With not much salary cap space to spare, the Boston Bruins could have several top prospects compete and come away with NHL roster spots by the end of training camp.
You know the names like Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak, Alexander Khokhlachev, Justin Florek, and others. Since Reilly Smith and Torey Krug remain unsigned, it becomes even more possible for these rookies to crack the opening night roster.
Whoever does crack the Bruins roster will have high expectations to perform, especially considering the Bruins disappointing playoff push last spring.
Subban is not expected to log much if any NHL time this season, but if an injury occurs, the former first round pick could be in line for some NHL minutes this season. With Niklas Svedberg expected to become Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, Subban will transition into Providence’s starting goalie. Last season, the middle Subban brother only played in 33 AHL games, so moving back into a starting role should help Subban further develop his game.
Subban is extremely athletic, but he does still have some work to do when it comes to his form. Another season in the AHL should help solidify his technique.
Justin Florek, RW, Boston Bruins (NHL)/Providence Bruins (AHL)
There are multiple rookies that will likely crack the Bruins line up come the beginning of October, but Florek is probably the safest pick considering his experience during last season’s playoffs. Florek could slot in on the fourth line with a combination of Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, and Gregory Campbell. Florek could also compete with Jordan Caron for the 13th forward spot.
Jared Knight, RW, Providence Bruins (AHL)
It really cannot get much worse for Jared Knight. Once considered one of the premiere prospects in the Bruins system, Knight has struggled to find his groove at the pro level. After an injury plagued 2012-13 season which Knight only played 12 games, he managed to stay mostly healthy, registering 19 points in 58 games. With Florek, Spooner, Khokhlachev and others vying for an NHL roster spot, Knight could get a chance to see more playing time and help get his offensive game back on track. He was a point-per-game player throughout most of his junior career, which made him a high second round pick in 2010.
Dempsey is not exactly a top prospect by any means, but he does happen to be the only Bruins prospect playing in the CHL, as Peter Chiarelli and Keith Gretzky have turned to NCAA and European players in the NHL Draft of late.
Dempsey only played in a handful of OHL games last season before being released by the Soo Greyhounds. The six-foot-four power forward has only scored 11 career points, but the Bruins hope the scoring will come, as he is strong on puck and uses his large frame well.
Top Amateur Prospect
Zane McIntyre, G, North Dakota (NCHC)
Formerly known as Zane Gothberg, McIntyre is coming off a strong sophomore campaign with the team formerly called the Fighting Sioux. McIntyre’s performance reflected in North Dakota’s season, as the Bruins sixth round pick in 2010 helped carry North Dakota to the Frozen Four.
McIntyre was one of the best goalies in all of college hockey last season, and will look to further cement that title this season. With another strong showing in 2014-15, he could look to sign a contract with Boston and head to Providence in 2015-16. He could also return to North Dakota for a senior season. He has quietly become one of the Bruins best prospects, and his development could also make Malcolm Subban expendable in a trade.
Freshman to Watch
Danton Heinen C, Denver Pioneers (NCHC)
Bruins fourth round selection Danton Heinen is an interesting name to keep an eye on for the 2014-15 season. Although not the most highly touted prospect in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Heinen is a strong two-way player and turned in a solid season with the Surrey Eagles last year. In 57 games, the Langley, British Columbia native was over a point-per-game in the BCHL with 62 points (29 goals, 32 assists).
The Bruins like his two-way style, and he will be under the watchful eye of Denver University coach Jim Montgomery.
Ryan Donato, C, South Shore Kings (USPHL)
The Harvard bound pivot is years away from the NHL, but there is a reason the Bruins selected Donato in the second round. Donato is highly skilled and an offensive playmaker. In 30 prep school contests at Dexter last season, Donato racked up 78 points (37 goals, 41 assists).
He also has a strong hockey background, as his father Ted is the Harvard coach and a former Boston Bruins favorite. This season will be important for Donato because he has yet to play at a high level and did not go the USHL route. He will be surrounded with talented players, though, as the Kings also have Edmonton Oilers fifth round selection and BU commit Liam Coughlin.
Top European Prospect
David Pastrnak, RW, Sodertalje (Allsvenskan)
There is a very good chance that Pastrnak cracks the Bruins line up and is a regular in Boston’s top-six this season, as the system is thin on right-handed shots and he is on an affordable rookie contract. Pastrnak is just north of 175 pounds and needs to fill out his frame more, but the Bruins must think he is close because they signed him to an entry-level contract over the summer.
If Pastrnak does not stick with Boston for the 2014-15 season, he will return to play in Sweden, as he has a clause in his contract to do so.
Linus Arnesson, D, Djurgarden (SHL)
Arnesson only has six points last season in the Allsvenskan, but the 6’2 Swede is a strong skater and transitions the puck well. He has the potential to become a strong two-way defenseman. As he continues to grow, look for his offensive numbers to continue to improve.
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