Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bruins top-10 prospects list (vacuum packed)

Per request, I'm going to hit you with my as-of-today, Boston Bruins top prospects listing as I see it on June 29th. Now, this list is being created in a vacuum, so I will reserve the right to adjust and publish a more comprehensive list after I attend the B's development camp next week.

I'll follow up with the other requests I've received this week, because as much as I want to take a break, it's just not really in my blood. Must be all the years I spent on tanks...when you can go about three days without sleep at a time during field exercises and combat operations, you tend to figure out that rest is overrated.

Anyway- here's the top-10 list with brief snippets on each player. At the conclusion of camp, I will publish a comprehensive listing with detailed profiles on every prospect in attendance.

For now, this should serve as a nice bridge to get us there.

Boston Bruins Prospects Pre-development camp edition

1. Tyler Seguin, C
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft goes right to the head of the class in Beantown (and probably won't be there long because he's going to make the team next year). The Bruins think so highly of him that they have allowed him to claim No. 19, last worn in November, 2005 by Joe Thornton in Boston. It also happens to be the same digits that Seguin's idol, Steve Yzerman, wore in his 20+ year Hall of Fame career in Detroit. Seguin is as good a prospect as the Bruins have had since Thornton, but my feel after being around him for a few days in L.A. and having talked to him several times during the season is that he's more mature and better ready to make the transition to the NHL than Thornton was in 1997.

2. Joe Colborne, C/LW
Colborne took over for Tuukka Rask as Boston's top prospect in 2009-10, but he doesn't have Seguin's skill and upside, so he's back to being No. 2. At 6-5, he's got the kind of size most can only dream of having. He left Denver University after two years and had an excellent sophomore year, his scoring taking off after moving to the wing. He got some good seasoning in Providence at the tail end of the year, but showed he's clearly not ready for primetime in Boston. He's going to have his ups and downs in 10-11, but the team will be patient and keep grooming him for a job up the middle with the big club.

3. Jordan Caron, RW
The left-shooting power (off)winger may lack ideal scoring upside, but don't count him out as a 30-goal or more guy one day. He does a lot of things well and is a horse along the wall and down low/in front of the net. He's not a fighter, but plays with a lot of energy and is a smart, dedicated, coachable player. Watch for him to earn Providence coach Rob Murray's trust off the bat, and if he can stay healthy, may be among the best in the AHL rookie class this year. I thought that prior to the collarbone fracture at Team Canada evaluation camp Caron could have hit 50 goals in the 'Q' and after he struggled to find his timing upon returning to action in November, he hit his stride nicely once he was traded to Rouyn-Noranda, scoring at that kind of a pace.

4. Maxime Sauve, C/LW
The blazing fast center will likely move to wing given Boston's surplus of talent up the middle, but he's got to get stronger in order to play regularly in the NHL. He impressed at training camp and preseason a year ago, but could benefit from a full year on the farm; there's no need to rush or expect him to be in Boston right away unless he plays so well as to leave the team no choice but to keep him on. The wheels and hands are what get him noticed on the ice right away, but he's actually got some pretty nice offensive hockey sense to boot. He needs to work on his defensive awareness, but as the son and nephew of NHL players, he grew up around pro hockey and knows what he needs to do in order to be successful.

5. Yuri Alexandrov, D
The 37th overall pick in 2006 signed a two-year deal and is skilled and experienced enough to make the Boston roster out of camp so long as he can prove he's strong enough to handle the NHL grind. He's put up very nice numbers for a KHL defenseman and has some interesting potential if he continues to develop. Remember that because he's been playing pro hockey since the age of 17 that he's not your average North American rookie. His biggest challenge will be the smaller ice surface and cultural transition and not the level of play, but don't be surprised to see him in Boston quite a bit next year.

