Rookies looking to make roster push


Rookies looking to make roster push

By Joe Haggerty Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The three Bruins rookies with the most to prove as camp commenced on Friday morning where also the trio of Black and Golden prospects with the most to potentially gain over the next month of drills, orientations and puck battles.

First round pick Dougie Hamilton and 2010 second round picks Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner are the unquestioned name players among the group of 22 young players participating in the 2011-12 Bs rookie camp at Ristuccia Arena.

A selection of the current score of players will be selected to remain for veteran camp when it opens next Friday, and all three are a good bet to remain at least for that long.

Hamilton is the furthest away from cracking the roster as an 18-year-old defenseman with a reedy 6-foot-5 body but also a world of potential as a defensively sound, offensively capable blueliner. The first round pick slid surprisingly to the Bs with their first round pick, and Hamilton bounced between impressive and inconsistent during his first prospect camp in Boston.

Hamilton is an exceptionally fast skater for such a big body and boasts a hammer slap shot, but the young blueliner also appeared surprised by the pace of scrimmages against other elite talent. He was caught behind defensively on numerous occasions and played with his head down a little too much, but these are all the traits of an inexperiencedD-man getting his feet wet.

Hamilton packed on six pounds since prospect camp and is up to 194 pounds, according to Bs assistant general manager Jim Benning, and is just looking to make a good initialimpression during his first NHLrodeo.

He looked really good today I thought hes skating well, said Benning. From the summer he weighed in at 188 and was 194 today, so he put on 5-6 lbs of muscle. Hes a young player and hell continue to get stronger and bigger. Hes going to be a good player. Its just going to be a matter of time with him.

The big blueliner also attended the Team Canada World Junior Orientation camp among the hockey hotbeds elite, and came away impressed with the quality of players around him.

There are a lot of good players in Canada, said Hamilton when asked for his impressions of the world junior camp.

Bruins officials believe Hamilton is at least a year or two of development away from potentially landing on Bostons roster, but that isnt stopping the cocksure teen-ager from attempting to make a strong first impression. He also wasnt about to concede a roster spot to anybody else without a fight despite six established NHL veteran defenseman already in the fold once the real Bruinsget going next week.

"I just want to come in and play my best, said Hamilton. "Obviously there are a lot of good D men. But I'm just going to coming in and I'm going to show my stuff and what I can do. Whatever they want to do with me, that's what I'll do."

Bruins front office personnel love to hear that kind of confidence from their young players, but all signs point to Hamilton returning to the Niagara Ice Dogs for at least one more campaign.

Two players that the Bs will be looking for confidence from as well as skilled execution on the ice are Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner a pair of skaters that went through the entire prospectrookieveteran camp rigamarole last season.

Theyve both learned their lessons well, and are treating things a lot more like business this time around with a potential NHL paycheck on the line.

The skilled Spooner dropped his body fat percentage significantly over the past year after the Bs staff implored him to push himself through the entire year, and Knight looks the most physically capable of enduring the NHL gauntlet over a long season.

Both are 19 years old with three-year contracts already inked with the Bruins, but both can also be returned to junior hockey for another season if they dont make the NHL roster.

I was just a rookie last year and I really didnt know what to expect, so I was kind of the little guy in the background, said Knight. This year I know some of the guys from playing with them, so this year Im going to be a lot more comfortable.

Benning admitted its going to be a difficult challenge for any of the three teenagers to make a Bs roster filled with 18 returning players from last years Stanley Cup winning edition, but the energy and spark of youth might be exactly what the team needs during an expected hangover season.

Either way Benning wasnt going to discount any rookies chances after watching players like Milan Lucic, Blake Wheeler and Brad Marchand play their way onto opening night rosters with strong training camp performances.

Since the team won the Stanley Cup but we dont know for sure, said Benning when asked the chances of any rookie breaking in with an established group of champions. Were just going to have to go through the process of this camp and main camp. And the one thing about Peter and Claude, if a player deserves to be on the team, then they find a way to get the player on the team. With time, thatll work itself out.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient


Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It may be strictly due to injuries or because Ryan Spooner is being moved back to third line center full-time, but Danton Heinen is going to get another top-six look on the wing. The 21-year-old Bruins prospect will be skating on the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey in Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild after serving as a healthy scratch last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens.

