Much of the Boston Bruins’ prospects spread will be slowing down for the next week as the OHL and the NCAA each take Christmas weekend off from game action. Four Boston draftees are already confirmed to participate in the World Junior Championships starting on Dec. 26th while another one is still waiting for Team USA’s final roster to be released Sunday.
With nothing but the franchise’s minor professional affiliates in Providence and South Carolina still active before the holiday hiatus, now is the time to step back and assess the ice chips from the past three months. To consider the developmental progress of budding Bruins at all levels who have at least a reasonable chance to leave a substantive imprint on the NHL landscape down the road.
Players qualify for this list by having no more than three full professional seasons on their transcript and are ranked based on their performance in their respective positions and the resultant influence on their current teams. If they jut out clearly enough, their stature on a given league leaderboard is likewise taken into consideration.
From top to bottom, here are the 10 Bruins prospects that have had the best autumns of 2012.
1. Dougie Hamilton
The OHL’s most formidable point patroller, Hamilton is averaging a little more than an assist per game with 33 helpers in his first 32 outings with the Niagara Ice Dogs this season. He is also sixth among all skaters in the league with a plus-24 rating.
Hamilton will be one of six returnees to Team Canada at the WJC.
2. Seth Griffith
Easily one of, if not the topmost snub from Canada’s World Junior tryout, Griffith is cruising along as the most productive player on the winningest team in the OHL. Out of 36 games so far, has been kept pointless on merely six nonconsecutive occasions and tallied multiple points in 17 different outings.
3. Malcolm Subban
The franchise’s most recent first-round draft choice enters the holiday hiatus and his WJC excursion with the OHL’s second-best goals-against average (2.17) and save percentage (.935), trailing only Kitchener’s Franky Palazzese in that category.
4. Niklas Svedberg
The most consistent member of the Providence Bruins has had only two noteworthy hiccups. One of those was on Nov. 18th, when he was making his third start in as many days, while the other was a week later when he brooked a six-goal shellacking at St. John’s.
That aside, Svedberg has yet to lose consecutive games and boasts an 11-4-1 record along with a 2.38 goals-against average, good for ninth in the AHL. Although associate Michael Hutchinson is improving, Providence is still 3-5-1 so far when Svedberg does not start.
5. Ryan Spooner
Apart from veteran AHL journeymen Chris Bourque and Jamie Tardif, Spooner has been the most dependable forward on the Providence bench to date. He has yet to go more than two games without a point and is second only to the two aforementioned veterans in every key category with six goals and 10 helpers.
6. Matt Grzelcyk
Ranked No. 13 among all NCAA defensemen and tied for No. 11 among all NCAA freshmen with an average of 0.8 points per night, Grzelcyk is also flaunting a peerless efficiency among Boston University blueliners. His plus-eight rating is at least double that of any other Terrier defenseman with sophomore Alexx Privitera and junior Garrett Noonan tied for second at plus-four apiece.
7. Matt Bartkowski
The third-year professional floundered with the rest of the P-Bruins in the younger stages of this season. However, in 11 games since Thanksgiving, he has improved his rating by five points whilst stepping up in the absence of the 31-year-old veteran Garnet Exelby.
In addition, Bartkowski has thawed out his acetylene stick in the attacking zone with five points in eight games so far this December.
8. Anthony Camara
The OHL's Barrie Colts lead the Central Division with 23 wins and 47 points and Camara leads the Colts with 22 goals. He has wasted no time developing into a reliable complement for Barrie teammate and Winnipeg prospect Mark Scheifele, whom he is joining at the WJC.
9. Matt Benning
Generally a stay-at-home blueliner, Benning has still mustered 10 points in 22 games, including four assists on the power play. Contributing to a forceful, USHL-leading Dubuque team, he is tied for third among his defensive colleagues with a plus-12 rating.
10. Alexander Khokhlachev
Khokhlachev is, for all intents and purposes, a professional in the KHL―where he has seven points through 26 games―and thus does quite not fall into any of the same categories as the other prospects. On the other hand, he is still eligible for the World Juniors, where he will represent the host Russians and cross paths with the likes of Camara, Hamilton and Subban and potentially Grzelcyk.