Dougie Hamilton remains top prospect for Boston Bruins

By Richard Murray

(left to right) Ryan Spooner, Dougie Hamilton, and Jared Knight - Boston Bruins

Photo: (left to right) Ryan Spooner, Dougie Hamilton, and Jared Knight are three of the Boston Bruins most promising prospects. Hamilton and Spooner have both spent time in the NHL this season. (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Boston Bruins have used the NHL draft, trades, and free agency to populate their prospect pool with a diverse group of players who are at various stages of their development. The emphasis recently has been on solidifying their defense and goaltending, with those two positions now deep in talent and among the strengths of the organization.

1. (1) Dougie Hamilton, D, 9.0C
Drafted 1st round, 9th overall, 2011

The rookie has had some bumps along the ride so far with the big club, but the 6'5 defenseman has shown flashes of brilliance so far this season with the Bruins. Hamilton has shown the ability to wiz the puck around like Marc Savard in the offensive zone with his playmaking abilities. The Bruins powerplay finally appears to be having some success of late, and Hamilton bas been an important addition to the power play this season. Hamilton has put up four goals and 10 assists so far this season.

2. (2) Malcolm Subban, G, 8.0C
Drafted 1st round, 24th overall, 2012

Subban showed some struggles in the World Junior Championships when it counted most, but for all intents and purposes is still a high-end prospect. He was very impressive at development camp this past summer as he fit right in with other drafted players in the Bruins organization. In the OHL this season he has been absolutely tremendous posting a 29-11-4 record with a 2.14 goals against average and a .934 save percentage.

3. (3) Ryan Spooner, C, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 32nd overall, 2010

With David Krejci out, Ryan Spooner was called up and Bruins coach Claude Julien gave the rookie first line playing between Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic. Spooner has also seen some power play time with the big club, and all of this is because of all the offensive skill he possesses. He is not the biggest guy in the world, but he does not play like he is 5'10. Before his call up to the big team, Spooner tore up the AHL scoring 47 points in 51 games, the Bruins hope he can translate that success at the NHL level sooner rather than later with injuries piling up. Spooner is a player that the Bruins are starting to trust no matter the situation.

"Ryan has had lots of power play time, so we have been using him in situations where he can use his skill set and take advantage on the ice," Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney said.

4. (4) Alexander Khokhlachev, C, 7.5C
Drafted 2nd round, 40th overall, 2011

Better known as Koko to many Bruins fans, Khokhlachev has had an interesting season of development playing in the OHL, WJC, and the KHL. He struggled to produce in the big league over in Russia, which led to his return to Windsor in the OHL. Koko had only seven points in 26 KHL games, but a return to the OHL lit a spark in his game, as he was near an average of two points-per-game. He registered 48 points in 29 games for the Spitfires, and since his the OHL season is over he has now joined the Providence Bruins.

5. (5) Jared Knight, RW, 7.0C
Drafted 2nd round, 32nd overall, 2010

The first year of the rugged forwards professional career has been disappointed by injuries. He has only played in five professional games and has no points and is a minus-four. He will look to bounce back next season if he can stay healthy. This is the first time he has had serious injuries like this, so he will given the off-season to regroup and see what happens. He has a lot of talent and was a point-per-game player in the OHL.

"He is a hard-nosed player that plays in straight lines and gets to the net," Sweeney said. He can play either side, will shoot from either side, or he will drive to the net with authority. He has also developed an appreciation playing without the puck by taking the body and playing defense."

6. (13) Niklas Svedberg, G, 7.0C
Signed as a free agent, May 29th, 2012

In his first professional season in North America, Svedberg has been lights out for the Providence Bruins posting a 31-8-2 record. The Swedish netminder also posted three shutouts to go along with a 2.26 goals-against-average and a .922 save percentage. He could be ready for the NHL sooner rather than later as he showed no signs of struggle in Providence. Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin at the NHL level block him from the jump to NHL level, so it remains to be seen what the exact plans are for the Swede.

"Adjusting to the North American ice surface is difficult for anyone especially a goalie because of where shots come from and how players get on you quicker," Sweeney said. "He has had some adjustments learning how to play the puck more, and he has had some growing pains in that area but he is working at it. He has found a way to win games for us, and he battles for every save."

