*(Not affiliated with the Boston Bruins or the New England Hockey Journal)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Final post: the Scott Bradley factor


The Bradley family and Lord Stanley gather to celebrate Boston's 2011 championship at the Bradley home in Vancouver, B.C. (photo courtesy of Scott Bradley)

Over the summer, we had a chance to chat with current Boston Bruins Director of Player Personnel Scott Bradley about his role in helping the B's win their first Stanley Cup since 1972.

From that talk, the genesis of a comprehensive article on one of the most pivotal years in Bruins history- 2006- was born.

What most did not realize, however, is how Bradley fought his own heroic battle against cancer, and if not for the Jacobs family and Harry Sinden's decisive action to put the organization's assets behind him for a rapid surgical procedure, he may not have been around to see the fruits of his dedication and service over the years.

We knew all about Bradley's fight- both in 2006- when he had his first knee surgery to remove a malignant sarcoma- and again in 2008, when he had a recurrence of the tumor and needed another invasive procedure. In both cases, Bradley asked that we not report the situation because he is a private man and did not want to be the center of attention.

After the win last summer, Bradley had a change of heart, and allowed New England Hockey Journal to be the first to tell his story.

To read about how the Bruins champion was essentially built in 2006, follow this link to hockeyjournal.com for a reprint of what appeared in the October issue of New England Hockey Journal.

For more on Bradley's long service to the Bruins as a scout, amateur scouting director and personnel chief, this story also appeared in the October edition of NEHJ.

This officially closes the book on the Bruins 2011 Draft Watch blog.

It was a real pleasure to write, and the new position at Red Line Report is going well. Although it's more behind the scenes work than everyone is used to, it is a tremendous opportunity.

Should you have any questions, feel free to follow my Twitter feed and ask away. @kluedeke29

Thanks for reading- it was a fun two-year ride with the 2010 and 2011 Bruins Draft Watch and perhaps there will be an NHL Draft Watch at some point in the future.

Monday, August 15, 2011

ANNOUNCEMENT: Off to Red Line Report

It has been great devoting two full seasons of draft coverage on the blog here to you, loyal readers and hockey draftniks.

I am excited to announce that I have taken a position with Red Line Report as a scout and writer, so I can no longer continue the draft watch.

I've had a ton of fun, but it is time to move on to the next opportunity and I am grateful to Kyle Woodlief for giving me a shot to do something I have always desired. That has opened the door for me to do some other things in scouting as well, but it also means that I cannot maintain this blog to the standard I require without a conflict of interest, so I must shut it down.

I will still maintain my position with the New England Hockey Journal, so there will be draft coverage at the Kirk's Call section there of the website- it just won't be as comprehensive as this blog or singularly dedicated to the NHL draft. However, there will still be lots of interesting insights on some of the key players, especially those playing in the New England region.

Although I won't be actively blogging the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, there are still plenty of outstanding resources out there, and we'd love for you to sign on with Red Line if you can.

Thanks to the many folks out there who linked the work here and really turned this blog into something much more than I ever envisioned. It has been a real blast interacting with you all and seeing the kind of reach

I'm keeping the naming rights to NHL Draft Watch, so who knows? Perhaps one day, the blog could make a comeback in some kind of form or fashion, but for now, the energies and effort are going to be devoted to RLR.

UPDATE: 19 August 2011

If interested in more NHL draft insights and views on all hockey prospects- not just Bruins players, please follow my Twitter feed: @kluedeke29

Thanks for all the support!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Final Bruins prospect ranking

Here is a recap of the final summer Bruins prospect rollup, plus the guys at the low-end to close out the list.

This subjective list will change again at mid-season, when New England Hockey Journal publishes the annual B's prospect roundup in the January 2012 issue.

1. Dougie Hamilton, D
2. Jared Knight, RW
3. Ryan Spooner, C
4. Alexander Khokhlachev, C
5. Max Sauve, LW
6. Jordan Caron, RW
7. Steve Kampfer, D
8. Jamie Arniel, C
9. Matt Bartkowski, D
10. Ryan Button, D
11. Tommy Cross, D
12. Anton Khudobin, G
13. David Warsofsky, D
14. Michael Hutchinson, G
15. Yury Alexandrov, D
16. Zach Hamill, C
17. Anthony Camara, LW
18. Carter Camper, C
19. Colby Cohen, D
20. Craig Cunnningham, C/W
21. Brian Ferlin, RW
22. Zach Trotman, D
23. Marc Cantin, D
24. Lane MacDermid, LW
25. Maxim Chudinov, D
26. Tyler Randell, RW
27. Justin Florek, LW
28. Zane Gothberg, G
29. Rob O'Gara, D
30. Alexander Fallstrom, RW
31. Lars Volden, G
32. Andrew Bodnarchuk, D
33. Stefan Chaput, C

34. Ben Sexton, C- Battled injuries, but had a solid freshman season at Clarkson. Not a great deal of upside, but skates well and plays an effective two-way game.
35. Nick Tremblay, C- Tremendous skater, but lacks the puck skills and offensive hockey sense to capitalize on his pure speed.
36. Zach McKelvie, D- After two years in the active duty Army, the West Point grad with outstanding wheels is very raw and behind in his development, but gets one year to show what he can do.
37. Yannick Riendeau, LW- Undrafted free agent and 2009 QMJHL MVP is small and not a great skater- has yet to make much of a pro impact.
38. Adam Courchaine, G- Helped the ECHL's Alaska Aces win the Kelly Cup championship last season, but will be hard-pressed to see much action in Providence. Should play closer to Boston for Reading Royals, at least.
39. Alain Goulet, D- 2007 5th-rounder has bounced between AHL and ECHL, but doesn't look like much beyond a minor league journeyman at this point.
40. Carl Soderberg, C- Former St. Louis 2nd-rounder acquired for Hannu Toivonen way back in 2007 is just about used up, but still makes list by virtue of being a legitimate talent and not quite 26. Appears content to stay in Sweden for the rest of his career, however.
41. Mark Goggin, C- Dartmouth player and team's last pick in 2008 does not figure to be in the picture.

That wraps up the Bruins prospect coverage and the 2011 NHL draft altogether.

It has been a fun journey going back to a year ago and I hope you found this blog to be a good companion resource out there for your hockey draft needs.

As always, thanks for the support!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Bruins prospect profiles #33: Stefan Chaput

Stefan Chaput, C
6-0, 190
March 11, 1988
Shoots: Left
Acquired from Anaheim with David Laliberte for Brian McGrattan and Sean Zimmerman, February 27, 2011
Signing status: Signed through 2012

Talent Analysis

Physical:
Average-sized player. Doesn't have exceptional speed or quickness, but gets where he needs to go effectively enough. Above average puck skills. Plays with effort and energy. Will initiate contact despite not having much in the way of a physical game/disposition.

Intangibles: Smart two-way forward who doesn't bring high-end instincts to the table, but is effective at reading and anticipating the play. Opportunistic player who makes the most out of his limited skills and upside.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Did not attend.

Stefan Chaput in action

Scores a goal for Albany River Rats during game in 2009-10 season posted by TheInfestationBlog

Projection

Unless injuries decimate the Bruins, Chaput looks like strictly AHL filler and an emergency player available in a pinch. The 153rd overall selection in 2006 by Carolina after they won the Stanley Cup now finds himself in a similar situation in Boston: trying to crack the roster of the defending NHL champion. Scored seven points in 15 games with the Baby Bruins after the trade, so he does bring functionality and experience to the AHL lineup.

