Boston Bruins: 10 Rookies You Will See in Uniform in 2011-12
The 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins said goodbye to three players in the offseason, Michael Ryder, Tomas Kaberle and Mark Recchi.
General manager Peter Chiarelli brought in forward Benoit Pouliot from the Montreal Canadiens and defenseman Joe Corvo from the Carolina Hurricanes. It is expected the remainder of the team that won the Stanley Cup will be on the ice when training camp begins on Sept. 16, 2011, therefore, there is one opening on the roster, that being at the forward position.
According to the National Hockey League's collective bargaining agreement, a rookie is a player "who has not played in 50 games in the previous season."
The Bruins have 10 such players who have either seen time with the big club but did not see action in 50 games or will make their NHL debut in 2011-2012.
Six are forwards while four are defensemen.
Jordan Caron: First-Round Pick Has First Rate Talent
Right Wing Jordan Caron may be the player who is most NHL ready in Boston's prospect pipeline. He broke camp with the Bruins last season after having a solid preseason and saw action in 23 games.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League grad played in his first NHL game Oct. 10, 2010, against Phoenix. Caron scored his first NHL goal on Oct. 16, 2010, at New Jersey. He would go on to score a total of three goals and four assists for seven points on the season.
The native of Sayabec, Quebec also played 47 games for Boston's American Hockey League affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island (Providence Bruins.) Caron scored 12 goals and 26 assists totaling 28 points.
Caron was recalled to Boston on April 12, 2011, and practiced with the Stanley Cup champions throughout the playoffs but did not appear in any playoff games.
Jordan Caron has decent size (6'2", 202lbs.) which enables him to establish strong positioning in front of goaltenders in the offensive zone. He possesses very good speed and agility. His shot is of NHL caliber. Caron has spent the summer getting stronger which will serve him well in winning battles for loose pucks in the corners.
Defensively, Caron spent his time in Providence learning how to play a committed backchecking game and has become very responsible in his own zone.
With winger Rich Peverley penciled in to take over for Mark Recchi on Boston's second line, many observers will be very surprised if Jordan Caron does not establish himself as a solid contributor as a third line forward in 2011-2012.
Jamie Arniel: Puckhandler Par Excellence
Jamie Arniel was drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 NHL Entry draft. Players selected in the mid to late rounds of the draft are considered to be projects. Someone forgot to tell that to Arniel.
The center has played for Providence during the last two seasons. In 145 AHL games, Arniel has scored 35 goals and 43 assists for 78 points. He led all Providence Bruins in points in 2010-2011 with 50. Very good production for a player who is only 5'11" and 183lbs. and will not be 22 until November 2011.
Arniel was recalled to Boston in November 2010 and suited up against the Atlanta Thrashers on Nov. 28th. He did not register any points however he did get three shots on goal.
The Kingston, Ontario, Canada native is known for his prowess in the face off circle. He is very adept at winning faceoffs. When a key draw needs to be won, it is Arniel who will be sent over the boards to take it for Providence.
Arniel, who was a linemate of Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos in the 2008 World Under-18 Hockey Championships, has exhibited superior dexterity when the puck is on his stick. He is the kind of player who will have opponents wondering where the puck is as he can offer it to them then take it away with a nifty toe drag.
The shifty center was up with Boston for the Stanley Cup playoffs and got a taste of what it takes to be a champion. Arniel may be ready to experience that, on the ice, in 2011-2012.
Jared Knight: American Speedster Wheeling His Way to Boston
When Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli swung the trade with Toronto general manager Brian Burke sending Phil Kessel to the Maple Leafs for a collection of draft picks, he was confident his scouting staff would select quality players for his club.
That staff delivered Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton. Each will undoubtedly become star NHL players. Another player the scouts believe in is one who has been considered too small to make it to the NHL but Jared Knight has bucked the odds time and time again.
In three seasons consisting of 198 games with the Ontario Hockey League's London Knights, Jared Knight has scored 157 points on 76 goals and 81 assists. His playoff production has been just as impressive. He has participated in 32 OHL playoff games and scored 17 goals and nine assists for 26 points.
Knight is known as one who can be counted on when his team needs a big goal but it is his speed that sets him apart from his peers. At 5'11", 202 lbs, Knight is not a big man. He relies on his speed to be first on loose pucks in all three zones.
Once he gains control of the puck, the Battle Creek, Michigan native has the ability to put it into overdrive and burst past defensemen, giving himself strong scoring chances.
Knight is not a selfish player. He sees the ice very well which gives him the ability to make solid tape to tape passes to teammates which is evident in his 81 OHL assists.
