When the Bruins’ fourth-installment of their rookie training and development camp kicked off on Wednesday, there were no places to park outside and there were no places to sit inside the chilly confines of the Wilmington-based training facility. It was jam-packed, full of fans both young and old all with their eyes peeled for the biggest-Bruins prospect to arrive to town since the days of Joe Thornton. And while their pronunciations of his name varied, the 18-year old Tyler Seguin was and has been the center of focus and awe from the eager-for-hockey fans over the opening two days of camp.
Arriving to Boston with the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Seguin has already made an impression on those in attendance after just two full-days of drills.
Aggressive in one-on-one battles, crafty in the two-on-one drills, and flat-out dazzling in the Bruins’ post-practice shootouts, Seguin had all the tools you seek from a top-two draft choice and more. Also appearing to be very endearing to his camp-mates throughout the week, Seguin would smile and follow that up with some murmuring cusses–be it at himself for slipping or for missing a shot.
With an estimated 2,000 in attendance on Saturday’s finale of camp to get a final glimpse of Seguin before October, what should Bruins fans expect out of their presumed future in 2010-11? For starters, I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’ll be on the big club this season. The Bruins simply can’t afford to leave this guy in the Ontario Hockey League for another season based on skill and expectations from the public-relations standpoint alone.
So besides Seguin, how did the camp develop for the rest of the Bruins’ rookies?
Tyler Brenner: Coming into the Bruins’ camp as the only non-roster forward to be invited, Brenner has spent two seasons at the Rochester Institute of Technology where he’s put up 61 points in 71 games. Virtually unknown to everyone, Brenner used his 6’2″ frame and executed great hustle in all the drills throughout the week. Undoubtedly Brenner’s best quality, his determination on the puck and fore-check were impressive while he failed to check in on the offensive department during many of the drills.
Jordan Caron: Drafted by the Bruins with the 25th overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, Caron rebounded from a collarbone-smashing hit by Colten Teubert last summer during Team Canada’s World Juniors camp and put together a strong finale in the QJMHL where he posted 53 points in 43 regular-season games. With 18 points in 11 playoff games this past season, Caron arrived to Wilmington this summer with NHL-ready potential written all over him.
Caron undoubtedly failed to disappoint, excelling in every drill, scrimmage, and you-name-it. Using his quick speed and even stronger release, Caron made mincemeat of the camps four goaltenders, ringing shots in the top corners from all angles. Cap-space provided, Caron could perhaps be Boston’s version of the Flyers’ Claude Giroux if he’s given a shot with the big club after some minor AHL-seasoning this year.
Joe Colborne: Arriving into camp as a towering 6’5″ (Boston’s tallest forward within the organization), Colborne’s biggest need to be addressed over time has been his size in terms of muscle. Coming into 2010′s festivities over the 200 pound marker, Colborne put together yet another strong-showing this season. During his first camp in 2008, the big center-turned-winger worked wonders alongside fellow big-man Blake Wheeler. Then in 2009 he teamed up with Caron as they decimated goaltenders, and in 2010 the 20-year old skated beside Tyler Seguin for virtually the entire camp.
Getting his first taste of professional hockey with the Providence Bruins at the tail end of 2009-10 where he had two points in six games, Colborne’s biggest strength seemed to be smooth skating and shot given his size. However, an area for improvement could be his skills in the defensive aspect of the game and his puck-possession.
Craig Cunningham: A teammate of Milan Lucic on the Memorial Cup winning 2007 Vancouver Giants, Cunningham was working out with his old teammate when Boston’s #17 cracked that Cunningham would be drafted by the club. Eventually drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of this year’s draft as Lucic played Nostradamus, Cunningham brought four years of WHL experience to Wilmington for development camp.
Standing at an under-sized 5’9″, Cunningham has amassed 177 points in four seasons with the Giants but tallied 97 of those this past season, but came into Bruins camp as the team’s smallest forward.
Playing on the camp’s “fourth line” with Brenner and Ryan Spooner, Cunningham seemed to establish himself as an aggressive player with quick hands and crafty moves from the onslaught of camp. Perhaps his best move, Cunningham’s quick cut-move when driving towards the net made containing him tough for most of the Bruins’ hulking-defensemen-of-tomorrow.
