Cub Report: Boston’s Top Prospects

By pbadmin

Ben Clymer D 6-1 195 21

98-99 Seattle 70 12 44 56 93 (WHL)
98-99 Seattle 6 1 3 4 8 (Playoffs)

Strengths- Offensive Instincts, Strength
Weaknesses- Speed, Quickness
Ben Clymer left the University of Minnesota for the Western Hockey League, where he led all Seattle defensemen in scoring during the 1998-99 regular season. Clymer showed an impressive ability to help generate offense and was a integral part of Seattle’s power play unit. Clymer is a willing and able hitter.

Clymer has been knocked for sub-par skating ability and quickness, but other NHL players have been able to shed that label through hard-work and dedication to improving their shortcomings. Time will tell whether Clymer can improve enough to make the Boston Bruins. He is a player who has shown terrific upside, however.

Projection at NHL level- 6th-7th Defenseman.
Current Stock Status- On the Rise

Lee Goren RW 6-3 210 22

98-99 North Dak 38 26 19 45 20 (WCHA)

Strengths- Skating, Hands, Hockey sense
Weaknesses- Physical Play.
Lee Goren is the dark horse that could make the Adam Oates trade come out even more in Boston’s favor. After a disappointing freshman year in 1997-98, Goren erupted for 26 goals in 1998-99, leading all Fighting Sioux players in that category. Goren is a sniper who moves extremely well for his size. Best when in close, Goren made a killing on the power play, often presenting opponents with an immovable force in front of their net.

For all of his size, Goren does not play the physical game. This may have an adverse effect on his pro game if he does not improve his strength to be able to handle the much more physical defensemen at the next level. It has been rumored that Goren will leave school a year early to join the pro ranks. If that is in fact the case, expect to see him in Providence where he can benefit from a good amount of playing time to hone his offensive skills.

Projection for NHL Level- 3rd-line Winger.
Current stock status- On the rise.

Aaron Downey RW 6-0 210 24

98-99 Prov 69 9 12 21 376 (AHL)

Strengths- Intensity, Physical Play.
Weaknesses- Hockey sense, Organizational Depth
Aaron Downey is a huge fan favorite with the folks in Providence and the reason becomes obvious when you watch him play. As the Baby Bruins’ top enforcer, Downey is a ferocious fighter, despite the fact that many of his opponents have the edge in size and reach. Downey is like a wolverine, constantly on the attack, hitting everything in sight and giving teammates and fans a lift with his spirited play.

Downey is not blessed with a surplus of talent, yet he gets the maximum out of the limited tools he brings to the table. Aaron’s hard-work and dedication has earned him a shot at the NHL, but the fact that Boston has Ken Belanger and Ken Baumgartner dooms Downey to Providence unless injuries were to claim both players. His chances of making it to the NHL as a regular are slim, but it is not from a lack of effort on Downey’s part.

Projection for NHL Level- Enforcer
Current Stock Status- Stagnant.

Bob Prier RW 6-1 210 23

98-99 St Lawrence 37 20 26 46 50

Strengths- Skating(Speed), Hockey sense.
Weaknesses- Strength, Defensive Instincts.
Bob Prier recently concluded a successful career at St. Lawrence University, where he was the Saints’ leading scorer in 1998-99. Prier is a late-bloomer who has good size and has excellent offensive ability, scoring 15 goals or more in 3 out of 4 college seasons. Prier could stand to improve his strength and 2-way play, but should develop both in Providence under coach Peter Laviolette providing he signs with Boston this summer. Prier’s scoring ability is a plus for a Boston team with little depth on the wings.

Prier performed in relative obscurity with St. Lawrence, and so any success he finds in the professional ranks will be a bonus. If he can diversify his game, he will be an attractive prospect in an organization that needs offensive production from its young players. It will be a dogfight, however: players such as Randy Robitaille, Andre Savage, Antti Laaksonen, Eric Nickulas and former St. Lawrence teammate Joel Prpic all rank ahead of Prier on the depth chart.

