Joe Haggerty relayed his thoughts on the impressive performance by the Boston Bruins’ prospects who took part in the National Junior Evaluation Showcase last week, including the three Americans that the Bruins selected early in the draft this past June. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy, the 14th overall pick who played in the United States National Development Program and is now a rising sophomore at Boston University, in particular caught Haggerty’s eye and continues to impress this summer, first at Bruins camp and now against even tougher competition, displaying both offensive skill and surprising physicality. Fellow first rounder Trent Frederic showed outstanding face-off ability and two-way presence, and second round defenseman Ryan Lindgren put on a solid performance. Over on Team Canada, 2015 first round winger Zach Senyshyn, who will try his best to crack the Boston Bruins lineup this fall, and 2015 second round blue liner Jeremy Lauzon, both looked good. Surprise addition to the Swedish team, 2016 sixth rounder Oskar Steen, was also flying around the ice all week. Haggerty opines that McAvoy may already be the Bruins top prospect, and that this Junior Showcase crew, as well as top prospects like Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Brandon Carlo, Danton Heinen, and more represent a very bright future for a Boston team that has had its fair share of struggles of late.
- The Director of Player Personnel for the U.S. National Development Program who worked with McAvoy, Frederic, and Lindgren is now joining them as a member of the Bruins organization. Ryan Hardy, who has also worked in the USHL, NAHL, and NCAA, was primarily in charge of recruiting and evaluating young talent for the USNTDP and will be asked to put those tools to work as a scout for Boston. His New England roots, having grown up in Connecticut and worked as an assistant coach for Sacred Heart University, seem to have made his link to the Bruins an inevitability as he rose through the ranks of the hockey world
- Another local kid who worked his way on to the Bruins is Frank Vatrano, who was recently profiled by the Professional Hockey Player’s Association. A native of Longmeadow, Massachusetts who played his youth hockey for the Boston Jr. Bruins, played in the USNTDP, and then attended Massachusetts’ flagship school at UMass – Amherst, Vatrano predictably is a lifelong Bruins fan. The article goes into detail on his excitement to be signed by Boston after his first full season in Amherst, and the Bruins could not be more excited with how Vatrano has developed. In his first pro season, Vatrano led the American Hockey League with 36 goals, and amazingly he did it in 36 games. He finished 19th in AHL scoring, despite playing in half as many games as the majority of players who finished in the top 20. His presence helped Providence Bruins teammates Seth Griffith, Alexander Khokhlachev, and Austin Czarnik finish alongside him in the top 20 as well. When Vatrano wasn’t lighting the AHL on fire in 2015-16, he was contributing at the NHL level, with eight goals and three assists in 39 contests with the big Bruins. Now in 2016-17, Vatrano will be given every chance to earn a full-time role and a full 82 games in Boston, where they hope that his impeccable scoring ability continues.
- The Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa suggests several local possibilities to replace the recently departed Keith Gretzky as the Bruins’ Director of Amateur Scouting. From Cape Cod to the Berkshires, amateur scouts from around the NHL reside in Massachusetts and may be up for a promotion and more convenient commute to Boston. The most interesting candidate he mentions though is Jim Vesey, a former Bruin who is currently an amateur scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and yes, of course, is the father of Harvard star and impending free agent Jimmy Vesey.