Couture gets the better of Hamill

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Couture gets the better of Hamill

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- It's never been reported that the San Jose Sharks delivered the Boston Bruins a thank-you letter, following the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but there's no doubt that they have to be extremely grateful for the fact that the B's left Logan Couture on the table, by selecting Zach Hamill with the No. 8 overall pick in that year's draft, allowing the Sharks to take Couture with the very next pick.

Couture scored his 23rd goal of the season on Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden. His first-period power-play backhander from the slot that beat Tim Thomas made the difference in San Jose's 2-0 win.

Meanwhile, the Bruins had dressed Hamill for the first time this season, on Saturday, marking just his second-career NHL game, after being called up for a game against the Washington Capitals last April.

Hamill saw 10:35 of ice time in 13 shifts, all on even strength. He centered a line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, and they combined for only two shots on net, with Hamill not taking either one.

His call-up comes during a tough stretch of games for the Bruins, as their next three games after Saturday's against San Jose come against Montreal and two in a row against Detroit.

But his call-up is certainly well-deserved, according to general manager Peter Chiarelli, who said on Friday that as of right now, Hamill is just "getting a look," but that there was a chance it could turn into something more than that.

In 44 games for the Providence Bruins this year, Hamill had three goal and 25 assists. Clearly, he's more of a playmaker than a goal scorer. But so far, since getting drafted, he's shown to be nothing more than a minor-league playmaker.

It would be highly unfair to evaluate his professional career based on just two games in two seasons, but on an afternoon in which the player that was drafted behind him -- Couture -- scored the game-winning goal while playing at the same professional level as the player drafted ahead of him -- Hamill -- it's fair to say that as of right now, the Sharks have benefited more from their first-round pick, than the Bruins have.

"I think Couture is the most complete player that I've seen at that age," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton after his team's win at the Garden on Saturday. "He penalty kills, he plays power play, he plays all the important minutes. He's been a stud for us all year long. he is very complete, by far, the Calder Trophy winner so far this year."

The Calder Trophy goes to the rookie of the year. Couture played 25 games with San Jose at the end of last season. But technically, as long as you don't play more than 25 games in your first season, you're still a rookie during the next season.

Couture leads all NHL rookies with 23 goals, and is second of all rookies in points with 34, six behind Carolina's Jeff Skinner.

Meanwhile, Hamill -- who was picked ahead of Couture in 2007 -- is just getting his feet wet in the show. It wasn't an awful performance, by any means. But at the same time, it was awfully tough to pick out a Bruins player who showed up, offensively, on Saturday.

"It was his first game this season, and it wasn't an easy game," said Julien. "I don't think he got a ton of ice time, but when it's a player's first game, you give him the benefit of the doubt. I don't think he was any worse or any better than anybody, but I thought he was OK. I thought his battle level was, for Zach, was good. I thought his positioning, his smarts, you could tell, were there. So we'll probably see more as we move on here."

Hamill said after his season-debut that he didn't know what the team's future plan was for him. All he was focused on was taking part in his postgame workout. But make no mistake about it, the kid wants to stay, just like anyone else who's ever gotten a taste of the NHL.

"I was a little nervous to start, but as the game went on, I felt more comfortable and was making plays a little bit, and overall I felt pretty good," said Hamill.

"You grow up, and you say you want to play in the NHL, but once you kind of get up here, you want to stay. And not just stay, but staying in terms of contributing, and you go forward from there."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

Bruins still in waiting mode on Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Anders Bjork

BRIGHTON, Mass – While the NHL debut for Charlie McAvoy is a matter of “when” rather than “if” at this point after agreeing to an Amateur Tryout Contract (ATO) with the Boston Bruins, the jury is still out on Boston University center Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and University of Notre Dame winger Anders Bjork become pros. 

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney says that Forsbacka-Karlsson has yet to make a “final decision” on his status for next season after BU’s elimination from the NCAA hockey tournament, and Bjork is readying for the Frozen Four this weekend along with the rest of his Fighting Irish teammates. The 20-year-old Forsbacka-Karlsson just wrapped up his sophomore season with the Terriers and posted 14 goals and 33 points in 38 games with a plus-11 rating, and has not given the Bruins any firm word on his plans for the immediate future. 

The urgency perhaps isn’t there for the Bruins to lock things up with Forsbacka-Karlsson right this second, because he wouldn’t be a factor for this year’s NHL team. 

Meanwhile the Bruins can’t do anything with the 20-year-old Bjork until at least the end of next weekend, but have been mightily impressed with a player that’s posted 21 goals and 52 points in 38 games for Notre Dame this season. Bjork had three assists in the game that propelled Notre Dame into the Frozen Four, and there would be a great deal of urgency for the Bruins to lock up a talented forward that might be able to help them right now. 

“I’ve been able to see [Bjork] a few times including the regional [in New Hampshire] last weekend, and he was outstanding. He played every other shift, he set up goals in the game and he’s had a really nice progression as a college player this season,” said Sweeney of the explosive Notre Dame junior, who was far and away the best player at B's development camp last summer. “They’ve done a fabulous job with their team, and hopefully they get to the Finals on Saturday against Harvard, and we get the best of both worlds seeing how our prospects play in the final game. He’s had a tremendous college career to this point, and we’re excited about his development.”

McAvoy is the front-burner issue for the Bruins at this point, but it would surprise exactly nobody if both Forsbacka-Karlsson and Bjork join him in Providence in the next couple of weeks as they wrap up their AHL season.