Alex Fallstrom: Acquired as a throw-in along with Craig Weller from Minnesota in the deal that made Chuck Kobasew a member of the Wild, Fallstrom had an adjustment to North American hockey during his first season with the Harvard Crimson of HockeyEast (NCAA). Netting just four goals and eight assists in 32 games for Harvard in 2009-10, Fallstrom came into camp as a wild-card of sorts.
Standing at 6’2″, Fallstrom demonstrated soft hands and great skating abilities as most European players do, but in the same sense his defense was very suspect and at times invisible. He was knocked off the puck in battles for the puck along the boards quite easily and his stick-handling would either result with a great move being pulled off or a turnover.
Certainly showing some offensive potential, Fallstrom will be enter his sophomore season with Harvard in 2010 and it’ll be interesting to see how his first development camp with the B’s changes him.
Justin Florek: Drafted by Boston in the closing rounds of this year’s draft, Justin Florek brings a 6’4″ frame and is a part of a trend by the Bruins in terms of prospects and their new-found love of the NCAA. Going strong for Northern Michigan University at a near point-per-game pace (35 points in 41 contests), Florek was teamed up beside Colborne and Fallstrom for much of the drills throughout the camp and showed some great usage of his size with a flare of offense.
Mark Goggin: I didn’t see him on the ice, so if he was there pretty much tells you all you’d need to know.
Jared Knight: Perhaps the most interesting story of training camp, the Battle Creek, Michigan native 18-year old Jared Knight came into Wilmington this season as a player whose size at 5’10″ has been easy to overcome compared to his daily battle with diabetes. Despite his smaller frame, Knight plays a hard-nosed game based off rewarding hard work with favorable scoring chances.
Putting up 36 goals with the London Knights of the OHL, Knight’s aggressiveness can sometimes work against him as it did in the drills. While his chippy-effort would create chances, that same aggression would cause Knight to over-shoot passes, put too much behind shots, and over-skate the play.
However, the strengths certainly outweigh the weaknesses in terms of potential and his junior-year in the OHL should be the breakout one for Knight if history tells us anything.
Tyler Randell: Selected by Boston with the 176th pick in the 2009 Draft, Randell brings a solid frame to the Bruins camp and while the 6’1″ forward seems bigger from his style of play, his camp was a solid one that included a near-injury during a crash with the goal-post.
Maxime Sauve: The biggest thing I remember about Maxime Sauve was the fact that he was a colossal disappointment at the 2008 rookie training camps. He looked lost, confused, and purely out of his element. However, an extremely strong showing in 2009 made me turn the corner on this guy and realize that he had some serious potential, factor in a brief stint with Providence to close out his 2009-10 season and we had a budding star in the making.
However, fans were unable to get a good look at Sauve, who didn’t participate in team drills due to an injury, but the French prospect still made new Bruins draft-choice Zane Gothberg look silly in the crease during some 1-on-1 shooting drills.
Ben Sexton: An interesting player with a bundle of speed, Sexton and fellow forward/line-mate Nick Tremblay used their lack of size to an advantage against players in drills, but failed to really light the lamp.
Ryan Spooner: Taken by the Bruins in the second round of this past Draft along with Knight, Spooner instantly made some new fans upon arrival with his dazzling speed and quickly deceptive moves when driving towards the net. Both he and Cunningham formed a hell-on-wheels duo for defensemen to contain during scrimmages and drills with their new-NHL-suited style of play.
Nick Tremblay: See: thoughts on Ben Sexton.
Say Hey In Under 140 Characters: Follow Ty on Twitter!
“I’ll Facebook You!”: Add the HockeyIndependent Bruins Facebook profile as a friend today!
Haggle Me To Make More YouTube Videos: Subscribe to Ty’s YouTube channel!
Questions? Comments?: Send your hate/love notes to Ty at TAndersonBruins@gmail.com
About the Author: Ty Anderson ran the Chronicles From The Garden blogspot account during the 2008-09 NHL season before joining HockeyIndependent as the Bruins Blogger. He is a Seinfeld enthusiast, self-admitted Star Wars nerd, Vezina-quality street-hockey goaltender, and can be found in Balcony 314 of every Bruins home game. Follow him and his tweeting madness on Twitter at http://Twitter.com/_TyAnderson or send him an e-mail at TAndersonBruins@gmail.com.