BRIGHTON, Mass – Here are some thoughts and observations from the third day of Bruins Development Camp at Warrior Ice Arena with just one more day to go. The scrimmage should be fun to watch, and instructive as to how all these prospects play in game-type situations.
1) It’s clear in watching Anders Bjork skating with the rest of the prospects on Saturday that the 20-year-old is light years ahead of the rest of the group in terms of skating, offensive polish and overall presence on the ice. He was skating with purpose and offensive swagger during the drills and the scrimmage, and it set him apart from the rest of the group in the best way possible. He was among the best skaters in prospect camp last season, and he was clearly the most powerful skater among the players taking the ice on Saturday. He certainly looks ready to compete for an NHL roster a couple of months from now, and served as a good example for the young 18 and 19-year-olds of the level they need to get to if they want to be knocking on the NHL door.
2) Urho Vaakanainen is extremely smooth. He looks like he’s gliding when he skates. He doesn’t panic with the puck on his stick and he’s in very good position with or without the puck in all three zones. He makes a good first pass and he seems to process the game quickly. He was pushed around a little bit by some of the bigger, stronger players over the last couple of days, but that’s to be expected as one of the younger guys on the ice. It also remains to be seen just good he looks once the intensity gets upped a little bit physically and intensity-wise, and what exactly he brings to the playmaking part of the offense in game settings. He looked good during a 4-on-4 scrimmage setting on Saturday, and will be pushed further if the Bruins go for a little 3-on-3 scrimmage on Sunday to finish off camp.
3) Trent Frederic gives off a “future leader” vibe in the dressing room when he’s interacting with his teammates. The 19-year-old is in just his second development camp, but he has the kind of easy manner and good sense of humor that goes a long way toward bringing all corners of the dressing together. You combine the likable personality with the strong work ethic and the accountable, heavy game that he plays on the ice, and Frederic has all of the makings of a hard-nosed future team leader. Perhaps it’s not surprising that said he models himself after David Backes, who has a lot of the same kind of qualities that the Bruins were very interested in bringing back to their NHL dressing room when they signed him last summer.
4) Oscar Steen isn’t a household name, but he’s had a pretty strong camp as a small, skilled forward out of Sweden that’s going to need to play up-tempo. The 5-foot-9, 192-pounder still hasn’t made a big splash in the elite league in Sweden playing against bigger, stronger and more mature opponents, and it remains to be seen if the sixth-round pick used to select him ends up paying off for the Black and Gold. But he has been one of the better forwards through three days of development camp. That could bode well for what the Bruins are looking for from him moving forward.
5) Zach Senyshyn is fast, fast and even more fast than can be described conventionally. While the skating speed of Anders Bjork was very noticeable when he joined the group on Saturday, Senyshyn has effectively mixed skating speeds in camp with an impressive burst that he can kick in to create offensive opportunities for himself. It feels pretty apparent that Senyshyn still needs some seasoning at the AHL level to develop his game, build up his toughness and learn how to effectively his size speed/combo to great effect. But you can already see that Senyshyn is going to be very effective paired with a center that can get the puck to him in stride with some time and space, and that’s exactly the kind of finishing guy that David Krejci is on his best days.
6) Jesse Gabrielle is fun to watch on the ice. He’ll try some higher level stuff than many other of his fellow forwards will not attempt offensively in the development camp setting, and he’s got the skill to finish off some of those plays. But in all fairness to Gabrielle, he is at his best game in a scrimmage-type setting where some of his physical play can impact the tone on the ice. He hasn’t had much of a chance to show that rabble-rousing side of his personality during skating drills and skill exercises with the B’s this week, and that’s something the Bruins are looking forward to simply base it on his playing style similarity to Brad Marchand. Nobody is saying Gabrielle is going to push close to a 40-goal season over the next few seasons just as Marchand did last year, but he should show the Bruins a little agitating taste of what happens when he isn’t on his best behavior during the next training camp game. He also has frosted tips as a hair choice for this week, and that is a strong indication that Gabrielle doesn’t take things too seriously.