Spooner, Miller lead Boston Bruins prospect awards

By Richard Murray

Kevan Miller - Boston Bruins

Photo: Though he started the 2013-14 season in the AHL, defenseman Kevan Miller eventually established himself as a regular part of the Boston Bruins NHL roster. (courtesy of Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins hold a boatload of depth in their prospect systems despite top prospects such as Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton graduating this season.

Other highly touted prospects like Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev continue to make strides to reaching the NHL level.  There are also more established prospects like Kevan Miller who have carved out a role in the NHL.

Prospect of the Year: Ryan Spooner, C Providence Bruins (AHL)

Spooner dished out 11 assists in 23 NHL contests, but the dynamic playmaker is still looking for his first NHL tally. In 49 AHL games, the young pivot scored 46 points (11 goals, 35 assists), in 49 games, once again finishing just under a point-per-game pace.

Next season, Spooner could break camp at the NHL level if the Bruins want to play him on the third line. It will be interesting to see if the Bruins would prefer Spooner or Chris Kelly, but playing with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson could make up one of the best third lines in the NHL.

Spooner used his speed and quick hands to tear defenses apart in the AHL. The NHL could be next for the 22-year-old speedster.

Most Improved: Justin Florek, RW, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Florek made his NHL debut this season scoring two points (one goal, one assist) in four NHL games. He spent the majority of his season down on the farm in Providence. He was a legit offensive threat at the AHL level. He topped his 27-point season from a year ago tallying 38 points (19 goals, 19 assists), in two less games than in 2013-14.

The 6'4 forward has improved his puck skills and uses his size to his advantage. With Chris Kelly hurt, he even saw time in the playoffs, chipping in a goal through six post-season games.

Best Defensive Prospect: Kevan Miller, D, Boston Bruins (NHL)

Miller has been playing strong defensive hockey and has played his way into the Bruins lineup. The six-foot-two defenseman throws bone-crunching hits and is not afraid to drop the gloves. The University of Vermont product will never be a big point-producing defenseman, but he has been averaging almost 20 minutes a night during the NHL playoffs. That says a lot about how much the Bruins value his hockey sense and game.

Fastest Skater: Ryan Spooner, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Not only is Spooner our Boston Bruins Prospect of the Year, but he also happens to be the fastest skater in the system.  He has used his speed efficiently to go north and south and help push the rush. Next fall will be a big test to see if Spooner can break camp and stick around Boston.

Hardest Shot:  Matt Fraser, LW, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Fraser's shot has not translated to the NHL level, yet, but it has proven to be lethal in the AHL. Fraser fired his way to a 20-goal season in only 44 AHL games while also spending some time in Boston this season. A year ago, the Red Deer Rebels product scored 33 goals with the Texas Stars.

Overachiever: Colton Hargrove, RW, Western Michigan Broncos (NCHC)

Colton Hargrove is coming off an impressive season with Western Michigan scoring 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in 39 games. Hargrove is only projected to be a fourth line player, but if he continues this kind of developmental trajectory, he could develop into a third line player who can chip in offensively.

Underachiever: Niklas Svedberg, G, Providence Bruins (AHL)

In 2012-13, the Swedish netminder was the top goaltender at the AHL level. This season his numbers took a dip, though. He posted 25-15-4 record, 2.63 goals against average, a .910 save percentage, and two shutouts. Still respectable, but well below the 2.17 goals against average and .925 save percentage of the year prior. Svedberg also made his NHL debut stopping 33-of-35 shots in a win against Nashville.

Hardest Worker: Kevan Miller, D, Boston Bruins (NHL)

At the beginning of the season, Miller was considered an AHL defenseman who might be able to be a seventh defenseman at the NHL level. Now, Miller is a legit NHL defenseman who can play on the second or third defensive pairing. He is a hardworking, gritty defenseman who will do whatever it takes to stay in the lineup and help his team win.

High Risk/Reward Prospect: Ryan Fitzgerald, RW/C, Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)

Fitzgerald turned in a solid freshman season with the Eagles and was very productive in a second line role. The North Reading, Mass. native had 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 40 collegiate games. Fitzgerald observed the best line in college hockey this season of Johnny Gaudreau (CAL), Bill Arnold (CAL) and Kevin Hayes (CHI) as the trio dominated this past season. Now, Fitzgerald will likely be on the Eagles top line with the Eagles entire top line gone, so the pressure is on. He will likely move from right wing back to his natural center next season too.

Breakout player for 2013-14 season: Alexander Khokhlachev, C, Providence Bruins (AHL)

With Spooner spending a decent chunk of the season in the NHL, Khokhlachev flourished with the open opportunity. He led the Providence squad posting 57 points (21 goals, 36 assists), in 65 games. The Russian speedster might not be as fast as Spooner going north-to-south, but is better at making sharp turns and cuts in the ice. He uses his speed to put up points and is dynamic in the offensive zone. Khokhlachev could get even more of an opportunity next season in Providence if Spooner is an NHL regular next year. Khokhlachev made his NHL debut this season in the Bruins finale against New Jersey. He is still looking for his first NHL point though.

Follow Rich Murray on Twitter via @Richie_Murray