7. (7) Brian Ferlin, RW, 7.0C
Drafted 4th round, 121st overall, 2011

The big power forward had his struggles this season for Cornell, but the entire Cornell team struggled this season. His struggles may be more of a team thing than individual. He had a very slow start, but he did pick up the pace by the end.
He has all his skills and is extremely strong on the puck, especially along the boards. He is the kind of player the Bruins like with size, grit, and strength. Ferlin had 24 points in 34 games, which is still three more points than he had last season. Look for him to bounce back after a somewhat disappointing season with the Big Red next year.

8. (6) Torey Krug, D, 7.0C
Signed as a free agent, March 25th, 2012

The Michigan State product has made a nice jump to the AHL level this season producing 34 points in 56 games. He had some injury problems earlier this season, which also prevented him from participating at the big clubs training camp. There is little doubt that he has talent to be a puck-mover at the NHL level, but there are still some questions to how ready he is for that level. He was called up recently and contributed a power play assist, but was sent down after just one game. Either way Krug should get a legit shot to make the NHL roster next October.

9. (16) Seth Griffith, C, 7.0C
Drafted 5th round, 131st overall, 2012

Despite being passed up in his first draft year, Griffith has come on strong in the OHL over the past few seasons. He as strung together back-to-back 80-plus point seasons, which also included a 45-goal campaign just a year ago. Griffith is a smaller player at only 5'10, but the forward has a lot of skills as he is only just coming into his own.

10. (17) Matt Grzelcyk, D, 7.0C
Drafted 3rd round, 85th overall, 2012

Although the undersized defenseman may be years away from the NHL, Grzelyck showed he has a lot of talent during his freshman season under coach Jack Parker at Boston University. The Terrier tallied 23 points in 38 games on the BU blue line. Grzelyck is still years away from developing, but he is the kind of offensive presence on the blue line that the big club in Beantown would to have.

11. (11) Zane Gothberg, G, 7.0C
Drafted 6th round, 165th overall, 2010

Since the day he was drafted by the Bruins he has been considered a long-term project, but Gothberg is starting to show that he may be for real. During his freshman season at North Dakota he had a very strong showing in the 17 games he played.  The netminder went 9-4-3 with a 2.46 goals against average and a .920 save percentage in his freshman season with UND. Time will tell on Gothberg, but after his four college seasons are over, he could leave the collegiate level as one of the best goalie prospect in college hockey.

12. (NR) Anthony Camara, LW, 7.0D
Drafted 3rd round, 81st overall, 2011

Camara has been compared to Milan Lucic since day one as a Bruins prospect, and that probably is not very fair to the gritty forward. Camara has developed nicely though over the past few seasons.  He earned himself a spot on Canada's WJC team in 2012, and he continues to get better everyday. He had a breakout season this this year in the OHL producing 60 points, in 50 games, the first time he has been over a point-per-game pace in the OHL. The Bruins must see something already because they recently inked him to an entry-level deal.

13. (8) Carter Camper, RW, 7.0D
Signed as a free agent, April 7th 2011

Had some injury problems earlier this season, but since re-joining the Providence Bruins, Camper has shown that he is still very gifted in the offensive zone. He will never be mistaken for the biggest guy in the room, but the undersized forward has not let his size be a deterrent. If he can keep that up in the NHL will remain to be seen, but he could break into the NHL over the next season or two. He has great playmaking abilities as he has 32 assists so far this season to go along with 39 points, in 49 AHL games.

14. (20) Lars Volden, G, 6.5C
Drafted 6th round, 181st overall, 2011

The Norway native has put up some decent numbers in his first go around in the SM-liiga recording a 4-4-1 record. Volden has a shutout, a 2.01 goals against average, and a .927 save percentage in 11 games, so although his numbers are impressive he could use some more playing time. Volden is a big-bodied goaltender that takes up a lot of the net. At Bruins development camp he has fit in well, and he has always shown that he has excellent technique in goal. Like Gothberg, Volden is considered a long-term project goalie, but the potential is definitely there.

15. (10) David Warsofsky, D, 6.0B
Trade with St. Louis Blues, June 26th, 2010

Warsofsky surprised some people when he made the Bruins out of training camp this season, but the mobile defenseman has a lot of attributes that the Bruins like. His play making abilities make his very valuable despite being a little bit smaller than most defenseman at 5'9. Under Jack Parker at Boston University, Warsofsky ran the Terriers blue line during power plays and was a very valuable asset to Parker.  In three seasons with BU, Warsofsky tallied 68 points.

