The Boston Bruins continue to stockpile prospects through the NHL Draft, trades, and free agency and there are a few in particular to watch for this season. Boston has more prospects transitioning to new levels than in recent seasons. Others meanwhile are trying to further establish themselves at their respective competition levels.
Top Pro Prospect
Dougie Hamilton, D, Boston Bruins (NHL)
Hamilton was a starter right away at the NHL level season in 2013, but that is no guarantee heading into the 2013-14 season. The emergence of Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski will create some position battles this season.
Hamilton's massive 6'5 frame could seperate him from the others though, especially Krug who stands at 5'9. Krug however does appear to be the favorite going into season as he jumped both Hamilton and Bartkowski on the depth chart during the playoffs.
Hamilton's powerplay and passing abilities making him an interesting option on the Bruins blue line as Boston tries to strengthen its near non-existent powerplay. Last season, at the NHL level, Hamilton, scored 16 points (five goals, 11 assists), in 42 games. During four seasons at the OHL level, with Niagara, he had 187 points with a career high of 72 in 2011-12. The Bruins hope that he can translate that elite offensive production to the NHL game. Hamilton could also see some time in the AHL to get extra work, as he is now eligible to play in the professional minor leagues.
Jared Knight, RW, Providence Bruins (AHL)
After several strong seasons with the London Knights of the OHL, Knight looks to bounce back after only playing in 13 regular season games last season. He could compete for a spot on the NHL roster at some point this season, but considering all his injury issues last season, the gritty forward might be best served at the AHL level. Last season, Knight was considered a favorite for a third line spot in the NHL, so do not count him out if he has a strong start in Providence.
Knight has a strong two-way game that could be very useful to the Bruins. He projects as a second or third line player with offensive upside. In the OHL, he was over a point-per-game player during his final two seasons, which he will try to do once again at the AHL this season.
Malcolm Subban, G, Providence Bruins (AHL)
Subban is expected to have the backup position with the AHL squad, as Niklas Svedberg is expected to hold down the starting role. There may be some questions to NHL backup Chad Johnson's ability to compete at the NHL level, so if that becomes a concern Subban's backup status could change. If Svedberg gets the call up later in the season, it could allow Subban to get a lot more reps than expected.
Mitchell Dempsey, LW, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Headed into the 2013-14 season, Dempsey had 10 career points through two years in the OHL, so the Bruins must have seen something in the 6'3 forward's game to use a draft pick on him. It was not too long ago that rugged forward Anthony Camara struggled to put up points before breaking out last season, so while Dempsey remains an unknown commodity at this point, he could certainly establish himself as a player with promise in the near future. He already has the size the Bruins love.
Top Amateur Prospect
Ryan Fitzgerald, C, Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
Although a fourth round pick, Fitzgerald's ceiling is very high and he will get a chance to shine at Boston College. Fitzgerald is considered more of a long-term project considering it may take him years to reach his full potential. It is still not known what exactly his role will be, but there has been some speculation that Fitzgerald could be lined up with Hobey Baker finalist Johnny Gaudreau (CAL) this upcoming season. Fitzgerald and Gaudreau could create one of the most explosive lines in college hockey, and although both are undersized they are extremely skilled.
Brian Ferlin, W, Cornell Big Red (ECAC)
After an impressive freshman season at Cornell, Ferlin did not break out like many were expecting. Now, Ferlin has another chance of doing just that as a junior with the Big Red. The Jacksonville, Florida native is extremely strong on the puck, and has the size to be a successful power forward, it is just a matter of Ferlin consistently translating that onto the score sheet. He will try to improve on his 24-point season from a year ago.
Zane Gothberg, G, North Dakota (NCHC)
Gothberg picked up his first NCAA Tournament victory last season, but was unable to stay the course as an injury held him out of the second round. This season, Gothberg looks too take a strong hold on the starting goaltender position for the team formerly known as "The Fighting Sioux." Last season, Gothberg strung together a 9-4-3 record, 2.46 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage. The Minnesota native may not be on everyone's radar because of Malcolm Subban's elite status, but he is not flying under the radar within the Bruins brass.
Top European Prospect
Peter Cehlarik, W, Asplöven (Allsvenskan)
After a breakout campaign where Cehlarik posted 37 points in the SuperElit, the Slovakian native looks to improve on that. Possibly the safest forward pick that Boston made in the draft, Cehlarik has a lot of tools that the Bruins like especially in the offensive zone.
Linus Arnesson, D, Djurgarden (Allsvenskan)
Arnesson is not going to break any scoring records, but as he continues to develop his mobility and passing game he could become a source of some secondary scoring. Last season, in the Allsvenskan league, Arnesson had only one-point in 31 games.
Follow Richard Murray on Twitter: @Richie_Murray