Bruins prospect profile #32: Andrew Bodnarchuk

Andrew Bodnarchuk, D
5-11, 200
July 11, 1988
Shoots: Left
Boston's 5th choice, 128th overall in 2006 Draft
Signing status: Signed through 2012

Talent Analysis

Physical: Another member of Boston's sub-6-feet brigade on 'D', Bodnarchuk is a dedicated gym rat who has done very well at building his strength, but will always face a mismatch when going up against the biggest, strongest of the NHL's ever-growing legion of power forwards. Plus-skater who has very good acceleration, speed, quickness and lateral mobility. Solid passer and shooter, but has become more of a stay-at-home, defensive player in the pros after putting up solid offensive numbers in junior. Plays bigger than his size; likes to initiate contact and will take the hit to make the play. Low center of gravity allows him to get up under bigger, stronger players to separate them from pucks. Pound-for-pound, one of the most rugged prospects in Boston's system. Has evolved into one of Boston's better defensive/positional players in the system. At the same time, he's still overmatched against the biggest of hockey's power forwards and will always be limited in that regard.

Intangibles: Hard worker and good teammate who was qualified (offered a tender by Boston) this summer more to stabilize Providence with his tenacity and experience than anything else. Intelligent and learns from mistakes; settled in after a rocky start in Boston against Toronto and was a solid defensive performer to close out the 2009-10 season. Lacks the elite instincts needed to be a top defender at the next level, but has the desire and intensity to make something of himself.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Did not attend.

Andrew Bodnarchuk in action

Takes on a bigger Justin Johnson and handles himself well despite coming out on short end- posted by JimKorn20

Projection

Bodnarchuk looks like a bottom-pairing/extra defender at the NHL level, but he'll have a hard time cracking Boston's roster unless injuries take a toll. He's a wolverine on skates; not all that big, but plays with an edge and keeps himself in the best shape possible. Like Don Sweeney, he comes from the Maritimes and went to St. Paul's Academy in Concord, NH before opting away from the NCAA track and staying at home to play major junior. Also like Sweeney, he understands his size is a major obstacle and will likely need to make the most of any chance he gets in Boston when spots are opened up because of injuries. He's already a solid AHL defenseman, but how far he can go at the highest level is a tossup because of the organization's other undersized players at the position who have a little more upside. Bodnarchuk's lack of offense hurts him, but he still has the work ethic and desire to be more than the sum of his parts- will be interesting to see how he performs this year.

Quotable

“I talked to (Murray) quick, and he sort of gave me the, ‘Congratulations; good work, good luck.’ But, I know I put in my work this year and I’m glad it’s been noticed, so I’ll just go from here now.”- Andrew Bodnarchuk to hockeyjournal.com; April, 2010

“It’s unbelievable; it’s a dream come true. It feels like the jitters are out now that the first game’s gone. My mind was going a little quicker than I wanted to during the first game, but as the game went on, I saw it slow down. (I’m) just more comfortable around the room comfortable around the guys.”- Bodnarchuk to hockeyjournal.com; April, 2010

“(It sends) a really strong message. I saw it last year too, with the guys being called up: the Boychuks, Lashoffs and Karsums, guys getting a sniff and getting a chance. So, it’s really encouraging for the young guys in Providence to know that Boston does like to call up and work with what they’ve drafted. For the younger guys down there, take a look, put in the work and it’ll pay off.”- Bodnarchuk to hockeyjournal.com; April, 2010

Bodnarchuk, Marchand on this ride together


“You look at their roster and you pretty well know who their top six (defencemen) are, just by looking at their contracts. There are three or four players, neck-and-neck, battling for that (seventh) spot … I’m looking forward to it.”- Andrew Bodnarchuk to Metro Halifax; July, 2010

“Hopefully, this year is going to be another step toward being a full-time NHLer. It tends to take a little bit longer for defencemen, especially for a shorter guy. I’m just looking to make more and more strides as the year goes on.”- Bodnarchuk to Metro Halifax, July, 2010

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bruins prospect profile #31: Lars Volden

Lars Volden, G
6-2, 190
July 26, 1992
Catches: Left
Boston's 6th choice, 181st overall in 2011 Draft
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical:
Tall, slim netminder with an athletic build and room to put some meat on the bones. Wide-based stance- takes up a lot of the net. Quick reflexes and effective with the butterfly and his recovery. Does a good job of squaring up to the shooter and moving laterally in his crease. Above average glove, blocker side needs more work/was beaten on several shots because his stick wasn't fully on the ice. Like most goalies his age, needs to improve rebound control and directing pucks out of danger. Has all the physical attributes you look for in the modern NHL goalie: big, agile, fast, exhibits solid fundamentals and technique.