Projection for NHL Level- 4th-line checking winger
Current stock status- Middle-of-the-road.

Jim Baxter D 6-2 186 20

98-99 Oshawa 66 22 52 74 20 (0HL)
98-99 BOS 4 1 2 3 2 (Playoffs)

Strengths- Offensive Capability, Skating
Weakness-Physical Play, Defense.
When Boston drafted Jim Baxter in the 7th round in 1997, not much was expected of the young Oshawa defender who had scored only 3 goals that season. In the 2 years since then, Baxter has more than quadrupled his offensive output, and was the highest-scoring defenseman on the ’98-’99 Oshawa team.

While Baxter showed a flair for offense, his play in his own end raised some eyebrows and his future in the Boston organization is in doubt. If he is not signed, he will re-enter the draft and probably be selected higher than his initial 180th position. Will Boston sign him? Expect to see Baxter re-enter the draft.

Projection at NHL level- 6th/7th Defenseman
Current Stock Status- On the rise.

Bobby Allen D 6-1 198 21

98-99 Bos Coll 34 8 17 25 26

Strengths- 2-way defense, Speed
Weaknesses- Doesn’t use size, Durability.
Bobby Allen is a long-term project in Boston that has showed some upside in his 2 collegiate seasons at Boston College. A Boston-area native, Allen has excelled on the blueline, playing with a combination of smart defense and finesse. Although his offense tailed off after a great start, Allen played a stronger game in his own end than he did during his freshman season when BC lost the NCAA Championship to the University of Michigan.

Allen’s biggest drawback is his lack of strength and physical play in his own end. Allen has a great work ethic, and will undoubtedly continue to improve these shortcomings in the next few years. If Boston plays this one right and allows Allen the time to develop in college and in the minors, he could earn in roster spot with the Bruins as a depth defenseman. Boston likes his offensive potential, but would prefer to see him hone his defensive-zone play.

Projection at NHL level- 6th/7th defenseman
Current Stock Status- On the rise.

John Aitken D 6-4 215 20

98-99 Prov 59 2 9 11 46 (AHL)

Strengths-Skating, Physical Play.
Weaknesses-Intensity, Hockey sense.
The jury is still out on John Aitken, but time is running out. There were more than a few grumbles when Boston selected him with the 8th pick in the 1996 draft ahead of players such as Derek Morris, Dainius Zubrus, Ruslan Salei, Marco Sturm and Andreas Dackell to name a few. At the time, scouts questioned his intensity and attitude.

Three years later, those questions still linger as the 1st year pro has seen his ice time in Providence reduced at various times throughout the year. The fact that Providence acquired veteran d-man Jason McBain does not speak well for their confidence in Aitken’s abilities to get the job done. Aitken does not appear to have a future in Boston.

Projection at NHL level- 7th defenseman.
Current Stock Status- On the decline.

Mattias Karlin C 5-11 183 20

98-99 MoDo 50 2 5 7 14 (Sweden)

Strengths- Skating, Passing.
Weaknesses- Size, Production
Mattias Karlin is a slick, play-making center with MoDo of the Swedish Elite League. Karlin was once a Top 10 draft prospect, but his stock fell and the Bruins took him in the 3rd round of the 1997 Draft. Karlin had not scored a goal in 2 professional seasons with MoDo prior to this season, but had been used sparingly. Karlin’s production this season has not been great, but he has the tools to play in the NHL. Karlin’s speed is his greatest asset and he has shown an ability to play a good 2-way game.

Karlin has the reputation of being extremely coachable, with a good work ethic. These are good traits for Karlin to have, because Boston has plenty of young players on its roster already. Ideally, Boston would love for Karlin to generate offense at the NHL level, but early indications on him are that he will probably fill more of a checking role should he make it to the big league. As long as Karlin continues to put forth a maximum effort, he has a chance to play for the Bruins, but will probably spend time on the farm first.

Projection at NHL Level- 4th-Line Checking center
Current Stock Status- Middle-of-the-road.