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Surprise first-rounder Trent Frederic, who once played shinny with David Backes in Keith Tkachuk’s basement, doesn’t care about draft status anymore 07.12.16 at 4:29 pm ET
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Trent Frederic's selection at No. 29 overall turned heads. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

Trent Frederic’s selection at No. 29 overall turned heads. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/Getty Images)

Trent Frederic’s time in the Bruins organization got off to a weird start.

First, the Bruins made the St. Louis native’s dream come true when they made him a first-round pick in the NHL draft. Yet Frederic, a projected second or third-rounder whom Central Scouting ranked the 47th-best North American skater in the draft, immediately became one of the most questioned picks of the weekend. It didn’t help when, a day later, the team’s director of amateur scouting said that Frederic is “not going to be a top two line guy” and that the team was OK with that.

Frederic admitted Tuesday that he was surprised when he was taken 29th overall, but noted that he went into Buffalo with the feeling that he would go anywhere from the late first to the early third-round.

Typically, a player with Frederic’s kind of game — he’s got “jam,” as they say — doesn’t go early in the draft, and they use the mindset that draft status doesn’t matter once you’re given an opportunity. Frederic is taking the same mentality despite his fortune of being made a surprise first-rounder.

“I just really don’t think it matters,” he said after his first development camp practice. “If you look at a seventh-round guy and a first-round guy, there’s not much difference. It all comes down to the work you put in now.”

Frederic projects as a bottom-six center, and though the Bruins could have swung for the fences more with a higher-end talent, a player taken in the late 20s who carves out a career as a third-line player would be considered a “hit” as draft picks go.

On Tuesday, Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo took the opportunity to provide a little damage control regarding Gretzky’s comments, projecting a much higher upside for the University of Wisconsin-bound player.

“He’s a really good athlete,” Pandolfo said. “He’s explosive. … He probably has a little better skill than people give him credit for. He’s got some upside more than maybe just a third-line player. I know that’s kind of what everyone was saying, but there were a lot of teams that were pretty high on this kid. I think he just kind went under the radar playing for that US (Under-18) team with some top skilled players.”

Frederic said upon being drafted that he’d always looked up to David Backes and modeled his game after the longtime Blues center. One week later, the Bruins signed Backes, presenting the scenario that the two could end up teammates one day.

Interestingly enough, however, it wouldn’t be the first time the two played together. Growing up friends with Matthew Tkachuk and his siblings, Frederic’s family and the Tkachuks became family friends.

As you’ll remember from this wonderful feature on Lee Stempniak, the Tkachuk house was something of a dormitory for young Blues players back in the day. As he did with Stempniak, Tkachuk housed Backes when the center was breaking into the NHL.

“I actually played shinny hockey with him when I was really young,” Frederic said. “He was living with the Tkachuks. He probably doesn’t remember that, but I do.”

Given that he’s still 18, there’s plenty of time for Frederic to develop into an NHL player and join his idol on the Bruins’ roster during Backes’ five-year contract. If he can prove to have a higher ceiling than expected, an initially criticized pick could end up being a rather useful selection.

Read More: Trent Frederic,
After overcoming injury, Malcolm Subban must overcome signing of Anton Khudobin for NHL job 07.12.16 at 2:21 pm ET
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Malcolm Subban

Malcolm Subban

WILMINGTON — Two days after Malcolm Subban suffered a frightening throat injury in warmups of a Feb. 6 game for the Providence Bruins, David Pastrnak relayed that he’d talked to Subban and that the goaltender was in good spirits.

Talked?

The right wing quickly clarified that the communication had taken place over text, as Subban wasn’t doing much talking after a puck hit him in the throat during warmups. In fact, Subban went what he estimated to be over two weeks without being able to speak before finally grunting out his first words (asking his parents for permission to buy a car).

Now, after working his way back from a five-day hospital stint that included surgery on a fractured larynx and one and a half days with tubes down his throat, the Bruins’ 2013 first-round pick is in town for development camp and hopes to pick up where he left off prior to the injury, which was the highest point of his pro career.

Though Subban’s numbers on the season were underwhelming — a .911 save percentage in 27 games played, marking a step back from his .921 mark over 35 games the season before — Subban had a .939 save percentage over his previous seven games leading up to the injury and, had he kept up the pace, could have challenged NHL backup Jonas Gustavsson late in the season.

“He was progressing great,” Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo said after Tuesday’s development camp, which saw Subban work with B’s goaltending coach Bob Essensa. “It was unfortunate the injury he had and having to miss half the season. He was definitely on the right track.”

