Observations from first day of Bruins' Development Camp


WILMINGTON, MA – Here’s a few thoughts and observations from the first day of Bruins Development Camp at Ristuccia Arena where they had to split the prospects into two practice groups for the first time in the nine year history of the camp.

* Perhaps it was partially because he’s a bit older than a lot of the other campers at 23 years of age, but Providence College product Noel Acciari really stood out among the other players. He’s strong on the puck and tough for his size, and a couple of times he easily roofed shots off one time passes in some of the best offensive execution on the day. If Acciari is willing to grind and can shoot the puck like that in Providence, he’s going to end up in Boston sooner rather than later after an impressive career with the Friars. He could be a keeper.

* I like what I saw of 2015 second round pick Brandon Carlo on the first day of drills and skating. While the 6-foot-5 defenseman wasn’t doing much offensively to make me sit up and take notice, he was very noticeable in the defensive zone. He was blocking shots and using his big body to disrupt attackers going to the net with the puck, and – most importantly for a guy that size – Carlo wasn’t having any issues with his skating game against the top competition. Instead he was doing a good job of keeping his body between the puck carrier and the net, and wasn’t afraid to throw his weight around when the situation was calling for it. Max Iafrate, on the other hand, got turned around once or twice by speedy attacking players, and may need to improve his skating if he wants to have success at the AHL level. I didn’t see either shoot the puck all that much, but both players are supposed to have bomber slap shots from the point.  

* My hat is off to B’s 2015 second round pick Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, who is going with the hyphenated last name on the back of his Bruins jersey. I applaud the B’s jersey people for making that happen for Tuesday’s practice session.

* Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn all looked fine in the second session of the day, and had flashes of first round ability among their talented fellow campers. But there isn’t a dominant figure like David Pastrnak from last season, and all three of those first round picks look like they’re at least a couple of years away from helping at the NHL level. There were also some nerves from all three players, which is totally understandable.

* A solid day for Ryan Donato in his second development camp. He seemed much more comfortable in this heightened talent environment, and showed good hands and offensive skill in finishing off some plays around the net. In fact, I would go with Noel Acciari, Brandon Carlo and Ryan Donato as my top three performers from the first day of development camp. Just don’t ask me who is first, second and then third in that group.

* It’s great to see Bruins scout P.J. Axelsson out on the ice among a large group of B’s coaches instructing the prospects at development camp. Axelsson is a key piece of the Bruins infrastructure in drafting and developing players out of the Swedish League, and it was clear how important he is in making the young European players feel comfortable at a development camp that might be a little too intimidating to them otherwise.

*Justin Hickman looks really big and powerful on the ice: a 6-foot-3, 218-pound winger that wasn’t afraid to initiate contact, or use his strength to bull through his fellow prospects around the net. The chances are good Hickman won’t be able to physically dominate as often at NHL camp this fall like he did on Tuesday, but that’s a topic for another day. He’s one of several players that could make things interesting at B’s training camp, and he gave no reason to think otherwise after Tuesday’s opening performance in a Bruins uniform 

* Colton Hargrove and Sean Kuraly both had strong opening days at development camp coming out of the NCAA hockey season, and that’s good news for a Bruins scouting staff that leans heavily toward college players in the draft. Hargrove is another player that can shoot the puck. 

* It’s fun to watch Robbie O’Gara operate during the drills at these development camps. The Yale defenseman isn’t a flashy player or prone to showing off, but that’s part of the young man’s charm in a world where those other things are becoming all too common. What O’Gara does bring is a renewed willingness to play an honest, clean defensive game while sticking up for teammates, and being one of the young leaders in the dressing room during development camp. He also gives it everything he’s got in every drill, and that sets a fine example for the rest of the players on the ice. 

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