying goals in both instances in the shootout loss to the Blue Jackets and Friday night’s overtime win against the Wings.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “The compete level, especially when he got down 4-0 [on Wednesday night], I don’t think it was high enough. So we talked about it, and we expect a better effort for sure.” –Ryan Spooner on Friday morning prior to going out and snatching the win away from the Red Wings in Detroit with an OT game-winner. 

Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup


Ehrhoff signs a PTO with the B's after World Cup

The Bruins will add another veteran defenseman to their training camp group fresh off the World Cup of Hockey as German D-man Christian Ehrhoff is headed to Boston on a PTO (professional tryout agreement). CSN has confirmed that Ehrhoff has indeed agreed to a PTO with the Bruins, and he'll report to the team sometime this weekend.

The 34-year-old Ehrhoff had three assists in six World Cup games for Team Europe, and had two goals and 10 points in 48 games for the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks last season while clearly starting to slow down a bit. He’s clearly no longer the player that averaged 14 goals and 47 points for the Vancouver Canucks from 2009-2011, and is another left-shot defenseman to add to a team that already has Zdeno Chara and Torey Krug.

But it behooved the Bruins to bring in at least one “name” veteran D-man on a tryout basis during this training camp with so many needs for upgrades on the back end, and with a host of young players that might not be ready for prime time. This might also be a warning sign for young veteran Joe Morrow, a left shot D-man that has struggled a bit in training camp after coming off an erratic first full season at the NHL level.

Clearly the Bruins need more than Ehrhoff, however, even if he’s somehow re-energized with the Bruins after playing pretty well in the World Cup. The Kings were down enough on his game to put him through waivers last season, but he was a top-4 defenseman for the previous eight seasons for San Jose, Vancouver, Buffalo and Pittsburgh prior to getting bounced around between the Kings and Blackhawks last season.

The added bonus with taking a look at Ehrhoff is that there’s no risk associated with a PTO, and the Bruins can simply walk away with no cost if the B’s coaching staff decides he’s not a good fit for the group in Boston. On the other hand, bringing in a Kris Russell-type would cost a great deal in terms of money and term in a free agent contract, and it might not benefit the Black and Gold club in the end result.