McKelvie changes uniforms for chance at dream

191545.jpg

McKelvie changes uniforms for chance at dream

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- There are plenty of familiar names and recognizable faces participating at Bs rookie camp this weekend, and theres also a forgotten man skating with the rookies at Ristuccia Arena.

The player in question is Zach McKelvie, a 26-year-old West Point graduate that had to fulfill his military obligations before getting a chance to pursue his dreams of playing professional hockey. The Bs originally signed the defenseman prospect in 2009 with an understanding that the Army would allow McKelvie out of his military obligation, but that never happened last year.

It was a great experience. I was an infantry officer in the army, said McKelvie. More than anything it was a learning experience, and getting to know the men and women that were deployed four or five times is extremely humbling and gratifying at the same time. I definitely wouldnt trade the two years served for anything.

I thought about hockey every day and I missed hockey every day, but I also took pride in wearing the US army uniform every day.

McKelvie was obviously rusty after spending the last year plus off the ice as a full-fledged military man serving his country, but Bs assistant general manager Jim Benning painted the picture of a two-way defenseman prospect reliant on strong skating ability to be effective.

Ironically enough McKelvie was stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia over the last two seasons, but has begun to knock the rust off his game. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder still has enough things going for him in the skillsskating area that hell get a chance to hone his game in the minor leagues, and show exactly what interested Bs talent evaluators so much in the first place.

Hes a great skater. He hasnt played competitive hockey in a couple of years from college, but because hes such a good skater and he moves well out there -- and hes a competitive kid -- I think his timing will be off a little bit I think to start, said Benning. But I think once he gets his timing he could turn out to be a good player for us.

Benning is a keen evaluator of young hockey talent, and the Bs assistant GM believes theres still plenty of time for McKelvie to get his groove back with no hurry given Bostons stacked stable of D-men at the NHL level.

Hes a transitional player because he can skate so well, get back, get the puck, and hell either be able to carry it out or make a first pass to get the puck up ice or hell jump into play to join the play to help out in the offensive end, said Benning. Hes a good two-way player. But he hasnt played competitively in a couple of years so it might take him a little bit to get his timing back to show what he can really do. We like him as a prospect. Hes a high character kid and his physical tools are good, so once he gets his timing back he should be competitive at camp.

With the skills sitting close to the surface and the character to place his individual dreams on hold while duty called, McKelvie has already proven to be something special before skating a single shift for the Bruins organization.

Now he gets a chance to prove it on the ice for the Black and Gold.

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

Patrice Bergeron named Selke finalist for the fifth time

bruins_patrice_bergeron_021116.jpg

Patrice Bergeron named Selke finalist for the fifth time

It was assumed that Patrice Bergeron will be finalist for the Selke Trophy again this season, and it became official on Thursday when it was announced that Bergeron, Ryan Kesler and Anze Kopitar were the three finalists for the award given to the best defensive forward.

It would be the third straight Selke Trophy and fourth overall for Bergeron if he can take the hardware home again during the NHL Awards in June, and the ever-humble No. 37 said he was just honored to once again be nominated.

“Being named a finalist for the Selke Trophy is a tremendous honor and one I am very grateful for,” said Bergeron in a press release. “While it is an individual award, my teammates and coaches deserve a lot of credit as well. Ryan and Anze are two elite players who both had great seasons and it is a privilege to be a finalist alongside them. Thanks to all of those who voted and I look forward to the NHL Awards Show on June 22.”

The Bruins center has won the Selke Trophy three times (2012, 2014 and 2015) and has now been a Selke finalist in each of the last five seasons. His three wins are tied for the second-most in NHL history, one behind Hall of Fame Canadiens forward Bob Gainey, who is the all-time leader with four Selke Trophies. Bergeron was the Bruins’ lone representative at the All-Star Game this winter for the second straight season, and was a no-brainer as a finalist given all of his defensive qualifications.

