There were a lot of uhs, uhms, and pauses during both pressers. So here are the cliff notes from over the weekend. (I paraphrased the questions asked, but kept the answers verbatim)
Who stood out?
Pastrnak probably stood out the most for me. I was pleased with [him]. I thought Blidh had a strong camp, I thought Arnesson had a strong camp. This has been the most skill we’ve had in a long time at this camp.
Do the transfer rules allow Arnesson play in the AHL?
Ehh, No... He’ll attend camp and then he’ll go back and play with his Swedish club, that’s already pre-determined. That’s in his contract.
Is it determined that Pastrnak will be in camp?
With Bart, you’ve done a good job getting guys locked up before arbitration. Do you feel that…
I think we will, yeah… The same still stands about the "9 defensemen." In regards to Bart, yeah, I think we’ll get a deal done.
How important is it to get a right shot on the top six?
There are guys out there that we’re looking at right now. We’ve got some internal guys that we might be able to put in that are ready or very close to being ready.
Is it realistic that you could bring in a second-tier free agent?
Maybe. You asked me about Pastrnak earlier, you know, he’s young and he’s light, but stuff like that happens. Something might pop up in our training camp so… There’s a list of guys that I’m looking at. And there’s also a list of guys internally. I like the competition… I’m balancing the two things.
Could Fraser be on the first line?
He’s played on the right side. He can really shoot it. We haven’t got him signed yet but we’ll get him signed shortly. He’s showed that he can play a two-way game, that you can put him up on that line ‘cause you’re gonna get all the matchups, right? So you gotta be a responsible player up there. But he’s a guy that we’re gonna have a look at.
Koko & Spooner on the cusp?
Those are two guys that I thought had very strong years. Both centers. Both we’ve talked about it internally maybe trying them on the wing… We’ve had success putting centers on the wing. Khokhlachev had a real strong second half, terrific second half… Him and Spoons were arguably their best players down there.
If you wanted them as centers would you maybe change the roster?
Could be. You know they’re both natural centers. Kessel and Seguin were natural centers too. When you move someone to the wing it’s the board work, right? That’s what’s really tough.
Soupy to the wing?
Yeah, he could be. That’s been discussed too… Right now in my mind, there’s three [forward] spots open.
Do you want an enforcer on the team? Or do you believe the team toughness is already there?
I believe it’s already there. We do also have a couple of candidates that played in Providence that surely could fill in if we need them. I really think it’s already there. You’re gonna see Adam back, whosever playing D…
Everything is progressing as scheduled, and I would anticipate them all to play and compete the start of training camp.
Ryan Donato’s decision on going to prep school versus juniors?
It’s important, we’ve had discussions with Ted. And we’ll let some things unfold. There’s a lot of elements that are involved here. He’s a very good prospect. You know and it’s the old prep school versus juniors and all that stuff so, it’s not new it’s just a little closer to home because of the personalities involved. The fact that Donny and I know Ted and his family helps.
Malcolm’s involvement in this camp.
Malcolm wanted to come to this camp. He had showed us a lot of progress this year on the ice and off the ice and we felt that it would be okay that if he didn’t come, and we talked to him and he wanted to come. I was impressed with that… He’s on the right track.
How are they holding up?
Pretty good. I mean, it's a fairly young group. Other than Malcolm I'm sure any of them are gonna turn pro. Obviously that could change.
Has anyone stood out to you during the scrimmages? I know we've asked about Pastrnak and...
Well he clearly does. I mean there's a reason he was a first-round draft choice. He's got all kinds of skill. Reminds me a little bit of when Tyler [Seguin] was here his first development camp and, uh... Alexander Semin I had years ago, guys that could really shoot it off without a lot of time and wasting a lot of time and that could make those little tight-area plays.
Fitzgerald is on the puck, he's a guy that likes to hunt it. Then you see a young guy like Donato that, in space, he can make plays. The question's gonna be when the pace picks up and there's less space, will he be able to do the same things.
Some of the defensemen... a guy like Robbie O'Gara. He came in, a big guy you always thought he was more of a defensive guy , but he made some nice plays out there. So he's not afraid to get up and dish the puck, and I think that's the way the game is going... Arnesson looked better in a game I guess than the practice drills. He's a good hockey player as well.
Pastrnak's lack of ice time in recent months.
I think it shows in his endurance. It'll fall off quicker if you haven't been on the ice, the muscles aren't trained. But these guys with young legs... Most of them could probably skate all day. And he looks like he's one of them. Got a lot of jump, a lot of power in his stride, and he can separate in a hurry.
