WILMINGTON, Mass. — There are some prospects at the Bruins’ fifth annual development camp this weekend, with little or no professional experience, who have flown by Zach Hamill on the organization’s depth chart.
The center and 2007 first-round draft pick wasn’t even kept around through the entire postseason as one of the “Black Aces” during Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup championship following his nine-goal, 43-point season with the Bruins’ Providence (AHL) farm club.
Bruce Cassidy, making his first public statements since he was promoted to head coach of the P-Bruins after three years as an assistant, was asked today about what Hamill has to do to get back in the mix as far as potential NHL contributors. Cassidy’s answer pretty much covered every aspect of Hamill’s situation.
“First of all, go back over the last three years, obviously … he hasn’t developed as well as we all hoped. OK, so we all know that up front,” said Cassidy. “Part of that has to fall on the coaching staff and part of that has to fall on the individual. You know now we move forward. Zach gets an opportunity to work with a new coaching staff per se. Maybe that motivates him, maybe we look at moving him around in a different position. He’s been a center iceman, not a lot of room there, sometimes maybe try him on the wing. I know it’s a little unorthodox, thinking outside the box. But maybe that gets his game to the next level, putting him with some players that can make him a better player also.
“But at the end of the day, when you’re in your fourth year at the same organization, it falls upon yourself just to push people. I think, the individual has to recognize what’s going on around him, a few people have passed him. And it’s time for him to start passing a couple of younger guys that have come in the last couple of years. And whether he’s ready to do that, we’ll find out in September.
“But he is unique, you know. He was a top pick and sometimes there’s no room. When you win a Stanley Cup there’s obviously good players and there might not be room. But for him, part of his process could be ‘hey there’s 29 other teams, maybe if I show other people I can play’ then he’s still an asset to the Bruins but gets other teams to start thinking about him in their lineup, that are weaker you know up front. And that’s sort of how Zach has to approach it. I think both at a personal level that ‘hey I’ve got to find a home somewhere else, if it’s not here, by playing well.’ Or ‘I’ve got to make space for myself here and they will move someone currently in the lineup.’ That’s kind of what falls upon the depth players, and that’s how they push. Brad Marchand, he pushed guys out of the line up, let’s face it. So guys have done it, it’s just not that easy.”
Well, if Hamill makes it to Bruins camp this fall, it sounds like Cassidy is ready to challenge the pivot like he hasn’t been challenged previously. This will obviously be a make-or-break season wherever Hamill winds up.