Bjork, Donato impress at Boston Bruins development camp

CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Urho Vaakanainen poses for photos after being selected 18th overall by the Boston Bruins during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 23: Urho Vaakanainen poses for photos after being selected 18th overall by the Boston Bruins during the 2017 NHL Draft at the United Center on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Over the past four days, Boston Bruins prospects, and a few camp invites, have tested their skills at Warrior Ice Arena.

Anyone who has read my blogs before knows that I have a lot of faith, maybe even too much, in the Boston Bruins current prospect pool. That’s why this camp was so exciting for me to follow.

Even though I was only able to attend Sunday’s session, I kept up to date on news from the first three days. Without further ado, here are my takeaways.

Stand Outs:

Anders Bjork: There’s a reason he’s not returning to Notre Dame. This guy is ready to make the jump to the NHL. He especially shined during the 3 on 3 drills where his hockey sense, shot and play-making put him a step above his fellow prospects.

With all the moves he pulls, I would compare his play style to that of Pastrnak. While I don’t think he is at that level right now, it wouldn’t be crazy for him to develop into that kind of player down the road.

Bottom Line: Whether or not he is able to play on the Bruins top 6 this fall is still a question, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all for him to start the season in Boston.

Ryan Donato: The son of ex-Bruin Ted Donato was much more experienced than most of the players in attendance, considering this is his fourth development camp. He used that experience well, and impressed all week.

Even though he stood out, the Boston Bruins will have to wait for Donato’s services, as he plans to stay for two more years and get his diploma from Harvard. When he finally does decide to turn pro, his ability to play Center or Wing and his well rounded skill set will make him a valuable member of the Black and Gold.

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The Next Tier:

Trent Frederic: The University of Wisconsin freshman is coming off a great year for the badgers. The progress he made there showed during camp this past week. While not as flashy as Bjork,  he definitely controlled the play.

Coming in at 6’2″, he has a big body, and he knows how to use it. His smart, two way game has drawn him comparisons to David Backes. Although I’ve made plenty of complaints about Backes in the past, those were due to his contract, and not his skill set or style of play. Every team needs a few strong two way players, and it looks like Frederic can be that for Boston after another year or two at Wisconsin.

Jakob Zboril: A member of the Boston Bruins 2015 1st round trio, Zboril was probably the most complete defenseman on the ice. So why did I only list him as a “next tier” player and not a “stand out?”

Well, stand outs are players I feel could make the Bruins this year. Zboril was good; I just don’t think he’s ready quite yet. Granted it’s harder to stand out as a defenseman in these camps, but the point remains the same.

Other Notable Players:

Zach Senyshyn: Another player from the trio of the 2015 draft, Senyshyn didn’t impress me too much. He definitely has the frame and skating ability, but a lot of his skills still seemed raw to me.

While he’s shown great growth these past few years playing major junior, I’m still not sure if he’s ready to make the jump. He didn’t play bad. It was just a discouraging showing for a first round pick when you compare him to where David Pastrnak or Charlie McAvoy are right now.

Urho Vaakanainen: The newest draft pick for the Boston Bruins held his own in camp. He had flashes of strong play, but was definitely adjusting to the speed of things.

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He was best when he could slow things down, and had space to use his skating ability to his advantage. Overall, despite having the tools to succeed, he needs more time to grow.

For example there was one 3 on 3 where Vaakanainen was controlling the play. He possessed the puck for a large portion of the shift. Sadly, he got to fancy in front of his own net. Puck got stolen at the wrong time and the other team scored.

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I’d chalk this up to inexperience/adjusting to the speed of things. A simple mistake like this doesn’t mean he can’t be a strong NHL defenseman one day. It just shows that he’ll need more time to develop into that guy.

The Surprises:

James Corcoran: The late invite to development camp was a local high school player. Corcoran, the nephew of Boston Bruins legend Terry O’Reilly, led the Walpole Rebels to an undefeated regular season and a birth in the State Super 8 Tournament with an absurd .970 save percentage.

With so many prep schools in the area, public high schoolers very rarely get any attention from colleges, let alone NHL clubs, so when I heard about his invite I was pretty shocked. Especially considering I played against him this past winter. To answer your question, yes we were shut out.

For more on James Corcoran, check out this piece from Stanley Cup of Chowder.

Mason Jobst: The Ohio State player was just a camp invite, but he got a lot of attention on twitter for his powerful shot and speed. He’s basically a clean, slightly less skilled Brad Marchand.

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Not bad for a camp invite. We’ll see if he has any future with the organization moving forward.