Saturday, July 31, 2010

Boston Bruins Prospects Series: #24 Matt Dalton

Matt Dalton, G
6-1, 190
July 4, 1986
Catches: Left
Signed as a free agent by Boston; April 22, 2009
Signing status: Signed through 2011

Talent Analysis

Physical: Good size and athleticism with the requisite quick reflexes to play the position effectively. Takes up a good portion of the net and stays square to the shooter; very good with his angles and positioning. Quick pads and glove; gets down and back up quickly while maintaining good net coverage. Needs to improve rebound control. Puckhandling is average. Is an effective puckstopper who is still honing his skills and fundamentals, but plays a good, consistent game overall.

Intangibles: Big-game player who led tiny Bemidji State to its improbable Frozen Four run in April '09. In five postseason games for the Beavers, Dalton posted insane numbers, going 4-1 wit a 1.60 GAA and .948 save percentage. His heroics kept his team in the semifinal game against Miami Unversity, when the RedHawks tilted the ice in BSU's end and pelted Dalton with shot after shot. Dalton played well in Reading of the ECHL, showing enough poise that he was recalled to Boston for a week in early March to backup Tim Thomas when Tuukka Rask was injured. Although he didn't play, the chance to be around the team and practice with the players provided him some confidence going into his second pro season.

Boston Bruins 2010 Development Camp assessment
Dalton had an okay camp, but more was expected to be frank. He just turned 24 and was the only player there with any legitimate pro experience (aside from Adam Courchaine's four games with Providence in '08 and '09), but didn't do a great deal to stand out. As Don Sweeney said, the goalies were at the biggest disadvantage, and because they are constantly under assault both in the drills and scrimmages, it's hard to get a read on them in the D-Camp setting. As things stand right now, a solid main camp from Dalton will give him the chance to spend the season in the AHL with Providence, likely backing up the more experienced Nolan Schaefer, but with enough playing time to keep developing.

Projection
A raw prospect who has been a late-bloomer, Dalton would need some major breaks to go his way to see any considerable NHL time. He's a good athlete and has shown promise at the NCAA and ECHL levels, but his chances of making the big show as anything other than a fill-in or backup are pretty slim. That said, he's a serviceable player who's shown a penchant for putting teams on his back when under fire, so keep an eye on him.

Quotable
“I want to dominate at whatever level I’m at. Whether it’s NHL, AHL or wherever, I want to dominate and that’s my goal. I’ve had a taste of it now and kind of know what to expect, and I’m excited.”- Matt Dalton to hockeyjournal.com, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

The Final Word
After Mike Hutchinson, Dalton is the best the Bruins have for goaltending prospects, but none are considered high-end or "blue chip" players at the position as it stands right now. This isn't a bad thing because between Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas, there isn't any room for young, raw players. If injuries set in, however, Dalton could see a callup, and if the B's were to be hit with a rash of boo boos at the position, that's going to be an issue for Boston. The best thing B's fans can hope for is that Dalton makes the Providence roster and can continue to gain pro experience and play well without being thrown into the fire this season.

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