Bruins training camp preview

By Janine Pilkington

The Boston Bruins begin rookie training camp for the 2006-07 season stacked on offense, but with only three defensemen and two goaltenders from the system. With former first rounder Mark Stuart’s season debut on hold while he recovers from surgery, the only returning defensive prospects are Matt Lashoff and Jonathan Sigalet, while newly drafted defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk will attend his first Bruins camp. The Bruins have, however, invited several free agent defensemen to compete in rookie camp.

In the net and oft-forgotten behind the likes of Hannu Toivonen and Tuukka Rask, second year pros Jordan Sigalet and Mike Brown will try to elevate their status in the Bruins system. Conversely, the much anticipated debut of top 2006 pick Phil Kessel, along with some promising recent picks and newly acquired free agents, brings together one of the most skilled groups of rookie forwards that the Bruins have had in recent years.

Offseason movement and signings

It’s been a busy offseason as the Bruins attempt to rebuild their organization from the ground up. Several prospects received contracts, including Kessel, who opted to leave college after just one season to turn pro. Kessel makes up part of another large first-year professional class for the Bruins. Of the 2005 draftees, Matt Lashoff and Petr Kalus have received contracts prior to camp, while a deal with Wacey Rabbit was announced on the first day of rookie camp.

The Bruins had to sign their 2004 picks by June 1, and the only casualty was Ashton Rome, who went unsigned and re-entered the draft, where he was picked up in the fifth round by the San Jose Sharks. Of the remaining 2004’s, Martins Karsums, David Krejci and Kris Versteeg all signed three-year contracts with the Bruins.

Forward Yan Stastny returned to Boston as part of a late season trade with the Edmonton Oilers in 2006. Stastny was originally drafted by the Bruins in the eighth round of the 2002 Entry Draft. He was then traded to the Oilers in August of 2005 and spent the beginning of the 2005-06 season playing for their AHL affiliate, the Iowa Stars. Following the trade during the spring, Stastny went right into the Boston lineup, where he played a total of 17 games.

The Bruins acquired goaltending prospect Rask from the Toronto Maple Leafs on draft day in exchange for former Calder Cup winner Andrew Raycroft. Rask solidifies the goaltending position behind fellow Finn Toivonen, who he could challenge for the starting position in Boston in a couple years.

Left wing Pascal Pelletier signed a contract with the Bruins in August of 2006. Pelletier began the 2005-06 season with the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL), and received a call-up to the Providence Bruins in mid December of 2005. Pelletier spent the remainder of the season in Providence, where he posted 46 points in 53 games.

The Bruins also looked to the 2005-06 college senior class when they signed BC left wing Chris Collins and St. Lawrence University wing TJ Trevelyan. Collins finished out the 2005-06 season as a Hobey Baker finalist, and totaled 63 points (34 goals, 29 assists) in 42 games. Trevelyan led his team with 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) and was named ECACHL Player of the Year. He was also a Hobey Baker finalist.

Available roster spots

While the Bruins once again have a good number of prospects turning pro this season, the number who will actually be on the ice for opening night will likely be far fewer. With so many new players and no clear-cut direction for the team, it’s tough to say how many spots will be open to rookie players. A hard-working rookie that impresses during training camp will certainly be considered, but the Bruins will have to weigh the needs of the team with the affects on the development of the player. The most likely scenario will have one or two rookie forwards making the team out of camp, and a few call-ups to fill in the holes for injured players during the season.

Defenseman Milan Jurcina and goaltender Toivonen will join camp with the veterans this season, both with tickets to play in Boston. Both players spent the majority of the 2005-06 season in Boston, but missed significant chunks of time from injury. There’s also a strong possibility that defenseman Stuart will play in Boston once he is cleared to return to the ice. Stuart played most of the 2005-06 season in Providence before he earned a late season call-up, and had a promising NHL debut. If he doesn’t begin the season in Boston, he will certainly find his way there at some point during the season.

On offense, there are very few prospects with a realistic chance of making the team out of camp. All eyes are on Kessel, and the fact that he was signed to a contract indicates the Bruins feel he is ready to take his game to the next level. Until he steps onto the ice with some of the veteran players, it will be tough to gauge how ready he really is. If he impresses during camp, there’s little doubt that he’ll be in Boston, but the Bruins have stated that they don’t plan on rushing the rookie into action. If it turns out that Kessel needs to gain some experience in Providence first, that is where he’ll end up.

Petr Kalus will be another rookie to keep an eye on. Kalus had a strong first camp in 2005 and a solid season with the Regina Pats (WHL). As a WHL rookie playing in North America for the first time, the young Czech adapted quickly and finished out the 2005-06 season tied as the top scorer on the Pats with 58 points in 60 games, and second overall in the league among rookies. Again, many factors will determine where Kalus ends up, but another strong camp could very well take him straight to Boston.

