Progress Report on Boston Bruins' Top 5 Prospects
The Boston Bruins held their annual player development camp from July 10 to 15 to work out the organization's next generation of players.
According to a statement from the club, the B's invited 24 players to this year's camp, including 18 who were part of the organization (including this year's six draft choices).
So, what was the takeaway from the camp? Which prospects are at the top of the list for a call-up in case of injury or superb play in the AHL?
Bleacher Report's Chris Blanchard wrote a fantastic piece two weeks ago on the Bruins' top 15 prospects, and the pecking order has seen little change since then.
Here is an update on the status of Boston's top five prospects:
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Reilly Smith is a talented left winger who was a Hobey Baker finalist while playing for Miami (OH) in 2011-12 and was one of the prospects sent to Beantown in the Tyler Seguin trade.
According to eliteprospects.com, he put up 35 points in 45 games with the Texas Stars of the AHL last season before being called up to play for Dallas where he notched nine points in 37 games with the big boys.
Kirk Luedeke of the New England Hockey Journal described Smith as a "versatile winger that has the hands and vision to provide some offensive pop on the B’s third line."
Smith has the most NHL experience of any of the prospects included in the Seguin deal, and that will benefit him in trying to make the club out of training camp. However, he's by no means a lock to make the roster come fall.
Luedeke wrote that the one downfall of Smith is that he's a "one-dimensional player that does not possess much of a physical element."
Because Boston is notoriously physical, that could hurt him in trying to adjust to the Bruins' style of play.
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Alexander Khokhlachev is a speedy puck handler who has nearly been traded twice since being drafted by the Bruins 40th overall in 2011.
Hockey's Future reports that when he is with the puck, he’s "willing to get to the dirty areas and has an explosive release, making him a dangerous finisher."
The 19-year-old was an integral part of Russia's junior team that beat Canada at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships. He has tremendous upside and has the potential to be a big-time goal scorer after establishing himself in the AHL next season.
It will take some time before he cracks the B's lineup, but he's an exciting player to watch—comparable to Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers.
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The 20-year-old Joe Morrow hasn't been able to settle into an organization yet. Bruins fans should hope he does in Boston.
The 23rd overall pick in 2011 by Pittsburgh was shipped to Dallas this past season in the Brenden Morrow deal (no relation), and then dealt to Boston on Independence Day in the Seguin blockbuster.
An offensive defenseman with size and strength, Morrow put up 151 points in 225 games for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, according to eliteprospects.com.
He participated in the B's development camp two weeks ago but nothing stood out to signal that he would make the leap to the NHL this season.
Expect Morrow to play another year in the AHL before challenging for a spot in the Bruins' defensive corps. Besides his offensive skills, he can drop the gloves too, even if it's against guys a lot bigger.
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Hockey fans should hope Malcolm Subban gets called up for only one game this season: against archrival Montreal.
Can you imagine? His brother, reigning Norris Trophy winner P.K. taking a slap shot at him before chirping at the rest of the Bruins?
Of course, that won’t happen, because Boston is already set at goaltender with Tuukka Rask, Chad Johnson and Niklas Svedberg. But it would be a sight to behold, that’s for sure.
Subban just finished his third full season with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League and posted an impressive 2.14 goals-against average, via eliteprospects.com. However, as B/R’s Chris Blanchard reported in January, his performance at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships was criticized.
But Subban is still an elite prospect and will be a solid goaltender in four to five years.
Dan Roche of WBZ-TV in Boston attended the Bruins’ development camp earlier this month and asked Subban about the process of becoming a pro. From Roche's story:
I feel like I’m still young and still have a lot to learn. I can still improve in the gym and off the ice, which will go a long way for me mentally. That’s what I’m working towards right now.
Look for Subban to be part of the regular rotation in Providence with Svedberg.
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This past season was his first in the professional ranks after finishing his junior career with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The skilled center racked up 57 points in 59 regular-season games with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, via eliteprospects.com. He even suited up for four games with Boston but didn't tally a point.
There wasn't any huge news about Spooner that come from the development camp, but expect him to challenge for a spot on the roster this fall.
He benefited from the B's trading Seguin, because as Luedeke pointed out in his rankings, Boston was stacked at center before dealing the party boy to Dallas. With Seguin gone, Spooner should be able to challenge for a center ice position on the third line. He's too skilled to be a fourth-liner, and the Bruins would be crazy to replace Gregory Campbell in that slot.
If Spooner dazzles at training camp, Boston will have to consider giving him a shot in Chris Kelly's spot to try to add some more scoring punch up the middle behind David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron.