Bruins own large group of collegiate prospects

By Bill Ladd
Photo: Alexander Fallstrom is one of many complementary forwards in the Bruins NCAA prospect pool. (Photo courtesy of Michael Tureski/Icon SMI)

The Bruins drafting philosophy becomes pretty apparent when you compare their NCAA group to their European one: they boast nine skaters in the college ranks, to just one overseas. Obviously, the Bruins prefer to keep their talent close to home. The college group is led by Michigan State captain and recent free agent signing Torey Krug and former BC Eagles' captain Tommy Cross. The lone European representative, Maxim Chudinov was one of the best defenseman in KHL this year.

NCAA

Torey Krug, D, Michigan State Spartans (CCHA)
Signed as a free agent, March 25th, 2012


The Bruins were thrilled to be able to add defenseman Torey Krug to their prospect stable. Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos said half of the teams in the league made offers to Krug, so it was certainly a coup for the Bruins to get him to sign with them over teams where it might have been easier for him to earn playing time. The former Michigan State captain lacks height, but has a thick, strong lower body that, when combined with his competitive drive and skating ability, allows him to compensate and win one-on-one battles. He also boasts tremendous leadership and character. Krug played in two games for Boston at the end of the season looked quite comfortable, moving the puck well, joining the attack and competing for pucks with NHL players. It was obvious however that he'll need more time to adjust to the system. Krug will be competing with Dougie Hamilton and Maxim Chudinov for a spot in Boston next fall.

Brian Ferlin, RW, Cornell Big Red (ECAC)
Drafted 4th round, 121st overall, 2011

No player in the Bruins prospect pool has risen as much this season as Brian Ferlin. Drafted as an overager in the fourth round last year, he seemed at first like a long-shot to be a third line contributor in the NHL, but from the first time he stepped on the ice at development camp he impressed. He followed development camp with an impressive showing at the US World Junior camp, and then he followed that with an impressive, point-per-game freshman season at Cornell.

Tommy Cross, D, Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
Drafted 2nd round, 35th overall, 2007

After setting career highs in every category, Tommy Cross made his long awaited pro and acquitted himself very well. The former two-time NCAA national champion and captain of Boston College is a smart, rugged, stay-at-home defenseman with above average mobility. Unfortunately, Cross is another player in the Bruins' prospect stable whose development has been severely hampered by repeated injuries, in Cross' case, knee injuries. The 2011-12 season was his first completely healthy season at BC and he set career highs in all major offensive categories while continuing to play against the opposition's best offensive players every game.

If there's a weakness to Cross' game, it's his ability to move the puck, and even that has seen marked improvement over the last two seasons. If he can continue to refine that part of his game, and remain healthy, the Bruins may have a very serviceable mid-pairing shut-down defenseman on their hands.

Justin Florek, LW, Northern Michigan Wildcats (CCHA)
Drafted 5th round, 135th overall, 2010

Justin Florek had a breakout season for Northern Michigan, putting up 19 goals and 36 points in 37 games. At 6'4 204lbs, the left-wing is a heavy presence down low, along the boards and in front of the net.

There is some legitimate third line, NHL potential in Justin Florek. Players with his combination of size, net-front presence, and above average hands are going to be given every opportunity to succeed. Perhaps that's even more true in the Boston system, where they love the heavy, grinding game, and have precious little in the system in terms of power players.

Zach Trotman, D, Lake Superior State Lakers (CCHA)
Drafted 7th round, 210th overall, 2010

If there's a darkhorse prospect in the Bruins system, it's Zach Trotman. The 6'4 202lb defenseman quietly continues to develop and improve. As a sophomore at Lake Superior State, he tripled his freshman point totals. This year, as a junior, he set a career high in points with 21 in 40 games and almost doubled his goal production, going from six as a sophomore to 11 this season.

Trotman doesn't have the kind of skill-set that pulls people out of their seats, but he does have good mobility, excellent size and a good sense for the game. He moves the puck well and knows how to join the attack. Defensively, he makes good reads and was relied on in all situations for Lake Superior State. The Bruins were so impressed with Trotman's development that they offered the last overall pick in 2010 a contract at the rookie max, and then traded the rights to Yuri Alexandrov to accommodate it.

Ben Sexton, C/W, Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC)
Drafted 7th round, 206th overall, 2009

Ben Sexton is another unheralded prospect, quietly putting up solid numbers and developing at a good pace. As a freshman with Clarkson University, Sexton was leading the team in goals and points when a wrist injury cost him the majority of his season. Sexton was much healthier as a sophomore in 2011-12, and scored at better than a point-per-game with eight goals and 29 points in 27 games, good for third on the team despite missing 12 games. Sexton is a speedy, industrious small forward with an improving offensive game, but frequent trips to the IR are becoming a concern.

Alexander Fallstrom, RW/LW, Harvard Crimson (ECAC)
Acquired via trade with Minnesota Wild, October 18th, 2009

Alex Fallstrom is a big, intelligent, two-way forward whose progress has been steady, albeit a little underwhelming. He put up 12 points in 32 games as a freshman which, was a little disappointing given his strong showing at development camp and his size advantage. As a sophomore, he put 12 points in 22 games and while his points-per-game increased, he still wasn't producing at a level commensurate with his talent. This year however, he broke through and potted 13 goals and 25 points in 28 games for the Crimson. Hopefully his success this year will breed confidence and set him up for a big senior season.

Nick Tremblay, C, Clarkson Golden Knights (ECAC)
Drafted 6th round, 173rd overall, 2008

Nick Tremblay erupted for the best season of his college career this year. After three years of modest production, Tremblay scored almost as many goals this year as he had points last year. In total, he finished with 17 goals and 36 points in 37 games. Ben Sexton's linemate at Clarkson, Tremblay has tremendous speed and skating ability to go along with decent size. Tremblay finished the year in Providence on a tryout agreement and put up a goal and an assist in four games.

Mark Goggin, C, Dartmouth Big Green (ECAC)
Acquired: 7th round, 197th overall, 2008

Goggin is a small, intelligent playmaker who unfortunately hasn't shown a lot of development in his game since his selection in 2008. He 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. In 2011-12 he played 14 games for Dartmouth and had three goals and six points..

Europe

Maxim Chudinov, D, Cherepovets Severstal (KHL)
Acquired: 7th round, 195th overall, 2010

Maxim Chudinov has experienced consistent growth in his game and really elevated his play this season. The stocky, aggressive defenseman with good offensive instincts and a powerful shot played over 23 minutes per game for Cherepovets Severstal, putting up 35 points in 52 games, good for fourth in the KHL among defensemen. The 21-year-old Russian's KHL contract is up at the end of this season and he appears to be genuinely interested in coming to North America to take the next step in his development. It's hard to compare Chudinov to his North American peers because we see so little of him, but depending on his ability to transition to the North American pro-game, he has an outside shot at cracking Boston's roster next fall as their sixth or seventh defenseman.