Bruins prospect Cantin a project worth working on

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Bruins prospect Cantin a project worth working on

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

WILMINGTON One of the quiet stories of prospect camp and Bs rookie camp has been the solid play of rugged defenseman Marc Cantin, who signed an entry level deal with the Bs in March.

The undrafted blueliner has been compared favorably to the hard-hitting, leader-friendly style of Mark Stuart by Bruins talent evaluators, and hes displayed very Stuart-esque qualities on and off the ice during his time with Bostons other prospects.

When we talked about signing Cantin, we see him in a Mark Stuart-type mold," said Bruins assistant general manager, Jim Benning. "Hes going to play hard, hes going to play physical and hes going to step up in the neutral ice and hit guys. Hes not a fancy player, but hell make a first pass and play a simple, hard, physical, stay-at-home game.

Cantin first showed his stuff during the summer after getting an invite to Bs prospect camp, and its been a steady progression ever since. Cantin put up 41 points and 78 penalty minutes in the OHL last year, and then he appeared completely unafraid to throw rookie bodies around on the ice during his second prospect camp. Hes never going to be a coveted puck-moving defenseman or power-play specialist from the point, but Cantin said he always modeled his game after Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa.

Bieksa was a player the Bruins might have gone after this summer in free agency if he hadnt re-signed with the Canucks. So, potentially, developing a 20-year-old version of the rugged leader is something Boston is definitely interested in. It may take a year or two for Cantin to develop the skills capable of surviving in the fast-paced skating world of the NHL, but the Bs have two things working for both them and Cantin: Good defense depth and plenty of time to bring the youngster along.

Cantin has always been a naturally competitive kid as a lacrosse and hockey player growing up with a little boxing thrown in for good measure but going undrafted seems to have placed a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.

Going undrafted was something that bothered me at first because Id put in a lot of work in the summer and offseason, said Cantin. But it also made me want to go above and beyond what everybody else was doing, and it paid off last year.

Thats not necessarily a bad thing for a defenseman whos looking to impress the Bs organization, and endear himself to a team that relies on grittiness, physicality and the willingness to stand up for each other.

I like to be the guy that other guys dont like to play against, said Cantin. I just want to play. It's an instinctual thing for me that I just go out and do it. My compete level is something that I just can't shut off. Its me going 100 percent or Im not going at all. Its like that in pretty much everything I do.

Whether its sport or some other kind of competition, Ive always got to find a way to win.

That kind of rah-rah leadership as Benning described it is readily apparent in Cantins words as he talks about his place within the game of hockey. It should also be obvious once the spotlight goes up over the next two evenings at Nassau Coliseum during the rookie games against the Islanders.

Thats the next logical step for Cantin as hes impressed right along the way with a few more steps standing between the 20-year-old defenseman and his long range dream of playing in the NHL someday.

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

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.