F / Boston Bruins
Born: May 18, 1990
2012-2013 Numbers: Providence: 11-16-27, 71GP; 1-2-3, 12 Playoffs GP
After four strong years at Northern Michigan University, Florek joined the Providence Bruins for his first season of professional hockey in 2012-2013. The adjustment period, plus the uptick in skill level in the AHL due to the lockout, meant that Florek got off to a slow start; however, by the end of the season, Florek seemed to find his game, and was able to start scoring at a pretty good pace. He even had one two-goal game in March, against Portland.
Florek is touted as a two-way player who is great on the penalty kill. He's incredibly responsible in all three zones, exactly what the Bruins seem to go for in third-line players. A few thoughts from Don Sweeney:
"He's not necessarily a highlight-reel type of guy," said the B’s Assistant GM. "His skating continues to get better, he's working at that as well, but he just does focuses on the smaller details: he gets pucks out, pucks in, doesn't turn pucks over, all of the things that coaches sort of see as the game goes along. It allows other players to use their strengths because Justin's a reliable guy, but he's a guy who can contribute offensively. He's understanding where in the areas of the ice he can get his shot off and how to be effective down low on the cycle."
A little analysis from Kirk Luedeke as of January, before he start scoring en masse:
As a mid-round draft selection at age 20 (and in his final window of draft eligibility), Florek has worked diligently to make himself an NHL option despite some early setbacks. Because you can’t teach his size, he could get a look or three sooner rather than later because he’s versatile enough to play effectively even in a limited role. Similar to what former Bruin Byron Bitz did during the 2008-09 hockey season, Florek could earn an opportunity to contribute to Boston’s fortunes at some point. He has the intelligence, consistency and character to play on the lower lines while providing occasional offense.
I'd say this is the first significant failure by Cornelius' dartboard method. We've seen Florek develop nicely over the course of the last season. It's a bit of a longshot, but with a little more added foot speed and work at this level, we could very reasonably see Florek get a look in a third or fourth line role with Boston this season if injuries happen - think Lane MacDermid minutes, but with less punching and more backchecking. It's heartening to see that when faced with the adversity of a tougher league stocked with locked-out NHL players, Florek appeared to just double down on his efforts, and came out ahead when the lockout ended.
I, for one, am very eager to see if he takes his game to the next level in his sophomore AHL season.