Local schools represented well at Bruins camp

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Local schools represented well at Bruins camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Three local college hockey products hailing from three very different places in their careers took spots alongside the rest of the Bruins prospect ranks when development camp took place this week at Ristuccia Arena.

All three have played against each other in Beanpot competition over the last couple of years, and have quickly morphed from competitors into teammates and partners in bonding activities like paintball.

Boston College senior to be Tommy Cross is entering his fourth and final year at the Heights, and the 21-year-old defenseman stands as the oldest player among the Bs prospects aside from 24-year-old Brett Olson from Michigan Tech.

Cross has battled all the way back from a series of knee surgeries stemming from a summer injury playing baseball prior to his freshman season with the Eagles. Those problems left him on crutches for his first development camp with the Bs, but the youngster put up 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) in 28 games for BC last year.

Cross scored the overtime game-winner against Boston University in the first round of the Beanpot, and has played in a bevy of big games throughout his collegiate hockey career.

It goes without saying that he brings a wealth of experience at the teams development camps with so many first and second year players surrounding him this season.

Tommys been through some, was a second round draft choice, so hes had some acclaim behind him in terms of where he was selected, said Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney. But hes been patient about staying in school, and hes a captain which obviously speaks volumes. Boston College runs a hell of a program, so thats a credit to Tommy in a leadership capacity.

The age, experience and poise gives the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Cross an air of authority around the phalanx of younger teammates, and it also makes him the perfect pairing for 18-year-old youngster Dougie Hamilton as a D pairing.

Thats a good pairing," Sweeny said. "First of all its a rather large pairing and Tommys Cross really filled out. Hes had some injury troubles so its good to see him in full speed and full capacity with no limitations to what hes doing on the ice. Hes got kind of a calming influence for Dougie Hamilton. Dougies looking to get up ice. Hes comfortable on the power play and hes looking to be physical. You know hes going to be a well rounded player with a two way component.

Where that fits in on the high side, one or the other we wont worry about that today thats for sure. We just continue to work with him and get him to understand and process the game as the game speed goes up.

While Cross has filled into the leadership role, David Warsofsky finished up his BU career with 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists) in 34 games before notching three helpers in 10 games for the Providence Bruins last spring.

The fourth round pick in the 2008 draft is going through his second development camp with Boston after getting traded to Boston from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Vladimir Sobotka, and was using the camp as a springboard toward his first full training camp and pro hockey season.

I think your first year is really exciting," Warsofsky said. "You dont know what to expect in your first training camp, and to be around the professional guys to see how they act. Im excited about this. I dont have expectations. Obviously every kid dreams about playing for the Bruins, but if I dont make the team I wont be mad about it.

Providence is a great place to start. The coaches down there are excellent and there are great players down there. Im just taking it day by day and well see what happens.

Warsofsky showed off his speed, decision-making and offensive creativity while setting up Justin Floreks rebound goal directly in front of the net during Sunday mornings scrimmage and fits very well into the defensemen group of Steve Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski and Ryan Button that will be competing for time in either Boston or Providence this season.

Alex Fallstrom plays on the wing rather than at the blueline like Cross and Warsofsky, and calls Harvard University home rather than either of the two Boston hockey schools on Comm. Ave. The Sweden native acquired in the Chuck Kobasew trade to the Minnesota Wild is perhaps the most unfinished product among the three prospects, and admitted that physical strength and skating power were two areas he was working diligently on.

Sweeney said that Fallstrom has been working with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides since the end of the Harvard hockey season, and the improvements were pretty clear during the scrimmage. Fallstrom was keeping the pace with the speediest of skaters up and down the ice, and created a number of scoring chances for himself with a sweet pair of hands. At one point he maneuvered right through Hamilton with the puck while attacking the net with the speed, power and determination that could yield greater offensive potential in the future.

"Its a real good sign for Alex he met with John Whitesides at the end of his year before he went back to Sweden," Sweeny said. "He spent some time identifying some of the areas physically that he could work on and fine tune, so it would translate on the ice. I think it has done that. Hes moving better, shoots the puck well and hes a conscientious player. We want to see what his high side is offensively.

So youve got to get him in, fine tune and get him in the right shape and be able to utilize the skills that he has to be able to get there. The skating side of it is something hes going to continue to work on and he knows that. But hes done a lot of hard work and the fruits of that are showing up here this week.

Cross and Fallstrom will be back with their college teams by the time real training camp begins for the Bruins in September, but it might not be too long before all three opposing players are all sharing the same Black and Gold uniform.