Intangibles: Calm and poised, but at times looks too nonchalant- a little fire and fight in him like Gothberg has wouldn't hurt. Seems mechanical and forced- could benefit from letting go and doing what comes naturally instead of trying to display flawless technique on each and every save. He's shown some natural puck-stopping instincts in the past (see YouTube video save), and seems to be at his best when he reacts and blocks. When in the zone, is nearly unbeatable, but tends to allow goals in bunches if he loses focus.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

Volden and Gothberg were close in terms of how well they performed at camp. Volden is more of the technician between the two and demonstrated some intriguing NHL potential with his solid fundamentals and quickness. That said, he's still very much a work in progress and it will be a big year for him in Finland, especially if he can win a spot with Espoo's senior (pro) team. He played well on the Blues' jr. squad last season after leaving his native Norway. Volden showed he belonged in development camp by making some pretty saves and displaying some impressive raw tools to work with, we just would like to see him battle a little harder in select spots as opposed to the clinical, detached approach.

Development Camp interview with Lars Volden

video

Here's Volden at his instinctive best. Great save

Click on YouTube to see this stop, posted by ezzle

Projection

Like Gothberg, Volden is a long-term project, but he has NHL starter upside given his impressive size and athleticism. He and Steffen Soberg bombed in one game we watched at the WJC, but that was just one contest- while it does raise questions about Volden's mental toughness and ability to battle through adversity, he certainly brings some skill and potential to the table. Volden is a long way from competing for an NHL job, but being a sixth-round selection not to mention the current status of goalies in Boston, he can take his time and come along gradually without any real pressure. Keep an eye on this one- for the second consecutive year, the B's have grabbed a goalie in the sixth round, and in each case, raw project types who have some legitimate talent. A strong season could vault Volden into the top-15 on the depth chart by year's end; big test coming up for him.

Quotable

"Lars [Volden] is playing, working his way up through the European teams and had a good year over there."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 10, 2011

"Our European scout Jukka [Holtari] had seen him a lot, as had some of our other scouts. We got good reports from his goalie coach on him. He's a big boy. We like if we can to draft a goalie every year to add depth in that position in the organization, and at that point in the draft it made sense to draft him."- Bruins Assistant GM Jim Benning; June 25, 2011

"He's the typical butterfly style goalie that you see come out of Finland. He's big. He covers the net, the upper part of the net and the butterfly. We'll keep monitoring him. It takes goalies a long time to develop. There's been a lot of good goalies come out of Finland, so we're excited to get him in the sixth round."- Benning; June 25, 2011

Bruins prospect profile #30: Alexander Fallstrom

Alexander Fallstrom, RW
6-2, 192
September 15, 1990
Shoots: Right
Acquired from Minnesota with a 2011 second-round selection (Alexander Khokhlachev) for Chuck Kobasew in October, 2009
Signing status: Unsigned

Talent Analysis

Physical:
Tall and lanky build; needs to add significant mass and strength in the next few years of his development. Improving his upper body power and drive will be his biggest challenge between now and when he turns pro. Adequate skater; improved his first step quickness from where he was a year ago at 2010 development camp and is coming along in his development. Will never be a burner, but his skating flaws are easily correctable and don't stand out in competition. Very good hands and a quick stick; able to work effectively with limited time and space. Good, heavy shot that he can release quickly. Will drive hard to the net and bang in the rebounds. Able to get his stick on pucks for deflections and redirections. Shields the puck well from defenders and is serviceable down low and on the cycle. Very good defensive player who understands positioning and his responsibilities. Finishes his checks; plays more of a North American-style game given his time spent playing prep and in the NCAA. Ripped it up for 87 points in 40 games his final prep season at Shattuck, so the kid can score. It's just a matter of figuring out how much of his scoring touch at the lower levels will translate at Harvard and in the pro ranks.

