Tyler Seguin debuts as Boston Bruins top prospect

By Alessandro Seren Rosso
Photo: Tyler Seguin, the second overall pick of the 2010 draft, will be expected to contribute in the NHL right away. (Photo courtesy of www.ontariohockeyleague.com)

While there was not a great deal of movement on the Bruins top 20, goaltender Tuukka Rask graduated and 2010 draftees Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight, Maxim Chudinov, and Craig Cunningham all made there way onto the list.

From the NHL on down, the Bruins have plenty of talent up front, particularly at center. Several forwards such as Jordan Caron, Joe Colborne, and of course Tyler Seguin will be expected to compete for full time NHL spots in 2010-11. Tuukka Rask graduating left a void in net for the Bruins, they still have decent depth but lack any high profile goaltending prospects.

Top 20 at a glance:

1. (NR) Tyler Seguin, C, 8.5C
2. (1) Joe Colborne, C, 8.0C
3. (2) Brad Marchand, RW, 7.5C
4. (3) Yuri Alexandrov, D, 7.0C
5. (5) Jordan Caron, RW, 7.0C
6. (4) Zach Hamill, C, 7.0C
7. (NR) Jared Knight, C, 7.0C
8. (6) Tommy Cross, D, 7.0C
9. (7) Jamie Arniel, C, 6.5C
10. (8) Mikko Lehtonen, RW, 6.5C
11. (9) Jeff Penner, D, 6.5C
12. (10) Andrew Bodnarchuk, D, 6.5C
13. (11) Adam McQuaid, ,D 7.0D
14. (12) Matt Bartkowski, D, 7.0D
15. (NR) Maxim Chudinov, D, 7.0D
16. (13) Michael Hutchinson, G, 7.0D
17. (14) Alexander Fallstrom, RW, 6.5C
18. (NR) Craig Cunningham, LW, 7.0D
19. (16) Yannick Riendeau, RW, 6.5C
20. (17) Maxime Sauve, C, 6.5C

1. (NR) Tyler Seguin, C, 18
Drafted 1st round, 2nd overall, 2010

It’s not a surprise that Seguin took over the first position on the Bruins’ prospects depth chart. The young center, who was the second overall pick in the 2010 NHL draft, has been signed to an entry-level contract in early August, invited to the Bruins training camp, and looks like he will stick with the team, at least for the beginning of the year. Aside from being a great offensive talent, Seguin is an impeccably conditioned athlete with a high hockey IQ and no clear weakness in his game.

With Bruins center Marc Savard looking like he may spend some time on injured reserve, the road for Seguin to make his NHL debut has been paved. Seguin can play both center and wing, but since the Bruins had the worst offense in the Eastern Conference in 2009-10, they will put him in whatever the best position to bolster their offense is.

2. (1) Joe Colborne, C, 20
Drafted 1st round, 16th overall, 2008

The center saw his first AHL action last year, skating in six games and posting two assists. At 6’5, Colborne has a good frame and this certainly will help him in adapting to the more demanding NHL game. He had a great college career and it will be interesting to see how this success will translate to the NHL level. Colborne was named to the WCHA All-Academic team and in the Third All-Star Team, thanks to his 22 goals and 41 points in 39 games.

Colborne is seeing limited preseason action this year as he suffered from a nose injury after a flying elbow from Justin DiBenedetto (NYI). Expect him to play the 2010-11 season in the AHL, where he will center the top line for the Providence Bruins.

3. (2) Brad Marchand, RW, 22

Drafted 3rd round, 71st overall, 2006

Marchand played 20 games in the NHL last year, but failed to constantly produce as he scored only one assists. Before his call up he was having a very good season in the AHL, with 32 points in 34 games.

Despite his small size at 5’9, 185 pounds, Marchand is solid prospect for the Bruins and he definitely has all the tools to play an important role in the future, but he needs to produce more at the NHL level. His great work ethic will help him, though.

4 (3) Yuri Alexandrov, D, 22
Drafted 2nd round, 37th overall, 2006

After his signing this summer, Alexandrov probably gained some additional consideration. His puck skills are top notch and he has the tools to become an effective two-way defenseman in the NHL. The 22-year-old does need to improve his positioning and physical play but he does have a good mind for the defensive part of the game and is able to make good reads. His experience should allow him to not have too many difficulties adapting to North American hockey, but most likely he’ll need some AHL seasoning before being actually able to secure an NHL spot.

