The Boston Bruins are always striving for bigger and better every single NHL season, and that includes their eighth annual development camp for draft picks, prospects and amateur players that the B’s scouting staff has their watchful eye on. The B’s prospects were dropping into Boston in the first few days of the week, and are set to undergo testing and on-ice instruction beginning on Wednesday morning at the Bruins’ Ristuccia Arena practice facility.
The camp had auspicious beginnings with then-unknown names like Milan Lucic and David Krejci taking part in the very first camp, but it’s become a valuable tool for the B’s organization to gauge progress made by their prospects. It’s also become a breeding ground for team chemistry among young players with widely differing backgrounds, who have one thing in common: the Boston Bruins.
“As we tell the kids, especially the new kids coming in, it’s about learning the expectations of what the Boston Bruins have for each and every one of them; the culture of the organization. Right from doing drills and doing things the right way, from the professionalism on and off the ice that Eric [Tosi] and Matt [Chmura] and those guys will deal with. [It’s about the] lifestyle of being a pro and getting comfortable,” said B’s assistant general manager Don Sweeney, during the first day of last year’s development camp. “When it is the right time to come and compete for a job, you can put your best foot forward as a pro. This isn’t about earning a spot on any team. It’s about what’s in front of you and, again, kind of your own development trajectory.
“The returning guys we certainly look for indications of the growth and development that they’ve put in the work from one year to the next. That’s how they’re sort of being judged on. It’s not about what that first impression is. It’s the next one, the last one you’ve made on us before you depart, and go back to your home team or if you are coming into camp as a pro for the first time. We’ve asked you to do some things. We expect you to make some progress.”
The Bruins’ prospects will show off their stuff in the next few days to give hockey fans a little summer cooler of puck action, so here’s a quick rundown on the 23 players selected to attend the camp. Providence Bruins goalie Malcolm Subban and 2014 first round pick David Pastrnak are clearly the marquee names among the roster of players, but there’s a little something for everyone amid the roster:
Linus Arnesson – Defenseman, 2013 second round pick (60th overall): The smooth-skating Swede defenseman signed an entry-level deal with the Bruins following the season, and notched a pair of assists for Team Sweden in the World Junior tournament. He should be ready for Providence after skating in 44 games (1 goal, 5 assists) for Djugarden in the Swedish Elite League last season, and should be one of the top D-men in the development camp.
Cole Bardreau – Forward, development camp invite: Bardreau starred as an assistant captain for Cornell last season, and finished with seven goals and 16 points in 26 games while cleaning up in the face off circle.
Kyle Baun – Forward, development camp invite: The rough-and-tumble Baun finished an impressive sophomore season at Colgate University with 11 goals, 26 points and 53 penalty minutes in 39 games, and certainly doesn’t seem hesitant to throw his big 6-foot-2 frame around.
Matt Benning – Defenseman, 2012 sixth round pick (175th overall): The big, physical Benning finished with three goals and 13 points in his freshman season with Northeastern University. It should be interesting to see Benning’s progress after logging a full season in Hockey East, and smoothing some of the rough edges to his game over the last couple of years.
Anders Bjork – Forward, 2014 fifth round pick (146th overall): Bjork isn’t one of the flashy names in the US National Team Development Program, but the Notre Dame-bound winger still produced 21 goals and 42 points in 61 games. He has NHL bloodlines thanks to cousin Erik Condra, and projects to be a rugged bottom-six winger capable of occasional bursts of offense.
Anton Blidh – Forward, 2013 sixth round pick (180th overall): Blidh bumped up to the Swedish Elite League with Frolunda after dominating the second league with 11 goals and 25 points in 27 games, and split his season between four different leagues while showing the raw skills that initially caught Boston’s eye.
Peter Cehlarik – Forward, 2013 third round pick (90th overall): One of the real eye-catchers from last year’s development camp, the Czech-born Cehlarik played in a total of 67 games for five different teams and finished with 15 goals and 32 points. He was a noticeable part of the Czech Republic World Junior team with his good size and soft hands, and has looked like a future NHL player all along the way.
Mitchell Dempsey – Forward, 2013 seventh round pick (210th overall): A raw prospect that finished with five assists in 15 games for the Kitchener Rangers, and the nephew of B’s assistant general manager Don Sweeney. Dempsey has ideal size at 6-foot-3 and over 200 pounds, but has yet to put it all together at the OHL level after bouncing through several teams.
Michael Doherty – Forward, development camp invite: The Reading, Mass. native finished a strong freshman season at Yale University – a favorite NCAA program of the B’s scouting and player development staff – with nine goals and 18 points in 27 games, and has an impressive resume with the Groton School and the Middlesex Islanders. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder doesn’t have overpowering size, but it’s clear that the offensive skills are there.
