3 Takeaways from Boston Bruins 2014 Development Camp
Monday marks 66 days until the Sept. 18 training camp opener, when the established professionals reconvene. They could join one or both of the first-round draft picks who spent the past week training with their fellow young aspirants.
The one of those two with a mystery future is David Pastrnak, who has yet to round out his first full month in the organization. But even if he returns overseas for the balance of the next year, there will be no shortage of recent development camp attendees in the Bruins’ vicinity.
New England puckheads can expect to see goaltender Malcolm Subban in person at a multitude of regional AHL venues. He was the camp’s lone participant with professional seasoning and should assume an elevated role in Providence, assuming Niklas Svedberg makes the parent club.
Likewise, those who caught glimpses of the prospects at Ristuccia Arena can seize the opportunity to see many of them on the NCAA scene this winter. A smattering of local talent from local programs is either maintaining, restoring or accelerating its developmental pace.
The following slides expand upon each of these top storylines stemming from the Boston brass’ latest chance to evaluate its greener prospects.
A Needed Knack In Pastrnak
In their respective Thursday write-ups, ESPN Boston’s Scott Barboza and the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin were apt to note a need Pastrnak plugs in the pipeline. The Bruins are short on right-handed strikers, both quantitatively and qualitatively.
While the latest first-round draft pick’s odds of breaking in this coming season are negligible, he left a promising first impression on Massachusetts ice. The aforementioned Benjamin quoted assistant general manager Don Sweeney as saying, “Early he was over-passing, sending backdoors and all of a sudden two-on-twos show up and he’s ripping it by glove hand. So I think he has a bit of a flair on and off the ice and I like the excitement.”
The on-ice aspect continued as the camp spilled into the weekend. On Saturday evening, CSNNE.com beat reporter Joe Haggerty recounted a play where Pastrnak “used the toe drag move again, and set up one of his teammates for a one-time bomb after catching the attention of the entire defense with his fancy dangling.”
At 5’11” and 168 pounds, per Elite Prospects, one of Pastrnak’s priorities should be padding sinew and strength into his frame. Then and only then can he aspire to flaunt that flair against established NHL competition.
For the time being, he can continue to bridge his way there with another year in Sweden’s top professional circuit. He is coming off a 36-game campaign with Sodertalje that yielded an 8-16-24 scoring log.
With more bulk and the conviction that comes with it, he ought to elevate that output in 2014-15. If he affords himself consistent chances to reap results from his proficiency and passion, a permanent transfer across the pond is a realistic possibility for 2015-16.
Coming (Back) to a Campus Near You
Still replenishing his form after a shoulder ailment cut short his sophomore season at Boston University, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk made encouraging strides at camp. Nicholas Goss of NESN.com noted on Friday that the 2012 draftee “returned to camp wearing a red non-contact jersey, but he did participate in several drills.”
Gryzelcyk has ample company among recent Bruins campers who strengthened their magnet for attention ahead of upcoming New England college seasons. Fellow Beanpot and Hockey East competitors Matt Benning (Northeastern) and Ryan Fitzgerald (Boston College) shall return as sophomores.
Meanwhile, a specimen of Yale hockey’s present and future each turned heads in Wilmington. Defenseman Rob O’Gara, a fifth-round pick from 2011 and rising junior with the Bulldogs, is maturing as he passes the midway point of his college eligibility.
Per the Providence Journal’s Mark Divver, O’Gara has bulked up by 26 pounds (from 185 to 211) in the three years since his draft day. Meanwhile, regarding the rise of the rearguard’s skill set, Bruins AHL coach Bruce Cassidy told Divver, “I think the best part of his game that has gotten better is his ability to move the puck. When I first saw him, big guy, you’re assuming stay-at-home defensive defenseman.”
Unless he leaves New Haven a year early, O’Gara will have a chance to demonstrate his leadership qualities and perhaps team up with another budding Bruin. At-large invitee Billy Sweezey, who caught Haggerty’s attention for his “raw offensive skills,” is committed to Yale for 2015-16.
Subban Striding Smoothly
Having been a staple on the Providence roster in 2013-14, Malcolm Subban was as good as a masked man among boys this past week. He might as well grow accustomed to feeling mature as he challenges for the bulk of the P-Bruins’ crease time.
One could argue that merely attending another development camp will prove to be a vital mental booster for the goaltending prospect. Being in the watchful presence of front-office personnel in almost the literal middle of the offseason can add a bonus layer of motivation and grasp.
Just consider what he said to NHL.com correspondent Matt Kalman in a Thursday report:
Obviously I felt I played really well last year in the (AHL), but things can change. It’s a long summer. So I’ve got to stay sharp over the summer and work hard to get better. Obviously I feel like I have to improve on stuff, so I’m going to try to do that this summer.
Time will tell as to whether that statement translates to action and, in turn, results in 2014-15. But by accepting an invitation to a third summer camp, Boston’s first-round draftee from 2012 accepted a can’t-hurt initiative to avoid resting on his foundation.
After all, despite turning 20 on Dec. 21, Subban finished fifth in the AHL with a 2.31 goals-against average and tied for sixth in save percentage. His next task is to deliver similar stinginess over a span longer than 33 games.
The longer he stays as grounded as his words indicated, the better Subban’s odds of keeping a stable crease in Providence. Likewise, that ought to earn him a few opportunities to give the presumptive Tuukka Rask-Svedberg tandem periodic breathers.