Bruins prospects shining brightly at camp

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Bruins prospects shining brightly at camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON -- Dougie Hamilton, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner were the unquestioned darlings of the prospect camp in July, and the headliners once again at rookie camp last week.

But its pretty clear the Bs youngsters have understandably transitioned into learning mode now that veterans camp has ramped up into full swing.

The three prospects are in a secondary dressing room at TD Garden for the rookies just down the hall from the veterans, and theyve taken on more of a listening and learning role over the last few days. But on the ice their unpolished, considerable skills are still shining brightly and coach Claude Julien has taken notice.

Hamilton, in particular, has looked very good with the higher caliber of talent skating around him and proved in his first scrimmage action that hes capable of making the initial simple transition pass flawlessly.

Its an underrated skill for a defenseman and its not going to lead to gaudy assist totals, but Hamilton prompted a Niklas Lidstrom reference from the Bs head coach when reviewing his first impressions of the blueliner.

Combine that with Hamiltons smooth skating ability both forward and backward for a 6-foot-5 kid also expected to be a physical presence, and thats quite the tool box for a young blueliner working his way to the NHL.

All of that adds up to something good in the future for the Bs and Hamilton, but it wont be this season as the Bruins have already reached their 50-contract limit for players signed within their organization. But the passing reference to Detroits franchise defenseman makes one wonder exactly what Hamilton will look like next season with another year of growth and development under his teen-aged belt.

We did some one-on-one drills today with the backwards skating and certainly hes a strong backward skater and has a good stick. I think hes learning a lot about our game and the game at the pro level, said Julien. Hes one of those guys -- we talk about players that come back to camp and improve every year -- well, hes one of those players that will certainly do that because hes capable of putting a little more muscle and a little bit more weight on. It certainly wont affect his game.

Hes already a good, smooth skater. He sees the ice well, moves the puck well. He has a bit of the Lidstrom quality of making easy passes and seeing the ice well -- and making the game look so easy. So hes got some good qualities there that I think will bode well for him in the future.

The one teenager whos already got his own stall in the main Bs dressing room at the Garden is Tyler Seguin.

The mere mention of a little more muscle and a little bit more weight during training camp makes the 19-year-old immediately come to mind after a summer spent in the weight room. Seguin came into camp hovering around 196 pounds, and has been noticeably more aggressive taking the puck to the net and mixing it up in the middle of high traffic areas.

Julien said thats exactly what they hoped to see out of Seguin in Year Two, and the first few days of camp have been a nice little preview of a potential breakout sophomore year. Seguin has been paired up with Nathan Horton in practices and scrimmages, and the two forwards have created a lot of offensive chemistry in a short amount of time.

Hes been very good. Ive noticed him," Julien said. "You guys certainly have as well. He seems a lot stronger and he seems a lot more confident from what Ive seen so far. His first three days his skill level has really shown because hes competing with that confidence. I see . . . a guy whos got a year under his belt whos coming in this year and wants to make a difference.

We all know that hes got it. So its up to him to show it. And in the first three days I think hes done that, so hopefully that carries through and he keeps going for the rest of the year.

Julien also chose to pair Knight and Spooner together on a rookie line, and both forwards have evolved from wide-eyed 18-year-olds to experienced prospects looking to potentially win a job. Both players know that theyre most likely headed back to junior hockey for one more season with a stacked lineup of Stanley Cup-winning veterans, but theyve already managed to earn the NHL endorsement from their coach.

When a guy comes in for his second year, hes had a taste of camp the year before and hes more confident. Hes not as intimidated and not so much in awe, said Julien. I think Knight and Spooner are basically going through that stage where theyre not in awe as much as they were last year. They feel more comfortable.

Theyre not afraid to go into the corner and battle with veterans and showcase their strengths. So I see two guys that are obviously more comfortable, and thats just part of the process of growing, being bigger, stronger, more mature and more comfortable. Both of those guys, to me, are guys that I cant see not playing in the NHL someday. Theyve got all the goods. Its up to them to keep working at it.

Its still an amazing haul when one considers that three (Knight, Hamilton, Seguin) out of the four super prospects in camp arrived via the Phil Kessel trade two years ago, and have set up the Bruins organization for a prolonged run into the future.

While only Seguin will likely contribute to this coming season for the Bruins, a few days of camp have confirmed that the future is indeed very bright for the Black and Gold.

Its also confirmed that the Thank You, Kessel chant last season might still have a little bit of mileage left in it.

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

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

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Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.