The winger finished last season with the Providence Bruins where he picked up two assists in three games.
If Knight does not make the Boston roster out of training camp, he will return to London and look forward to representing the United States in the 2012 World Junior Championships.
He will then patiently await the inevitable call when/if an injury forces a Bruin regular to miss a game, or games, this coming season and when he does, be prepared to watch the 19-year-old fit in and contribute to Boston's offense.
Craig Cunningham: Western League Scorer Coming East
Another young player who quickly garnered the attention of Boston management with his better than a point per game production in his final two seasons with the Western Hockey League's Vancouver Giants and Portland Winter Hawks, is Craig Cunningham.
Cunningham, completed a five year junior career with 264 points in 330 games. In his first four seasons in the WHL, the 20-year-old winger doubled his output each season with point totals of five, 25, 50 and 97.
Whether that kind of offense can continue from the youngster who hails from Trail, British Columbia, Canada remains to be seen but Cunningham plays with a serious passion that more than makes up for his lack of size (5'10", 185 lbs.)
The winger is known for his tenacity around opposing nets. Loose pucks find their way onto his stick and with his quick release, Cunningham rarely misses an opportunity to score goals.
Cunningham is expected to start the 2011-2012 season in Providence where he will be able to continue to improve his quickness and acceleration.
Boston winger Milan Lucic was a teammate of Cunningham's in 2007 when the Vancouver Giants won the Memorial Cup, and urged Boston to select his junior teammate.
In doing so, the Bruins may have given themselves a pure goal scorer they will need to remain an elite NHL team for many years to come. Credit the assist to Lucic.
Ryan Spooner: Bringing His Winning Ways to a Championship Organization
Regardless of the sport, winning organizations do not win championships by wishing for them. They need to stock their lineups with proven winners.
The Bruins roster is filled with players who have played for championship clubs on their way up to "the show."
In drafting center Ryan Spooner, Boston snared a player with a hockey pedigree who knows what it takes to win.
Spooner's father, Brad, was a junior hockey star in Canada also.
The 5'10" native of Kanata, Ontario, Canada has won gold medals with Canada's Under-17 team at the 2009 World Under-17 Challenge. Another gold medal adorned Spooner's neck at the 2010 Under-18 World Championships.
Spooner is not going to bring fans out of their seats with big hits but he will make them rise with a big goal. He scored the game winning goal in the 2010 Canadian Hockey League's Top Prospects Game. By the way, that goal came while his team was shorthanded.
The crafty center has spent his junior career with the Peterborough Petes and the Kingston Frontenac of the Ontario Hockey League. In four seasons, he has played in 173 games, scoring 84 goals while assisting on 109 for a total of 193 points.
Spooner joined the Providence Bruins at the end of the 2010-2011 season for whom he registered two goals and one assist in three games. He also finished his stay in Providence with a plus-2.
When asked by NHL.com about Spooner's skill set, Peterborough head coach Ken McRae said, “Ryan has been a very dynamic player for us over the past two seasons. He is very strong on the puck and is very elusive down low in the offensive zone avoiding and escaping his check.
His ability to play all 200 feet of the ice has improved each season. He is our go to guy when a big goal or play is needed.”
Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli signed Spooner to an NHL entry level contract in June 2011. Spooner may be adorned with a spoked B sooner than expected.
Max Sauve: NHL Is in His DNA
All of the players discussed in this article, up to this point, have been forwards who have been mentioned as players having a solid chance of seeing ice time with the Boston Bruins in the coming season.
One player who has flown under the radar but may be the one who makes the biggest impact next season is Max Sauve.
Sauve was drafted 47th overall (second round) of the 2008 NHL Entry draft by the Bruins. He graduated from junior hockey after the 2009-2010 season which was his fourth in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
During those four seasons, spent with the Quebec Remparts and Val d'Or Foreurs, Sauve registered 76 goals and 116 assists which gave him a total of 209 points in 225 games.
Upon graduation, Sauve completed the season with Providence. The native of Tours, France appeared in six games scoring two goals. The 2010-2011 season was one of transition for 6'2", 184lbs. center ice man.
In 61 games, he found the back of the net 21 times and assisted on 17 goals. The 38 total points came, somewhat, as a surprise as he needed time to recover from an injury early in the season.
Adjusting to the rigors of professional hockey and carrying the Sauve name have been a constant reminder to the 21-year-old that he is expected by many to make it in the NHL and make it big. Max's father, J.F. (Jean Francois) Sauve played in 290 NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres and Quebec Nordiques.
