Bruins junior prospects 2008-09 review

By Jonathan Szczur

The Bruins prospects playing in juniors faced the challenge of consistency this year. Maxime Sauvé and Jamie Arniel both showed room for improvement in their first full year with their respective clubs. On the blue line, Alain Goulet had a breakout season while Denis Reul tried to muscle his way out of juniors one way or another.

It was a story of similar situations for the two Bruins goalie prospects in the junior ranks. Neither had the season expected of him as both Michael Hutchinson and Adam Courchaine lost claims on their starting jobs.

QMJHL


Maxime Sauve, C – Val-d’Or Foreurs

6’2, 184 pounds
2nd round, 47th overall, 2008

Sauvé continued to improve during his first full season with Val-d’Or after coming over from the Quebec Remparts last season. He led the team in goals (27), assists (49) and points (76) in 64 games as he set career junior highs in all three categories while finishing 16th in the league in scoring. Invited to participate in the Canadian National Junior Team’s development camp over the summer, the speedy center was again recognized for his talent in November by being selected to represent the QMJHL in the 2008 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. Growth, both physical and developmental, helped the offensive side of his game. Defensive growth has not come as easily. Despite an improvement in the physical aspects of his game, he still needs to work in his positional play within his own zone.

Despite such a productive 2008-09 campaign by Sauvé, Val-d’Or finished tied for last place in the QMJHL and failed to make the playoffs.

Alain Goulet, D – Gatineau Olympiques

6’3, 195 pounds
6th round, 159th overall, 2007

After leaving the University of Nebraska-Omaha for Gatineau, Goulet has done nothing but excel since joining his junior team on Dec. 27. Since then, the offensive-minded defenseman has averaged over a point per game with 16 goals and 19 assists in 32 games. He finished the regular season with the third-best plus/minus rating on the team with +21 and finished sixth on the team in scoring. Great stick reach and capable hands have already made him an integral part of the Gatineau power play during his short time with the team. Continued work on his leg strength and foot speed should help Goulet improve his skating as well as his lateral movement. While his up-ice vision and movement appear to be strong, he still needs to be more physical and confrontational in his defensive zone.

Gatineau is currently tied one game apiece with Shawinigan in the second round of the playoffs after beating Acadie-Bathurst in round one. Through seven games, Goulet has nine points on nine assists and a +1 rating.

Denis Reul, D – Lewiston MAINEiacs
6’4, 226 pounds
5th round, 130th overall, 2007

Although the heavy-hitting German was able to improve in his point production from last year, Reul’s defensive game suffered this season. His plus/minus dropped to -19 after being +8 last year. The stay-at-home defenseman played in the WJC as a member of the German National Junior team. He might best be remembered for the game against Canada in which he received a five-minute boarding major for a hit on Angelo Esposito (ATL). Despite his proven strength, Reul still needs to work on his skating and footwork.

Lewiston was swept by Drummondville in the first round of the playoffs. The loss allowed Reul to join the Providence Bruins of the AHL on Mar. 28 on an amateur tryout contract. He has played three games, is -2 and has received two penalties, including a cross-checking minor 2:15 into his first game.

OHL

Jamie Arniel, C – Sarnia Sting
6’0, 190 pounds
4th round, 87th overall, 2008

Expectations were high and doubts were even higher this season for Arniel who struggled to find his scoring touch last year. He then followed those struggles with some offseason personal difficulties after the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. By the start of the season he was ready to make amends and have a productive year. He had that productive year, putting up career-high 32 goals and 36 assists in 63 games. He finished second on Sarnia in scoring and managed to put together a 15-game point-scoring steak that included a 10-game goal-scoring streak. In November, he was selected as a member of the 2008 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge OHL Team. In December he was invited to Canadian National Junior Team selection camp. His great vision and determined work ethic saw him find the goal as much as he helped his teammates find it. His speed and ability to score helped him progress into a mature, two-way sniper who doesn’t mind going into the corners to get the job done.

Sarnia was knocked out of the playoffs after losing in five games to the Plymouth Whalers in the first round.


Michael Hutchinson, G – Barrie Colts

6’3, 185 pounds
3rd round, 77th overall, 2008

Hutchinson was supposed to form one of the best goalie pairs in the entire league. He was slated to own the starting goaltender role at the beginning of the season after having just come off a stellar 2008 playoff performance. Instead, he only won three of his first 11 starts and seemed to lack confidence when not getting consistent starts. The Barrie goaltending duties became a shared affair and splitting time with Pete Di Salvo continued throughout the season. Despite recording more wins and having a better save percentage than last season, Hutchingson was inconsistent. He did manage to record five shutouts as well as capture the CHL Goaltender of the Week award for the week of Dec. 8. He had some brilliant games including a 45-save shutout against Niagara. In other games, he let in goals he should have easily stopped.

The playoffs were just as inconsistent as the regular season. Barrie lost to Mississauga in five games. Hutchinson saw action in three of those games before a sprained wrist and an early exit ended his season.

Adam Courchaine, G – Ottawa 67’s
6’1, 185 pounds
Signed as undrafted free agent in September 2007

The early-season groin injury that kept Courchaine from Bruins camp also kept him from securing the starting goalie role this season. He started 17 fewer games than he did last year and saw his save percentage drop below .900.  Consistency was a struggle, especially during February when he went 1-3 in six appearances with a 5.49 goals-against average and .841 save percentage. At times, his butterfly style revealed a tendency to go down early and get beat high. At other times, he was prone to giving up dangerous rebounds. He managed to finish the season with a 13-11-2 record and 3.28 goals against average.

Confidence and consistency were better throughout the playoffs. He finished 2-2-1 with a 3.00 goals against average and a .920 save percentage that included one shutout. Ottawa lost to Niagara Falls in overtime of game 7 for a first-round defeat, despite 45 saves from Courchaine. With his junior season now over, he has been assigned to the Providence Bruins to fill in for the injured Kevin Regan.

USHL


Mark Goggin, C – Chicago Steel (USHL)

5’11, 177 pounds
7th round, 197th overall, 2008

Goggin played the first five games of the season for Chicago before returning to Choate Rosemary Hall to finish his senior season as captain of the varsity team. He posted 14 goals and 20 assists there. Those numbers, along with his great hands and impressive hockey sense got him named to the All-West New England All-Star team. He not only has speed, but also has enough strength to be a competitive power forward. In March, he returned to the Steel and began to settle into a comfortable role by the end of the season. After going without a point in his first five games back, he finished strong with eight points (4 goals, 4 assists) in the final seven games, for a total of nine points in 17 games.

Goggin will be attending Dartmouth in 2009 and get the opportunity to play alongside his brother Connor, who has just finished his freshman year.