The Blues drafted him, but being traded to the Bruins was a dream come true for the Marshfiled, Mass. native.

"Growing up in the area I was definitely a Bruins fan, so it is pretty special to be able to wear the jersey," Warsofsky said following the trade. "My favorite Bruins of all time are Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque. They were offensive defensemen like me."

Last season in Providence, Warsofsky finished with 29 points, and though 49 games this season he has 17 points in 51 games. He still has not debuted for the big club up in Boston, but the fact that he made the team out of camp says something about what the Bruins think of him.

16. (NR) Cody Payne, RW, 6.5C
Drafted 5th round, 145th overall, 2012

Just drafted last season, Payne still is years away from the NHL, but this past season with Plymouth in the OHL he made a big step forward.  He tripled his production of 14 points last season to 45 points this season scoring 24 goals as well. At 6'2 inches Payne has the rugged size the Bruins love in their forwards and he is no stranger to the penalty box having 170 penalty minutes over the past two seasons.

Editor's Note: Just prior to posting this article, Cody Payne was traded to the Dallas Stars, along with Lane MacDermid and a draft pick, for veteran winger Jaromir Jagr.

17. (14) Zach Trotman, D, 6.5C
Drafted 7th round, 210th overall, 2010

Trotman came on strong during his final two seasons at Lake Superior State after not really being on the radar previously. Trotman had consecutive 20 point seasons to finish up his collegiate career, and with the Providence Bruins he has shown some signs that he has the skill for the professional level. He is still a few years away from making an impact with the big club, but the hulking defenseman has tallied 15 points so far this season with the Providence Bruins.

18. (NR) Alexander Fallstrom, RW, 6.5C
Trade with Minnesota Wild, October 18th, 2009

Fallstrom had a lot of progression in his game while playing for Ted Donato at Harvard. He developed into a very reliable two-way player that Donato could rely on in all zones of the ice. It may have been even better for Fallstrom at Harvard had he not gone through injury struggles his first two seasons.

"Staying healthy last season really helped Fallstrom establish himself," Harvard coach Ted Donato said. "Alex has made some great strides, and we can count on him in all situations. He is very thorough defensively. We count on him in all situations, and no matter what situation we are in he is a guy we are excited to open the gate for. His work ethic and character should make for a very bright future."

Although Harvard had some issues this season with a cheating scandal that resulted in several players leaving the program, Fallstrom was relied upon to step up and be a leader as he dawned the "A."

"It [was] a great honor, and it comes naturally sometimes being a senior," Fallstrom said.

During his four seasons at Harvard, Fallstrom scored 70 points, and he has turned pro now with Providence following the collegiate season. He recently tallied his first career point grabbing an assist through his first four games.

19. (9) Max Sauve, LW, 6.5D
Drafted 2nd round, 47th overall, 2008

He has all the talent in the world, but Sauve simply cannot stay healthy. Injuries have been bringing down his development for quite sometime now. When he is healthy he is a very flashy player with a lot of speed in his game.

"He got called up for a game last year, and he got injured in his first shift," Sweeney said. "It has been a very frustrating and difficult process for him."

This season with Providence he has 21 points through 50 games, as it has been a difficult season for the French native.

"Overall, he is identifying himself as a player that is very productive when healthy," Sweeney said. "He continues to look to get stronger and recognize where and when he can get to the hard areas. He is trying to learn how to get to pucks and score goals without putting himself in [a vulnerable spot]."

20. (NR) Matt Bartkowski, D, 6.0B
Trade with Florida Panthers, March 3rd, 2010

Bartkowski has been one of the last players cut from Bruins training camp over the past few seasons. He seems to be pushing closer and closer to the NHL, and he is a player the Bruins will look to call up when there is an injury issue.

"Bartkowski has been with us for three years now, and he has seen some stints here and there," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. He is a real good puck-moving defenseman that is pretty shifty and smart. There are a lot of good things that I have noticed in his game."

Bartkowski was rumored to be on the move to Calgary for Jarome Iginla, but the deal fell through, with Iginla heading to Pittsburgh instead. Bartkowski has now played in 12 NHL games, including three this season, and although he has not registered his first point he has not look too out of place. This season in the AHL, he has 24 points. Although he is not a full time NHL player yet, Bartkwoski appears to be closing in on being just that.
 

Follow Richard Murray on Twitter: @Richie_Murray