The club's first-round pick in 2009, Jordan Caron had the requisite size (6-foot-3, 204 pounds), strength and skill to project as the budding power forward they sought to bulk up a smallish forward corps. It wasn't until he got into his first pro camp this year, however, that they realized there is a lot more to his game.
"He does the little things you don't expect from a guy who really is in his first camp," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli in a conference call on Sunday. "Last year he was injured. He was at camp, but he didn't participate. He's a mature player, [in the way he makes] the little touch passes that clear the defensive zone, the little touch passes in the offensive zone on the power play and on the cycle. So he had that element to his game, and it's a mature element. That's caught our eyes.
"And then you have the rest of his game, where he's a big, strong kid," added Chiarelli. "[He's] strong on the puck, quick release. He still sometimes gets caught looking at the puck and puts himself in a vulnerable position and he's going to learn that because there will be d-men in this league that will jump all over that, but he's impressed me so far."
Caron sat out last year's camp after suffering a broken collarbone during Team Canada's summer evaluation camp for the World Junior Championship squad. He went on to put up 26-27-53 totals in 43 games in the QMJHL last year and still made the Canadian team, collecting four assists in six games for the silver medalists.
He's off to a strong start in the Bruins' camp as well, forcing his way into contention for a spot at right wing despite the fact that he won't even turn 20 until Nov. 2. Caron had a coming-out party with a hat trick in the first rookie game against the Islanders at the Garden last week, then carried that confidence into the main camp.
"He's a big strong winger, and you know how the Boston Bruins have always been built, and, to me, he protects the puck so well along the boards," said Bruins coach Claude Julien on Saturday. "He takes it to the net when he has room to take it to the net. He stands in front when he needs to stand in front. He's a big presence out there, and even though he's only 20-years-old, he's as strong as an ox, and I don't think there's anybody in this league that is going to intimidate him physically. And I think for a guy his size, he skates pretty well too."
Caron still has a long way to go to earn a spot in Boston to start the season, but he's already outlasted much of the competition and is making a strong case to stay with the big club.
"He's done a lot towards making the team," said Chiarelli. "Again, we're down to 32 [players] or around there right now, and we've still got a lot of things to look at over the course of the next period, but that draft year that was the type of player we were looking for – bigger, stronger, strong cycle. He brings all those aspects to the table. You could make a good argument right now for him to make the team."