By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Jamie Arniel took a pretty big leap forward last year, and is looking for more this season.
The Bruins forward notched 50 points for the Providence Bruins as a 21-year-old, and even earned a token appearance in Boston when a couple of injuries created an opening on the roster.
In terms of a confidence booster, it was exactly what the doctor ordered.
The season of experiences also sweetened Arniels taste for life in the NHL and made him determined to earn himself a permanent in the worlds best hockey league. With a pair of 30 goal seasons in the OHL and finished last season as the leading goal-scorer on the Providence Bruins with 23 strikes.
The versatile forward able to play center and wing also earned himself a much longer look at this years training camp with the expectation hell once again find himself in Boston if adversity hits this year. Arniel took it as a big positive that he made it past the big roster cut on Friday night, and he wants to continue making a strong impression in the final four exhibition games.
Its definitely good when you survive a big cut and there are only so many guys left, said Arniel. Ive just got to continue doing what Ive done so far. For me its about being consistent and bringing the same thing every night.
Coming in for the playoffs last year was a big boost and was very exciting for me. It shows you what can happen if you work hard in hockey, and it made me that much more excited for this year. It gave me a little extra boost for this yearthats for sure.
While Arniel hasnt been able to bury any of the offensive chances that have come his way during his preseason appearances, coach Claude Julien has been impressed with his body of work in camp. Arniel has good skating speed on his sturdy 5-foot-11, 183-pound frame and a hard, accurate shot, but he also boasts some pretty good hockey sense coming from a hockey family that includes his uncle Scott still calling the shots as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Jamie really had a tremendous year last year. I think as far as progressing, hes a really good skater, hes got good speed, and from watching him in practice hes got a quick release. Hes got a really good shot and I think its about giving him a little bit of time, said Julien. Ive found that -- maybe the last little while -- fatigue is set in a little bit with him and hes slowed down maybe half of a step. But hes going to pick it up again.
I dont mind his game at all. Hes a smart player, hes a gritty player, hes not afraid to use his speed along the boards and take it from the outside to bring it to the net. Hes got a lot of upside to him and certainly Ive seen him back-check and really take a real serious look at that part of his game. He wants to excel there as well.
That might just prove Arniels hockey smarts in and of itself as any player knows the first way to Juliens coaching heart is through extra effort and responsible, selfless back-checking up and down the ice.
The shot, the skating, the hockey IQ and the defensive knowhow make for a nice package of skills that should be NHL-worthy. But Arniel admits the realization that there arent many job openings on Bostons roster coming out of camp. Thats whats called the only downside to being a part of a deep, well-run organization coming off a Stanley Cup-winning season, and Arniel will gladly take it as trade off for being one of the Black Aces during last years Cup journey.
This is a hard team to crack. Thats for sure, said Arniel. But if I do or if anybody else does its an accomplishment because this is the best hockey team in the world. Theyre Stanley Cup champs.
The AHL breakthrough, the NHL debut and the front row seat to the Stanley Cup championship made for a truly special season for Arniel last year. But it doesnt leave many places for the Ontario native to improve aside from locking up a full-time gig in the NHL.
That becomes this years goal for Arniel before its all said and done.