Intangibles: Heady winger works hard and is diligent in his approach to on- and off-ice work. Born in Gothenburg, Sweden but raised in Stockholm and eschewed the traditional route most Swedes take by going through the pro development system via junior teams in favor of going to Shattuck St. Mary's in Faribault, Minnesota at age 16, earning the captaincy as a senior in 08-09. Has a nose for the net; seems to recognize scoring opportunities and then place himself in areas where he can impact the play. Intelligent and well spoken; understands his role and plays it well. Another character kid who took a lesser-traveled road than most of his peers but appears on track to succeed.

Boston Bruins 2011 Development Camp assessment

As was the case a year ago, Fallstrom's game isn't flashy or dynamic, but he makes the most of what he does best and that is- he gets himself into scoring position and finishes off chances with that dangerous shot of his. Fallstrom's lack of skating is not as much of an issue as it was before- he's gotten a little quicker off the mark, but still lacks straight-ahead speed. Where he compensates is with his hockey sense and lumber. Put him out there with a playmaker and he can make things happen. There was one interesting sequence observed when Fallstrom went head-to-head in a drill with Alexander Khokhlachev, the other player acquired from Minnesota for Chuck Kobasew nearly two years ago. In the drill, something must have been lost in translation for Koko, as he zigged when he should have zagged and Fallstrom schooled him. It did serve as a reminder to Bruins fans of what could be for Boston if both players make it to the big show together. Koko has the pure offensive skill, but Fallstrom is a heady player in his own right- he stole the puck, went in alone on Lars Volden and then ripped a screamer high over his glove hand for the score.

Development Camp interview with Alexander Fallstrom

video

Projection

Solid third- or fourth-line player with the intelligence and hands to make a modest contribution on offense at the NHL level. Got off to a slow start in his sophomore season and battled nagging injuries, but started to round into form better around Beanpot time. 2011-12 is the year where he should start to put up numbers. Like some of the other prospects in Boston's system, Fallstrom is in a good situation where he can take his time to round out his game and the pressure will not be on him to contribute right away. He's an atypical Swede in that he isn't a very good skater, but unlike former B's prospect Anton Hedman, Fallstrom's mobility is not a major drawback, and by the time he's ready to progress to the next level, the skating should be improved enough to give him a shot at making it. Could be a high-end scorer in the minors before he makes a run at regular NHL employment, but at worst, should be an effective 30-point defensive forward who can play in all situations and will earn the trust of his coaches to play in big moments. If you had to compare his style to anyone, he's a little like Gregory Campbell: better hands, but not as good a skater as Campbell.

Quotable

"Real good sign for Alex he met with, we set it up for him to meet with John Whitesides at the end of his year before he went back to Sweden. And to spend some time there and identify some of the areas physically that he could work on and fine tune so it would translate on the ice, and i think it has done that. He’s moving better, shoots the puck well, he’s a concisencious player. We want to see what his high side is offensively. So you’ve got to get him in, fine tune and get him in the right shape and be able to utilize the skills that he has to be able to get there. The skating side of it is something he’s going to continue to work on, he knows that. But he’s done a lot of hard work and the fruits of that are showing up here this week."- Bruins Assistant GM Don Sweeney; July 10, 2011

"I'm having a lot of fun for sure. This is a very good experience and my first time working with the Boston coaches, so I'm just trying to learn what I can and bring it back with me to Harvard for the upcoming season."- Alexander Fallstrom to B2010DW, Wilmington, Mass.; July 6-10, 2010

"Fallstrom's not the most exciting player to come out of Shattuck (St. Mary's), but he did very well there. I remember watching him and not noticing him much, and then I'd look at the score sheet afterwards and he had three or four points. He's the kind of player who keeps it simple, but goes hard to the net and is an opportunistic scorer. Maybe not a high-end offensive player at the next level, but he plays an honest two-way game and has the skills to put up some points with the right linemates."- NHL scout to hockeyjournal.com; May, 2010.