BRANDON, FL -- The Bruins cleared up a crowded forward group on Wednesday by sending winger Danton Heinen to Providence after a quiet debut with the Black and Gold over the first month of the season.
Heinen was among the missing on the ice for the Black and Gold as they skated at the Brandon Ice Complex training facility for the Tampa Bay Lightning on their off-day, and that list non-skating players also included veterans Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask and John-Michael Liles. Claude Julien said the veterans were given a maintenance day amid a tough road trip to lick some of their wounds, and prepare for an important Thursday night game against the Tampa Bay Lightning to close out the Florida road swing.
The 21-year-old Heinen had zero points and just six shots on net in seven games along with a minus-2 rating for the Black and Gold, and Julien said the youngster might need a bit more seasoning at the AHL level before he’s ready to rate offensively.
“We saw some spurts of [creativity and offense] during the regular season, but in his case he probably needs to go down there, get better, get more confident and get stronger,” said Julien. “We talked to him about that as far as getting better, but we’re certainly not unhappy with him. I thought he had a great camp and he’s going to be a great player for the future, whether it’s shortly or a little later. I think he has all the potential to be a good player in this league.
“It’s the little details that make you a better player at this level. It’s not a bad thing to go down to [the AHL] gain some confidence, play a little more and maybe become an even better player.”
With Heinen as the odd man out, that means that rookie Sean Kuraly will stick with the Bruins and perhaps get his NHL shot sooner rather than later. Julien also indicated that David Backes was on the ice back in Boston for the first time on Wednesday following last week’s elbow procedure to remove the bursa sacs, and is on the road to a recovery for a Black and Gold crew that desperately needs his size, strength and production.