Heinen has only two shots on goal in the four games leading up to the scratch, and has been quiet offensively after leading the Bruins in goal-scoring during the preseason. Clearly there’s an adjustment to be made there, and it looked like the playmaking rookie winger was starting to develop a little more confidence trying to make plays while skating with Krejci and David Backes in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils.

Heinen actually looked reminiscent of Krejci on a couple of plays, pulling back the puck after entering the zone and catching a trailing B’s teammate with a perfectly executed lead pass on the offensive rush. That effort plus a trip to the ninth floor press box last weekend seemed to reinforce just how much time he has to make plays, and that should be a benefit for both Heinen and his linemates.

Sometimes getting that first NHL point is the hardest part when a player breaks into the league, and it’s been that way for the young winger through his first four games.

“[Krejci] is such a good player, and I just try to complement him any way I can,” said Heinen. “You never want to be up in the press box, but it gives you a different perspective on the game. It’s a different angle. From up there it looks like you’ve got way more time. I definitely think I can be more patient with the puck, and make some smarter plays.”

Heinen started to do that in his best NHL game to date prior to being scratched against New Jersey, and it resulted in greater offensive possession and a couple of potential scoring plays getting created for the B’s second line. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to actual goals, and Heinen knows that’s what needs to happen through him if a player like him, with an offense-minded reputation from his University of Denver days, is going to stick top-6 in Boston.

“You can’t rely on the [top] guys every night,” said Heinen, who watched the Habs beat the Bruins on Saturday night while essentially shutting down Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. “When we’ve been out there we’ve kind of been getting some chances, but we’ve got to bear down.

“[Krejci] likes to play with the puck a lot, so you just get him the puck, go in hard on the forecheck and try to get open because he’s a good distributor.”

It sounds like a simple plan that might be a very good thing for young Heinen, who needs to start breaking through offensively if he wants to stick around in Boston for the long haul. 

Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban


Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It could get a little dicey for the Bruins over the next couple of days.

Both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin were missing from Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and instead rookie Malcolm Subban will get the start for the Black and Gold against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden.

Rask hasn’t been on the ice since last Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils when he re-aggravated a lower body injury and Khudobin will be out three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered at Monday’s practice. It appeared the B’s backup suffered a right hand/wrist injury in the early moments of the practice, and Subban was left as the lone goaltender until Boston brought up Zane McIntyre on emergency recall Tuesday morning.

Julien said the Bruins have confidence in Subban’s ability to play a great game for them, but he’s struggled so far in Providence while getting yanked from two of his four AHL starts this season.

“I just want [Subban] to go in tonight and play a really solid game because we know that he can. He’s a good goaltender, so just because he had a bit of a rough outing [in the AHL] doesn’t mean he has to have one tonight. This is an opportunity for him to play well, and to demonstrate that he’s ready to play in the NHL,” said Julien. “We have bad games and we tell our players ‘Let’s not live in the past, let’s think about what we have to do to rectify it and play better in the next game.’ So I think our goaltender is in the same situation.

“Our game plan is about playing good defense with Tuukka or without Tuukka. That doesn’t change. We understand that some of the teams that we’ve played lately (Montreal and New Jersey) are very stingy, so we have to give up the least amount of goals we can because we’re not going to score a ton against those teams. When you put a system together you believe in it, and you go out and play your game. You don’t adjust your game for other teams, and adjusting for injuries isn’t quite what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a solid performance from our team, and that will trump any injury that we have.”

Oh by the way, the Bruins also have a road game at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in a back-to-back situation that’s less than ideal with injuries piling up. In addition a Subban/McIntyre tandem in goal, the Bruins will also be without David Backes with what Claude Julien termed “a minor issue” that also has him day-to-day.

In the good news department, Adam McQuaid will make his season debut after missing the first five games of the season with an upper body injury. Rob O’Gara was sent to the Providence Bruins to make room for him coming off injured reserve. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings for tonight’s game vs. the Wild with Joe Morrow as the healthy scratch on the back end:







Liles-C. Miller