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

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

CHICAGO – It was thought the Bruins might swing for the fences with Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger, particularly if they traded down in the first round, but they ended up filling their goalie quota on Saturday in the fourth round of the NHL Draft at the United Center. The B’s selected University of Maine-bound Jeremy Swayman with the 111th pick in the draft after an impressive run for the Alaska native at Sioux Falls as a junior hockey player.

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The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Swayman posted a 2.90 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 32 games for a poor Sioux City junior team, but distinguished himself with his size, athleticism and competitiveness as the rare goalie prospect to come out of the great state of Alaska. Swayman was eating breakfast in his Alaskan home while watching himself get drafted by the Bruins. Needless to say, he was pumped as he readies for his first season in Hockey East.

“I’ve been working my whole life for this and just to kind of have the notion of, your work has paid off in a small area of time or a small trinket, it’s very worth all of the hard times and tough times, and kind of working at everything for it. It’s kind of a token back and just an incredible opportunity for sure,” said Swayman, who said he models his game after Braden Holtby while also envying Tuukka Rask’s flexibility. “I would describe myself as a challenge goalie. So, a competitive goalie just kind of fighting through traffic at all times. Being able to see the puck from anywhere on the ice, whether there is a screen in front or a point shot and, of course, a point blank shot. Again, I trust my ability on my skates. I have good feet. I can stay up longer than most goalies in situations where they would have to slide. So, I can stay up and cover more net on a backdoor pass, per say. I also like to cut down the angle a lot.”

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley admitted that Swayman wasn’t the first choice of everybody at the B’s draft table, but said the scouts were confident making him the pick after another goalie was taken off the board before him. There were three goalies taken in the fourth round, including Prince Albert netminder Ian Scott taken one pick before the B’s selection, so it’s difficult to tell which other goalie Boston had their eyes on.

Clearly, the hope now is that Swayman follows in a proud tradition of stud Black Bears goalies that include Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, Scott Darling, Mike Dunham and Garth Snow, and that the B’s have drafted a new goalie of the future with Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in the AHL.

“He’s a goalie that [Bruins goalie coach] Bob Essensa had really liked, and had scouted him. Most of our staff was on board with the goalie. We targeted another goalie, but he just went before our pick,” said Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley. “We heard good things from [the University of Maine] staff there, and we did our due diligence on him. We’re happy with him.”

It remains to be seen how Swayman develops in college, but the B’s hope it’s a steady, ascending development like that of McIntyre after they drafted him prior to his starring run at North Dakota. 
 

Bruins go for some skill with Studnicka pick in second round

Bruins go for some skill with Studnicka pick in second round

CHICAGO – The Bruins aimed for one of their “skill” picks in the second round when they nabbed Oshawa Generals center Jack Studnicka with the 53rd selection in the NHL Draft Saturday at the United Center.

Studnicka, 18, took a jump with scouts this season while scoring 18 goals and 52 points in 64 games for the Generals and dominated the Memorial Cup playoffs with five goals and 15 points in ten games. Couple that with three goals in three games at the World Under-18’s, and the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder is the kind of forward prospect that Boston was happy to add to their draft class as a center or a possible right wing.

“He had a very good Under-18’s and he’s very skilled. He’s a late bloomer too. He came around and had a good second half and a strong playoff where he was a point-per-game player in the OHL playoffs,” said Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley, who oversaw this weekend’s draft after the departure of head scout Keith Gretzky. “We addressed a need there because we think we can play both wing and center, and that he’s got room to develop. He’s close to 6-foot-2 but the frame is light, so we look forward to working with him and seeing what we develop there.”

Studnicka was happy to be selected by the Bruins on the second day of the draft and said he models his game after Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak while closely watching the Leafs games as a good Ontario boy should.

“I think I’m a two-way centerman that’s trusted in all three zones of the ice, but at the same time, I can contribute to the offense when I have to. I am a reliable center that can put up numbers. Being in Oshawa I got to a lot of Leafs games, and Tyler Bozak was a really reliable centerman, a good face-off guy and he’s very versatile while some nights playing power play and some nights playing penalty kill.”

Interestingly enough Studnicka was coached by Torey Krug’s dad, Kyle, when he played for the Detroit Belle Tire Minor Midgets and the Krug paterfamilias gave his stamp of approval on the B’s pick.

“Very cerebral,” said Kyle Krug to CSN while also mentioning that Studnicka’s dad played at the University of Maine. “Tremendous compete level. Really good skill. Good feet. Terrific work ethic off and on the ice. Great teammate.”

Clearly, Studnicka sounds like a Bruins-type prospect with the reliability, smarts and skillful upside, and the B’s can only hope he develops into a true Studnicka on the ice over the next couple of years while working his way to the NHL.