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

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.