WILMINGTON, Mass. Peter Chiarelli said, in general, that the Bruins prospects were bigger and faster this summer, and thats always the mandate from the front office on Causeway Street.
"Generally speaking our development camp skaters look bigger and faster," Chiarelli said. "It was positive. The younger group of kids I was very pleased with. You very rarely come away from these camps with a negative feeling because its all potential. There are varying degrees of potential, and then maybe 70 percent of these players will move on again to the next year.
"Guys like Cody Payne and Colton Hargrove, those are big guys that can skate. Thematically we have size and skaters, but specifically Malcolm Subban did well and Matt Grzelcyk played well. But those kids are three, four or five years away."
Of course some players were in better shape than others as can always be the case in these summer development camps and there were clear standouts like Ryan Spooner, Dougie Hamilton and Niklas Svedberg. But heres a few random, incongruous observations after watching the young players skate over the course of five days at Ristuccia Arena:
Robbie OGara is listed at 6-foot-3 and 185-pounds and might be the most improved player at the entire Bruins Development Camp. In truth he said hes about 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, and he had no problem clearing bodies in the defensive zone. Hes clearly bigger and stronger, and was making his presence known moving bodies and playing shutdown defense around the net. OGara will never be an offensive superstar at the defenseman position, but hes an intriguing prospect given his still-growing size, his intelligence and his clear willingness to work hard at improving his game. The 18-year-old could be ferocious as he puts on weight and muscle at Yale University over the next four years.
Dougie Hamilton has gained 11 pounds from last season and is in the 200-205 pound range that the Bruins would like him to be if hes going to compete nightly in the NHL for 82 games next season. Hamilton still has work to do in his own zone when it comes to tracking smaller, quicker opponents, but he has rare skating ability for a player 6-foot-6 with his kinds of offensive tools. He also has a massive wing span with his size and stick to break up plays in the D-zone. All signs point to Hamilton making the Bruins directly out of training camp, and hes done the kind of work necessary to be considered for a spot.
Jared Knight didnt have the best prospect camp, but was also slowed by a high ankle sprain he first suffered during the London Knights' run to the Memorial Cup Finals. Several times Knight adjusted his skate and checked the ankle on the ice while running through drills, and he didnt appear to be moving around at full speed. Meanwhile his partner-in-crime Ryan Spooner was the highlight reel guy for both scrimmages while making plays offensively all over the ice. Knight should be at full strength when regular training camp begins, and he will get a solid look at the third-line vacancy in Boston.
Niklas Svedberg looks like the real deal in between the pipes. He was head and shoulders about the other goaltenders at the prospect camp, and he put on a show during the Sunday scrimmage while stoning the organizations best offensive prospects like Spooner and Hamilton during offensive rushes. With a solid glove hand, technically sound puck-stopper from the Swedish goaltender factory, he should be one to watch with the Providence Bruins this season as a 22-year-old prospect.
Matt Grzelcyk clearly has some growing to do at 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds, but he is one of the best skaters in development camp with the ability to shift gears quickly and shake defenders away from him. He probably looked the best of any of this years draft class at development camp, but still has a long way to go at Boston University in getting bigger and stronger.
Brian Ferlin had another solid development camp and continues to show good offensive skills and understanding while playing with high skill players. His shot and release are both excellent, and simply needs to keep getting bigger and stronger as a 6-foot-2, 201 pound power forward prospect at Cornell.
Ben Sexton was a guy that had a solid camp and looked much improved from last season, and was noticeable at both ends of the ice from the center position.
Malcolm Subban came as advertised. The 18-year-old was athletic and raw on the goaltending technique, but capable of making show-stopping saves with his natural gifts. He also looks like hes going to always have some of the Tim Thomas unpredictability to his game rather than the calm, unmoving shot-blocking style that you see many goaltenders adopting these days.
Anthony Camara hit everything that moved during the week. His offensive skills are still developing, but if nothing else hes got a future in the NHL as an energy playerpotential enforcer with some upside. If the Bruins encouraged fighting at these development camps theres no doubt Camara would have dropped the gloves at some point, and instead focused on punishing players in the neutral zone.
Matt Benning looked a little overwhelmed by the competition at the prospect camp and didnt appear to be in the best physical condition while coming down with groin issues before the scrimmages got started. Chiarelli spoke generally about players that had some work to do after the trainers took body fat measurements, and that might have been one of the players he was referencing without naming him. By all accounts Benning hadnt decided whether his future was in hockey until recently, so the young defenseman has some work to do before next years development camp.