The Boston Bruins' Four Most Underrated Prospects
While everyone's attention is turned towards past first rounders Dougie Hamilton, Malcolm Subban and Jordan Caron, a handful of excellent Bruins prospects are bound to fly under the radar.
GM Peter Chiarelli has done an excellent job with his middle round picks in the last few years, and the dividends will soon be seen at the NHL level.
Here are four of the most underrated players in the Bruins' system right now.
4. Alexander Khokhlachev
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Drafted: 2nd round, 40th overall, 2011
Age: 19 years old
Current Team: Spartak Moscow (KHL)
The Russian born center put up 145 points in two seasons with the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. This season Khokhlachev returns to Russia as a member of the KHL's Spartak Moscow. Playing against full-grown men will be a major test for the gifted centerman.
Hockey's Future calls him a:
Slick puck carrier, creative passer and courageous goal scorer. Khokhlachev has a knack for surveying the ice, disguising his intentions and then distributing the puck to the best option. Without the puck, he’s willing to get to the dirty areas and has an explosive release, making him a dangerous finisher as well.
The youngest player selected in the 2011 draft, Khokhlachev may not have to wait long for his opportunity in Boston. He could be a reliable depth scorer in the near future and has the talent to become an excellent top six forward in the long run. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has compared Khokhlachev to Scott Gomez
He performed well for Russia en-route to a silver medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships, but has started slow in the KHL with just two points in his first 16 games played. The low point total is likely a sign of growing pains the young center will overcome. If he gets back on track, he could wear black and gold as early as 2013-14.
3. Anthony Camara
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Drafted: 3rd round, 81st overall, 2011
Age: 19 years old
Current Team: Barrie Colts (OHL)
Anthony Camara's red hot start to the OHL season is turning heads. The big forward scored nine goals in the first 10 games of the season, putting him in a tie for the league lead.
The most remarkable thing about Camara's early season strike-rate is his massive and unexpected improvement. In 66 games last year, split between the Saginaw Spirit and the Barrie Colts, Camara scored just 16 times. If Camara continues his exponential growth, the Bruins may have a huge steal on their hands.
The physical winger was originally thought to be nothing more than a big body. Before the season, Hockey's future described him as one of the hardest hitters in the OHL with some legitimate offensive upside. He's certainly making good on that upside. These days Camara projects to be more like Milan Lucic than Shawn Thornton.
Camara certainly has all of the physical tools to play at the NHL level. If he continues to develop his offensive game, he may surprise a lot of people when he takes the ice at the TD Garden.
At the moment Camara is on track to be more than just an energy line player, though he is more than willing to drop the gloves and bang bodies. He fits the Big Bad Bruins mold perfectly and ought to become a fan favorite.
2. Seth Griffith
Terry Wilson/OHL Images
Drafted: 5th round, 131st overall, 2012
Age: 19 years old
Current Team: London Knights (OHL)
Seth Griffith may be the Ontario Hockey League's most prolific scorer. Last season he finished third in the league with 45 goals. This season he's leading the pack with nine goals in his first eight games.
He was also a dominant force in London's OHL title run with 23 points in 19 games. Hockey's future describes Griffith as, "a small, skilled forward with excellent hockey sense and solid offensive skills."
They add his success in 2011-12 was a result of, "an impressive compete level that saw him winning pucks from much bigger defenseman all through the playoffs."
Although Griffith is not a tremendous physical specimen, he makes the very most out of his ability and will always play with a chip on his shoulder. Griffith will be driven to disprove his doubters at the next level and could shine in Boston.
He is a dynamic center who could thrive in the right environment. Though lacking the ideal size to become a dominant player, Griffith can certainly carve out a niche in the NHL as a potential second line center with the capacity to score 30 goals.
1. Matthew Grzelcyk
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Drafted: 3rd round, 85th overall, 2012
Age: 19 years old
Current Team: Boston University (NCAA/Hockey East)
Boston native Matt Grzelcyk flies under most radars due to his small 5'9" frame. Like current Providence Bruins defensemen Colby Cohen and David Warsofsky before him, Grzelcyk will play for legendary coach Jack Parker at Boston University.
Grzelcyk should spend at least three years on Commonwealth Avenue before moving to the big time, so he is definitely a long term project. Of all of the Bruins prospects not named Hamilton or Subban, Grzelcyk may have the most upside. One NHL scout described his hockey I.Q. as, "what you'd expect to find in the top 10,15 picks of the draft."
He will need to improve defensively to make up for what he lacks in size, but paired with a more physical defender, he will not be a handicap in the NHL.
Grzelcyk could be a power play stud down the road with his killer instincts and fast paced blue line play. Although Grzelcyk is far from a guarantee, he has game-changing ability. In four years, Matt Grzelcyk could be the Bruins' secret-weapon.