Bruins rookie review 2003-04

By George Bachul






Nashville Predators 2003-04 Rookie Review

As a young team that is a few short pieces
away from being a serious contender for the Stanley Cup, the Boston Bruins were
not a favorite to break in several rookies for prominent jobs with the big
club.  There were a couple of players
that the Bruins had thought at the start of training camp may be poised to
develop into regulars, but the Spoked B’s brain trust would be ultimately
surprised with the players that made the most impact.

 

Patrice Bergeron

Age: 18
Date of birth: July 24, 1985
Place of Birth:
Ancienne-Lorette, PQ, Canada
HT: 6-0 WT: 186
Shoots: R
Drafted by Boston in 2003 (2nd round/45th overall).

 

When the 2003-04 training camp began, the
Boston Bruins did not have an established No. 2 center.  When they drafted Patrice Bergeron at 45th
overall, the Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Bradley and Bruins scout
Daniel Dore were thrilled to have the 6’0”, 185 lb center drop down that
far.  Bergeron has a great blend of soft
hands, great vision, excellent hockey sense and a defensive conscience that is
uncommon in players his age.  The early
assessments compared Bergeron to a young Adam Oates, which is no small
comparison. 

 

Bergeron made the Boston Bruins right out
of training camp playing his first game on October 8th against New
Jersey at the Fleet Center in Boston. 
He scored his first point on October 15th on the road against
the Dallas Stars assisting on Brian Rolston’s game winning goal in a 2-0 win.
He recorded his first NHL goal on October 18th on the road in Los
Angeles against the Kings with Brian Rolston returning the favor assisting on
the power play marker along with Sergei Samsonov.  Bergeron was named to the NHL Youngstars game picking up one
assist. 

 

One of the most consistent NHL rookies
throughout the year, Bergeron was considered as a Calder Trophy finalist losing
out to Trent Hunter (NYI), Michael Ryder (MTL) and teammate Andrew Raycroft
(BOS).  Bergeron rankings for the
regular season were as follows:  Goals
(T-5th), assists (4th), points (5th),
plus/minus (15th).   Bergeron
has become a solid NHL player in his first season of action.  He has all the potential to be a star in the
league for years to come.

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Patrice Bergeron

C

71

16

23

39

0.55

+5

22

16:20

133

Playoffs

 

7

1

3

4

0.57

+5

0

17:13

20

 

Andrew Raycroft

Age: 23
Date of birth: May 4, 1980
Place of Birth: Belleville, ON, Canada
HT: 6’0 WT: 180
Catches: L
Drafted by Boston in 1998 (5th round/135th overall).

 

On September 3, 2003 the Boston Bruins
signed Felix Potvin and at the time many pundits thought it was to provide
clarity to the goaltending position in Beantown.  At 2003 training camp, goaltending prospect Hannu Toivonen was
dispatched to Providence to hone his skills in the American Hockey League.  Steve Shields was sent to the Florida
Panthers for future considerations. 
This left Potvin and highly touted prospect Andrew Raycroft to compete
for the starting position.  It was an
enviable position to be in having either a highly talented rookie between the
pipes or a solid veteran as the alternate choice.  Although Raycroft had 21 NHL games under his belt prior to the
2003-04 season, this was the perfect opportunity for him to entrench himself as
the Bruins goalie of the future. 

 

The season started with both goaltenders
getting a reasonably equal share of starts until November when Raycroft strung
together four consecutive victories from November 8-20th.  This coupled with four less than spectacular
starts by Potvin from November 19 – December 4 when he gave up a total of 18 goals
was all it took for Raycroft to firmly take over the starting position.  He recorded his first NHL shutout turning
away 27 shots in a 2-0 victory against the Dallas Stars on October 15, 2003.  Raycroft continued to put together a fine
season, leading the Bruins to a second overall finish in the NHL and a second
overall ranking in goals against. 

 

There was no competition for Raycroft among
rookie goaltenders this year statistically as his statistics proved to be among
the best of all NHL goaltenders.  Raycroft ranked tenth in wins (29), sixth in goals against average
(2.05), and fifth in save percentage (.926). 
Although his season was cut a little shorter than the Bruins would have
liked, losing out to Montreal in seven games in the first round, Raycroft’s
excellent season garnered him a Calder Trophy finalist nomination as the
league’s top rookie.  Raycroft is no
longer a prospect and now the Bruins incumbent starting goalie.

Player

Pos

GP

W

L

T

SA

GAA

Save %

SO

PIM

Andrew Raycroft

G

57

29

18

8

1586

2.05

.926

3

0

Playoffs

 

7

3

4

0

210

2.14

.924

1

2

 

Carl Corazzini

Age: 25
Date of birth: April 21, 1979
Place of Birth: Framingham, MA, USA
HT: 5’10 WT: 182
Shoots: R
Signed as a Free agent in 2001.

 

After being signed as a free agent by
Boston in 2001 after a solid career at Boston University in the NCAA, Corazzini
has split time between the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League and
the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies of the ECHL.  On January 14, 2004 Corazzini was recalled from Providence because
of his fine early season.  Known as one
of the faster skaters in the American Hockey League, Corazzini provided an
added energy to the Bruins with his high intensity game.  Corazzini scored his first NHL goal and
point on January 20, 2004 against the New York Rangers with a short-handed
marker.  He continued his 12-game NHL
stint until February 18, 2004 when he was reassigned to Providence.  If Corazzini can continue to solidify his
defensive game, he could evolve into a fourth line energy/penalty killing type
of player. 

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Carl Corazzini

C/LW

12

2

0

2

0.17

+2

0

10:41

16

 

Sergei Zinovjev

Age: 24
Date of birth: March 4, 1980
Place of Birth: Novokuznetsk, USSR
HT: 5-10 WT: 185
Shoots: L
Drafted by Boston in 2000 (3rd round/73rd overall).

 

Sergei Zinovjev has been an enigma since
being drafted as a 20-year-old in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.  After completing several successful seasons
in the Russian Super League with Spartak Moscow and Aks Bar Kazan, the Boston
Bruins finally inked the smallish skilled center to a two-year deal.  A more challenging situation coming into
camp than most prospects, Zinovjev showed up two weeks late after a paperwork
problem coming over from Russia.  This
coupled with a sore groin had Zinovjev sent down to Providence to get into NHL
game shape.  There was some concern that
Zinovjev would exercise an option to return to Russia if sent to the
minors.  After deciding to accept the
demotion, Zinovjev played well in a four-game stint in the AHL earning a
promotion back to the big club. 

 

He played his first NHL game on October 25,
2003 at the New Jersey Devils, starting on the fourth line with Sandy McCarthy
and Michal Grosek, but soon after promoted to the second line with Sergei
Samsonov and Martin Lapointe.  Zinovjev
played well, scoring his first NHL point with an assist on Sergei Samsonov’s
third period goal.  The next four games
Zinovjev had solid but unspectacular outings becoming a healthy scratch for the
next six games.  He was skilled enough
to continue playing but his decisions with the puck had yet to evolve to the
NHL level.  He did return to the line-up
for five more games but at a severely reduced amount of ice time. 

 

Zinovjev was demoted on December 6, 2003
and exercised his option to return to Russia on December 17, 2003.  He played the final 27 games in the Ak Bars
Kazan season.  His whirlwind season did
not end there.  He was named to the 2004
Russian World Championship squad only to be sent home by the Russian team after
an independently administered drug test turned up positive for marijuana.  There was some question whether the
situation was legitimate or the issues were more related to Zinovjev’s
relationship to the Russian Team’s management. 
There is still hope in the Bruins organization for a return to the NHL
in the future.

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Sergei Zinovjev

C

10

0

1

1

0.10

+1

2

9:48

8

 

Patrick Leahy

Age: 24
Date of birth: June 9, 1979
Place of Birth: Brighton, MA, USA
HT: 6-3 WT: 208
Shoots: R
Signed as a free agent by Boston in 2002.

 

Patrick Leahy is another of the Boston
Bruins free agent signees who has been developing in the American Hockey League
for the last couple of years.  Leahy was
recalled from Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League to fill the spot
vacated by Sergei Zinovjev.  After two
solid offensive seasons in the minors, he was primed for the opportunity and
with the Providence Bruins having injuries to several high profile prospects
including Andy Hilbert, Matt Herr and Kris Vernarsky, Leahy was the logical
next choice.  Leahy made his NHL debut
on December 6, 2003 against the Philadelphia Flyers.  In six games as a Bruin, Leahy did not make any significant
impact averaging less than six minutes of ice time per game on the fourth
line.  Leahy is still down somewhat on
the Bruins depth chart and will attempt to earn a fourth line roster position
at the 2004-05 training camp. 

