The Boston Bruins have a deep prospect pool, with several players ready to make an impact in the NHL as soon as the 2014-15 season.
This kind of depth allows the B’s to replace injured veterans with NHL-ready players who will seamlessly fit into their system because the Providence Bruins play the same type of defense-first hockey that Boston head coach Claude Julien preaches.
The three positions of strength for the Bruins are at center, the blue line and in net. There’s a lot of speed and offensive skill in this group.
Let’s take a look at the top Bruins prospects at every position.
1) Ryan Spooner, Providence Bruins
2) Alexander Khokhlachev, Providence Bruins
3) Seth Griffith, Providence Bruins
Spooner is the class of the group with his great speed, playmaking skill and offensive instincts. He tallied 11 points (zero goals, 11 assists) in 23 games for Boston in 2013-14, and will have a great shot to make the NHL roster in the fall, possibly as a winger on the third line with Carl Soderberg and Chris Kelly.
Griffith is a rapidly improving prospect who impressed for the P-Bruins last season with 50 points (20 goals, 30 assists) in 69 games. He has the potential to be a quality NHL goal scorer.
Khokhlachev could factor into Boston’s plans in 2014-15 after a tremendous season in the AHL.
“I think he?s close,” Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy said about Khokhlachev on Thursday at Bruins development camp. “The question with him that comes up is, can he separate on the ice? Does he have the foot speed to separate? He?s got to develop more physically but he gets all his goals going to the net.”
1) Matt Fraser, Providence Bruins
2) Anthony Camara, Providence Bruins
3) Justin Florek, Providence Bruins
Bruins fans got a good look at Fraser in last year’s playoffs when he scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 4 of the Round 2 series against the Montreal Canadiens. His offensive skill, willingness to fight for puck possession in the dirty areas and overall physical play could land him a spot on the fourth line next season.
Florek also played in the playoffs and provides the desired skating and truculence that the B’s need from the fourth line moving forward. Camara is an intriguing prospect with his ability to impact games physically and kill penalties. His offensive game needs work, though, and another year in the AHL should greatly aid his development.
1) David Pastrnak, Sodertalje SK (Sweden)
2) Jared Knight, Providence Bruins
3) Brian Ferlin, Cornell (NCAA)
Pastrnak leads this group as the B’s first-round pick in the 2014 draft. He’s developing a good two-way skill set, but the most exciting part of his game is the speed at which he excels offensively.
“(Pastrnak) plays at a very high rate of speed, great one on one ability and body control, really high-end skilled player,” Cassidy said. “It?s hard to evaluate his overall game obviously when you just watch a lot of one on one drills, but you can see why he?s a high pick, high-end skill.”
1) Joe Morrow, Providence Bruins
2) David Warsofsky, Providence Bruins
3) Zach Trotman, Providence Bruins
Morrow was among the prospects Boston received in the Loui Eriksson trade with the Dallas Stars last year, and he’s developing into a quality offensive D-man with puck-moving skill and the ability to quarterback a power play. The former first-round draft pick posted 29 points (six goals, 23 assists) in 56 games with Providence in 2013-14 while also battling some injuries. He’s very close to being NHL-ready, but making the Bruins roster this fall will be difficult because Boston has as many as 10 guys competing for six to seven spots on the blue line.
Warsofsky also will be among the players competing for an NHL spot during training camp.
1) Niklas Svedberg, Providence Bruins
2) Malcolm Subban, Providence Bruins
3) Zane Gothberg, North Dakota (NCAA)
The Bruins are loaded in net, but with Tuukka Rask coming off a Vezina Trophy-winning season and in the early stages of an eight-year contract, a backup position is the best these prospects can shoot for right now.
With that said, Svedberg should be able to replicate Chad Johnson’s impressive numbers as the Bruins’ backup. He was the 2012-13 AHL goalie of the year and is quite poised under pressure. He’s also fundamentally sound and possesses a good glove hand.
Subban likely will start in Providence and is looking to improve on an up-and-down first season with Providence in 2013-14. He has all the athletic talent and physical tools needed to be a great goalie, and the goal right now is to refine his technique.
“I think it?s healthy for the competition, I think you saw goaltenders in the last couple of years that have gone on to other organizations that have come in and played well for us,” Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney said Wednesday when asked about the team’s goalie depth. “So I think it?s a necessary thing to have.
“I think they?re spaced out accordingly to be able to come in and develop at the right — I mean, the players themselves will always dictate how quickly they can make it and establish themselves as National Hockey League players, and goaltenders really aren?t any different — but I think the book on goaltending is that you should be patient to allow them to go through some ups and downs and experiences.”