Yet while the obstacle of his injury is gone, a new one has been presented in former Bruins’ backup Anton Khudobin, whom the team brought in on a two-year contract on the first day of free agency. Though Khudobin’s signing could have also been a move to give the team protection against losing Subban or Tuukka Rask in next offseason’s expansion draft, it also puts a player ahead of Subban on the depth chart.

“I’m not too focused on anything else that goes on in the organization,” Subban said of the Khudobin acquisition. “It’s all just about playing my game and trying to make sure I’m ready to go and I can go [do] whatever they want me to do. That’s where my focus is going into camp.”

If Subban doesn’t make the team as Rask’s backup, he would spend a fourth year in Providence, likely splitting time again with fellow prospect Zane McIntyre. Yet Subban feels he’s close to being NHL-ready, even if free agency made his road to the NHL a little tougher.

“I feel every year [there’s competition for the backup job],” Subban said. “Look at Tuukka. I’m sure he thinks of all of us as competitors, too. It’s healthy competition. That’s what you need it to be.”

Read More: Anton Khudobin, Malcolm Subban,
Bruins development camp commences 07.12.16 at 11:53 am ET
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WILMINGTON — Who looks good out there?

Bruins development camp got underway on Tuesday, with a smaller group than years past taking the ice at Ristuccia Arena.

Though the roster for the camp isn’t huge (26 players), it’s loaded with intriguing prospects, such as Danton Heinen, Malcolm Subban, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk and 2016 first-round pick Charlie McAvoy.

Daniel Vladar and camp invite Stephen Dillon were the only goalies to participate in Tuesday’s practice, though Subban and Zane McIntyre were on the ice earlier in the day. All expected skaters were on the ice with the exception of 2016 second-round pick Ryan Lindgren, who had a class commitment at the University of Minnesota. Lindgren will arrive in Boston Tuesday and join the other prospects Wednesday.

Read More: Malcolm Subban, Ryan Lindgren,
10 ‘players to watch’ at Bruins development camp 07.11.16 at 2:27 pm ET
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Charlie McAvoy will skate in a Bruins jersey for the first time this week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Charlie McAvoy will skate in a Bruins jersey for the first time this week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The worst question a Bruins fan can ask during the team’s annual development camp is a totally understandable one:

“Who looks good?”

That’s always a tough question to answer because of what the camp is: a few days of guys doing drills, seeing the city and getting to know the organization. Given that the camp is an assortment of prospects of varying degrees, it’s easy to get carried away with “who looks good” because some players are skating with kids who are either quite a bit younger than them or a lot further away in their development. For example: Is soon-to-be 24-year-old Zane McIntyre going to look good facing shots against some 18-year-old defensemen? Probably.

This camp is the athletic equivalent of a checkup, rather than an actual competition to make the NHL team. That said, it will be worth checking in with a number of Boston’s prospects when the on-ice portion of camp gets underway Tuesday. While keeping in mind that two of the team’s prospects won’t be there in Zach Senyshyn (mono) and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (a number of reasons the team listed: school, family, travel), here are 10 players to watch this week:

Danton Heinen, Forward, Providence (AHL)

The Bruins need right wings like you read about and the left-shot forward has experience playing both sides. The B’s got him to go pro after his sophomore year at the University of Denver, so he’s a good bet to play in Providence this season unless things get dire in Boston.

A fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Heinen is considered a natural scorer whom prospects ace Kirk Luedeke (who knows more about these kids than the Bruins beat guys because he watches them) feels can push 30 goals at the NHL level some day. He put up 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 40 games as a freshman and 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 41 games as a sophomore. The Bruins aren’t overflowing with high-end right wing prospects who are relatively close to pushing for an NHL job, but Heinen is perhaps the most intriguing.

Brandon Carlo, Defenseman, Providence (AHL)

A defensive defenseman, the 6-foot-5 righty is probably the closest of all of the Bruins’ 2015 draft picks to reaching the NHL. The B’s see him becoming a better Adam McQuaid, which begs the question of how many more seasons McQuaid will spend in Boston.

Zane McIntyre, Goalie, Providence (AHL)

Last offseason, McIntyre was considered quite the get when he chose to sign with the Bruins rather than becoming a free agent. It wouldn’t have been Vesey-Level, but the 2015 Hobey Baker finalist was an in-demand prospect coming out of North Dakota. Splitting time with Malcolm Subban in Providence, McIntyre was underwhelming as a first year pro, posting an .898 save percentage over 31 games. Though this will be his seventh development camp, he’s still just 23 (24 next month) and has plenty of time to continue developing.

