McKelvie changes uniforms for chance at dream

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McKelvie changes uniforms for chance at dream

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- There are plenty of familiar names and recognizable faces participating at Bs rookie camp this weekend, and theres also a forgotten man skating with the rookies at Ristuccia Arena.

The player in question is Zach McKelvie, a 26-year-old West Point graduate that had to fulfill his military obligations before getting a chance to pursue his dreams of playing professional hockey. The Bs originally signed the defenseman prospect in 2009 with an understanding that the Army would allow McKelvie out of his military obligation, but that never happened last year.

It was a great experience. I was an infantry officer in the army, said McKelvie. More than anything it was a learning experience, and getting to know the men and women that were deployed four or five times is extremely humbling and gratifying at the same time. I definitely wouldnt trade the two years served for anything.

I thought about hockey every day and I missed hockey every day, but I also took pride in wearing the US army uniform every day.

McKelvie was obviously rusty after spending the last year plus off the ice as a full-fledged military man serving his country, but Bs assistant general manager Jim Benning painted the picture of a two-way defenseman prospect reliant on strong skating ability to be effective.

Ironically enough McKelvie was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia over the last two seasons, but has begun to knock the rust off his game. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder still has enough things going for him in the skillsskating area that hell get a chance to hone his game in the minor leagues, and show exactly what interested Bs talent evaluators so much in the first place.

Hes a great skater. He hasnt played competitive hockey in a couple of years from college, but because hes such a good skater and he moves well out there -- and hes a competitive kid -- I think his timing will be off a little bit I think to start, said Benning. But I think once he gets his timing he could turn out to be a good player for us.

Benning is a keen evaluator of young hockey talent, and the Bs assistant GM believes theres still plenty of time for McKelvie to get his groove back with no hurry given Bostons stacked stable of D-men at the NHL level.

Hes a transitional player because he can skate so well, get back, get the puck, and hell either be able to carry it out or make a first pass to get the puck up ice or hell jump into play to join the play to help out in the offensive end, said Benning. Hes a good two-way player. But he hasnt played competitively in a couple of years so it might take him a little bit to get his timing back to show what he can really do. We like him as a prospect. Hes a high character kid and his physical tools are good, so once he gets his timing back he should be competitive at camp.

With the skills sitting close to the surface and the character to place his individual dreams on hold while duty called, McKelvie has already proven to be something special before skating a single shift for the Bruins organization.

Now he gets a chance to prove it on the ice for the Black and Gold.

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.