Alexandrov is likely one year away from competing for fulltime NHL duties.

5. (5) Jordan Caron, RW, 19

Drafted 1st round, 25th overall, 2009

Caron overcame Zach Hamill in this top 20 edition as he keeps improving. The 2009 first rounder had a good 2010 WJC and a good 2009-10 season, split between the Rimouski Oceanic and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He has b
een especially solid in the playoffs, with 11 assists and 18 points in 11 games. Most likely the 6’2, 200 pound right winger will spend another season in the Q before getting some consideration for the Bruins’ lineup.

6. (4) Zach Hamill, C, 22

Drafted 1st round, 8th overall, 2007

Zach Hamill’s stock keeps on decreasing year after year despite his strong performance in the AHL last season. The recent acquisition of Tyler Seguin also did him no favors in competing for a regular NHL spot with the Bruins.

Hamill did see a cup of coffee in an NHL last season, notching one assist in one game. He is a good playmaker with some skills, but does not seem like the offensive dynamo many thought he could have been after his successful WHL career in Everett.

7. (NR) Jared Knight, C, 18
Drafted 2nd round, 32nd overall, 2010

During this year’s draft Chiarelli used multiple picks to add centers to the Bruins’ prospect pool and Jared Knight is yet another promising center with NHL potential. Knight had a very good 2009-10 campaign with the London Knights of the OHL, especially during the playoffs, and he did improve a lot his production since the 2008-09 season.

Knight was a very solid pick at 32nd overall as he’s a player with plenty of offensive upside and good physical play, even if he should add a little bulk to his 5’10, 185 pound frame. Knight might still need some seasoning in the juniors before getting a serious shot at the NHL. He was recently sent down to the London Knights during the Bruins’ training camp.

8. (6) Tommy Cross, D, 21

Drafted 2nd round, 35th overall, 2007

The American-born defensemen has continued to progress nicely while playing for Boston College. For his junior season, Cross is going to wear the A, an indication of the type of leadership and commitment he brings to his team.
The defenseman is still a project for now, but his good frame and defensive play make him an appealing prospect, even if he needs to work on his skating and offensive play in order to have a true chance to get an NHL spot.

9. (7) Jamie Arniel, C, 20
Drafted 4th round, 97th overall, 2008

The playmaking center had a good rookie season with the Providence Bruins of the AHL, scoring 28 points in 64 games. However, it was quickly determined he doesn’t have the skills to play on a scoring line at the pro level. His work ethic, determination and poise might make him a good energy player in the NHL, with improved defensive play and work in the faceoff circle he could make a very effective third line center.

10. (8) Mikko Lehtonen, RW, 23

Drafted 3rd round, 83rd overall, 2005

Tukka Rask’s graduation made right wing Mikko Lehtonen the first Finn in the Bruins’ prospect pool. Surprisingly Lehtonen left the Providence Bruins after being the top goal scorer for the latest two seasons and signed a one-year deal with Skelleftea of the Swedish Elite League. In any case the Bruins qualified him this summer and thus he’ll stay within the system. Lehtonen also skated in one NHL contest last season. With such a move his chances to get a shot in the NHL are most likely reducing.

11. (9) Jeff Penner, D, 23
Signed as a free agent, 2008

Penner was a free agency signing of a couple of years ago and over the past two seasons, he shown very good offensive skills. Last season, he posted 35 points in 68 games with the Providence Bruins and even earned a two-game NHL cup of coffee.

Penner doesn’t have an impressive size, but he compensates with good puck skills and excellent skating. He’s still a long shot, but a solid signing so far. He was recently sent down to the AHL during the Bruins’ training camp.

12. (10) Andrew Bodnarchuk, D, 22
Drafted 5th round, 128th overall, 2006

Bodnarchuk has finally got his first taste of the NHL last year, when he skated in five games without getting on the score sheet. The former member of QMJHL All-Rookie team had a decent season last year in Providence, finishing plus-seven on a team of mostly minuses. He had a successful junior career thanks to his good skating and strong shot from the point, but now he doesn’t look to have what it takes to repeat such success at the NHL level. He was recently sent down to the AHL during the Bruins’ training camp.

