|Tommy Cross: A development camp legend||06.29.12 at 5:11 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — A few years before Matt Grzelcyk was drafted, the Charlestown native went to Ristuccia Arena to watch the Bruins run their development camp. One of the players he watched at the camp was 2007 second-round pick Tommy Cross.
Cross, who just capped off a four-year career at Boston College with his second NCAA championship and third Beanpot title, has been a constant at the Bruins development camp. He hasn’t always been able to participate (he’s had three major knee surgeries), but he’s been there since the camp started.
Cross made his first appearance at the first camp in 2007, when the team was evaluating the then-17-year-old alongside players such as David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask and Adam McQuaid. Now, the 22-year-old Cross is the veteran of the camp, playing alongside younger prospects such as Dougie Hamiton, Malcolm Subban, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner.
But while the players changed around him, the development camp has been a familiar experience for the Westminster, Conn. native.
‘[It is the] same as usual,’ Cross said. ‘It is a really good learning experience. You can still take a lot out of these camps no matter how many times you come here.
‘You know what to expect. They change it up every year obviously. They kind of keep you on your toes. But you know the staff pretty well. You know some of the other players.’
As the veteran member of the camp, the former BC captain has become a leader among the Bruins’ prospects, especially those who are here for the first time. One player who is at his first development camp is goaltender Parker Milner, who won a national championship alongside Cross last season.
‘Tommy is intense,’ Milner said. ‘Whether it is the first practice here or the national championship, he is going to be intense. But he looks good out there. I think he is ready to make the jump and his leadership is next to none.’
This will be Cross’ final development camp, as he is expected to play next season with the Providence Bruins. Cross played two games with Providence last season, using the experience to get better acclimated to professional game as opposed to the college game.
‘The guys in the AHL are obviously older,’ Cross said. ‘It is a little bit more of a controlled style. I think college hockey is a great place for learning though, and I prepared myself for the next level and the AHL is kind of like a new system.’
|Bruins sign Boston College captain Tommy Cross||04.10.12 at 7:49 pm ET|
The Bruins signed former second-round pick and Boston College captain Tommy Cross to an entry-level deal Tuesday. He is expected to report to Providence and make his AHL debut Friday.
Cross had five goals and 19 assists for 24 points this season as a senior. The defenseman won national titles in 2010 and 2012, as the Eagles defeated Ferris St. for the National Championship this past Saturday. In his career at BC, Cross had 17 goals and 33 assists for 50 points in 134 points.
The Bruins traded up in the second round in 2007 to select Cross, a left-shot blue liner and native of Simsbury, CT, with the 35th overall pick. Since then, one big concern has been his health, as he has had three major surgeries on right knee.
Cross isn’t the only Eagle to sign a deal Tuesday. Junior forward Chris Kreider signed with the Rangers and will report to the big club, thus burning the first year of his deal.
|What will the Bruins do with the ninth pick?||06.24.11 at 3:14 am ET|
As the world continues to have a laugh over pictures of Brad Marchand and the Bruins’ bar tab (did you hear they had a $100,000 bottle of champagne?) to the point where the dead horse couldn’t possibly take another blow, the Stanley Cup champions are getting ready to add a potential franchise player.
The B’s will pick ninth overall in Friday’s NHL draft, finally closing the book on the Phil Kessel trade as they add one of the top players in a draft widely considered to be a notch below that of last year’s. Given that Toronto’s selection is slotted ninth, it’s safe to say the B’s will add one Central Scoutings’ highest-rated players.
Here are the top 15 skaters in this year’s draft accoriding to Central Scouting.
