The Boston Bruins officially opened their 2014 Rookie Camp at the Ristuccia Arena yesterday. Camp opened one day after the Bruins announced that their new practice facility will open in the fall 2016. I arrived about 10:15 AM to observe that the newbies were conducting their sprint workouts along side the Arena. I was able to watch as John Whitesides was putting them through their paces. The temperature was 87'F and the humidity was very high and you could see some of the rookies were indeed affected by the humidity. Malcolm Subban started his heat out very fast and was leading through three rotations when he seemed to hit the wall and finished third in his group of 4. David Pastrnak finished a distant 4th in his group and was behind at the first turn around and didn't seem nearly as well conditioned as some of the other candidates. Some of the candidates who looked ready to compete and really pushed it were Linus Arnesson, Ryan Donato, Billy Sweezey and Rob O'Gara. I noticed the the wind sprints were well documented on film, leading me to believe that there will be a second season of "Behind the B". I noticed Peter Chiarelli was outside in the hot sun w/o a sun shade during it all and was watching intensely. I applaud this hands and eyes on approach by the GM and find it unusual as so many other teams delegate these activities.
Once inside the facility, there was a 50 minute wait until the players and coaches appeared on the ice. Most didn't realize that the outdoor activities had been taking place and they were waiting for those to finish and the players to suit up for the ice. Things on the ice got rolling at about 11:20 AM with the 10 minute on ice skate around. Malcolm Subban didn't make it onto the ice until 11:55 and it was later reported that he had a dehydration issue from the fitness activities. At any rate Zane Gothberg got plenty of warmup shots and was the focus of the most intense 2 on 1 and 3 on 2 drills until Subban arrived. There was a cheer from the crowd as Malcolm Subban stepped onto the ice from the crowd of about 200+ fans assembled to watch the rookies. I took this to be a positive sign that so called racial bigotry amongst Bruins fans is a figment of the imagination and that his brother PK Subban is not hated because of his color, but because of the colors he wears on his uniform and his high professional skill as a member of the much hated Canadians.
Things heated up on the ice rather quickly and there were some notable skills on display by all the participants. I was initially impressed with the NHL caliber size of Mitchell Dempsey and Colton Hargrove. They seemed to have speed and strength to compete at an AHL level and I thought they were an eye catching pair during the drills. Oleg Yevenko was certainly hard to miss and has monster size and a fairly good stick with his reach, but seemed lacking in speed and agility on his skates. Linus Arnesson also had a good stick and uncommon mobility side to side with speed. Rob O'Gara and Billy Sweezey seemed to have fast glide and good instants on the puck and body position instincts. Emil Johansson seemed a bit clumsy and unprepared for the speed of some of the forwards. Peter Cehlanik seemed to shine in a steady confident way, not flashy but determined and efficient. Lots of speed, moves and determination from Ryan Donato and Anders Bjork had a particular sweet shot with heavy velocity. I found that David Patrnak may have been the most disappointing. He seemed small, occasionally winded and he goofed around with Malcolm Subban with a water bottle. While he had short distance speed, he quit rapidly on plays before the whistle sounded and made some flashy but in the big leagues, slick plays that get you clocked by the other teams D-men. He needs to learn to play with his head up before someone takes it off. I noticed Ryan Fitzpatrick, Donato and Dempsey all play well with heads up on a swivel and pay attention to what the other players are doing during their drills. They are definitely here to learn.
I had picked 11 players to pay attention to prior to my arrival. Forwards Michael Doherty, Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato, Ryan Fitzpatrick and David Pastrnak. Doherty didn't step out of the pack and impress me either way. I was favorably impressed with Donato, Fitzpatrick and Bjork. I was disappointed in Pastrnak. Defensemen I was keyed in on were Yevenko, Johansson, Arnesson, O'Gara and Grzelcyk. Johansson had great heart, but trouble keeping up. Yevenko as I mentioned was slow and lacked mobility. Arnesson I can see making the jump to Providence next year and O'Gara and Grzelcyk will have jobs when they are ready. I also came to see Malcolm Subban and when he finally arrived on the ice seemed smooth and confident, but Zane Gothberg impressed me with his side to side mobility and willingness to challenge shooters.
Those players that I wasn't keyed in on that impressed me were forwards Hargrove, Dempsey, Cehlanik, Globke and Simon Norberg. Defensemen; Sweezey and Sherman stood out as well.
Until Next Time!