13. (11) Adam McQuaid, D, 23
Acquired via trade with Columbus, 2007

McQuaid had a good season last year as he considerably raised his stock within the Bruins organization. The 23-year-old was heavily used as injury call-up, finishing the season with 19 games in the regular season and 9 during the playoffs. He also scored his first NHL goal last season.

McQuaid is a stay-at-home defenseman which plays a reliable, tough style of hockey. His mobility and physical play might give him a chance to get an NHL spot as sixth or seventh defenseman for 2010-11.

14. (12) Matt Bartkowski, D, 24
Acquired via trade with Florida, 2010

Bartkowski was a trade deadline acquisition from the Florida Panthers during the Seidenberg trade and almost two months later, the Pittsburgh, PA, native was signed to an entry-level deal.

Bartkowski was a good depth acquisition by the Bruins, who got a good hitter and a constant point producer, at least at the college level. He was awarded with CCHA All-Rookie team honors in 2009.

The 24-year-old will compete with Adam McQuaid for the seventh spot on the Bruins defensive this season although it is more likely he will spend the majority of the 2010-11 season in the AHL.

15. (NR) Maxim Chudinov, D, 20

Drafted 7th round, 195th overall, 2010

Chudinov is another addition coming from the latest draft. Despite his young age, Chudinov is an experienced player with four pro seasons under his belt. He progressed a lot since he hit the ice for the Super Series in 2007 and is off to a great start in this year’s campaign with three goals scored in the first regular season games with Severstal Cherepovets of the KHL, the team in which he played for years with Yuri Alexandrov and Maxim Trunev (MTL).

It is still unknown if his size (5-11, 187 pounds) will allow him to have a role with the Bruins
, but he is a solid pick at the seventh round as he is a good hitter who plays with an edge and has good offensive instincts. He recently signed a new two-year deal in the KHL and thus he might try with the Bruins only in 2012 summer. By then he’ll be 22 and more physically mature.

16. (13) Michael Hutchinson, G, 20
Drafted 3rd round, 77th overall, 2008

Hutchinson is now the top goalie of the Bruins’ prospect pool and in spite of his progress this speaks volumes about the Bruins’ need of top prospects in the goalie position. He can cover a big portion of the net with his size, and this will definitely help him in the pro leagues, but he needs to be quicker and perform better during the playoffs as his stats decreased in the post season last year.

Hutchinson was signed to an entry-level contract this summer and was among the first cuts of the Bruins’ training camp. He’s going to spend in Providence the 2010-11 season.

17. (14) Alexander Fallstrom, RW, 20
Acquired via trade with Minnesota, 2009

While many European players prefer going for the CHL route once in North America, Swedish Alexander Fallstrom decided to play in the NCAA and will play lace up for his junior season with Harvard.

Fallstrom was picked up by the Bruins in 2009 from Minnesota, in a trade that sent Chuck Kobasew to the Wild. The 20-year-old is a good two-way player without a big offensive upside. At this point he’s a long shot for the NHL.

18. (NR) Craig Cunningham, LW, 20
Drafted 4th round, 97th overall, 2010

Cunningham is the last 2010 draft pick who made the top 20 this fall. He isn’t an elite prospect, but has the grit and what it takes to become a third-line player in the NHL and the Bruins hope he’ll be able to play a big role with special teams.

Cunningham’s weak point is in his 5’10 180 pound frame, something that will count against him considering his gritty role. After skating in the Bruins’ camp he was sent down to the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, and will serve as captain there.

19. (16) Yannick Riendeau, RW, 22
Signed as free agent, 2009

Riendeau was spotted by the Bruins after a great season in the QMJHL as overager with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, but his first pro campaign wasn’t as successful, at least in part because of some injuries, including a shoulder surgery.

Riendeau is an interesting offensive prospect as he has good skills and plays smartly, with very good instincts and play without the puck. He’ll never be a star, but he can get an NHL spot with the Bruins if he will work on his defensive and physical play.

20. (17) Maxime Sauve, C, 20

Drafted 2nd round, 47th overall, 2008

Sauve had not many chances to shine during the 2009-10 season also due to a serious ankle injury. Next season will be a key one for the Jean-Francois Sauve’s son, which will be called to showcase his good reading of the ice and offensive abilities in order to fight for a roster spot.

Sauve was signed this spring to an entry-level contract and this shows the Bruins are more than willing to be patient with him regarding his development.