Jeremy Lauzon, Defenseman, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)

While Carlo gets the hype, some observers will tell you that Lauzon, who was chosen 15 picks later, is the better prospect. He’s got good size (6-foot-2, 193 pounds) and put up 50 points (10 goals, 40 assists) in 46 games in the QMJHL last season. Luedeke says he’s a ways away from the NHL, but believes the lefty’s ceiling is sky-high.  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Daniel Vladar, Jake DeBrusk
Chris Kelly signs 1-year deal with Senators 07.07.16 at 3:08 pm ET
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Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly

Chris Kelly is returning to Ottawa on a one-year, $900,000 contract, the team announced Thursday.

The signing ends a tenure in Boston for Kelly that lasted parts of six seasons. Most notably, Kelly was a key contributor on the Bruins’ third line in 2011, which allowed the B’s to escape the first round against the Canadiens in a postseason that eventually saw them win the Stanley Cup.

After being acquired at the 2011 trade deadline for a second-round pick and winning with the team that season, Kelly was given an ‘A’ on his sweater and scored 20 goals in his first full season with the B’s in 2011-12. He then re-upped with Boston on a four-year contract that paid carried a $3 million average annual value, a contract that was often criticized as the player dealt with injuries and decreased offensive output as he aged into his mid-30s.

The Senators originally drafted Kelly 94th overall in the 1999 draft. He played his entire career with Ottawa prior to being moved to Boston.

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Zach Senyshyn (mono), Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson to miss Bruins’ development camp 07.06.16 at 12:52 pm ET
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Two of the Bruins’ top offensive prospects will not be in attendance next week when the team conducts its annual development camp.

Right wing Zach Senyshyn (mono) and center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (school, family and travel reasons) will both be absent. Senyshyn is best-known for being the player selected with the first of three picks (15th overall) that the Bruins received from the Flames in exchange for Dougie Hamilton at the 2015 draft. His selection was widely criticized given that he was a projected second- or third-round pick, but he helped alleviate fans’ concerns with a 45-goal performance in the OHL last season.

Goalie Zane McIntyre, meanwhile, will attend the camp for a seventh straight season. McIntyre turned pro last season, splitting time in Providence with Malcolm Subban.

Following is the roster for next week’s camp, which will be held at Ristuccia Arena for the final time before the team moves its practices to Brighton beginning in September.

Forwards: Jack Becker, Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, Ryan Donato, Ryan Fitzgerald, Trent Frederic, Jesse Gabrielle, Danton Heinen, Cameron Hughes, Joona Koppanen, Sean Kuraly, Mark Naclerio, Oskar Steen

Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Cameron Clarke, Matt Grzelcyk, Emil Johansson, Jeremy Lauzon, Ryan Lindgren, Charlie McAvoy, Wiley Sherman, Jakob Zboril

Goaltenders: Zane McIntyre, Malcolm Subban, Daniel Vladar, Stephen Dhillon (invite basis)

Bruins sign Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, re-sign Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell 07.01.16 at 5:47 pm ET
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Riley Nash scored nine goals for the Hurricanes last season. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

Riley Nash scored nine goals for the Hurricanes last season. (Charles LeClaire/USA Today Sports)

In addition to the signings of David Backes, John-Michael Liles and Anton Khudobin, the Bruins announced Friday that they had agreed to contracts with forwards Riley Nash and Tim Schaller while also re-signing defenseman Tommy Cross and forward Tyler Randell.

Nash’s deal is a two-year pact worth $900,000 annually. Originally taken 21st overall by the Oilers, the now 27-year-old center has played all 242 games of his NHL career with the Hurricanes. Last season, he scored nine goals and added 13 assists for 22 points in 64 games.

Cross, Randell and Schaller all received one-year, two-way deals worth $600,000 at the NHL level. The 35th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Cross played the first three NHL games of his career last season and also captained the Providence Bruins.

As for Randell, the feisty winger enjoyed a hilariously strong and definitely unrepeatable 33.33 percent shooting percentage last season over his 27 games, as six of the 18 shots on goal with which he was credited went in the net. He figures to push for a job similar to the one he had last season as a fringe fourth-liner/extra forward on the NHL roster.

Schaller, 25, played 17 games for the Sabres last season, scoring one goal and adding two assists for three points. In 35 career NHL games, Schaller has two goals, three assists and five points.

 

Read More: Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Tommy Cross, Tyler Randell

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