Boston Bruins boast large contingent of collegiate prospects

By Bill Ladd
Photo: David Warsofsky recently signed an entry-level contract with the Boston Bruins and will report to their AHL affiliate for the remainder of the 2010-11 season. (Photo courtesy of www.goterriers.com)

The Bruins have two prominent prospects playing in the NCAA in defensemen David Warsofsky and Tommy Cross. The two players play for cross-town rivals Boston University and Boston College and their styles are just as diametrically opposed; with Warsofsky playing more of a slick, roving, offensive role to Cross’ strong, shut-down style. The Bruins also have an exciting prospect in Europe, in Russian defenseman, Maxim Chudinov whose style blends a little of both.

Europe

Maxim Chudinov, D, 21
Acquired: 7th round, 195th overall, 2010

Maxim Chudinov is coming off a terrific season in the KHL. The stocky, strong defenseman with good offensive instincts played over 22 minutes per game for Cherepovets Severstal and put up 23 points in 52 games. The 20-year-old Russian plans to spend at least one more season in Europe before coming over to North America. But there’s a chance he could attend the Bruins development camp in July, where it would be great to see him go against his peers and match the myth to the man.

Carl Soderberg, C/W, 25
Acquired: Trade with St. Louis Blues, 2007

This highly skilled Swede looked like a sure-bet NHL’er a few years ago. In fact, he actually made the St. Louis Blues out of his first training camp. But when his play dipped, they decided to send him down and he decided to leave North America, not since returning. Along the way, he suffered a horrific eye injury, the result of an errant stick which has left him legally blind in that eye, but he continues to score and be productive and it’s believed that if he ever committed to being an NHL player, he would be already. He’s that skilled. But at this point, that day still seems like a long way off.

NCAA

David Warsofsky, D, 20
Acquired: Trade with St. Louis Blues, 2010

Warsofsky started the season on fire, scoring at a point per game through the first half, but on February 19th, he suffered a concussion that kept him out of the lineup for almost a month and wasn’t able to maintain his early season pace. The small, skilled rearguard finished the year with 22 points in 34 games. Despite the setback, Warsofsky chose to sign with the Bruins on March 24th, foregoing his senior season and reporting to Providence of the AHL.

At this point, Warsofsky is not a finished product, so the decision to leave school a year early is a curious one. The twenty-year-old is small, but strong and feisty. And his offensive ability has never been in question, but the defensive side of his game still needed work, even for the college level, so it will be interesting to see how he adjusts and develops that side of his game in the pro’s.


Tommy Cross, D, 21
Acquired: 2nd round, 35th overall, 2007

Tommy Cross is having a breakthrough season for Boston College, where his 18 points in 27 games rank him second on the team in scoring among defenseman. Had he been healthy all year, he could have more points than the New York Rangers‘ top prospect, Chris Kreider. And perhaps more impressive than the point totals has been the timeliness of his goals. Cross recorded the OT game winner in the Beanpot preliminary round and then recorded three points in the Championship game, which BC won. He followed that up by scoring the go ahead goal in the Hockey East Semi-Finals, as BC defeated Northeastern 5-4, all while playing stout defensive hockey against top lines night-in, night-out. The big obstacle for Cross going forward is his injury history, where it seems every year he has some ailment to overcome, from minor to major.

Zach Trotman, D, 20
Acquired: 7th round, 210th overall, 2010

Zach Trotman is coming off a strong sophomore season for Lake Superior State University in which he recorded 6 goals and 20 points in 38 games, which almost triples his production as a freshman. Trotman isn’t flashy, but he does have decent mobility, excellent size and a good sense for the game. If the two-way defenseman continues progressing, the last pick in the 2010 NHL draft may just earn himself a pro contract within a year or two.

Ben Sexton, C/W, 19
Acquired: 7th round, 206th overall, 2009

Sexton got off to a good start with Clarkson University, and was leading the team in goals and points when he was injured. Sexton was in the process of scoring a goal against Colgate on November 18th when an opposing player slid into Sexton just after he had released his shot causing the freshman to fall awkwardly into the end boards, breaking his wrist. Sexton did make it back before the end of the season and even scored a goal in his first game back, but had clearly lost some strength in his injured and braced arm. Sexton finished with five goals and eight points in 12 games. Injuries seem to follow Sexton around and if the speedy, industrious small forward is to have a pro future he has to find a way to stay healthy.

Alexander Fallstrom, RW/LW, 20
Acquired: Trade with Minnesota Wild, 2009

Fallstrom hasn’t progressed the way the Bruins had hoped. The big, two-way sophomore shows good puck protection skills but has just seven goals and 12 points over 22 games with Harvard this season. If his offense doesn’t come along, Fallstrom may have to become more of a defensive specialist, relying on his intelligence and size, to carve out a nice for himself at the pro level.

Mark Goggin, C, 20
Acquired: 7th round, 197th overall, 2008

Mark Goggin is another late pick who hasn’t really stepped up his game since his selection. The small playmaker had an unremarkable senior season at Choate Prep School in New England. He followed that with a modest rookie season for Dartmouth in which he posted two goals and six points in 22 games. Then he suffered an ankle injury that kept him out of the Bruins development camp last summer, and followed that with a severe wrist injury that cost him his entire sophomore season. At this point, it’s hard to know what Goggin has to offer or if he has any viability as an NHL prospect, but a healthy and productive 2011-12 would be a start.