Bruins not ruling out chance rookie makes leap to NHL this season

Knight/By S. Bradley

WILMINGTON, Mass. — After going through their off-ice testing and then skating through two sessions totaling around two hours at Ristuccia Arena, the Bruins’ rookies earned the seal of approval from assistant general manager Jim Benning.

“Well the guys all showed up in good shape,” said Benning after the first day of rookie camp. “The guys that were at development camp, they put in the work the last couple months and they all looked good. So we’ll see. They’ll play the exhibition games on the Island and we’ll decide who’s going to come to main camp from there.”

On paper, it would seem the Bruins’ NHL roster is too filled-up with veterans to have room for a rookie with no prior NHL or even professional experience. The odds that a Milan Lucic, Blake Wheeler or Tyler Seguin will emerge in a few weeks are slim.

However, Benning didn’t want to close the door on any opportunity for his phenoms.

“I would tend to agree since the team won the Stanley Cup, but we don’t know for sure,” said Benning about the stiff challenge for a rookie trying to make the NHL roster. “We’re just going to have to go through the process of this camp and then main camp and then, the one thing about Peter [Chiarelli] and Claude [Julien], if a player deserves to be on the team, then they find a way to get the player on the team. So with time that’ll work itself out.”

Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, Boston’s second-round picks in 2010, seem like the players with the best chance to break through. Both made it deep into NHL training camp last fall and then got a cup of coffee with the Providence (AHL) farm club.

“They went through the process last year, so they understand the size and the speed of NHL players and American Hockey League players,” said Benning. “So they’ve showed up in excellent shape, both of them. And I’m sure as we go through camp that they’ll be able to show everything they’ve got as players because they’ve given themselves an opportunity to show it by coming in such good shape.”

Some of the other  bigger names in this camp are this year’s first-round and second-round picks Dougie Hamilton and Alexander Khokhlachev and 2009 third-round pick Ryan Button.

While the Bruins’ Cup win might mean they’re deeper and their lineup is tougher to crack, it also means an added burst of enthusiasm for those players arriving to camp.

“I think everybody’s excited. Everybody’s excited to come to camp, to start up this year,” Benning said. “So I think everybody’s come in good shape and they’re going to put their best foot forward and see what they can do in these exhibition games and going forward.”

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