Ranking Bruins’ prospects based on potential to help in ’11-12

Development camp always has a way of raising a guy’s stock. But when he left Boston last summer, Knight knew he needed to bulk up and get better in his own end. Well, he put on 20 pounds of almost pure muscle and by all accounts he learned responsibility last season with London (OHL) while putting up 70 points in 68 games. And he showed how much he improved during this summer’s development camp. When it comes down to it, based on available playing time the Bruins will probably want Knight to get more junior seasoning. But in terms of a combination of physicality, skill and a solid head on his shoulders, Knight’s the type of kid that can sometimes alter a team’s plans.

Bartkowski/By S. Bradley

7. Matt Bartkowski, D

The Bruins got the best of both worlds with the first-year pro blueliner last year. They were able to get him most of a full season with Providence (5-18-23 totals in 63 games) but also gave him a six-game cup of coffee with the big club and kept him around with the “Black Aces” for the duration. He still has a lot to learn and another year of AHL seasoning should do him well, but should there be a rash of injuries on Boston’s back end Bartkowski would be in line for more NHL time.

8. Ryan Spooner, C

With a little more physicality in his game during development-camp scrimmages, Spooner showed that he hasn’t rested on his laurels from last fall’s push for an NHL job. He still needs to add more weight and keep expanding the breadth of his hockey sense. His game’s probably too cute to fill a role with Boston right now, but you can’t count him out considering how well he performed in his first NHL camp. A return to junior, however, is probably in the cards.

9. Colby Cohen, D

Had he not battled injury when Boston first acquired him from Colorado, Cohen might’ve pushed Bartkowski for one of those second-half call-ups. Nonetheless, he was a solid plus-5 with 12 points in 46 games for a poor Providence team last season. With a full training camp in Boston’s system, Cohen could show enough to be in the mix as an injury call-up or seventh D this season, in particular if Boston decides it needs more size on its back end. They kept him around among the “Black Aces” in the playoffs, so the Bruins must like what they see.

10. Zach Hamill, C

Head coach Bruce Cassidy has hinted at the potential for a position change for the former first-round pick if he doesn’t pick up his play in the middle. The Bruins have tried a lot of things in an attempt to motivate Hamill, so one more maneuver wouldn’t be surprising. Hamill didn’t look completely out of place in his brief NHL stint (three games, one assist), but that he wasn’t kept around with the “Black Aces” tells you all you need to know about his standing in the organization at this stage of his career.

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