His uncle, Bob Sauve, has his name on the Vezina and Jennings trophies. Uncle Bob had a 13-year career with Buffalo, Detroit, Chicago and the New York Islanders while cousin Philippe, a goaltender, was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 1998.
Philippe saw action in a handful of NHL games and is playing professionally in Europe.
Max has the skills and speed to enjoy a long NHL career. Chris Bordeleau of NHL Central Scouting had this to say about Sauve in a 2008 interview with NHL.com,
"He is a real good skater. He was traded from Quebec to Val D’Or and he had a pretty good second half on a not very good team.
He has good hands and can undress guys with his stickhandling and his speed. Once he plays with better players he’ll continue to improve, he can skate and for today’s game that is the number one most important criteria.
He needs to continue to work hard at getting stronger and to continue trying to improve his game to make it to the next level."
Max Sauve has worked extremely hard in the AHL and may be the one who steps in and becomes a household name. Brad Marchand did it in Boston, it is possible Sauve will do it too.
Steven Kampfer: Bringing Special Skills to the Special Teams
There is an adage in hockey circles which simply states "you can never have enough good defensemen." Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli is well aware of this and has made deals for young blue liners with an eye towards the future.
Chiarelli made such a deal on March 2, 2010, with the Anaheim Ducks. He sent the Ducks a conditional fourth round draft pick and in return received Steven Kampfer.
Kampfer was a student-athlete at the University of Michigan at the time of the trade, but he has fast tracked to the NHL since graduating.
After earning his degree in 2010 and playing in four consecutive NCAA tournaments along the way, Kampfer joined the Providence Bruins for six games, picking up one goal and two assists.
He impressed the Boston brass with his skating, puckhandling and passing skills but more importantly, he appeared on the cusp of being ready to earn a job in the NHL.
Kampfer, who hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan, reported to training camp in the fall of 2010 ready to fight for a spot on Boston's roster. He had a strong camp but was sent back to Providence where the rearguard showed steady improvement.
Due to an injury in Boston, Kampfer was recalled and made his NHL debut on Dec. 9, 2010, against the New York Islanders.
The 22-year-old defender remained in Boston for a total of 38 games. He scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 28, 2010, against Tampa Bay and would add four more during the season, including the game winner against Philadelphia on Jan. 13, 2011.
Kampfer contributed five assists for a total of 10 points before being returned to Providence after the Bruins acquired another defenseman, Tomas Kaberle, from Toronto.
The entire Bruins organization was impressed with Kampfer's confidence and skills and recalled him for the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, however, a knee injury suffered in a game while with Providence just before his recall kept him out of the playoffs, which was a source of great frustration to Kampfer.
There is an NHL rule which states that in order for a player to have his name inscribed on the Stanley Cup, he must play in 41 regular season games or one Stanley Cup finals game. To his credit, Chiarelli has petitioned the NHL asking to have Kampfer's name put on the Stanley Cup.
Because he played less than 50 games in Boston last season, Steven Kampfer will be considered an NHL rookie this season. It is highly likely he will begin the season in Boston.
With Kaberle heading south, Kampfer could be the puck moving, power play quarterback the organization has been searching for all along.
Matt Bartkowski: From Last-Round Draft Pick to Stanley Cup Champion
The 2008 NHL Entry draft saw 211 players selected, Matt Bartkowski was chosen by the Florida Panthers with the 190th selection. Players who are chosen in the final round of the draft are given very little chances of playing in the NHL.
Defenseman Matt Bartkowski has bucked the odds.
Bartkowski has contributed offensively to every team he has played for. He was drafted after scoring 41 points with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League, the premier junior league in the United States.
In 80 total games at The Ohio State University, the rearguard posted 30 points in arguably the most competitive NCAA league.
During his sophomore season at OSU, the Pittsburgh native was included in the deal that brought Dennis Seidenberg to Boston from Florida. After his sophomore year, Bartkowski decided to leave school and signed with the Bruins.
His stock rose during the 2010 training camp and the 23-year-old was sent to Providence where he saw action in 63 games. He contributed five goals and 18 assists for 23 points. His aggressive style resulted in 42 penalty minutes which is something most organizations do not frown upon from their defensemen.
On Jan. 10, 2011, Bartkowski achieved his dream by playing in his first NHL game. Ironically, it came against the team he grew up watching, the Pittsburgh Penguins. He did not score any points in a 4-2 Bruins win however he did get on the score sheet with a minor penalty.
The rearguard played well enough to garner five more NHL games during the season. He is still looking for his first NHL point but registered another minor penalty along the way.
