Development camp is always an interesting time for Bruins fans, and this year marks an even more important step for a few prospects. With Don Sweeney’s plan of growing younger still on course, there are players who participated in camp over the last few days that may end up cracking the NHL roster come opening day. With that, we take a look at who they could be, as well as analyzing other performances during the camp.
It is important to remember that rookie camp features varying experience and skill levels. Players generally arent making or losing a spot based on their rookie camp, as it is more so about integrating into a professional environment.
1. Ryan Donato: Honestly, there’s not much to criticize in his game. He has great speed, good skating and was around the puck constantly. He made crisp passes and was effective with or without the puck on his stick. He made a few highlight reels and showed a tremendous amount of consistency over the course of camp. He is a center, which poses the question of roster space, depending on what happens to Ryan Spooner. Donato is expected to return to Harvard next season, but it may not be long before we see Donato in the NHL.
2. Anders Bjork: If there’s any other player who stood out on the ice, it was Bjork. He has such a high end offensive upside, with the shot and how soft hands he has. While he didn’t have the highest motor or effort level, the talent is undeniable. He made a few plays that shocked the goalie and defense, dekeing, skating and scoring. Of the prospects at camp, he’s the closest to NHL ready as I’ve seen, and probably could be on the opening night roster. He told reporters yesterday that he spend a lot of time on the right wing at Notre Dame, but can play either side. His versatility will prove valuable throughout the course of the season.
1-on-1 board rush drills, Bjork just blew by Jesse Gabrielle and went forehand backhand to roof a puck past McGovern. Nifty play.— Jake Reiser (@JakeReiser) July 8, 2017
1. Urho Vaakanainen: In his first camp, the 2017 1st rounder showed some upside. He didn’t make many mistakes, but didn’t make any plays either. The Finnish-born defenseman proved to be a strong skater but looked tentative with the puck on his stick. He, like many of the non-NCAA players, got bamboozled sometimes by the level of play some of his teammates had, but that’s all to be expected. He has a bright future ahead, once he develops.
2. Jesse Gabrielle: Drawing comparisons and hopefully taking some lessons from future teammate Brad Marchand, Gabrielle’s skills are starting to show a lot more. His skating is good, his shot is impressive as well. Where he lacks somewhat is defense, not being as strong on the puck at times as some of his fellow prospects, being worked around by other forwards. Still, if he can put on a few more pounds and work on staying on the puck, he has the chance to be a successful forward. Whether that’s at the NHL level remains to be seen, but the potential is still there.
1. Wiley Sherman: Unfortunately for him, he looks to be a long term project at this stage. There have been rumors of Chara comparisons, but his game is more reminiscent of early K. Miller in Boston. Almost as big as Big Zee, he’s physical to a fault, often losing positioning and holding onto bodies too long to be physical efficiently. He seems to lag plays at times instead of using instincts to be positioned correctly, but that again, may also be a product of his size. If he wants to make it to the NHL, he has to improve upon his skating.