By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON It might surprise many to find out that goalie Michael Hutchinson has actually been to four straight development camps with the Boston Bruins.
The 21-year-old Ontario native has been around the Baby Bs scene since getting drafted in the third round of the 2008 NHL Draft, and he was back in Boston after spending his first season in the AHL last year.
So it wasnt any shock when former London Knights teammate Jared Knight crashed into him during the first day of camp after taking the puck strong to the net. But Hutchinson was totally fine and ready to be known as more than the goaltender that went full yard sale on the ice before skating off.
I played with him in London and he crashed into me a few times there. So when I saw him coming I just braced myself and he got the better of me that time, said Hutchinson. When he hits you he really knocks you back. He took me from the near side post to the far side post with the impact.
The 6-foot-3, 193-pounder got off to a slow start to his first full pro season with the P-Bruins as he adjusted to live without a billet family on his own fending for himself as a youngster playing with older pros. But Hutchinson got through it with a 13-10-1 record and a .904 save percentage along with a 3.13 goals against average while bouncing back from an ECHL stint in the middle of the year.
It was fun. Overall I was fairly pleased with a few speed bumps thrown in there. Im trying to be a little more consistent this time around, said Hutchinson, who traveled with the team during the Montreal playoff series in the first round. I really want to eliminate the streaks. I learned how to manage my time a little better because you dont have to do it a billet family. At the start of the year it was an adjustment. You had to get your own meal and make sure you had time for your afternoon nap on a game day.
Now Hutchinson and Anton Khudobin are expected to battle it out for the third goaltender spot behind Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask on the depth chart with Khudobin sitting with the inside track heading into this fall.
Im really excited that they brought back Khudobin, said Hutchinson. I think we can really push each other with some healthy competition and its always good to know the goalie that youre going to be paired with.
The contrasting styles of Hutchinson tall and calm very like Rask and Khudobin (an undersized battler like Thomas) mesh nicely with the differences in goaltending at the big club level.
Every first year player goes through itits very rare you find a guy that goes upward all year and climbs a little bit. There are usually some peaks and valleys and Hutchinson had his, said Providence Bruins Bruce Cassidy. Hes a mature guy for his age, as far as goaltenders go, because sometimes you hear that goaltenders can be a little goofy. But I find him to be mature for his age.
Hes a pretty focused guy, hard worker, its just a matter of that big body and developing his technique and his athleticism to the level that it needs to be. I would assume hes going to have a good year for us just because of what I saw last year. Hes a mature guy, hell get better. I dont think youll see him go backwards.
The prospects and youngsters including 19-year-old Tyler Seguin, who isnt taking part in any of the on-ice drills went out for an afternoon of paintball to help bond the disparate group of kids on the roster. The paint ball game went along with a social media class and a cooking class that the Bruins sponsored to help ease the transition for many of the teen-agers and players in their early 20s.
Nomination for rawest player with plenty of upside at the development camp: Robbie OGara. The big-framed defenseman still has another year to go at Milton Academy before going off to Yale University, and appeared every bit the wide-eyed 18-year-old getting his first taste of the big time.
Im just trying to keep up with the speed and the pace of everything thats going on around me, said OGara. Obviously I have plenty of work to do to get physically stronger, but this really gives me something to shoot for in the future.
Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney sees OGara as a big piece of hockey potential with no rush to his development timetable.
Robbie OGaras a piece of clay right now, albeit its a big piece. At 64 it can change. Things have come at him here a little quicker in the last, Id say, eight months. But we got a chance to see him a lot. Hes in our backyard. We went down and spoke to him and hes excited, said Sweeney. This is probably catching him a little off guard in terms of the preparation aspect of it. As I mentioned, you come from the prep school ranks and you know, theres a lot to digest here in a short period of time. The good thing is theres no timetable for him.
Cassidy indicated that the Bruins havent made any hires for the assistant coaches in Providence quite yet, but that interviews were taking place during and after development camp.
No were still in the interview process. I would hope once the development camp is over thats something that gets worked out, said Cassidy. But again thats probably Donny Sweeney, Pete Peter Chiarelli, and Jimmy Jim Benning can give you a better answer there.