The Bruins recalled the 6'1" blueliner for the Stanley Cup playoffs but he did not suit up for any games. He did get the opportunity to put on his uniform and carry the Stanley Cup around the ice in Vancouver moments after Boston won hockey's holy grail.
Matt Bartkowski will see more playing time with Boston in 2011-2012. He is strong in the defensive zone and battles tenaciously in the corners for puck possession. He loves to dish out heavy hits in all three zones.
The young defender sees the ice well when the puck is on his stick and he moves it to forwards quickly and crisply. He has a hard, accurate shot that is difficult for goaltenders to handle.
Quickness is an issue but that is something all hockey players look to improve. Improvement in that department will bring steady employment with the Boston Bruins.
Colby Cohen: Local Hero Comes Home
Hockey fans throughout New England can tell you where they were the night Boston University won the NCAA championship in 2009. That was the night the University of Miami Red Hawks were three minutes away from winning the title with a one goal lead only to lose in overtime on BU defenseman Colby Cohen's overtime goal.
Fast forward to 2010 and Cohen can be found at the training camp of the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche selected Cohen in the second round (45th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Cohen began the 2010-2011 season with Colorado's American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
It was Cohen's second trip to Lake Erie as he joined the team upon graduating from BU. He played in three games and registered one assist and nine penalty minutes.
2010-2011 was a good year for Cohen. He played 14 games with Lake Erie, more importantly, the rearguard was recalled to Colorado and appeared in his first NHL game on Nov. 6, 2010, against the Dallas Stars.
In three games with the Avalanche, the 22-year-old blue liner picked up four penalty minutes and zero points.
The Bruins took notice of Cohen's attention to detail in his defensive zone and traded for him on Nov. 29, 2010. The big (6'2", 200lbs) rearguard reported to Boston's AHL club in Providence. In 46 games, Cohen scored one goal and 12 assists for 13 points. He also spent 46 minutes in the sin bin.
Boston recalled Cohen for the Stanley Cup playoffs. He did not dress for any games but he did appear in uniform after the Bruins claimed the Stanley Cup and hoisted it over his head on the ice.
Boston management is very high on Colby Cohen. He has good size, skates very well and is a physical force in his own zone. Opposing puck carriers will need to keep their heads up and constantly be aware of Cohen's whereabouts at all times or they will feel his physical presence as they pick themselves up after a Cohen body check.
Cohen will not become an offensive force although he can score timely goals, see NCAA winning goal mentioned above. Bruins fans are hoping he has a Stanley Cup winning goal in his future with the black and gold.
David Warsofsky: Homegrown Defenseman Looks to Keep Stanley Cup in Boston
Did someone say that the Bruins are still in need of a puck moving defenseman? The Bruins thought that void had been filled when Tomas Kaberle was brought in from Toronto.
He contributed to the team's Stanley Cup victory but he did not prove to be the player management and fans, alike, expected him to be and he was allowed to sign with Carolina as a free agent.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli added Joe Corvo to replace Kaberle, but he also continues to add offensive defensemen.
One such player is David Warsofsky.
Warsofsky, a native of Marshfield, Massachusetts was brought over to Beantown from St. Louis, who had drafted the blue liner in the fourth round (95th overall) in 2008.
Throughout his playing career, the 21-year-old defender has proven he can play at a high level despite his small (5'8" 170lbs.) stature.
Warsofsky uses his outstanding skating ability to move quickly and with speed to loose pucks. Once the puck is on his stick he immediately has his head up looking for clear passing lanes to teammates.
If the passing lane is not available, the youngster finds free skating lanes, chooses the proper one and moves the puck out his zone swiftly. He possesses a low, hard, accurate shot that rarely misses the net.
Defensively, Warsofsky uses positioning as opposed to physical play, resembling Detroit's Niklas Lidstrom's style, to defend against puck carriers. He has a very active stick and uses that skill to deflect and intercept opponents' passes.
Warsofsky has a history of playing on winning teams. At Boston University, he was a freshman teammate of Colby Cohen's in 2009, the year the Terriers won the NCAA Division I championship. The following season, Warsofsky led Team USA to the gold medal at the World Junior Championships.
After completing the 2010-2011 season at BU, the small blue liner signed with Boston and joined the Providence Bruins for ten games. He contributed three assists and was a plus-three with the AHL team.
David Warsofsky will enter training camp with high expectations. It says here, he will fulfill them and see action in the NHL in 2011-2012 with Boston.
It is only a matter of time before he is assisting with keeping the Stanley Cup in his hometown.