Bruins prospect Cantin a project worth working on

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Bruins prospect Cantin a project worth working on

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON One of the quiet stories of prospect camp and Bs rookie camp has been the solid play of rugged defenseman Marc Cantin, who signed an entry level deal with the Bs in March.

The undrafted blueliner has been compared favorably to the hard-hitting, leader-friendly style of Mark Stuart by Bruins talent evaluators, and hes displayed very Stuart-esque qualities on and off the ice during his time with Bostons other prospects.

When we talked about signing Cantin, we see him in a Mark Stuart-type mold," said Bruins assistant general manager, Jim Benning. "Hes going to play hard, hes going to play physical and hes going to step up in the neutral ice and hit guys. Hes not a fancy player, but hell make a first pass and play a simple, hard, physical, stay-at-home game.

Cantin first showed his stuff during the summer after getting an invite to Bs prospect camp, and its been a steady progression ever since. Cantin put up 41 points and 78 penalty minutes in the OHL last year, and then he appeared completely unafraid to throw rookie bodies around on the ice during his second prospect camp. Hes never going to be a coveted puck-moving defenseman or power-play specialist from the point, but Cantin said he always modeled his game after Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

Bieksa was a player the Bruins might have gone after this summer in free agency if he hadnt re-signed with the Canucks. So, potentially, developing a 20-year-old version of the rugged leader is something Boston is definitely interested in. It may take a year or two for Cantin to develop the skills capable of surviving in the fast-paced skating world of the NHL, but the Bs have two things working for both them and Cantin: Good defense depth and plenty of time to bring the youngster along.

Cantin has always been a naturally competitive kid as a lacrosse and hockey player growing up with a little boxing thrown in for good measure but going undrafted seems to have placed a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.

Going undrafted was something that bothered me at first because Id put in a lot of work in the summer and offseason, said Cantin. But it also made me want to go above and beyond what everybody else was doing, and it paid off last year.

Thats not necessarily a bad thing for a defenseman whos looking to impress the Bs organization, and endear himself to a team that relies on grittiness, physicality and the willingness to stand up for each other.

I like to be the guy that other guys dont like to play against, said Cantin. I just want to play. It's an instinctual thing for me that I just go out and do it. My compete level is something that I just can't shut off. Its me going 100 percent or Im not going at all. Its like that in pretty much everything I do.

Whether its sport or some other kind of competition, Ive always got to find a way to win.

That kind of rah-rah leadership as Benning described it is readily apparent in Cantins words as he talks about his place within the game of hockey. It should also be obvious once the spotlight goes up over the next two evenings at Nassau Coliseum during the rookie games against the Islanders.

Thats the next logical step for Cantin as hes impressed right along the way with a few more steps standing between the 20-year-old defenseman and his long range dream of playing in the NHL someday.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.