By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON It was a brief respite to be sure, but little more than a month after capturing the Stanley Cup the Bruins were back on the ice at their practice facility in Ristuccia Arena.
It wasnt the Cup-winning Bs, of course. They have scattered to the four corners of the earth for the next six weeks before they have to return for training camp in September. But the baby Bs have taken their place.
First-round pick Dougie Hamilton took his first twirls in a Bruins uniform, promising forwards Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner returned a year bigger, stronger and determined to make a push for a roster spot, and Bs fans got their first look at the man they call Koko 2011 second-round draft pick and Russian winger Alexander Khokhlachev.
Knight and Spooner showed off the sizzling wrist shots that caught the eyes of the Bruins staff last fall during training camp, and Knight in particular looked like hes packed on some muscle for an important training camp. The 2010 second round pick has even taken up triathlons this summer as a way to vary his conditioning and exercise while getting ready for a run at a Bs roster spot.
Knight, 19, showed he can take the puck toward the cage with force, and the 5-foot-11, 202-pounder smashed into goalie Michael Hutchinson in the biggest collision on the ice during the entire Thursday afternoon practice session.
Your hopes are that everybody gets away healthy, first of all, said Bs assistant general manager Don Sweeney. Obviously Jared drives to the net and its probably typical. I was talking to Doug and Marc Cantin, two guys in the OHL, and it wasnt any surprise to them that it was Knight who ran into Hutch Michael Hutchinson. But Mikes fine and Jareds not going to change his game.
"I think overall we have fresh faces in here, we have some older guys who are returning -- and you hope that you blend that together right away. Maybe some of the older guys kind of, you know, give them a little heads-up because some of these kids are coming in here wide-eyed. You tell them that the Bruins are here to learn about you, youre here to learn about the Bruins and how we do things, and then learn about yourself and where you need to go between now and September. Wherever youre going to go play we want you to be a sponge throughout the course of the week. There are a lot of teaching moments that happen throughout the course of this week that you should really file away and learn from.
Hamilton drew the biggest crowd around his locker stall immediately after the first day of practice, but despite all the fanfare, its pretty clear he knows theres a long road of development ahead of him. He showed off the smooth skating ability and the powerful shot, but he said that theres plenty to do before hes ready to make a run at an NHL roster spot.
I definitely have to get stronger. Ive grown a lot in the last few years in my bantam year I was 5-foot-9, 145-pounds and that was four or five years ago and get used to that, said Hamilton. There are times when youre a little uncoordinated, and Im just trying to fill out into my body. There are a lot of college guys here and Im a little undeveloped while being one of the youngest guys here. But Im happy for my own personal goals and what Ive done.
You learn about yourself. You learn about what you need to improve on. I think the coaches are going to help me out, and show me some things that I can incorporate and work on for the rest of the summer. Thats what Im trying to do.
While its always difficult to gauge defensemen during development camp drills, Sweeney liked what he was of the youngster as he makes first impressions with the Boston staff this week.
Hes a big boy. He moves really well for a kid thats 6-foot-4. I like his overall approach to the game. He looks like he wants to get up ice and is conscientious about his one-on-one play, said Sweeney. Its a small sample size, obviously, but based on all of our games we watched him play, hes a well-rounded player that has a lot of room for continued development. Were really excited to have him.
There is plenty of excitement about the entire next wave of Bs players represented at the development camp this week, and thats big news considering 18 members of the defending Stanley Cup champs will be returning for another kick at the Cup next season.