If the five days of the Bruins’ 2010 development camp proved anything, it’s that the fans have forgiven the franchise after blowing that 3-0 playoff lead, as evidenced by the crows at the camp; the Bruins have some decent talent that they’ve drafted the last few years; and everyone’s overreacting a little bit to the club’s depth.
We already knew that Tyler Seguin was NHL-ready when Boston drafted him, and that Joe Colborne and Jordan Caron had improved to the point where they’ll at least be two of the top players with the Providence (AHL) farm club this coming season. But beyond that, there were things to like or dislike about a lot of the other prospects. And the law of averages tells us that the vast majority of guys in camp won’t ever see the light of NHL day.
Anyway, that’s the only damper I want to throw on the situation. All in all it was a great week and here are five questions — some that have been answered and some that still need to be answered going forward.
1. Where does Tyler Seguin fit in?
Let’s get this out of the way. The Bruins’ brass can attempt to temper everyone’s enthusiasm about the No. 2 overall pick all it wants. Seguin is going to be with Boston when the 2010-11 season opens in Prague, and the only ones that will have a problem with that will be the fans in Plymouth.
Seguin has NHL speed and an NHL shot. With or without Marc Savard on Boston’s roster, it might help to start him out on the wing. But if he’s centering a third line with some size on his wings — maybe Milan Lucic becomes Seguin’s rookie-year bodyguard? — he’ll be just fine. The Bruins still won’t be better this season without Savard. However, for Seguin’s long-term development, getting him to the middle as soon as possible might be the right route.
2. Where do Colborne and Caron fit in?
I for one wasn’t wowed by Caron this camp as the week went on. But like Colborner, the winger obviously matured during his injury-shortened junior season and probably will shine more in NHL scrimmages and exhibition games, when his intangibles can shine. Colborne is definitely a leader in the making. We’ll see how he handles life among the men in the fall.
I see both guys as farm-club fodder to start the season. Once they prove themselves some in the AHL, and the Bruins see what they’re going to get from some of their returning vets, then there might be some promotions coming.
3. Are there any stud defensemen in the pipeline?
In a word, no. Boston’s pretty much set atop the organizational depth chart now that Mark Stuart’s signing gives them six legitimate NHL defensemen. But if the injury bug were to bite as much as it did last season, and that’s a longshot, they could wind up with the likes of non-NHL-ready blueliners again filling in the gaps — be it the return of last year’s reinforcements Adam McQuaid, Jeff Penner and Andrew Bodnarchuk, or one of a group of Steve Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski or Yuri Alexandrov.
The signing of veteran Nathan McIver definitely helps. However, Boston still doesn’t have that blossoming puck-mover that they can point to as someone that’s going to be a game-changer in the years ahead.
4. What will Tommy Cross bring the Bruins?
Despite what I said above, a healthy Cross could become a legit top-four defenseman. The operative word is healthy. He only missed four games at Boston College last season, but there’s some fear he might never be exactly right. On the ice last week, you couldn’t tell he’d ever had a problem. Some of that might’ve been adrenaline. His instincts and his physicality, however, have to give the Bruins hope that after one more BC season, Cross could come in and fight for a spot next fall.
5. What player will you watch closest away from the pro game next season?
While I still don’t agree with many of the Bruins’ draft decisions the last few years, the second-round selection of Jared Knight looks a lot better now that he has strutted his stuff at development camp. With a hard-nosed, to-the-net approach and a laser for a wrist shot, Knight might dominate the OHL next season. But the whole “flying under the radar” thing is now ancient history. A healthy Knight is going to have to handle the expectations and I can’t wait to catch a couple London Knights games next year to see if he can make the Bruins’ acquisition of two Toronto picks in this year’s draft an even bigger boon.