1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL)
2. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL)
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
4. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL)
5. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
6. Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
7. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL)
8. Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
9. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
10. Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
11. Vladislav Namestnikov, C, London (OHL)
12. Joseph Morrow, D, Portland (WHL)
13. Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (Hockey East)
14. Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
15. Zack Phillips, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
And the top five European skaters:
1. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
2. Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden (Sweden)
3. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden)
4. Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland)
5. Dmitrij Jaskin, RW, Slavia (Czech Republic)
Of course, Central Scouting isn’t everything, as we saw last year. The top-ranked player (Tyler Seguin) went second overall, and it looks like the Hurricanes weren’t crazy when they drafted the 34th-ranked North American skater (Jeff Skinner) seventh overall.
Whoever the Bruins take with the ninth pick (assuming, as Peter Chiarelli indicated Thursday, they stay put), don’t expect him to be in Boston next season. Chiarelli told reporters in Minnesota that based on the players he expected to be on the board at No. 9, the player the B’s select will not be NHL ready. That means bad news for Seguin, who jokingly expressed hope on breakup day that someone else could be ‘the kid’ next season and that everyone would be on the draft pick’s case instead of his.
Chiarelli said his intention is to draft the best available player, and given that this draft is top-heavy when it comes to defense, that player may be a blueliner. Picking defense would give the B’s a blue-chipper in an area in which it organizationally does not have a sure-fire star in the making, and it would also be somewhat of a deviation for Chiarelli. The highest the Bruins’ GM has selected a defenseman was 35th overall, when the B’s traded up in the second round to grab Tommy Cross 35th overall.
If the B’s spend the ninth pick on a defenseman, you can bet your bippy the Tomas Kaberle rumors will swirl, and there will obviously be two easy arguments. If the team has a young puck-mover (we’ll get to the players below) with star potential a year or two away, perhaps they could try to go with Steven Kampfer next season (and beyond) and let Kaberle walk. On the other hand, the Bruins happen to have just won the Stanley Cup, and the Vezina winner isn’t getting any younger. There isn’t much of a window closing for the Bruins given that they are good and young both offensively and behind Tim Thomas (remember Tuukka Rask?), but they certainly want to win now.
With all that being said, here are some of the guys who have been common Bruins’ selections in mock drafts and/or might make sense for the B’s at No. 9:
Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
Height/weight: 5-foot-10, 166 pounds
2010-11 stats: 63 games, 26 G, 53 A, 79 P, 36 PIM
An offensive-minded defenseman, Murphy’s 26 goals were the most among OHL blueliners this past season. Considered a plus-skater and strong passer, he could eventually offer more than the Bruins are currently getting out of Kaberle on the power play. The Bruins certainly showed in the Kaberle deal that a defenseman who can help the offense is a priority, so landing one for the long term would be a wise move if Murphy is still on the board. Given that he’s ranked 9th by Central Scouting among North American skaters, it could be close. Murphy is also a right-handed shot. The Bruins’ blue line was lefty-dominant last season, with Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid (and, at points, Kampfer) the only righty defensemen in the lineup.
Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-2, 174 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 12 G, 33 A, 45 P, 52 PIM
Beaulieu is another strong-skating defenseman, though his speed won’t get confused with that of Murphy. He still brings an impressive offensive skill set to the blue line, and he certainly offers more size than Murphy. He would most certainly be the puck-moving defenseman of the future if the B’s were to select him.
Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
Height/weight: 6-foot-0, 175 pounds
2010-11 stats: 65 games, 33 G, 73 A, 106 P, 82 PIM
Another center? With the Bruins, you never know. You have to figure that Seguin will eventually become a full-time center once he’s done being eased in, but there are enough question marks in the future to make selecting a center not seem so crazy. Excluding Marc Savard given all the uncertainty, Patrice Bergeron and Seguin are the only pivots signed past next season (David Krejci will be a restricted free agent, while Chris Kelly and Gregory Campbell will be unrestricted).
Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Height/weight: 6-foor-2, 192 pounds
2010-11 stats: 72 games, 5 G, 38 A, 43 P, 121 PIM
The bulkiest of the blueliners featured in this sample, many things you read about about Siemens will suggest he’s behind some of the other defensemen in this draft as far as both development and potential go. Still, he’s strong, and though he doesn’t bring the same bells and whistles that guys like Murphy and Beaulieu do, he could still be a welcome presence on Claude Julien‘s blue line eventually.
|Bruins prospect Tommy Cross plays star in Beanpot semifinal||02.08.11 at 12:39 am ET|
Boston College defenseman Tommy Cross hopes to one day make some noise at TD Garden as a member of the Boston Bruins, but Monday he settled for doing so in his familiar Eagles sweater. The former second-round pick of the Bruins scored the game-winning goal in Monday’s Beanpot semifinal, beating Boston University netminder Kieran Milan in overtime with the Eagles on the power play and clinching a 3-2 win.
The Bruins traded up in the 2007 NHL Draft to select Cross with the 35th overall pick. Right knee injuries kept him from participating in Bruins rookie development camps until this summer, where he joined fellow B’s prospects for the first time.
With Harvard’s Alexander Fallstrom and BU’s David Warsofsky having lost on Monday, Cross will be the lone Bruins representative in the tournament final vs. Northeastern.
|BC defender looking to Cross out injury woes||07.07.10 at 5:00 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Boston College defenseman and Simsbury, Conn., native Tommy Cross knows all about Bruins development camp. Sort of.
The 6-foot-3, 209-pounder was the Bruins’ second-round pick in the 2007 NHL draft after the team traded up to the 35th overall spot in order to secure him. Since he was selected in ’07, the first year the Bruins began running the camp, he has been eligible for each and every one of them. His right knee, however, has unfortunately dictated his participation, just as it has effected much of his hockey career.
Playing baseball in 2007, Cross slid into third base and injured the knee, which has since been operated on three times. As a result, he was on crutches for his first two camps (he did not attend in ’08), and could only work out and skate by himself for last summer’s camp. Those sessions were his first on the ice in six months. Though the knee has put a damper on his attempts to impress both BC and the Bruins, he enters this camp with something he has learned not to take for granted: health.
“Just to think a year ago I was skating in between sessions,” Cross said Wednesday. “The guys were in the locker room, [and] I’d go out and skate laps. I think they gave me a puck one day. That was my excitement. To be out there with the guys and be able to do the drills … the fans in the stands, the kids chanting, it’s just awesome. I certainly don’t take it for granted and it’s as fun as it gets.”
Though he ended his freshman year at BC, the ’08-09 season, off the ice with one of his three injuries to his right knee meniscus, Cross has been on a positive trail of late. He played a mostly healthy sophomore season with the Eagles in which he racked up 10 points (5 G, 5 A) and 36 penalty minutes. He led exercises at Tuesday’s team-building activities and enjoys what he feels is a close group of prospects at camp.
“No matter what you do, no matter how involved you say, there’s something about being out on the ice with your teammates and going through the ups and downs that you miss out on. I’ve experienced that when I’ve missed games, I missed long periods of time the end of my freshman year (12 games), but certainly this past season I was healthy [for] all but three games over the course of three weeks. Even in those three weeks I was skating, so I was still involved.”
Assistant general manager Don Sweeney noted that the team has been impressed with what they have been able to see out of the defenseman over the last season. Sweeney said that Cross deserves “a lot of that credit” for being able to go from injured to a solid prospect once again.
“Things have come in fits and starts with him,” Sweeney said. “It’s been a frustrating situation for him. He’s worked awfully hard to overcome a lot of lose adversities and put himself in a situation where he’s added a lot of strength to take advantage of the situations of being able to skate and be healthy enough to do things that he’s accustomed to doing.”
Now that the issues involving the knee are seemingly in the past, Cross gets to set about showing his promise as a blue-liner to the Bruins. Though many players come back as different players in some way, shape or form, following an injury or multiple injuries, Cross has kept the same work ethic and mindset.
“I don’t think I’ve changed anything. I think it’s made me better. A better person, a better player. I’ve learned a lot from my experiences. I’m here now, I’m healthy, and I think that’s all that matters.”