Day Two of Bruins' Development Camp: Thoughts and observations
Here are some thoughts and observations from Wednesday's second day of Bruins development camp, as things got a little more competitive with plenty of battle drills in the double-session practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
It didn’t pop up as much on the first day of practice sessions, but Jakub Lauko can really fly with and without the puck. He used his speed to create separation and make plays happen offensively during drills throughout the sessions on Wednesday and looks pretty comfortable in general despite it being just the second day skating at an NHL development camp. The acceleration and skating stride itself were both excellent for the Czech-born player, and he showed off a strong, if somewhat erratic, shot around the net when it comes to finishing plays as well. The mounting evidence continues to point to Lauko being a very good third-round pick.
Speaking of European players, 28-year-old Martin Bakos has been as dominant as expected against a large group of young and inexperienced players who don’t have the maturity or pro experience he brings to the table. At one point during 1-on-1 drills Bakos simply used his speed and power to go right around Beverly, Mass., native and UMass-Boston defenseman Nick “Don’t call me Captain Lou” Albano, then tucked the puck inside the post against goalie prospect Daniel Vladar. Bakos was strong on the puck and showed good finish all around the net. It remains to be seen what he’s going to look like when real training camp opens in September and in all likelihood he’s going to be an AHL depth forward this season, but Bakos should be a good reminder to the prospects that they’ve got a way to go in their development. “You’ve seen him get better with each drill today," said the Bruins' player development coordinator, Jamie Langenbrunner. "By the end, his legs started to get back and he started to feel good out there. Smart hockey player, good size, makes plays. He’ll be an interesting one. I think our lack of right-shot guys on the wing, he’s an interesting player that, if you can make plays and you can skate you give yourself a chance.”
Oskar Steen could definitely be one of those low-round picks who ends up turning into something. The small Swedish forward was one of the more noticeable players during the second day of camp, and was right in the mix during puck battles and drills. A couple of times he completely ripped shots by the goalies as well, and showed the offensive component as well as some of the tenacity that we’ve seen in his game from time to time. Nobody has forgotten his slash on Kailer Yamomoto at the end of the Sweden/Canada World Junior game last season, where the nasty streak came out a little bit. Steen is coming off an extremely good performance in last year’s World Juniors as well, so he’s going to be somebody to watch in a couple of years when he’s in camp with the Bruins competing for a job. He’s been one of the best players in this week’s camp and has an interesting combination of offensive skill and some sandpaper to his game.
Of all the undrafted free agents invited to Bruins development camp, Brown University forward Tom Marchin is one of the standouts. He’s big at 6-foot-3, 198 pounds and he’s shown strength, competitiveness and toughness around the net in battle drills while also featuring a heavy wrist shot in the scoring areas. A couple of other youngsters have had their moments in the first couple of days, but Marchin has been the most noticeable guy to me. Perhaps some of it is because that he’s hard to miss as one of the bigger forwards out on the ice, but the 22-year-old Marchin definitely has some talent.
Swedish defenseman Victor Berglund has noticeable offensive skill that he showed during drills on Wednesday. A late-round pick, he had a solid season for Modo last year and definitely looks comfortable with the puck on his stick. Finnish D-man Urho Vaakanainen (pictured), on the other hand, continues to look like he’s got some work to do. Here’s what Langenbrunner had to say about Vaakanainen: “I think he’s just getting going. I think he’s one I want to give a little kick to to get moving just a little bit. He’s kind of feeling his way through this a little bit. I think his confidence level, he doesn’t look nervous like he did last year. Last year was a lot going on, stuck around here after the draft, he was sitting around waiting a long time, a whole lot of new. He’s got a much more comfortable feeling. He knows a lot of the people, he feels comfortable. I think now for him, it’s getting that urgency level up. For him, especially, building up to September is going to be important.” I’ll be honest: In two development camps I have yet to see why Vaakanainen was first -round pick material. He might want to start showing it.
Wednesday was definitely a better day for Joona Koppanen, who showed the size, strength and finish around the net that he featured for Team Finland during the World Junior tournament. He still looks a little rusty having not been on the iceover the summer, but he’s definitely one of the stronger prospects in development camp this week when it comes to physical strength. While he'll have to keep working on his skating and speed, but he has a pro style game already with his ability to camp around the net, carve out space with defensemen and then finish in tight spaces around the scoring area. Regardless of whether or not he looked like he was going to hurl at the end of Tuesday’s conditioning skate, Koppanen is one of the better players this week.