Five prospects to watch at Bruins Rookie Camp
(Photo credit: Steve McLaughlin, BU Athletics)
In less than a month, the Boston Bruins will take the ice in Columbus for their opening night matchup with the Blue Jackets. If this week is any indication, then there may be some new blood that will accompany the Black and Gold on the road to start the 2016-17 season.
With a few roster spots up for grab, the Bruins’ top prospects will look to make a good first impression during this week’s Rookie Camp. After a day of off-ice testing at Warrior Ice Arena, the roster of 25 (15 forwards, 8 defensemen, 2 goalies) will head to Buffalo for the prospects challenge, where they’ll be joined by the Sabres and Devils.
Here’s a look at five of the prospects to watch during Bruins Rookie Camp.
Brandon Carlo — Of the most likely candidates to challenge for a spot on the Bruins blue-line, Brandon Carlo is a name that appears on the list.
Standing 6-feet-5 and 200 pounds, the 19-year-old Carlo completed a strong season with Tri City of the WHL where he notched 27 points in 52 games. He signed his entry-level deal shortly after his season at juniors and reported to Providence in time for the Baby Bruins’ appearance in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
For a big guy, Carlo skates pretty well and isn’t shy to use that size to his advantage. He can contribute offensively if given a puck-moving blue-liner like Torey Krug to move the puck quickly in transition, but is more of a stay-at-home defenseman. Hockey scout and all-around good guy Kirk Luedeke details Carlo’s potential, as well as a couple of other prospects on this list.
Carlo may not provide that type of stability immediately, but injecting a little youth on the blue-line wouldn’t be a bad thing necessarily given the state of the Bruins’ blue-line.
Danton Heinen — With Loui Eriksson bolting for Vancouver in the off-season, the Bruins also need help finding depth at wing. While it’s still possible that GM Don Sweeney might try to look elsewhere to fill that gap, the chances are the Bruins will look within their organization to help fill that vacancy.
One of those players looking to make that jump is Danton Heinen, who signed with the Bruins in the spring after completing his sophomore season at the University of Denver. The 2014 fourth round pick led Denver in scoring during his two-year stint, including a 48 point season in 2015-16.
While looking to create plays offensively, Heinen is also very solid defensively and projects to be a two-way forward at the NHL level. He won’t have to look any further for advice in that department with one of the best three-zone players in the league in Patrice Bergeron.
Jake DeBrusk — Facing adversity for the first time in his hockey life last year, Jake DeBrusk persevered through it all. Despite being traded from Swift Current and sustaining a testicular injury in 2015-16, DeBrusk led Red Deer in their run to the Memorial Cup and that was good enough for the B’s brass to sign the 2015 first round pick to an entry level deal.
Entering his second rookie camp, the 19-year-old has high expectations for the upcoming season.
“It’s way different [this time],” DeBrusk said during one of the Bruins’ informal practices this week. “Last year I was really honored to be picked, but I thought I was going to go back to junior for one more year and this year it’s [about] striving to make the team and striving to what makes the Boston Bruins better.”
Like Heinen, DeBrusk developed as a two-way player before coming to Boston. He averaged more than a point per game in his last two seasons in juniors, but even with his impressive totals offensively, DeBrusk isn’t afraid to get in the dirty areas and battle for pucks.
DeBrusk bulked up over the summer and is now up to 183 pounds. Whether he makes the opening night roster is anyone’s guess, but there’s a reason to be optimistic about DeBrusk’s future.
Jakub Zboril — The first of the Bruins’ three selections in the opening round of the 2015 Draft, Zboril is coming off a rough year with Saint John of the QMJHL. The Czech-born blue-liner tallied just 20 points in 50 games and his bad habits and work ethic came into question according to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.
Maybe this is just an aberration of Zboril’s career path. Wherever his projections lie, Zboril needs to have a good showing this pre-season. Having a strong week would be a good starting point.
Matt Grzelcyk — Coming off a solid four-year tenure at Boston University, Grzelcyk enters Rookie Camp as one of the older prospects participating in this week’s events. The 5-foot-9 Charlestown native was one of the better puck movers in Hockey East and will likely be asked to provide a similar role either in Boston or Providence.
While he still has to work on his defensive game, Grzelcyk’s quickness and speed is a good thing to have as more teams trend towards having quicker tempos on their back end. We’ll see if that translates well into the NHL level.
Others to watch: Robbie O’Gara, Jeremy Lauzon, Zane McIntyre, Anton Blidh