When Yan Stastny was traded back to the organization, he played the remainder of the season in Boston. More of a role player, Stastny could very well find himself back in Boston, perhaps centering the third or fourth line. Of the remaining prospects, only Ben Walter and Martins Karsums appear advanced enough to play in Boston, but it seems more likely they’ll at least start the season in Providence.

Notes and stats

Four of this year’s rookie camp invitees were originally drafted by other teams: Ned Havern (Stars/2002); Peter Hafner (Panthers/2002); Jonathan Paiement (Rangers/2004); Mark Tobin (Lightning/2004). Out of the entire roster: 11 played professional hockey, eight played college hockey, and 19 played in the CHL during the 2005-06 season. Lashoff and Versteeg received tryout contracts and played briefly in Providence at the end of the 2005-06 season. Six players are originally from New England: three from Massachusetts, two from New Hampshire and one from Rhode Island. There are also six players who played for Hockey East teams: two from Boston College, and one from each of Harvard University, UNH, Providence College, U Mass Amherst and U Mass Lowell.

Rookie camp roster

Andrew Bodnarchuk, D
5’10 172 lbs, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Mike Brown, G
6’0 177 lbs, Dayton Bombers (ECHL)

Chris Collins, LW
5’8 189 lbs, BC Eagles (HE)

Anton Hedman, LW
6’3 225 lbs, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)

Petr Kalus, RW
6’1 183 lbs, Regina Pats (WHL)

Martins Karsums, RW
5’10 190 lbs, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

Phil Kessel, C
6’0 189 lbs, U of Minnesota Golden Gophers (WCHA)

David Krejci, C
5’11 172 lbs, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

Matt Lashoff, D
6’2 198 lbs, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)

Milan Lucic, LW
6’2 204 lbs, Vancouver Giants (WHL)

Brad Marchand, LW
5’9 183 lbs, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

Levi Nelson, C
5’11 167 lbs, Swift Current (WHL)

Pascal Pelletier, LW
5’10 197 lbs, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Wacey Rabbit, C
5’9 170 lbs, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

Tyler Redenbach, C
5’11 184 lbs, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Jonathan Sigalet, D
6’1 180 lbs, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Jordan Sigalet, G
6’0 172 lbs, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Yan Stastny, C
5’11 175 lbs, Boston Bruins (NHL)

Nate Thompson, C
6’0 190 lbs, Providence Bruins (AHL)

TJ Trevelyan, LW
5’10, 185 lbs, St Lawrence University (ECAC)

Lukas Vantuch, RW
6’3 200 lbs, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Kris Versteeg, RW
5’10 173 lbs, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Ben Walter, C
6’1 195 lbs, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Free agent invitees

Andrew Andricopoulos, D
6’ 177 lbs, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)

Mike Busto, D
6’1 210 lbs, Kootenay Ice (QMJHL)

Mathieu Curadeau, C
6’1 185 lbs, Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)

Dusty Demianiuk, D
6’2 195 lbs, Phoenix Roadrunners (ECHL)

Kevin Druce, G
5’11 190 lbs, York University Lions (CIS)

Ryan Mior, G
6’1 180 lbs, PEI Rocket (QMJHL)

Peter Hafner, D
6’5 200 lb, Harvard University Crimson (HE)

Mike Hartwick, D
6’3 200 lbs, Dartmouth College Big Green (ECAC)

Ned Havern, F
6’1 199 lbs, Stockton Thunder (ECHL)

Jonathan Paiement, D
6’1 201 lbs, Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL)

Jay Pemberton, D
6’4 220 lbs, PC Friars (HE)

Daniel Sparre, LW
5’10 180 lbs, Charlotte Checkers (ECHL)

Mark Tobin, LW
6’3 211 lbs, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

Justin Wallingford, D
6’6 226 lbs, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Brian Yandle, D
6’0 185 lbs, UNH Wildcats (HE)

Preseason Schedule

Sunday Sept. 17th vs. NJ Devils (1:00 PM)
Tuesday Sept. 19th @ Montreal Canadiens (7:30 PM)
Wednesday Sept. 20 @ Montreal Canadiens (7:30 PM)
Friday Sept. 22nd vs NY Islanders (7:00 PM)
Saturday Sept. 23rd vs NY Islanders (7:00 PM)
Wednesday Sept. 27th @ NY Rangers (7:00 PM)
Saturday Sept. 30th vs NY Rangers (4:00 PM)

Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.