Ryan Donato – Forward, 2014 second round pick (56th overall): The son of longtime Bruins forward Ted Donato, the Dexter School standout has done everything possible at the prep school after racking up 37 goals and 78 points in 30 games. He has vast offensive skills and the same twinkle in his eye as his old man, but the competition at development could take some adjusting from the 18-year-old.
Ryan Fitzgerald – Forward, 2013 fourth round pick (120th overall): The son of former B’s forward and current Penguins assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald, Ryan had a solid freshman season on a loaded Boston College squad. He finished with 13 goals and 29 points in 40 games for the Eagles, and didn’t look out of place at all skating around with the Johnny Gaudreaus of the world. Fitzgerald and Donato form a nice local duo packed with hockey skills.
Alex Globke – Forward, development camp invite: Finished his freshman season at Lake Superior State as the team’s leading point scorer (31), power play scorer (five) and power play assists (nine), and finished with 12 goals and 31 points in 36 games for the Lakers. The 6-foot-3, 206-pounder has the size and the stats, and could be an intriguing prospect.
Zane Gothberg – Goaltender, 2010 sixth round pick (165th overall): Gothberg helped lead the University of North Dakota to the Frozen Four, and set a school record with his .926 save percentage last season. The longtime development camp attendee should be one of the standouts after his 1.99 goals against average and three shutouts in 33 games for the Fighting Sioux last season.
Matthew Grzelcyk – Defenseman, 2012 third round pick (85th overall): Grzelcyk played 19 games for Boston University before missing the rest of the season with a left shoulder injury, and impressed with two goals and six points in five games for Team USA during the World Junior tournament. He should be the flashiest defenseman in development with his speed, offensive instincts and confidence making plays with the puck. Keep an eye on him.
Colton Hargrove – Forward, 2012 seventh round pick (205th overall): Hargrove finished with seven goals and 17 points in 27 games for Western Michigan University, and the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder should be one of the hardest hitters and heaviest guys on the puck during development camp.
Emil Johansson – Defenseman, 2014 seventh round pick (206th overall): Emil Johansson really excelled at the Ivan Hlinka International tournament with a plus-4 and an assist in four games, and bounced between three Swedish teams last season. He isn’t overly big at six-foot and 195-pounds, but his 48 penalty minutes attest to his willingness to mix things up in the defensive zone.
Simon Norberg – Forward, development camp invite: Norberg has flashed some offensive skills in the Swedish Leagues, and finished with eight goals and 20 points in 44 games for the second league Leksand last season.
Rob O’Gara – Defenseman, 2011 fifth round pick (151st overall): O’Gara was named to Second Team All Ivy after posting four goals and 11 points in 33 games as a sophomore for the Bulldogs, and continues an excellent collegiate career. The 6-foot-4, 205 pounder is a veteran of the B’s development camps, and has become a big, strong, nasty force in the defensive end over that time.
David Pastrnak – Forward, 2014 first round pick (25th overall): Skated in a total of 81 games for six different teams last season – most of them in Sweden for the Czech-born winger – and finished with 16 goals and 49 points while flashing good puck skills, creativity and a willingness to go to the battle areas on the ice. He should be one of the standouts of camp given his dangerous shot and hockey IQ, but he will also be one of the youngest camp attendees.
Wiley Sherman – Defenseman, 2013 fifth round pick (150th overall): Sherman is a raw 6-foot-6 defenseman coming out of The Hotchkiss School, who will be playing at Harvard University in the fall. Sherman put up five goals and 17 points for Hotchkiss last season, but hasn’t played against the caliber of competition that some of the other development camp attendees have in the last few years.
Malcolm Subban – Goaltender, 2012 first round pick (24th overall): The former first round pick and younger brother of PK Subban, Malcolm had a solid first AHL season posting a 2.31 goals against average and helped lead the P-Bruins to the second round of the playoffs. The athletic Subban is the most accomplished player in this year’s development, and should be one of the leaders and top performers among the B’s prospects.
Billy Sweezey – Defenseman, development camp invite: Sweezey was one of several names under consideration for the 2014 seventh round draft pick that eventually went to Emil Johansson, and impressed B’s scouts with his work at Noble & Greenough over the last few years. Sweezey is set to go to Yale next season, and posted eight goals and 28 points in 28 games for Noble last season while playing a rugged, tough, honest game at the blueline.
Oleg Yevenko – Defenseman, development camp invite: the mammoth 6-foot-7 Belarus defenseman will inevitably draw comparisons to Zdeno Chara, and certainly favors a defensive style after leading the UMass Minutemen with 67 blocked shots in his first season in Hockey East. He’s only put up one goal and five points in three seasons with UMass, but dropped the gloves during Devils prospect camp last summer. The Belarus native is clearly looking to make an impression, and isn’t afraid to get a little gritty and nasty in the process.