Injuries have forced Boston Bruins to draw on minor league system for help

By Richard Murray
Anthony Camara - Boston Bruins

Photo: Forward Anthony Camara has struggled to produce consistent offense this season, with three goals and three assists in 31 AHL games. (courtesy of Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)

 

The Boston Bruins have had their share of problems developing prospects in their system over the past few seasons, but multiple Bruins prospects are pounding on the door to at the AHL level in Providence.

The Bruins have changed up their drafting strategies with Keith Gretzky at the helm staying away from the CHL. While Boston finishes developing its current group at the professional level, the Bruins recent picks will be shuttled in later while developing in college or Europe.

AHL

Malcolm Subban, G, 21

Subban has had some ups and downs while taking the reigns of a starting role for the first time professionally. The Bruins have had their injuries at the NHL level with Kevan Miller, Zdeno Chara, and Adam McQuaid all missing extending time, so Boston has called up multiple defenseman from Providence leaving the defense corps weak at times. Subban’s save percentage is at a very respectable .917, while his goals against average has crept up to 2.68. Since Boston is finally healthy at the blue line, Providence should be able to better defend the net, so expect Subban’s numbers to be closer to his 2.31 goals against average from a season ago.

Subban could very well be trade bait for the Bruins down the stretch with the struggles the organization is having at the NHL level. Zane McIntyre‘s superb play at North Dakota has made the former first round pick expendable, and Subban is a quality asset that could help Boston land a marquee player.

David Pastrnak, RW, 18

The highly skilled Czech Republic has jumped onto AHL scene and done nothing by succeed. In 24 AHL games, Pastrnak has been scoring at an over a point-per-game pace with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists). He scored one-goal in his first five NHL games. Pastrnak just got back from the World Junior Championship where he scored seven points in five games.

Pastrnak will get another shot at the NHL after his original five-game stint following the WJC. The Bruins recalled him for another stint. He needs to put on more weight, but maybe he can stick around longer this time.

Brian Ferlin, RW, 22

Boston loves Ferlin’s 6’4 frame and his strength on the puck, but the Jacksonville, Florida native still needs to translate on the score sheet. Ferlin has five goals and five assists, in 29 AHL games. Ferlin has second line potential, but could also fit in well in a bottom-six roll with his stature and puck control.

Jared Knight, RW, 22

The once seemingly promising prospect has fallen to the bottom of the organization depth charts. Knight has only managed a measly two points in 23 games, while also being a healthy scratch at times. The Bruins hope Knight can find his scoring touch that made him a point-per-game player for the London Knights. Time may be running out for Knight.

Tyler Randell, RW, 23

Randell is a projected fourth line type player, who is more than willing to take the body and mix it up. Since Shawn Thornton has moved onto Florida, Randell could be a replacement if the Bruins decide they need an enforcer down the road. He still needs to improve on his overall game, though, before he is ready for NHL work. Randell has six fights so far this season in Providence.

The Scarborough, Ontario native has eight points (five goals, three assists), in 34 games for Providence this season.

Anthony Camara, 21, LW

The Toronto, Ontario native has not been able to produce on the score sheet like during his final OHL season, yet. Camara has managed only six points in 31 AHL games so far this season. He has size, puck strength, and many qualities the Bruins like, but he has to start putting the puck in the net with regularity.

Craig Cunningham, 24, LW/C

The undersized forward has paid his dues in the Bruins system since being drafted in 2010. Cunningham has split this season between Boston and Providence, but seems to be closing in on earning a role with the Bruins’ fourth line. Mainly playing the wing, Cunningham did get a look at the fourth pivot role, while Gregory Campbell was hurt to begin the season. He has scored two goals this season in 16 NHL games, and the Trail, British Columbia native added 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) during his 21-game stint in Providence.

If the Bruins decide to part ways with Campbell, Cunningham could make a bid to take over his role at center permanently.

Justin Florek, 24, LW

After a four-game regular season games and a six-playoff game stint in Boston last season, Florek has spent all of this season so far in Providence. The Northern Michigan University alum has scored 14 points in 35 AHL games. With Matt Fraser being waived and Jordan Caron being a healthy scratch most nights, Florek could get more of a chance moving forward. The Bruins certainly like his six-foot-four frame and ability to control the puck.

Matt Lindblad, 24, LW

The Dartmouth College alum had a two-game stint in the NHL this season before being returned to Providence. In the AHL, Lindblad has produced well scoring 15 points (seven goals and eight assists). Lindblad projects to be a bottom-six forward at the NHL level. He seems to have passed Florek on the depth chart.

Ryan Spooner, 22, C

Spooner once considered to be the top forward prospect in Providence might be falling on the depth chart. Spooner has appeared in five NHL games this season, but recently Alexander Khokhlachev has been called up in favor of Spooner. His numbers have taken a bit of a hit at the AHL level, after putting up a near point-per-game pace the previous two seasons, he only had 13 points in 21 games. That could also be because he is focusing on other parts of his game, though.

Alexander Khokhlachev, 21, C

The Russian native has seen three games at the NHL level this year, and he has been called up over Spooner at times. Khokhlachev is at about a point-per-game pace in Providence with 25 points (seven goals, 18 assists) in 27 games. Khokhlachev and Spooner seem to be competing for call-ups, but Boston is not always going to call up the top scoring option for a third or fourth line option. Expect Khokhlachev to compete for a roster spot more next season than this year in Boston.

Rob Flick, 23, C

Flick is a role player for Providence and that’s about what his ceiling is at the NHL level. He’ll b a bottom-six forward who is reliable in his defensive end, but won’t put up crazy offensive numbers. Flick has eight points in 26 games so far this season. He’s been known to drop the gloves and play with an edge having fought six times last season and has added another two fights this year.

Joe Morrow, 22, D

The Edmonton, Alberta native got his first crack at the NHL playing 15 games when injuries piled up. While Morrow didn’t look out of place, he is still just rounding into form to be a NHL defenseman. He scored his first NHL goal during his 15-game stint and if the Bruins have more injuries to the defenseman corps, you can expect to see Morrow back again. He has two points in eight AHL games. With the Bruins struggles and Tyler Seguin‘s roaring success, Morrow could help ease the blow if he can develop into a two-way, top-four defenseman.

Zach Trotman, 24, D

The 6’3 defenseman has come along way since being drafted 210th overall in 2010. Trotman has been shuttling back-and-forth like many other young Bruins up and down I-95 between Boston and Providence. With injuries piling up, Trotman got into 17 games for Boston scoring four points, all assists. With Boston finally having a healthy line up, the Lake Superior State alumnus has returned to the AHL, where he has three assists in 11 games. Expect a few more back-and-forth trips for the 24-year-old. Trotman projects as a bottom pairing defenseman and could be a replacement for McQuaid or Miller in the future.

Chris Casto, 23, D

The Minnesota-Duluth alum has scored five points in 26 AHL games this season. He seems to be far down on the depth chart, though. He needs more time to develop at the AHL level.

Tommy Cross, 24, D

Cross has fit nicely into the Providence Bruins line up, but he does not project to be much more than a depth defenseman at this point in his career. The once second round pick has 10 points in 28 AHL games. The former Boston College captain could pan out to be something similar to Shane Hnidy in a seventh defenseman role.

Boston Bruins Prospect of the Month

Zane McIntyre - Boston Bruins Prospect of the MonthZane Mcintyre has stayed hot after leading North Dakota to the Frozen Four a year ago. So far this season, McIntyre is 13-4-2, with a 1.95 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. In December, the Thief River Falls, Minnesota native went 3-1 only losing at Denver against the Pioneers. McIntyre and the Sioux sit number one in the latest polls from USCHO.com and USA Today, edging out Jack Eichel Boston Univerity Terriers by 17 points.

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