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Patrick Leahy

RW

6

0

0

0

0

1

0

5:26

2

 

Martin Samuelsson

Age: 22
Date of birth: January 25, 1982
Place of Birth: Upplands Vasby, Sweden
HT: 6-2 WT: 200
Shoots: L
Drafted by Boston in 2000 (1st round/27th overall)

 

Martin Samuelsson has many of the qualities
that you would want in an NHL prospect. 
He has size, work ethic and very good skating ability.  It was anticipated that Sergei Zinovjev
would make the big club out of training camp, but with Zinovjev’s early season
reassignment to Providence of the American Hockey League, Samuelsson began the
season in the NHL.  Samuelsson started
the season as the fourth line right winger and didn’t impact at all over three
games early in the season.  The recall
of Sergei Zinovjev ended Samuelsson’s early season opportunity with the Bruins
and he was reassigned to Providence. 
Samuelsson received two other call-ups in January due to injury.  Samuelsson has not been able to translate
his skills into an offensive threat in the NHL.  He may have to adapt his game to a bottom six forward to be able
to become a full time NHL player.

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Martin Samuelsson

RW

6

0

0

0

0

-1

0

5:38

7

 

Kris Vernarsky

Age: 22
Date of birth: April 5, 1982
Place of Birth: Detroit, MI, USA
HT: 6-3 WT: 207
Shoots: L
Acquired in 2002 in exchange for Ric Jackman

 

Kris Vernarsky is a player that the Bruins
had pegged for one or two more seasons in Providence of the American Hockey
League.  In his young career, Vernarsky
has been labelled as a two-way forward, but many wonder if he has an offensive
upside.  He received a three-game
call-up in January 2004 to replace Travis Green who was lost to injury.  Vernarsky did not make any significant
impact in any of the games that he played this season averaging over six
minutes a game as the fourth line center. 
He will have to continue to develop his game in the American Hockey
League to become a regular in the NHL.

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Kris Vernarsky

C

3

0

0

0

0

-1

0

6:32

0

 

Zdenek Kutlak

Age: 24
Date of birth: February 13, 1980
Place of Birth: Budejovice, Czech
HT: 6-3 WT: 222
Shoots: L
Drafted by Boston in 2000 (8th round/237th overall)

 

Zdenek Kutlak was qualified this past
offseason to provide depth on the Bruins blue line.  In this his fourth year in the Bruins organization, Kutlak had to
quickly impress management to convince them that he would fit into their long
term plans.  After only fitting in for a
couple of games and being a healthy scratch for significant stretches, it
appears that time is running out for Kutlak in the organization.  With labor uncertainty, Kutlak signed a
contract on May 16, 2004 with
HC Karlovy Vary of the Czech Extraleague.  There has been no word on whether Kutlak would return to North
America if a new collective bargaining agreement were reached in the NHL.

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Zdenek Kutlak

LW

2

0

0

0

0

-1

0

6:31

0

 

Colton Orr

Age: 22
Date of birth: March 3, 1982
Place of Birth: Winnipeg, Man., Canada
HT: 6-3 WT: 215
Shoots: R
Signed as a free agent by Boston in 2001

 

Colton Orr is a big physical center that is
sought more for his pugilistic skills than his on ice skills.  He was called up for one game this season to
replace the Bruins other tough guy Doug Doull who was out with the flu on
January 8 versus the Pittsburgh Penguins. 
Orr did not reach the score sheet either in a scoring capacity or on the
penalty sheet.  He was unimpressive in
his NHL debut looking quite lost on the ice in limited action.  He was reassigned to Providence of the
American Hockey League upon Doull’s return the following day.  Orr may have a future as an NHL tough guy if
he improves his overall hockey skills.

Player

Pos

GP

G

A

Pts

Ppg

+/-

PIM

ATOI

Shots

Colton Orr

RW

1

0

0

0

0

 -1

0

2:13

0

 

 

The Boston Bruins have spent many years
developing prospects and have solid depth in most positions in their prospect
cupboard.  This year’s rookie crop lead
by Patrice Bergeron and Andrew Raycroft shows the Bruins have a talent for
recognizing and developing their young talent. 
With two Calder Trophy contenders on this season’s roster, it’s not a
stretch at all to say that the Bruins had the finest rookie crop in the NHL.