By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The Bruins wrapped up a second day of scrimmaging and closed their annual development camp after five hard-working days on the ice.
The Baby Bruins went through strenuous double sessions of power skating, drills and scrimmaging over the five-day period, during which the players were able to flash their skills. Perhaps just as importantly, however, they also showed they were willing to work and to listen to direction from the scouts, coaches and front office personnel.
The future is bright with Boston bringing back 18 players from a Stanley Cup champion's roster, and its similarly sunny within the organizations prospect ranks. The future is so bright that Peter Chiarelli and Co. have got to wear shades.
Ive been really impressed with the camp overall. The kids have really come in and done well and I told them that on the ice today, said Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney. I thought they really bought into trying to take advantage of all the things weve thrown at them: the challenges, the power skating and stuff, the scrimmages, even the tempo.
Guys are making plays that we ask them to try things offensively to get up ice, play D, and move the puck. They all really tried things. Off the ice, the first couple days are a grind. Its a long day with the physicals and then going off to play paintball -- and the guys decided to divide up teams. Ive been really impressed with the group and the camp overall.
The Bruins held another scrimmage on the final day at Ristuccia Arena, and once again 2011 fourth round pick Brian Ferlin scored a goal while skating around with Justin Florek and Ryan Spooner. Ferlin was the biggest single unexpected player to emerge in the two days of game scrimmages, but there were many standouts. Heres a quick evaluation on a few that caught this hockey reporters eyes over the last five days:
One of the most improved players from last years development camp to this year, and really showed the confidence he needs to hold in the offensive end. Wasnt afraid to show a little wiggle shaking himself free from shot blockers near the blue line, and several times displayed the ability to rush the puck toward the net. Will still have to work his way up the ranks with young defensemen like Steve Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski ahead of him on the depth chart, but definitely made an impression on the Bs front office.
Did exceptionally well for a 17-year-old fighter type. Banged bodies with fellow tough guy Zach Trotman on several occasions, took a big hit off the Ristuccia Arena stanchion after getting tangled up with Alex Fallstrom and showed more skill than advertised. A good first impression for the 2011 third rounder most often compared to Shawn Thornton.
Took exception to being characterized by me as being in the baby giraffe stage of development for a tall defensemen, and showed why during the development camp. He had fluid, athletic moves on his skates, showed a willingness to shoot the puck and had a good second scrimmage after getting caught running around a bit in the first camp game. Hamilton is at least a year or two away as he needs to improve his physical strength and his decision-making on the ice he got burned several times taking chances in the offensive zone and neutral zone but hes got the goods to be an excellent franchise defenseman. Also showed a little more snarl in the second scrimmage a very good sign.
Zane Gothberg and Lars Volden
Its tough to judge the goalie as teen-agers in their first and second camps respectively, but both had some good moments and bad moments during the scrimmages.
Showed some willingness to throw his body around physically and mixed well into the quick tempo of the scrimmages and drills.
One of the older players on the ice for development camp at 21 years old, but also one of the most effective players. He used his strength and physicality in a way very reminiscent of Mark Stuart, and showed the capability of making a few plays offensively as well. Looks like a good pickup as a free agent, and a player that will fit well into the Bruins Way of doing things.
Hutchinson was by far the best goaltender in development and somebody to watch in his second season with the Providence Bruins this upcoming year. The prospects had a difficult time scoring on him in the scrimmages, and he showed off a fancy right glove hand robbing several players from point blank range through two days of camp games. Very cool character between the pipes, who could have a future in the big league.
Has a nice package of creativity, play-making and speed in the offensive zone, and made things happen as a defensemen while moving his feet and using his mind when the puck was on his stick. Hes clearly undersized, but should be a player to watch in Providence this season. He could challenge Steve Kampfer quickly for that seventh defensemen spot in Boston if he hits the ground running in training camp both players have a very similar game.
The 18-year-old Milton Academy defensemen looked like the youngest and most wide-eyed player taking part in camp, but he completely belonged when he hopped on the ice. Don Sweeney called him a big piece of clay that the Bruins can mold into whatever they want, and he displayed some of the skills playing against guys much older and more developed than him. Seemed like a great kid away from the ice as well.
Didnt come into camp in the greatest shape and that hurt his performance a bit during the camp. Hes got plenty of skill and promise as a 17-year-old, and it might be too difficult to gauge him as a player and Russian scoring force until next summers development camp.
Needed to work on his skating and strength after last season at Harvard University, and has done that back home in Stockholm, Sweden. Fit right into the mix with a nice pair of hands and a big frame that still needs to fill out at 6-foot-2 and 203-pounds, but improved greatly from last years development. Might be most improved along with Ryan Button.
Possibly the biggest surprise of development camp with so little fanfare coming into it. Showed off the big hockey body at 6-foot-1 and 200-pounds, but also showed the shooting ability and hands to finish plays right around the net. The Florida native bears watching at Cornell University next season.
Cross looks like a man among boys at 6-foot-3 and 210-pounds and taking up Zdeno Charas locker in the Wilmington arena dressing room, and had his best development camp. His mobility and speed appear to have returned fully after a series of knee surgeries set him back, and he showed the kind of balanced two-way defensive play the Bruins covet from defensemen. The leadership component is an added bonus for the Connecticut native.
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound Cunningham had a solid development camp last year after being drafted by the Bruins, but he wasnt quite as noticeable this time around with a different mix of players. Expected a bit more considering the big year he had at the junior hockey level.
He came into development camp bigger, stronger and with a bit more swagger than he did the year before, and showed improvement in the areas asked of him by the Bruins. His playmaking ability was on display all week whether it was setting up plays for wide open teammates or fooling goaltenders with his array of shootout moves. With a bit more strength and confidence under his belt, he should be fun to watch in real training camp.
Florek had a pair of goals in the first scrimmage and showed a little something more than might have been expected as a 2010 fifth round pick from Northern Michigan University. The 6-foot-4 Florek did prove that he can absolutely shoot the puck with the best of Bostons prospects.
Showed off more during the practice drills than during the actual scrimmages and fanned on a nice one-time feed from Tommy Cross for a sure goal during the second day of scrimmages. I would guess that Knight has the best chance of pushing somebody during training camp for a job with the Bruins, but that might still be a tough task. The shot, the physically mature build and the conditioning are all there, however, as a 19-year-old prospect at the wing.
Had some flashes as a camp invite from Union College and showed a little offensivedashwith a healthy amount ofjam thrown in for good measure. He seemed to be involved in a lot of the plays that were happening during the scrimmages, and beat a couple of defensemen with his speed during the camp games.
A big defenseman that tossed out some big hits and got very involved in the physical side of things during scrimmage games. Didnt appear to be all that involved offensively during the scrimmages, but theres always a place for big, bruising defensemen that size with the ability to stay up to speed.
Incomplete: Ben Sexton, Steven Spinell, Brett Olson, Eric Robinson. Robinson left camp early and I didn't see enough out of the other three players to really generate any strong opinions.