The 2010-11 Bruins roster will start to take shape in just a couple weeks when training camp opens, but the Bruins are also putting together the pieces for the lineups they hope to put on the ice for many years beyond this upcoming season.
What once was a relatively barren prospect pool is now teeming with talent. In the coming days, we will be unveiling our Preseason Top 10 Bruins Prospects, counting down from 10 to one with a new prospect profiled each day.
But before we can unveil No. 10 on Thursday, we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize some of the promising players coming along in the organization that haven’t quite cracked the Top 10 — at least not yet.
The Bruins’ depth up front can be seen in the guys who didn’t make the Top 10. That includes Yannick Riendeau, who was signed as an undrafted free agent last year after putting up some preposterous stats in the QMJHL in 2008-09. He posted 58-68-126 totals in 64 games for Drummondville, then added 29-23-52 totals in 19 playoff games. He couldn’t replicate those numbers in the AHL last year (1-4-5 in 22 games), but he’s an intriguing prospect to watch.
Craig Cunningham, who was also passed over twice in the draft before the Bruins picked him as a 20-year-old in the fourth round this June, also had some impressive junior stats. He posted 37-60-97 totals in 72 games with Vancouver (WHL), where he played with Milan Lucic, and will get his first taste of pro action this year. There’s also Jamie Arniel, a 2008 fourth-round pick who had 12-16-28 totals in his first pro season last year in Providence, and Jeff LoVecchio, who bounced back after missing the 2008-09 season with a concussion to score 15 goals for the Baby B’s last season.
LoVecchio has a chance to be a role player at the NHL level some day, as does tough guy Lane MacDermid, who had 155 penalty minutes and 21 fighting majors (eighth-most in the AHL) as a first-year pro last year in Providence. MacDermid, son of longtime NHLer Paul MacDermid, doesn’t have the talent of the guys on the Top 10 list, but he could beat most of them to the NHL as he has a chance to succeed Shawn Thornton as Boston’s resident enforcer in a couple years.
Further away is Alexander Fallstrom, acquired last year from Minnesota in the Chuck Kobasew deal. The Swedish winger is attending Harvard, where he’s being mentored by former Bruin Ted Donato. Fallstrom is closer than countryman Carl Soderberg, who won’t be ranked because he’s shown no inclination to leave his native Sweden for a shot at the NHL, and Finnish forward Mikko Lehtonen, who signed to play in Sweden this summer after leading Providence with 23-27-50 totals last year.
The Bruins haven’t had a lot of success drafting defensemen in recent years, but they have tried to address that weakness through a series of trades in the past year. Those moves have upgraded the organization’s skill level at the position, but Boston does lack size on the blue line among its prospects, which keeps several just outside of the Top 10.
The Bruins acquired Marshfield, Mass., native David Warsofsky from the Blues at the draft. He is highly skilled (12-11-23 totals at Boston University), but at 5-foot-9, 170 pounds, he has a lot of doubters to prove wrong to make it to the NHL. He’ll play another season with the Terriers this year.
At the other end of Commonwealth Avenue, Boston College’s Tommy Cross has the requisite size (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) but has had trouble staying on the ice with a string of knee injuries since being drafted in the second round in 2007. He’s healthy now and trying to make up for lost time.
The Bruins also added a pair of blueliners from opposite sides of another storied college rivalry, acquiring Ohio State’s Matthew Bartkowski from Florida as part of the Dennis Seidenberg deal, and also trading for Michigan’s Steven Kampfer. Both are expected to be patrolling Providence’s blue line this year. Bartkowski (6-foot-1, 196 pounds) had 18 points and 99 penalty minutes last year with the Buckeyes, while Kampfer (5-foot-11, 204 pounds) had 26 points in 45 games with the Wolverines, then three more in six games with Providence at the end of the year.
Boston also picked up former Providence College standout Cody Wild from Edmonton. He had 17 points in 55 AHL games split between Springfield and Providence.
While the youngsters on the blue line lack size, the club’s top hopes for the future in goal are plenty big. In fact, Tim Thomas is the only netminder in the entire system under 6-foot-1. But with Tuukka Rask now established in the NHL, the Bruins don’t have another true blue chip goalie prospect on the horizon.
Michael Hutchinson (6-foot-3, 185 pounds), who was 32-12-2 with a 2.86 GAA and a .913 save percentage with London (OHL) last year, might be the best hope, though 2010 sixth-round pick Zane Gothberg (6-foot-1, 177 pounds) has some intriguing long-term potential. He was impressive at July’s Development Camp despite coming straight from the Minnesota high school ranks, but he’s a long way from making an impact in the pro game as he’s slated to play in the USHL this year, then attend the University of North Dakota.
It must also be noted that some other familiar names will not be revealed on the list in the coming days. Defenseman Adam McQuaid and forward Brad Marchand have both graduated from prospect status after spending much of last season up with the big club. Also, while veterans like Jeremy Reich may be among the first callups from Providence when injuries strike, he also has logged too many NHL games in past seasons to warrant consideration.
NESN.com will count down our Preseason Top 10 Bruins prospects with one profiled each day.
Thursday, Sept. 2: The No. 10 Bruins prospect is unveiled.
Thursday, Sept. 2: The No. 10 Bruins prospect is unveiled.
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