(Photo credit: Notre Dame Athletics)
Having completed his third NHL Entry Draft as the general manager of the Boston Bruins, Don Sweeney has restocked the team’s pool of prospects. He has certainly seen his share of ups and downs, but the drafting and developing of guys like Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy give Sweeney and the rest of the Black and Gold a reason to be hopeful for the future.
Like Carlo and McAvoy, a new pool of youngsters in the Bruins pipeline hope to make the jump to the National Hockey League. Some will have their chance at a roster spot in 2017-18. Others are still a year or two – or in some instances three-plus years – away.
Starting Thursday and ending on Sunday, fans will get a good look at the prospect pool during Bruins Development Camp at Warrior Ice Arena. Here are a few things to watch as the B’s youngsters hit the ice for conditioning drills and more over the course of four days.
The field of collegiates
Of the 28 players invited to this year’s Bruins Development Camp, nearly half – 13 to be exact – are coming from the collegiate ranks. This may not come to a surprise to many thanks to the growth of players going the college hockey route over the past decade.
Last year’s first rounder Trent Frederic (Wisconsin), fellow Harvard teammates Wiley Sherman and Ryan Donato and former Notre Dame standout Anders Bjork are just a few notable names from the collegiate ranks that will take part in this year’s Development Camp.
Speaking of Bjork…
Anders Bjork’s first appearance since signing
For the first month or so of the off-season, all eyes were on Bjork and whether or not he’d stay at Notre Dame for his senior season or leave a year early and join the Bruins. Following a collegiate high 52 points in 2016-17 and a five-game appearance at the World Championships for Team USA, Bjork, in a surprise to some, decided to forego his senior season at South Bend and begin his professional hockey career.
Drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 Draft, Bjork’s progression at Notre Dame saw him go from 22 points his freshman year to 35 the following season and the 52 this past season. Though his 6-foot, 185-pound frame might not be an ideal size, he makes up for it with his quick speed and playmaking ability – a couple of traits that would bode well playing alongside David Krejci.
Whether Bjork makes the jump to the NHL or begins his first year in Providence is a question for another day. But there’s no question that there’s a bigger spotlight on Bjork entering this year’s Development Camp compared to his previous two encounters.
There may not be a player like Carlo or McAvoy to contribute in some capacity this season, but the defensive additions to the prospect system have been pretty good under Sweeney. From Jeremy Lauzon to Ryan Lindgren and Jakub Zboril, the blue-line has been one area that Sweeney and the Bruins scouts have targeted over the past few years.
Lauzon (abdomen) is unlikely to skate this week as he recovers from off-season surgery. Zboril, Lindgren and 2017 first round pick Urho Vaakanainen are among the few blue-line prospects to watch this week. None are NHL ready yet.
The 2017 Draft Class
The final verdict on this year’s draft class – highlighted by Vaakanainen – is still a few years away. All six selections from last month’s festivities (Vaakanainen, Jack Studnicka, Viktor Berglund, Cedric Pare, Daniel Bukac and Jeremy Swayman) will be present and accounted for starting Thursday.
Aside from Vaakanainen, Bukac and Berglund could both be sneaky good late round picks by Sweeney. Also, keep an eye on Studnicka, the Bruins’ second-round pick acquired from Edmonton as compensation for Peter Chiarelli, and Swayman, who is committed to play at the University of Maine beginning in 2018-19.