Future Watch: Weekly Update on Boston Bruins’ Top Prospects for Oct. 23


Editor’s Note: Future Watch is a weekly feature that looks at the performance of the Bruins’ top prospects. It will be written by NESN.com assistant editor Nicholas Goss.

Ryan Spooner

Ryan Spooner/Credit: Alan Sullivan

Prospect Name: Ryan Spooner

Rank: 1

Position, Team: Center, Providence (AHL)

Stats through Oct. 23: 6 GP, 2 G, 3 A, -2 +/-. 17 SOG

Analysis/Notes: Spooner was excellent in the preseason for the Bruins and deserved a spot on the NHL roster, but Boston’s incredible depth at center made it difficult for head coach Claude Julien to find the playing time the young forward needed to continue his development.

In the first part of the AHL season, Spooner has been a force offensively with five points in six games while creating plenty of quality scoring chances with his vision, offensive awareness and impressive playmaking skills.

His offensive game is strong enough to warrant an NHL opportunity, but his defensive ability isn’t at a level where he could play more than 10 minutes for Julien. If Spooner is able to improve on faceoffs, which are critical to the Bruins’ ability to control possession of the puck and kill penalties, he will likely be the first forward called up when injuries/suspensions inevitably open a spot in Boston. His ability to be effective on the wing would also add some nice versatility to the Bruins lineup.

morrowProspect Name: Joe Morrow

Rank: 2

Position, Team: Defenseman, Providence (AHL)

Stats through Oct. 23: 6 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 0 +/-, 9 SOG

Analysis/Notes: Morrow is talented enough to play in the NHL right now, but the Bruins’ crowded blue line and abundance of young talent with players such as Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski has made it difficult for the former first-round pick to earn a roster spot in Boston.

Morrow hasn’t racked up a ton of points this season, but he’s creating chances and being aggressive in the attacking zone with his powerful shot from the point. It’s also clear that Morrow is a fantastic skater, similar to Krug and Bartkowski in that he’s able to skate out of trouble and start the rush with impressive speed.

The goal for Morrow is to play a more physical game and become a reliable penalty killer. He has a solid two-way skill set with the potential to be a top-four NHL defenseman.

Niklas SvedbergProspect Name: Niklas Svedberg

Rank: 3

Position, Team: Goaltender, Providence (AHL)

Stats through Oct. 23: 2-0-2, 2.62 GAA, .926 SV%

Analysis/Notes: Svedberg won the Baz Bastien Award as the AHL’s top goalie last season and was expected to back up Tuukka Rask this year, but he’s gone back to Providence and has performed very well. He has yet to lose in regulation and is making the important late-game saves to give the P-Bruins a chance to win each matchup he’s played in.

Svedberg instills a lot of confidence in his teammates with his poise, composure and ability to make key saves on the penalty kill. He’s a reliable player with a bright future. We know that the 24-year-old Swede is talented enough for the NHL, but he won’t develop at a steady pace if he’s in Boston and starter Tuukka Rask plays between 60-70 games.

Alex Khokhlachev.

Alex Khokhlachev/Credit: Blake Gumprecht

Prospect Name: Alexander Khokhlachev

Rank: 4

Position, Team: Center, Providence (AHL)

Stats through Oct. 23:  6 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 0 +/-, 8 SOG

Analysis/Notes: Khokhlachev has yet to find the back of the net this year, but he’s getting his teammates involved with great playmaking skills, his exceptional vision and ability to make pinpoint passes in traffic. He‘s also using his speed and improving skating ability to create odd-man rushes.

The goal for Khokhlachev is to be a consistent scorer and a better defensive player. His faceoff ability must improve, he needs to back check more and he should play a more physical game.

Becoming a well-rounded two-way player must happen before Khokhlachev is able to play a significant role on the Bruins, but he does have the offensive skill set of a future top-six forward at the NHL level.

Malcolm SubbanProspect Name: Malcolm Subban

Rank: 5

Position, Team: Goaltender, Providence (AHL)

Stats through Oct. 23: 0-2-0, 4.09 GAA, .879 SV%

Analysis/Notes: After dominating in the OHL over the past two seasons, Subban struggled in the preseason with the Bruins, and he was actually booed by fans at the TD Garden during the ugly 8-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Subban has always been an athletic goaltender who plays the puck well and has highlight-reel save ability, but he needs to have better poise in the net because too many soft goals are getting passed him. His glove hand also needs to be in a better position and quicker because it’s an area opposing forwards are targeting, especially from the slot.

Subban has yet to win a game this season, and his current role in Providence is Svedberg’s backup, but he should still receive plenty of playing time to develop his remarkable skill set and earn important experience in the minor leagues. Going from junior hockey to the AHL is often a difficult transition for goaltenders, so there’s no reason for Bruins fans to be concerned about his sluggish start to the 2013-14 campaign.

Nick Goss’ Updated Prospect Rankings (as of Oct. 23)

1. Ryan Spooner

2. Joe Morrow

3, Niklas Svedberg

4. Alexander Khokhlachev

5. Malcolm Subban

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