Bruins junior prospects season review

By Janine Pilkington

WHL

Milan Lucic, LW – Vancouver Giants (2nd Round, 50th overall in 2006)
Height: 6’3 Weight: 220 lbs Birthdate: 6/7/1988

In his second full season with the Vancouver Giants, Lucic made an impressive leap offensively, with a total 68 points (30 goals, 38 assists) in 70 regular season games, more than three times the total of his rookie WHL season. He led the team in scoring for much of the season, with a team-high 13 power-play goals, and was also among the highest on the team at +32.  Lucic is an intimidating player on the ice who plays a tough physical game and has a reputation for his willingness to drop the gloves. Of 147 total penalty minutes on the season, he had 17 fighting majors. Lucic took home the team MVP, Top Scorer, Humanitarian and Number Two Star of the year awards for the Vancouver Giants.

Levi Nelson, C – Swift Current Broncos (6th round, 158th overall in 2006)
Height: 6’0 Weight: 181 lbs Birthdate: 4/28/1988

The postseason ended in six games for the Swift Current Broncos, and Bruins prospect Levi Nelson tied with center Jeremy Schenderling as the top playoff scorers on the team at seven points in six games. Nelson, in his second full season with the Broncos, led the team in scoring for much of the regular season, which he finished out at 52 points (18 goals, 34 assists) in 66 games. He’s a talented and feisty playmaking center who demonstrates excellent puck control and good skating ability. His dedication to the game and tremendous work ethic make him an invaluable teammate. During the 2006-07 season, he served as one of his team’s alternate captains, and won the Broncos’ leading scorer, King of the Road and Fan Favorite awards. He signed an ATO with the Providence Bruins following the conclusion of Swift Current’s season. 

Wacey Rabbit, C – Vancouver Giants (5th round, 154th overall in 2005)
Height: 5’9 Weight: 186 lbs Birthdate: 11/16/86

It looked as though 20-year-old Wacey Rabbit had put the WHL behind him following the 2005-06 season in Saskatoon. He signed a contract with the Bruins and began the regular season in Providence (AHL), but he had a slow start in his first few games as a pro, and saw limited ice time with the P Bruins. When the Vancouver Giants called, Rabbit took hold of the opportunity and returned to juniors as an overage player. He’s spent time on one of the team’s top lines with Lucic and Michal Repik, and averaged more than a point per game since joining the team in January. Rabbit tallied a total 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 30 regular season games with the Giants. He adds skill, speed and strong leadership to the Giants offense, something that will no doubt help them in the postseason. After dominating their division for the majority of the season, the Giants have the opportunity for an extended playoff run, giving the overage forward a viable shot at the championship. Rabbit is expected to be back in Providence for the 2007-08 season.

Lukas Vantuch, C – Lethbridge Hurricanes (6th round, 172 overall in 2005)
Height: 6’4 Weight: 210 lbs Birthdate: 7/20/1987

The big Czech began his second WHL season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, looking to make a greater impact with his new team and also to create a favorable impression with the team that drafted him. His numbers improved slightly, up to 21 points in 58 regular season games, but Vantuch was still unable to become a significant contributor on offense. While he provided depth upfront, his role was primarily fourth-line duty for the Hurricanes. He’s a player with incredible size and skill, something he has yet to use them to their full potential on a consistent basis. Vantuch does seem committed to improving his overall game, but his progress has been slow and his performance inconsistent.

QMJHL

Andrew Bodnarchuk, D – Halifax Mooseheads (5th round, 128th overall in 2006)
Height: 5’11 Weight: 193 lbs Birthdate: 7/11/1988

Bodnarchuk was among the top scoring defensemen in the QMJHL for the 2006-07 regular season, finishing out his second season in Halifax with a total 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists) in 63 games, more than double his rookie point total. A staple on the Halfax power play, Bodnarchuk’s strengths lie in his speed, stickwork, and his ability to control the puck. As a defender, he’s best when using his stick to disrupt passes or pick off the puck, and he does a decent job of keeping the puck. The 18-year-old doesn’t shy away from contact, but he would benefit from continued work on his strength, as he is sometimes out-muscled during one-on-one battles. He’s played a major role on the Mooseheads’ blueline, however, and his presence is missed when he’s out of the lineup. Bodnarchuk took home the award for Halifax’s best defenseman for the year, and also split the team’s MVP honors with rookie Jakub Voracek.

Brad Marchand, C – Val d’Or Foreurs (3rd round, 71st overall in 2006)
Height: 5’10 Weight: 188 lbs Birthdate: 5/11/1988

Eighteen-year-old Brad Marchand capped off the regular season, his first with the Val d’Or Foreurs, with an impressive 80 points (33 goals, 47 assists) in just 57 games. The feisty little forward enjoys playing the role of pest, but he also likes to be actively involved in his team’s offense. In the past, the biggest downside for Marchand was that he had the tendency to try to do too much, but he has since worked to simplify his game. Marchand may be on the small side, but he is also relentless in his pursuit of the puck and will not back down. In addition to a strong season with Val d’Or, Marchand can now add winning a gold medal with Team Canada in the 2007 U20 World Junior competition to his resume. Though he didn’t put up huge numbers, it was the first time representing his country in the WJC, and a valuable experience for the young forward. After his team knocked out Chicoutimi in four games during the first round of the 2007 QMJHL playoffs, Marchand will have the opportunity for a solid postseason run with the Foreurs. He was a member of the Moncton Wildcats team that took the President’s Cup in 2006 and then went on to the Memorial Cup Championship game. 

OHL

Anton Hedman, LW – Guelph Storm (8th round, 255th overall in 2004)
Height: 6’3 Weight: 215 lbs Birthdate: 5/15/1986

After a promising rookie season with the Sudbury Wolves, the big Swede power forward began the 2006-07 season with a new team. As a member of the Owen Sound Attack, Hedman was expected to add some toughness and scoring potential to one of the team’s top lines. He had reasonable success with the Attack, scoring 24 points (12 goals, 12 assists) in 39 games and compiling a total 73 penalty minutes. He earned second star for his two goals and two assists in a Jan. 4 match against the Barrie Colts, what would turn out to be one of his finest offensive performances of the season. Less than a week later, the Colts decided to look towards their future, and the overage forward was traded to the Guelph Storm for a high pick in the OHL draft. He played the remainder of the regular season with the Storm, where he posted 12 points in 28 games, and he had an assist in their brief four-game postseason run. Some of Hedman’s greatest attributes are his attitude, work ethic and willingness to stick up for his teammates. He can be a tough physical player and knows how to use his size to his advantage, in a style that is not usually characteristic of European players. 

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