6. Jared Knight, RW
A bit of a surprise pick at 32nd overall on Saturday, Knight has scored some outstanding goals for his namesake club in junior. Although not invited to the draft combine, his agent, Murray Kuntz, did a brilliant job of marketing his client to NHL teams and the B's were obviously smitten with Knight's natural shooting ability, production and tenacity. On the downside, he's under six-feet and is a barely average skater needing some hitch in his stride. Also, one NHL scout I talked to really wanted to like Knight, but told me that he's done most of his damage on the power play and needs to improve his 5-on-5 play next season; didn't feel he was all that creative (at least for himself) and really benefited from playing with Nazem Kadri.

7. Brad Marchand, LW
The infusion of pure talent into the organization has dropped Marchand down the depth chart a bit, but he got a chance to play in Boston last season and proved he belonged, even if he wasn't able to find the back of the net (one assist). Marchand's value lies in his speed, sandpaper game and clutch play. He's been an outstanding find in the third round of the '06 draft and you could certainly make an argument to have him higher on the list, but in the end, I don't see a lot of offense from him at the NHL level unless he takes a quantum leap in his development. Still, he's a player for all of the other reasons.

8. Ryan Spooner, C
The small but highly skilled pivot became the first 16-year-old in Peterborough's long and storied history to score 30 goals in 2009, but a fractured collarbone last January cost him 21 games and a chance to make a definitive statement as a first-round pick. He's a very talented forward with some real speed and will go back to junior with the chance to put up a lot of points while he continues to get stronger. I thought he was a terrific value at 45th overall; one mock draft had him going 20th overall to Pittsburgh, and I have a hunch that he was a first-rounder on more than one NHL team draft list.

9. Zach Hamill, C
The most polarizing prospect in Boston's system earned a little breathing room for himself when he rebounded from a horrific start in Providence last season, finished the year strong and earned his first NHL callup to Boston for the 09-10 year's final game, earning an assist. He's criticized mainly for being the eighth pick in a down draft, but he looks like he could be a serviceable NHLer on the third line and on special teams in time because of his soft hands and elite hockey IQ. Strength/adding mass to his lean frame and getting quicker continue to be his biggest obstacles to a regular spot in Boston, but if the team runs into salary cap issues, Hamill might not be that terrible an option for the bottom line.

10. David Warsofsky, D
He's on the list ahead of Button, Cross and McQuaid because of the upside. Yes, he's tiny. But, the beautiful skater has the hands, shot and sense to overcome his size deficit. Oh, and he's pretty pugnacious, too. When Peter Chiarelli first announced the trade in the post-draft media scrum at the Staples Center on Saturday, my first thought was that Vladimir Sobotka was being swapped for a carbon copy version of himself on defense. I believe he's a guy who can be more than the sum of his impressive parts in time. I heard from one insider at the draft that the South Shore (Marshfield) standout may have been bored in the NCAA at times last year, so he'll certainly get his challenge in the AHL. I also thought his manhandling of the bigger, stronger Cross in front of the net in the Fenway game between BU and BC was something to behold: heart-- you can't teach it.

On the bubble: Ryan Button, D; Adam McQuaid, D; Jamie Arniel, C; Tommy Cross, D

* Fluto Shinzawa reported in the Boston Globe that B's 7th-rounder Maxim Chudinov will not be at development camp next week. Chudinov projects around 15 on Boston's prospect rankings...I will do a more comprehensive list with scouting reports and background info. after development camp.


  1. Here's to hoping Michael Hutchinson makes this list at some point in the season !!

  2. I was surprised (pleasantly) to see how highly you rated Sauve. I thought you'd have Spooner higher. As a Vlad Sobotka fan, I'm glad you've got Warsofsky as the #2 D prospect.

  3. Thanks a lot for doing this Kirk

  4. Very solid analysis.
    Kirk, you have truly become my reference on the Bruins!


  5. Pierre-Michel-- That kind of feedback is gold. Merci, mon ami!

  6. Great job Kirk, although I don't see how a scout could say Jared Knight does most of his damage on the PP when he had more even strenght goals than all of the high draft picks excepting Seguin and Skinner (who he tied for even strenght goals).

  7. That's a fair statement, Sandy. It seems counterintuitive, doesn't it?