Local schools represented well at Bruins camp

191545.jpg

Local schools represented well at Bruins camp

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON Three local college hockey products hailing from three very different places in their careers took spots alongside the rest of the Bruins prospect ranks when development camp took place this week at Ristuccia Arena.

All three have played against each other in Beanpot competition over the last couple of years, and have quickly morphed from competitors into teammates and partners in bonding activities like paintball.

Boston College senior to be Tommy Cross is entering his fourth and final year at the Heights, and the 21-year-old defenseman stands as the oldest player among the Bs prospects aside from 24-year-old Brett Olson from Michigan Tech.

Cross has battled all the way back from a series of knee surgeries stemming from a summer injury playing baseball prior to his freshman season with the Eagles. Those problems left him on crutches for his first development camp with the Bs, but the youngster put up 18 points (7 goals, 11 assists) in 28 games for BC last year.

Cross scored the overtime game-winner against Boston University in the first round of the Beanpot, and has played in a bevy of big games throughout his collegiate hockey career.

It goes without saying that he brings a wealth of experience at the teams development camps with so many first and second year players surrounding him this season.

Tommys been through some, was a second round draft choice, so hes had some acclaim behind him in terms of where he was selected, said Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney. But hes been patient about staying in school, and hes a captain which obviously speaks volumes. Boston College runs a hell of a program, so thats a credit to Tommy in a leadership capacity.

The age, experience and poise gives the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Cross an air of authority around the phalanx of younger teammates, and it also makes him the perfect pairing for 18-year-old youngster Dougie Hamilton as a D pairing.

Thats a good pairing," Sweeny said. "First of all its a rather large pairing and Tommys Cross really filled out. Hes had some injury troubles so its good to see him in full speed and full capacity with no limitations to what hes doing on the ice. Hes got kind of a calming influence for Dougie Hamilton. Dougies looking to get up ice. Hes comfortable on the power play and hes looking to be physical. You know hes going to be a well rounded player with a two way component.

Where that fits in on the high side, one or the other we wont worry about that today thats for sure. We just continue to work with him and get him to understand and process the game as the game speed goes up.

While Cross has filled into the leadership role, David Warsofsky finished up his BU career with 22 points (7 goals, 15 assists) in 34 games before notching three helpers in 10 games for the Providence Bruins last spring.

The fourth round pick in the 2008 draft is going through his second development camp with Boston after getting traded to Boston from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Vladimir Sobotka, and was using the camp as a springboard toward his first full training camp and pro hockey season.

I think your first year is really exciting," Warsofsky said. "You dont know what to expect in your first training camp, and to be around the professional guys to see how they act. Im excited about this. I dont have expectations. Obviously every kid dreams about playing for the Bruins, but if I dont make the team I wont be mad about it.

Providence is a great place to start. The coaches down there are excellent and there are great players down there. Im just taking it day by day and well see what happens.

Warsofsky showed off his speed, decision-making and offensive creativity while setting up Justin Floreks rebound goal directly in front of the net during Sunday mornings scrimmage and fits very well into the defensemen group of Steve Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski and Ryan Button that will be competing for time in either Boston or Providence this season.

Alex Fallstrom plays on the wing rather than at the blueline like Cross and Warsofsky, and calls Harvard University home rather than either of the two Boston hockey schools on Comm. Ave. The Sweden native acquired in the Chuck Kobasew trade to the Minnesota Wild is perhaps the most unfinished product among the three prospects, and admitted that physical strength and skating power were two areas he was working diligently on.

Sweeney said that Fallstrom has been working with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides since the end of the Harvard hockey season, and the improvements were pretty clear during the scrimmage. Fallstrom was keeping the pace with the speediest of skaters up and down the ice, and created a number of scoring chances for himself with a sweet pair of hands. At one point he maneuvered right through Hamilton with the puck while attacking the net with the speed, power and determination that could yield greater offensive potential in the future.

"Its a real good sign for Alex he met with John Whitesides at the end of his year before he went back to Sweden," Sweeny said. "He spent some time identifying some of the areas physically that he could work on and fine tune, so it would translate on the ice. I think it has done that. Hes moving better, shoots the puck well and hes a conscientious player. We want to see what his high side is offensively.

So youve got to get him in, fine tune and get him in the right shape and be able to utilize the skills that he has to be able to get there. The skating side of it is something hes going to continue to work on and he knows that. But hes done a lot of hard work and the fruits of that are showing up here this week.

Cross and Fallstrom will be back with their college teams by the time real training camp begins for the Bruins in September, but it might not be too long before all three opposing players are all sharing the same Black and Gold uniform.

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

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

Backes: Most of the talk has me playing center for Bruins

David Backes on the Felger and Mazz show on 98.5 The Sports Hub, and simulcast on CSN, tells fill-in hosts Jim Murray and Greg Dickerson there has also been some discussion with the Bruins of putting him on the wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.

Watch the video above for more. 

Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

bruins-eriksson-gallery.jpg

Bruins lose Stempniak, Eriksson, others in free agency

The Bruins lost a number of free agents on after the market opened at noontime. None bigger than Loui Eriksson signing a six-year, $36 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks to play with the Sedin Twins.

It’s the exact level of term and salary that Eriksson said he was looking for from the Bruins in contract negotiations around the trade deadline, but the Bruins never really moved from their offer of a four-year deal at comparable money.

The Bruins will miss the 30-goal production and solid all-around, two-way play from Eriksson as he heads to the West Coast, but they also traded in a passive player in Eriksson for an in-your-face, physical leader in David Backes on a five-year deal. 

Backes is much more of a Bruins-style player than Eriksson could have ever hoped to have been. That part of it is a win for a Bruins fan base that wants intensity and physicality from their players.

The Bruins also watched Jonas Gustavsson sign a one-year, $800,000 contract with Peter Chiarelli and the Edmonton Oilers, Brett Connolly sign a one-year deal for $850,000 with the Washington Capitals, Zach Trotman signs a one-year deal for $950,000 and Lee Stempniak ink a two-year, $5 million contract with the Carolina Hurricanes after being a non-contract training camp invite with New Jersey last season.

Sweeney had maintained as late as Thursday that he was still keeping ties with many of Boston’s free agents prior to the noon opening of the free agent market, but clearly that’s changed.

“We’ll continue to have talks and sort of figure out where things may go. We’ve had talks with a number of players to see what they would like to see as the opportunity here or what we see as a fit,” said Sweeney on the Torey Krug conference call on Thursday night. “I haven’t ruled absolutely any of that out; just haven’t found common ground and obviously it gets harder and harder as we go further along in the process.”