WILMINGTON, Mass. — The two most impressive sights (not related to Tyler Seguin) to me on the first day of Bruins rookie practices at Ristuccia Arena were Max Sauve flying down the ice like a rocket and Jared Knight victimizing the goaltenders with his laser of a wrist shot.
Beyond the hype about first-round picks Seguin, Joe Colborne and Jordan Caron, Sauve and Knight might be the next two prospects ready to make a bid for an NHL job this fall.
However, both players have an extra hurdle or two to overcome. In Sauve’s case, the ’08 second-round pick might be a little behind after surgery to repair his injured ankle. He wasn’t recovered in time to practice with his fellow prospects at July’s development camp and today was the first day practicing with other players after a summer of skating daily on his own and with a trainer.
“I feel like I want to make something here, and I want to prove something, be better than last year and the other year,” said Sauve after practice, where he didn’t look any worse for wear.
If the Bruins look back to last fall, a pre-injury Sauve made his mark by posting 1-2-3 totals in three preseason games before he was returned to juniors. So if the Boston brass looks at this camp as a continuation of last year’s rather than as a continuation from development camp, Sauve should be in the mix for NHL employment.
“I’m going to pick up like last year and I want to better last year. That’s my plan,” he said.
In Knight’s case, as a ’10 second-round draft pick, the Bruins don’t have to sign him until the summer of 2012. With so many prospects, such as Caron, Sauve and Colborne, signed — not to mention high-priced veterans that the Bruins have had a tough time unloading — around, it’s kind of crowded on the Bruins’ front line. The 18-year-old, however, isn’t letting the numbers game get him down.
“It’s an extra hurdle, but it’s an extra motivation,” said Knight. “I want to sign in the worse way. I know everyone else here’s that’s not signed wants to too. It brings out the best in everyone. Everyone was battling, competing and giving their all.”
While Sauve can play the season in Providence (AHL) if he doesn’t make the NHL (he even skated in six games for the P-Bruins last season), Knight has to rejoin the London Knights of the OHL or be on the NHL roster. Should Knight go back to London, he’ll not only dedicate this season to making himself more appealing to the Bruins but also try to prove USA Hockey wrong for not inviting him to its World Junior team camp this summer.
“I wasn’t invited last summer. They’re kind of holding a grudge against me,” he said, pointing out that his decision to play junior instead of going with the USNTDP and then Michigan made him a bit of an outcast. “That’s the way they are. If I do get sent back to London, I’ll light it up and … they can do what they want and I’m going to do what I want. I want to play for them; that’s definitely my goal if I do get sent home [by the Bruins]. If not, whatever.”
Sauve and Knight both had a great first day on the ice today, but it was just one day and the established NHL studs weren’t on the sheet yet. But if they keep it up, Boston’s pair of second-round picks could emerge as darkhorse big-club candidates this camp.