BOSTON — Moments after the Bruins’ 6-3 pre-season win over the Islanders at the TD Garden, Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced that the team has cut 14 players from training camp.
Ten of those cuts returned to Providence — Andrew Bodnarchuk, Ryan Button, Marc Cantin, Carter Camper, Craig Cunningham, Josh Hennessy, Kirk MacDonald, Nathan MacIver, Kevan Miller and Jamie Tardif — while first round pick Dougie Hamilton (Niagara Ice Dogs), Alexander Khokhlachev (Windsor Spitfires), Jared Knight (London Knights) and Ryan Spooner (Kingston Frontenacs) each returned to their respective junior clubs of the Ontario Hockey League.
With many veterans returning from last year’s squad, very few spots were available for grabs.
But despite the cuts, those 14 players should benefit with more seasoning with their respective clubs.
“I think at one point you’ve got to make some decisions on some players and you’ve got to make some decision on some players and you have to give some players some more gametime,” head coach Claude julien said after practice Saturday, “and trimming that roster is not just trimming it for the sake of what would be more comfortable for us, but more about knowing where you’re going with this team right now and we’ve still got a lot of guys that returned [from last year], so there’s not a ton of spots available and we felt that a lot of those young guys that we play here someday are just not ready yet.”
The most notable of the cuts was obviously Hamilton, the No. 9 overall pick.
Although it was expected that Hamilton would be sent back to his junior team, Julien praised the young defenseman during his time at training camp.
“I saw a lot of great aspects from this young defenseman,” said the fifth-year Bruins coach. “For his size, his skating is very strong and I thought he moved the puck well. He’s also a guy that took the ice that was given to him — a good heads-up type of player — has great hockey sense and has the tools to become a great NHL defenseman.
“Obviously, he’s an 18-year old and has a lot of room to fill in as far as being able to continue to skate well…So right now it’s more about age and giving him a chance to continue to fill into his body and get some more experience. We’re not finding faults here. If anything, we’re excited from what we saw from this young player.”
Despite the limited roster spots available, there is an opportunity for some, particularly on the blue-line, to make a good impression during the last four preseason games of the year.
Defensemen Steven Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski, David Warsofsky and Colby Cohen are just a few who will look to get the seventh defensive spot on the Bruins’ blue-line, while Jamie Arniel and Jordan Caron hope to claim one of the 12 forward spots by opening night.
The Black and Gold return to pre-season action Sunday in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for their first game of a back-to-back set with the Montreal Canadiens (they also face-off at the Bell Centre on Monday).
The line-up these next two days will be decided after practice concludes.
“We’ll have all the players on the ice at 10:30 a.m.,” Julien said. “And then players who are playing tomorrow will go off the ice after an hour or so and we’ll continue to skate with the Skelton group.”