WILMINGTON, Mass. — Only a few of the names are familiar now, but the dream of every youngster on hand will be to change that as quickly as possible.
Some 22 young prospects were at Ristuccia Arena as the Bruins opened their rookie camp on Friday. That includes 2011 first-round pick Dougie Hamilton and a pair of 2010 second-rounders who have the best shot at sticking around in Boston this season in forwards Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight.
Other names might not be known to Bruins fans just yet, with eight of the players attending camp as invites. Regardless of draft pedigree, all the prospects had to endure some grueling fitness testing Friday morning, followed by the first official practice of the season in the afternoon.
After some mixed results to the testing at July's development camp, Bruins management was more pleased with the shape of the prospects coming into this camp.
"The guys all showed up in good shape," Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning said. "The guys that were at development camp, they put in the work the last couple months and they all look good. … The testing results were all excellent. All the kids came in [to camp] in real good shape, so that's a positive."
That includes 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev, who drew some criticism for his fitness level in July.
"Prospect camp is a learning experience for a lot of these kids, and he learned a lot from that," Benning said. "He came down a lot in his body fat from two months ago. So he's really worked hard from two months ago until today. It's been good. We'll see if it translates on the ice for him."
That development camp was designed to help prepare the youngsters for the real camp in the fall, but the tenor of this camp is far different, with competition replacing camaraderie as the overriding theme now that jobs are at stake.
"Development camp is more about getting to know the guys, make friends with them and get their Twitters and whatnot," Knight said. "But this camp is all about making the team. There's no friends out there. You're going out there and competing against each other."
The competition for spots includes Knight, Spooner, Khokhlachev, Craig Cunningham, Carter Camper, Tyler Randell, Anthony Camara and Yannick Riendeau among the forwards signed or drafted by the Bruins. Also vying for spots up front are invites Dylan Hood, a 5-foot-9 forward who had 33-50-83 totals with Moose Jaw (WHL) last year, OHL tough guy Conor Stokes, who had 7-22-29 totals with 157 PIMs and 11 fights at Kingston, and college products Kyle MacKinnon (Providence), Adam Presizniuk (Union) and Calle Ridderwall (Notre Dame).
In addition to Hamilton, the defensemen in camp are Ryan Button, David Warsofsky, Marc Cantin and Zach McKelvie, along with invites Charlie Dodero, who had 2-12-14 totals with Sudbury (OHL) and University of Vermont product Kevan Miller.
Michael Hutchinson, who split last season between the Bruins' AHL affiliate in Providence and their ECHL affiliate in Reading, and invitee Jared DeMichiel are the lone goalies in the rookie camp. DeMichiel also spent last season shuttling between the AHL (Hershey) and ECHL (South Carolina and Elmira).
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