WILMINGTON, Mass. — The Boston Bruins have a lot of talented young defenseman at the NHL level and within their prospect pool.
We’ve all heard of Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and David Warsofsky, but one player who’s flying under the radar could make an impact for the B’s as early as the 2015-16 season.
That player is Linus Arnesson, a Swedish-born defenseman who has excelled at Bruins development camp over the last three days.
Arnesson will return to Djurgarden of the Swedish Elite League unless he makes the Bruins’ roster in training camp. Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney said Friday that arrangements are being made with Arnesson’s club to allow him to come back to North America for camp in September.
Right now, the 19-year-old blueliner is just happy for the opportunity to play in the Swedish Elite League for the first time in a few months.
“It’s going to be a great development for me to go to the (highest level of Swedish hockey) and hopefully make it to the Bruins someday,” Arnesson said after Thursday’s session at Ristuccia Arena.
Arnesson said he has been watching the NHL for a long time, specifically the Detroit Red Wings and their legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom. There’s also one current player who Arnesson tries to emulate on the ice.
“Nicklas Hjalmarsson of Chicago. He’s a good solid two-way player,” Arnesson said. “I model my play after him.”
The Bruins will be very happy if Arnesson develops into a player of Hjalmarsson’s caliber. The Blackhawks D-man blocks a ton of shots, kills penalties, plays over 20 minutes per game against the opponent’s top forwards and provides 15 to 25 points per season.
Arnesson is a defensive defenseman who skates well, makes the smart and simple play, and is well positioned in his own zone. He plays a physical game and battles hard for puck possession in front of the net and in the corners. Sweeney noted Arnesson has become more confident with the puck over the last year and that “there’s a lot offensively he hasn’t tapped into yet.”
How close is Arnesson to being NHL-ready? “Hopefully after this season,” he said.
Arnesson signed an entry-level contract with Boston in June, so don’t expect him to be in Sweden for much longer. He’s developing an impressive two-way skill set that should help him become a top-four NHL defenseman in the near future.
Here are some other notes from Day 3 of Bruins development camp:
— Matt Grzelcyk returned to camp wearing a red non-contact jersey, but he did participate in several drills. The Boston University defenseman is recovering from shoulder surgery he had earlier in the year. He will captain the Terriers next season and make a full recovery, per Sweeney.
— Robbie O’Gara has impressed during development camp. He has good size and an all-around skill set that will continue to improve next season at Yale.
“I think the best part of his game that has gotten better is his ability to move the puck,” Providence Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said Thursday. “I think when you first saw him, when I first saw him, big guy, you?re assuming stay-at-home defensive defenseman. He has a good stick, always had good lateral feed from Day 1, and now you see a guy that can make plays with the puck as well below the goal line, breaking it out in the neutral zone. So more of a complete package than maybe you thought at first.”
— The Bruins have drafted several European players over the last few years, which has injected much-needed offensive skill and speed into the team’s prospect pool.
“The North American game has gone more towards a European game with puck possession, the way the lineups are filled out and I think the European game has moved a little bit towards the North American style,” Cassidy said. “These Swedes come over here and they?re gritty. You know, they?re hard on the puck, they?re hard to get the puck from, they compete for it. Whereas maybe years ago you wouldn?t have said that about them. So I see the game moving more to middle on each side.”
— Alex Globke, who won the Western Collegiate Hockey Association rookie of the year award as a sophomore forward at Lake Superior State last season, has displayed a powerful shot and good offensive instincts during camp. He also was invited to the Detroit Red Wings’ development camp earlier this month.