Friday, August 6, 2010

Boston Bruins Prospects Series: #35 Ben Sexton

Ben Sexton, C
5-11, 190
June 6, 1991
Shoots: Left
Boston's 5th choice, 206th overall (seventh round) in 2009 Draft
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical: Sexton doesn't have ideal height, but has a thick body and appears to have packed on some good pounds since he was drafted. Conditioning is very good with a little more room to fill out. Nice skater who possesses above average first step quickness and good straight-line speed. Agile and balanced on his edges; can change direction quickly. Always moves his feet and competes well. Seems to be a better player in tight quarters than in space. Goes to the net, but hands are pretty average and has trouble finishing off scoring chances. Heavy stick; does not receive passes all that adroitly. Not an overly physical player, but does stick his nose in and wins battles for loose pucks by outhustling opponents and staying focused. Pretty good defensively; seems to understand positioning and diligently backchecks. Has had issues with staying healthy and battling nagging injuries in the past, so his durability will be something to watch.

Intangibles: Does not appear to be all that instinctive a player, but works hard and that counts for something. Smart, hard-working kid knows pro hockey having grown up as the son of former Senators and Panthers GM Randy Sexton. Didn't get off to a very good start with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL last year, but worked his way into more of a role by season's end and his production picked up. His former Nepean Raiders coach (and former Bruin) Garry Galley had very nice things to tell me about his attitude and work ethic, but reiterated that Sexton missed time to injuries while playing for him.

Boston Bruins 2010 Development Camp assessment
Sexton made some money (figuratively of course) in Wilmington last month. To coin a phrase Bill Belichick has made famous in sporting circle: He is what he is. That is, a solid, unspectacular player who doesn't have a lot of size or high-end skills but skates well, hustles and plays a good two-way game. Sexton looked strong on his skates, but his skill limitations came into play when it was time for him to convert scoring chances in close during the drills and scrimmages. That said, he had a strong camp and was a pleasant surprise as someone who has been criticized on this space in the past.

Another longshot as a fourth-line checker/grinder/energy guy, Sexton will likely take a while to make an impact at the NCAA level, but could in time work himself into the prospect picture for the Bruins. He's 35th on the depth chart, but is on the long-term plan and could become more of a prospect if he can prove his effectiveness at the next level. Sexton looks like a journeyman type of minor league forward but we'll reserve judgment until we can see him compete at the NCAA level.

“Things have been going good; I’m really enjoying myself the second time around. I’m a little bit more comfortable. The skates have been good; the off-ice workouts have been good. I’m really enjoying myself.”- Ben Sexton to, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

“I think I bridged the gap between that this year by heading out to the BCHL. I mean, moving away from home was definitely an adjustment, so I think I’ll be used to that heading to Clarkson.”- Ben Sexton, July 6-10, 2010

The Final Word
There were arguably some better options available to Boston in seventh round, but to Sexton's credit, he looks the part of a legitimate NHL draft pick. Last November, I spoke to a scout who saw him at Penticton and he was barely getting it done on the third line and looked like a real bust at the BCHL level (which is a pretty scary statement in itself). However, by the time the playoffs rolled around, Sexton had worked his way up to the second line and was doing more, finishing with a modest 13 goals 42 points in 50 games, but boosting his production considerably over the second half (23 points in his last 21 games after posting just 10 in his first 20 contests). Let's face it-- Sexton was a late, late draft pick, so his chances of winning a job in Boston are slim, but he at least has the look of a prospect and will have a chance at doing something at Clarkson, even if he may not hit his stride right away.

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