A plethora of highly-touted Bruins prospects from every corner of the globe gathered in Brighton for three days during another round of Development Camp.
Notables like John Beecher, Boston’s 2019 first-round pick, Jack Studnicka, a 2017 second-round selection and front runner to make the roster this season and Axel Andersson, a 2018 second rounder, stole the headlines at this year’s summer prospect session.
But Development Camp also provides a chance for some lesser known commodities — especially from the NCAA level — to make a name for themselves. Both Connor Clifton (Quinnipiac) and Karson Kuhlman (Minnesota Duluth) came under the radar during last year’s Development Camp and played big roles during Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup Final this spring.
So who’s this years under the radar collegiate prospect? Look no further than Penn State’s own Nate Sucese.
“It’s been awesome. It’s been first class since I got in at the airport and getting settled in, they’ve welcomed me with open arms. Couldn’t be more grateful to be here,” Sucese said about his experience in Boston.
“It’s a little different obviously. I feel like my team at Penn State is a little older than the average here but obviously, the skill speaks for itself with the younger guys and the high draft picks. I think it’s just kind of a different game, there’s more skill out here than a heavy college game. Everyone is going as hard as they can so it’s kind of a free for all. I think today was a lot better than yesterday, I was more settled down today making plays so that was good to see.”
Sucese — unlike most of the prospects — is a collegiate veteran. He lit up the scoresheet in each of his first three seasons with the Nittany Lions, including a 37-point campaign a year ago (19 goals, 18 assists).
The Kuhlman comparison isn’t far fetched. Sucese makes up for his 5-foot-9 stature with a heavy dosage of speed and offensive creativity around the net.
“There are probably a handful of guys here that remind me of him but yes, speed. A heady player, very competitive,” Providence Bruins head coach Jay Leach said about the Sucese-Kuhlman comparison. “I’m looking forward to seeing him and a few other guys in the game tomorrow to really give us a better idea of what they can do. Today he was competitive, he was on pucks, got a good stick. You know all of these intangibles that Karson [Kuhlman] and guys like that have.”
Some will gloss over him as a camp invite, but Sucese brings a trio of traits valued by the Bruins’ brass: versatility, tenacity and speed.
Sucese doesn’t view himself as an underrated prospect either. He’s embracing the challenge of skating with the best the Bruins’ system has to offer.
“I don’t know if I’m the most underrated. I’m an older guy now,” Sucese said. “Definitely just here to take in all of the information I can and be a sponge. That’s the main point of these things. Use it to your advantage on how much you can take in and bring it back to your winter club and use it.”
Sucese, who took part in Nashville’s Development Camp last summer, will return to Penn State for his senior season. He’ll look to use his final collegiate season as a springboard toward an NHL contract.
The Buffalo native chose Boston after garnering interest from a few teams around the league following his impressive junior season that ended with a heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame in the Big Ten Championship.
With his summer development camp in Boston set in stone for a few months, Sucese found inspiration in the Bruins’ deep playoff run.
“A few different things,” Sucese said about his decision to come to Boston this summer. “Obviously the interest that was coming my way from management and just how interested in me and how they would give me points on what I was good at and what I wasn’t. So that showed interested in they actually knew who I was. Also, it’s a storied program…Those were the two main things that made me come here.”
Sucese heads to ‘Hockey Valley’ looking to make a good final impression for professional hockey scouts. The soon to be 23-year-old made the most of his time in Boston while also getting to know the Bruins’ organization on a more personal basis.
“You can just tell that there is an enthusiasm in the air about all of their sports,” Sucese said about Boston. “I took a trip down to Lansdowne Street and had dinner down there. It was right after a Red Sox game and it’s just an electric atmosphere.”
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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