Thoughts and observations from the third day of Bruins development camp


BRIGHTON, Mass – Here are some thoughts and observations from the third day of Bruins development camp as the players took to the ice for the annual, always entertaining scrimmage at Warrior Ice Arena.

* The first and lasting impression of the scrimmage was the powerful, long-striding speed of first round pick John Beecher. He almost effortlessly won puck battles with his long, loping stride and seemed to almost pick his spots to turn the skating speed on and off, but nobody could catch him or get the puck off his stick when he really turned on the jets. He scored the first goal by crashing hard to the net and tapping in a pass from Marek Zachar, and then was a presence on just about every shift he played in each of the two halves of the scrimmage. There are other areas of his game he clearly needs to work on [face-offs, consistency during his shifts and playing up to his size and strength], but you can really see why he jumps at you off the ice when he’s out there. He looks totally worthy of the first rounder the Bruins used on him and much more of an impact guy than Trent Frederic was a couple of years ago. The speed is a big difference-maker.

* Really impressed with the offensive game of Czech undrafted free agent Marek Zachar, who scored a pair of goals and assisted on at least one other one during the scrimmage. He showed a good, accurate and dangerous shot, very good skating speed and he also clearly has some play-making ability with the puck on his stick. Of course he’s also only 5-foot-9, 165-pounds at 21 years old, so he’s got some work to do if he ever wants to get up to pat with NHL size and strength. But he showed he’s got the skill level to compete with other players in his peer group after managing just five goals and 10 points in 46 games for Liberec in the Czech League last season after a couple of years in the QMJHL.

* Pavel Shen was another guy that stood out to me during the scrimmage session. He set up one goal when he dangled through about four guys in the offensive zone, curled around with the puck and then fed Victor Berglund for a big blast from the point for a goal. He showed good speed, made good decisions with the puck and looked very strong on the puck as well while looking to create offense whenever he was out there. The word is that the Bruins are trying to get him to come to Boston this coming season and you can see why with the way he looks in development camp. Sitting on the KHL pine isn’t doing much for his development and getting a long look at the P-Bruins level could be very good for the 19-year-old.

* Axel Andersson has struggled at times in his camp, in my opinion, but he looked his best today during the scrimmage. He moved the puck with smoothness and poise, he did a good job of defending in the D-zone and he didn’t make a lot of noticeable mistakes with the puck on his stick. Perhaps he just hadn’t been on the ice much before coming to development camp because he seemed to look better and better as the week went along after looking pretty rusty on Wednesday’s first day of camp. It sounds like the B’s may be okay with him staying over in Sweden for another season and that might be best with where he’s at physically and with his game.

* As far as other non-drafted free agent types, Hanover’s Mike Hardman and Dartmouth’s Drew O’Connor both had good days as well. Hardman was a physical player that was busting through puck battles, and even got a little too exuberant when he clocked 2018 draft pick Dustyn McFaul with a stray below. O’Connor was creative, strong on the puck and showed a lot of good things while really excelling in the scrimmage setting. He was also noticeable during the puck battle drills a day or two prior as well, and may be the kind of player that the Bruins take an interest in as his college career progresses.

* Best two players on the ice aside from John Beecher were defenseman Cooper Zech and forward Oskar Steen. We should be seeing plenty of those two at the AHL level this season with Zech as a puck-moving D-man and Steen as a top-6 center/right wing capable of breaking games open with his offense and two-way play. It wouldn’t surprise me to see either one of those guys in Boston at some point this season as well after Karson Kuhlman similarly stood out during last summer’s development camp ahead of his big first season in the Bruins organization this past year. 

* Best goalie for the week was UMaine's Jeremy Swayman. He gave up some goals in a scrimmage setting where it's not exacty set up for airtight defense, but he stone cold robbed John Beecher on a chance in tight with a flashy glove save to start the second half of the scrimmage. His glove looked good, his feet are extremely quick and he looks like the kind of athletic goalie that's going to have a future in the B's organization once his Black Bears career is over. 

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