Mailbag: On Kampfer’s future and more year-end Bruins-related topics

Kampfer/By S. Bradley

This year has been a great time for and a pretty good stretch for the Bruins (minus that playoff collapse thing no one wants to talk about).

So I wish all of my readers a Happy New Year today, and close out 2010 with one more mailbag before the 2011 portion of Boston’s schedule gets underway.

Here it goes:

David writes: How do you think Steven Kampfer will work out this season for the Bruins? Do you see him lessening their need for a puck-moving defenseman or is he just a short-term replacement?

MK: Kampfer has been excellent since coming up from Providence. The thing that impresses me most is that not only is he talented and does things other Bruins defensemen can’t, but he never gets discouraged even after he makes a mistake. Plus, he rarely panics even if his first or second attempt to break out of the zone is deterred by a forechecker.

At this stage of his career, he’s obviously not an NHL No. 2 yet. But I think we’ve seen improved play from Dennis Seidenberg since the veteran has been paired with the rookie. You combine Seidenberg and Kampfer with a healthy, solid Andrew Ference and suddenly Boston has a solid supporting cast for Zdeno Chara. If Johnny Boychuk can raise his level, the Bruins might have just enough offense and defense from their back end to get by.

I think the Bruins will always be searching for another puck-mover, but Kampfer’s arrival and his effect on the rest of his defense corps partners has made it less necessary for general manager Peter Chiarelli to make any type of panic move before the deadline.

Luke writes: How good are the Bruins prospects looking? Is the team set up for sustained success? What do you think is going to happen when Mark Stuart returns? Kampfer is playing really well, and giving the team the puck-moving from the back end that it so desperately needs. It’s going to be a tough decision.

MK: Well, let me tackle your second question first while we’re on the topic of Kampfer. As the rookie is up on emergency recall, technically he has to be sent down once the Bruins have six other healthy defensemen.

Now, the way he’s playing the Bruins would probably want Kampfer to stay and could easily do that by just assigning him and recalling him. However, Kampfer is on an entry-level deal with bonuses built in, as opposed to Adam McQuaid, who’s on his second pro deal and makes a flat $575,000. So there might be cap restraints that prevent Boston, which is right up against the maximum, from keeping Kampfer without moving someone else.

Remember, Kampfer doesn’t require waivers to go down, but McQuaid does. So it’d be a risk to send down McQuaid. And the way Daniel Paille has been resurrected, it’s unlikely Boston would try to sneak him down to Providence either. Kampfer might be ticketed for even more P-Bruins seasoning once Stuart’s back.

As for your second question, Jamie Arniel seems to be the most consistent prospect in Providence. We saw him briefly in Boston and he could translate into, at worst, a third-line forward. Joe Colborne and Matt Bartkowski have gone through growing pains in the AHL, but that’s to be expected and why the Bruins weren’t relying on either guy to contribute in the NHL this season.

In the junior ranks, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner have both played very well for their OHL clubs.

So, yes, it seems the Bruins have reinforcements on the way in the next couple years.

Horton/By S. Bradley

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