Hamill, Bruins at a crossroad

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Hamill, Bruins at a crossroad

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON While Zach Hamill hasnt been a part of the Bruins development camp over the last couple of years, the 2007 first round pick was still a big topic of conversation at Ristuccia Arena.

The 22-year-old has a pair of assists in four games with the Bruins over the last two seasons, and actually flashed a little bit of playmaking talent in three games with Boston in the middle of last season. But the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has struggled with scoring during his time with the Providence Bruins, and hasnt developed into the point-per-game scorer he was with the WHLs Everett Silvertips.

Physical strength has been a big issue for Hamill in his time with Providence, and hes never been a big two-way factor working out of the pivot position.

The junior hockey career saw him get drafted No. 9 overall by the Bruins in 2007, and picked ahead of San Joses Logan Couture, Carolinas Brandon Sutter, Montreals Max Pacioretty and St. Louis David Perron. Clearly the Bruins would have liked the pick given the 2020 nature of hindsight, but Hamill has one more season to regain his value one way or another.

Cassidy said that the P-Bruins may move Hamill to a wing position while trying to find something to speak more out of the forward than the 43 points (9 goals, 34 assists) in 68 AHL games last season.

"He hasn't developed as well as we've all hoped," Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said following Day No. 2 of development camp. "We all know that up front. Part of that has to fall on the coaching staff. Part of that has to fall on the individual. We move forward and Zach gets an opportunity to work with a new coaching staff, per se. Maybe that motivates him.

Maybe we look at moving him around in a different position. He's been a center iceman. Maybe we try him on the wing. It's a little unorthodox and thinking out of the box. But maybe that gets his game to another level, putting him with some players that can make him a better player also. At the end of the day, when you're in your fourth year with the same organization, it falls upon yourself just to push people. The individual has to recognize what's going on around him. A few people have passed him. It's time for him to start passing some younger guys that have come in the last couple years. Whether he's ready to do that, we'll find out in September.

Cassidy also acknowledged that it might be Hamills mission to get another NHL team to notice him with limited opportunities to crack a Stanley Cup winning roster full of Bruins players.

He was a top pick and sometimes theres no room. When you win a Stanley Cup theres obviously good players and there might not be room, said Cassidy. But for him, part of his process could be hey there are twenty nine other teams, maybe if I show other people I can play then hes still an asset to the Bruins. Maybe he gets other teams to start thinking about him in their line-up that are weaker up front. Thats sort of how Zach has to approach it. I think both at a personal level that hey Ive got to find a home somewhere else if its not here by playing well.

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

Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

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Friday, July 29: Good signs in Bruins-Marchand negotiations

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while using “malarkey” in my day-to-day vocabulary as much as possible. 
 
-- Dale Tallon was promoted with the Florida Panthers to accentuate his strengths as a talent evaluator, but maintains that he still has final say on hockey decisions
 
-- PHT writer Cam Tucker has another young D-man off the board with the Wild’s Matthew Dumba signing a two year, $5.1 million deal with Minnesota
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my take on the negotiations between Brad Marchand and the Bruins: There’s a couple of good signs at the outset of negotiations
 
-- The Arizona Coyotes are stressing the defensive side of things in a big, big way, and it appears to be part of John Chayka’s master plan

 -- Alex Pietrangelo would be a natural selection to replace David Backes as the next captain of the St. Louis Blues. 

-- A moving letter from Sens forward Bobby Ryan to his recently passed mother is up at the Players Tribune website. 

-- Chris Kreider has re-signed with the New York Rangers, and plans to get out of his head and onto the score sheet more often. 
 
-- For something completely different: Jerod Mayo will bring a new voice to Tom E. Curran’s Quick Slants program on our very own CSN network. 

 

List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

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List of Bruins prospects includes two familiar names

With decidedly Boston-sounding names and thoroughly familiar faces, given their resemblances to their ex-Bruin dads, it might have been easy to overlook Ryan Donato and Ryan Fitzgerald and focus on the truly little-known prospects at Development Camp earlier this month.

But on the ice, their brimming confidence, their offensive skills and the maturity to their all-around game was impossible to ignore.

When it was over, general manager Don Sweeney singled out Donato, who plays at Harvard, and Fitzgerald, from Boston College -- along with Notre Dame forward Anders Bjork and former Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk -- as players who have developed significantly.
 
“[They're] just comfortable in what they’re doing,” said Sweeney. “I mean, they’ve played at the college hockey level . . . two, three, four years with some of these kids. They’re very comfortable in their own skin and in what they do.”
 
Donato, 20, is actually coming off his first season at Harvard, where he posted 13 goals and 21 points in 32 games. He looked like he was in midseason form during Development Camp, showing off a scoring touch, skill with the puck on his stick in tight traffic, and the instincts to anticipate plays that allow him to beat defenders to spots in the offensive zone. He’s primed for a giant sophomore season with the Crimson, based on his showing at camp.
 
“Every year is a blast," said Donato, son of former Bruins forward and current Harvard coach Ted Donato. "You just come in [to development camp] with an open mindset where you soak everything up from the coaches like a sponge, and see what they say. Then I just do my best to incorporate it into my game and bring it with me to school next year.
 
“One of the things that [Bruins coaches and management] has said to me -- and it’s the same message for everybody -- is that every area of your game is an important one to develop. The thing about the NHL is that every little detail makes the difference, and that’s what I’ve been working on whether it’s my skating, or my defensive play. Every little piece of my game needs to be developed.”
 
Then there's Fitzgerald, 21, who is entering his senior season at BC after notching 24 goals and 47 points in 40 games last year in a real breakout season. The 2013 fourth-round pick showed speed and finishing ability during his Development Camp stint and clearly is close to being a finished hockey product at the collegiate level.
 
“It was good. It’s definitely a fun time being here, seeing these guys and putting the logo on,” said Fitzgerald, son of former Bruins forward Tom Fitzgerald, after his fourth Development Camp. “One thing I’m focusing on this summer is getting stronger, but it’s also about just progressing and maturing.
 
“I thought . . . last year [at BC] was a pretty good one, so I just try to build off that and roll into my senior season. [The Bruins] have told me to pretty much continue what I’m doing in school. When the time is right I’ll go ahead [and turn pro], so probably after I graduate I’ll jump on and make an impact.”
 
Fitzgerald certainly didn’t mention or give any hints that it could happen, but these days it has to give an NHL organization a bit of trepidation anytime one of their draft picks makes it all the way to their senior season. There’s always the possibility of it turning into a Jimmy Vesey-type situation if a player -- like Fitzgerald -- has a huge final year and draws enough NHL interest to forego signing with the team that drafted him for a shot at free agency in the August following his senior season.
 
It may be a moot point with Fitzgerald, a Boston kid already living a dream as a Bruins draft pick, but it’s always a possibility until he actually signs.
 
In any case, both Donato and Fitzgerald beat watching in their respective college seasons after both saw their development level take a healthy leap forward.