Friday, July 30, 2010

Boston Bruins Prospects Series: #22 Matt Bartkowski

Matt Bartkowski, D
6-1, 190
June 4, 1988
Shoots: Left
Acquired by Boston from Florida with Dennis Seidenberg for Byron Bitz, Craig Wellar and a 2010 2nd-round pick (Alex Petrovic); March 3, 2010
Signing status: Signed through 2012

Talent Analysis

Physical: Live, athletic frame with room to grow. Will need to add bulk, but is on the right track in his physical maturation process. Good skater; moves well in all directions. Isn't a blazing skater, but is able to keep puck carriers in front of him and can crossover and pivot fluidly. Decent passer; can hit the long clearing pass and moves the puck out of his end quickly. Puckhandling is a bit rough; better at making the safe passing play than having to carry it out under pressure. Has an underrated shot that he gets off quickly from the point; heavy and accurate. Very good defensively; understands positioning and likes to take the body. An effective open-ice hitter and does well at pinning his man along the boards and clearing traffic from in front of his own net. Keeps things pretty safe and simple for the most part, but has the mobility and potential to play more of a two-way game if he can improve his puckhandling and overall confidence. Has a reputation for being a tough, hard-nosed player, but will need to prove that in the AHL first-- wearing full face shields in the NCAA is one thing, but how he does when the gloves come off in the pros will be another thing entirely.

Intangibles: Bright kid (engineering major at Ohio St.) who brings a good attitude and some tenacity to the ice. Seems to have a good, solid instinctive feel for the defensive flow of the game, but the questions he must answer at the next level are whether he can bring the same kind of effectiveness offensively. A mature 22-year-old who spent two years away from home with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL before spending two seasons at Ohio State closer to his Pittsburgh home.

Boston Bruins 2010 Development Camp assessment
Bartkowski had a solid, solid performance. He's not a dynamic player who really stands out, but he does skate well and surprised me a bit with some plays he made where he joined the rush or made some smart pinches to not only maintain offensive possession, but get a good shot off from the point or make a nice pass. I thought going in that he would be a lot more conservative and play it safe, so it was nice to see that he was more aggressive. The camp itself didn't lend itself to seeing the kind of physical, hard-edged stuff that Bartkowski reportedly excels at, so it will be interesting to see how he does at rookie camp and in the minors this season. Overall, he was a pleasant surprise and looks to be a player who is pretty well-rounded and only lacks seasoning and experience.

Projection
Bartkowski looks like a lower-pairing, stay-at-home defender who could end up working himself into a fourth spot with special teams time if he can improve his puck skills. If he can develop an ability to fight (not a skill that can be honed in the NCAA), he'll be even more appealing, because he skates pretty well even if he is more of a vanilla type of defender who isn't dynamic. He's pretty buried on the depth chart right now, but the best thing for him will be to go down to Providence, work hard and earn a lot of minutes. From there, he might be able to work himself into a limited stint from Boston and who knows where it might go from there?

Quotable
"It was a hard decision to make (turning pro or staying in school) but in the end, I weighed my options with my family and we felt that signing with Boston was the best thing for me right now. I can finish my degree in the summers, but the situation was right for me to go ahead and take that next step, so I'm glad to be here."- Matt Bartkowski to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010.

"I consider myself a good defenseman who takes care of my own end first and sticks up for my teammates. I would say that's the biggest thing; just keeping things simple and making the right plays whenever I can."- Matt Bartkowski to B201DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

The Final Word
This is a player who could move up the prospect depth chart pretty well, but is similar to Adam McQuaid in that he's a defense-first player who plays the game with an edge, and will need a good amount of time in the minors to get seasoned before he's ready to make a run for an NHL job. He doesn't have McQuaid's size or toughness, but he's a better skater, so he should be able to carve a niche for himself in Providence this season and next. He's on the long path to a possible spot in Boston, but seems to have the physical and intangibles package to generate some positive notice from here on out.

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