Local schools represented well at Bruins camp

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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

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.