Only a few more days until the Dobber Fantasy Hockey Guide comes out! For the most current projections and forecasts for the upcoming season, look no further. While waiting for the Guide, I’ll preview the prospects of the Boston Bruins.
As you would expect for a team just a year removed from winning the Stanley Cup, the Bruins are a deep team, at least as far as skaters go. The decision made by Tim Thomas to sit out this season leaves only inconsistent Anton Khudobin behind starter Tuukka Rask. Khudobin, 26, has more than 150 games of experience in the AHL, but just seven in the NHL in his career. He was credited with a win in five of those NHL games. Boston signed Swedish netminder Niklas Svedberg as a free agent in May, but the 22-year-old had a save percentage of just .906 last year in his native country. The Bruins used their first-round pick in the draft in June to select Malcolm Subban. Subban is an exceptional athlete but is a few years away from playing in Boston.
Last year’s first-rounder, defenseman Dougie Hamilton, could crack the lineup if he looks ready in the pre-season. Hamilton is an all-around defenseman without a major weakness, and plays with great poise for his age. 24-year-old Matt Bartkowski could be the seventh d-man, he skates very well and brings an element of physicality to the back end. Undersized Torey Krug is talented offensive player who had 34 points in 38 games for Michigan State last season, and added an assist in two games with the B’s. He is likely ticketed for Providence to work on his defensive game. Drafted in the second-round way back in 2007, Tommy Cross has finally turned pro and will also start the year in Providence.
Up front, the Bruins have some talent moving up from the junior ranks this fall as well. Ryan Spooner and Jordan Knight, Boston’s first and second round picks, respectively, in the 2010 draft, have exhausted their junior eligibility and will begin their pro careers. Knight may be a little closer to making the big club right now, as the smallish Spooner needs to improve his strength to compete at the NHL level. Both are likely headed to the AHL though. Lane MacDermid isn’t really a prospect, but could win a fourth-line role due to his physical style of play and willingness to mix it up. Carter Camper didn’t look terribly out of place in three games last year, and will again be an injury call-up. Alexander Khokhlachev is a long shot to make the roster and will likely return to junior, but his natural offensive ability cannot be ignored. His four goals in seven games at the WJC certainly opened eyes. Jordan Caron will be entering his third NHL season, but first full, and is still just 21. He was beginning to look more comfortable the second half of last season.
Despite the huge loss of Thomas, Boston expects to be a contender but has proven they are not afraid to use young players in prominent roles,such as Tyler Seguin last year. Hamilton could be a Calder candidate if he cracks the defensive top four and several young forwards should at least see some action during the season. Knight and Spooner are the best prospects up front, and Subban is one of the better goalie prospects going into 2012-13.
I’ll be back in a few days to look at another team as we edge closer to the start of the season. You can also follow me on Twitter if you’d like @RichDillon17.