On the Nylander comparison.
Yeah, you know I coached Michael years ago in Washington and, Michael wanted to hold the puck forever and then he'd eventually dish it. Whereas this kid looks like he can shoot or pass. Michael was a, predominantly a pass-first type of guy and when he scored it was more deking the goaltender, I don't think he was crazy about shooting the puck from 25 ft. whereas this kid seems to be able to wire it.
Can Spooner crack a spot on the NHL roster?
Well he should challenge for a spot, there's no doubt. Whether he gets one or not that... Some of it depends on the competition around him, if the Bruins fill up their roster a little more, et cetera. But he should be a guy that's one of the last cuts, if he's a cut at all. He's played two years, there's been growth from this year to last year, particularly in the playoffs. You know he was the leading scorer in the playoffs when we got knocked out... This [playoff] year he was much better. He's got to come to camp believing it's his time, believing it's his spot to lose, and come in with that attitude.
Do you think he could transition to the wing?
I think he likes to have the puck too much between the blue lines in the open ice, personally. He might've played five shifts in two years for us on the wing. So I don't want to rule that out, 'cause you don't know things 'til you try. I just think naturally, that's when he's at his best, when he's getting the puck and attacking the D and backing them off, and usually through the middle of the ice is the best place to have that unless you're a shooter down the wing, and that's not his game.
What about Spoons on a new-look 4th line?
He's proven he can be an offensive player down there, a good two-way player. He's never minus for us, through the whole year. He can defend, it's his willingness to close quicker defending that Claude's relayed to me and that we've tried to work on. 'Cause he's got the foot speed to do it, it becomes now the will. So I think he can do it. Now, if you're matched up against [Brian] Boyle, that becomes a bit of a mismatch, but it could work in his favor if he uses his foot speed. I mean Marty St. Louis goes through this every night and it doesn't seem to hurt him. If you're mindset is a heavier line then clearly he's not gonna fit there, but if you're mindset is more of maybe what Detroit does, then I think so. He's certainly capable of checking, he can kill penalties. Maybe he earns his way into the good graces of the group that way, by becoming a solid two-way player.
Is Cunningham knocking on the door?
You know, he's put in his three years, he's scored 20 goals every year, he hasn't missed a game—the games he’s missed we sat him out late in the year to give him some rest. The thing with Cunny is it’s almost like someone comes along and passes him, as a winger then as a centerman so. He’s good in every area of the game and, to be in the NHL you maybe have to have a particular strength in one area to sort of solidify that spot for yourself, and he’s missing a little bit of that… It’s such a tough lineup to crack. I’d put him that category, but I think some of the other guys have moved passed him a little bit in the last year. I think Cunny as a winger? It’d have to be the right situation for him. With Thorty gone, that’s good for him. Gives him an opportunity to maybe start on the 4th line.
What about Griffith? Do you think he needs one more year?
I think he needs more time. I hope he proves me wrong, 'cause I know that a right-hand shot forward is in demand here, so great for him. I think the pace of the game got better for him as the year went on. It's still not as consistent, where he keeps his feet moving every night... Better on the walls, he'll have to get better against men... He's a pretty fit guy for us, he's 190 pounds, he's strong. It's just now building that into man-strong, and not just young-adult strong.
On the Bruins having "9 Defensemen."
[Kevan] proved he can be a National Hockey League defenseman. I think he's a guy that you can put on the ice every night and he'll give you a solid 15-20 minutes. David [Warsofsky], he hasn't had the same amount of time to judge him on, so I can't sit here unequivocally and say "Yeah, he's gonna go out and replicate what Torey Krug has done," 'cause you know there's always that comparison that comes naturally. But I think David is ready to play in the NHL. Can he beat out 8 guys in Boston? I don't know, that's a pretty good lineup, right? So.
Who are the 10th and 11th defensemen?
Well Morrow and Trotman clearly are the next guys in line I think that have a real good chance to play. They're both gonna be, I assume would be in Providence another year to refine their games. I would expect both those guys to be really good defensemen in the AHL next year. And then Chris Casto had a real good 2nd half, he's another guy that down the road would be in the next wave 'cause he can skate so well, makes a decent play. But he still needs to develop that man-mentality when he's on the ice, to be heavier, more competitive on a daily basis.
Lots of speculation, maybes, and wishful thinking. What do you think about the answers above? Which of the five centers (Koko, Spoons, Soupy, Carl, Kelly) do you want to see on the bottom two lines, and what should they play? Who's the next Providence defenseman to break into the top nine?