Bergeron finished the 2015-16 regular season leading the NHL in faceoffs taken (1,978) and for the second straight season led the league in faceoffs won (1,130) while finishing a solid seventh overall with a 57.1% faceoff win rate among players taking a minimum of 500 draws.

Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

cp-morning-skate.jpg

Thursday, April 28: Who are the lottery picks?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving a thumbs up to “The Good Dinosaur” as quality family viewing.

*TSN Hockey Buddha Bob McKenzie breaks down the players available in the NHL draft lottery and what kind of names teams like the Boston Bruins should expect to be available with the first 14 picks.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski talks about the World of Cup ads with the ESPN creative people that made them happen. They used the word jarring in something of a positive fashion to describe them. I would use the word “not funny” for Reg Carling, the fictional character created for the ads. If they were trying to feature the personality of NHL players in those ads, I think they missed the mark. It’s not really a big deal in the final scheme of things, but it doesn’t make for a good first step in drawing hockey fans back to the four letter network.  

*Good luck to Cam Tucker, a hockey writer based out of Vancouver that appears to have been one of the latest to be downsized in our industry.

*Dennis Bernstein has some thoughts, facts, analysis and theories surrounding the Los Angeles Kings, who have a long time to think about their first-round exit from the playoffs.

*Bruce Garrioch has some info on Ottawa’s long range plan to move to a needed downtown arena and that being the blueprint for most other Canadian cities.

*Tracey Myers has a dilemma for the Blackhawks: Andrew Shaw wants to stay, but the question is whether the Blackhawks can afford him?

*PHT writer James O’Brien has Bruce Boudreau lamenting the tough Game 7 loss for the Anaheim Ducks to the Nashville Predators. The loss may cost Boudreau his job, and will see a lot of new blood in the West with Chicago, Los Angeles and Anaheim now all out of the postseason.

*For something completely different: how can you say “no” to a tour of the world’s most magnificent treehouses.

Bruins have slim chance at No. 1 in NHL Draft lottery Saturday

nhl-draft-board-62814.jpg

Bruins have slim chance at No. 1 in NHL Draft lottery Saturday

The Bruins will know a great deal more in a couple of days about their prospects for NHL Draft weekend in Buffalo this June.

The NHL will hold its annual draft lottery in Toronto on Saturday night for those teams outside the playoffs that hold first-round picks or those shrewd enough to have secured a first-rounder and still have reached the playoffs. 

The Bruins will have two first-round picks regardless of what happens: they hold their own lottery-eligible selection along with the first-round pick from the San Jose Sharks sent to Boston last summer in the trade for goaltender Martin Jones. The Sharks are still alive in the postseason, so the B’s second selection will be a late first-rounder.

The Bruins were the last NHL team eliminated from playoff contention, so they hold the slimmest odds of securing the first overall pick with a 1 percent chance in the Auston Matthews sweepstakes.

It’s too bad because the kind of game-breaking talent available at the top of the draft is exactly what the Black and Gold franchise needs after trading away top-10 first-round picks in Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton the past three years.

The Bruins will have roughly the same odds for the second (1.1 percent chance) and third overall picks (1.3 percent chance) should they miss out on No. 1, but the chances are still slim at they will pick anywhere but the same exact 14th overall pick where they selected Jake DeBrusk last season. Should they get a selection in the top three, the Bruins would be looking at big-time center Matthews, and a pair of Finnish wingers in Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, along with Matthew Tkachuk (son of Keith Tkachuk and cousin to Jimmy Hayes).

The highest rated D-man on the board is Sarnia Sting blueliner Jakob Chycrun, who is a player the Bruins would need to trade up for, a la their attempt at Noah Hanifin last year. The Bruins will have assets to potentially make that happen, but we all know how that worked out last season for Don Sweeney when a big part of “the plan” was moving up to nab one of last year’s blue chip D-men in the draft.   

Hopeful Bruins fans can try their luck with the NHL Draft Lottery Simulator online, but fair warning that you won’t see the Spoked ‘B’ come up very much while hashing out the order of the top three overall picks for late June at the First Niagara Center.