( Photo Credit: NHL.com )

By: Mark Allred | Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

The Boston Bruins released the 2021 Development Camp roster last night as the annual event kicks off on Monday, August 2nd, 2021, from the Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton, Massachusetts. This particular evaluation time of the year normally takes place in late June or early July. Due to the continuing pandemic and late start to the 2021 National Hockey League season, events like these for many clubs had to be shifted a month closer to the upcoming regular season.

As a fan of goaltending and a hack scout at the position, one of the three names to participate in the crease starting Monday caught my eye with immediate interest. Joining Boston Bruins prospect goaltender Kyle Keyser is camp invite Zach Stejskal who played last season as a freshman at the University of Minnesota-Duluth but another invite and the peak of my interest is netminder Keith Petruzzelli. The 6′-5″ 185-pound goaltender from Wilbraham, Massachusetts native played the last four seasons with the Quinnipiac Bobcats as a Detriot Red Wings prospect selected in the third round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Petruzzelli finished his four-year NCAA career after the 2020-21 but couldn’t come to terms with an entry-level deal with the NHL Wings so now he’s pretty much a free agent looking for a place to catch on with a new organization as he tries to officially starts his professional career. This invite of the New England native intrigues me a little with the recent shift in the Boston Bruins goaltending depth with the trade departure of Dan Vladar who was traded earlier this week for a 2022 third-round draft selection from the Calgary Flames.

As much as I was a Vladar fan and could see him as a future piece, his tenure with the Bruins organization being a 2015 third-round selection meant he would have to go through the waiver process if needed to be demoted to the American Hockey League Providence Bruins. The Bruins knew the writing on the wall and with a netminder like Dan with his ability along with age would not last long on the waiver wire so at least the Bruins got something for him. This obviously moved rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman to potentially tandem with recent free agent signing Linus Ullmark, free agent signing Troy Grosenick working with netminder Kyle Keyser who could get his first full season of AHL games in the last season of his entry-level contract.

Callum Booth, who was offered a qualifying earlier this week, remains listed as an unrestricted free agent for the upcoming season. Booth a 24-year-old who was signed last year for additional goaltending help due to the fact that NHL teams could carry three netminders for the abbreviated 56 game schedule, which started in January of this year. His future in the Bruins organization remains to be seen, but the invite of Petruzzelli almost makes it a case as a plan “B” as Booth was seemingly going to play with the ECHL Maine Mariners.

This invite to Development Camp will provide a valuable service to the scouts at the Warrior Ice Arena along with mastermind tandem of the goaltending coaching efforts from Bob Essensa and Mike Dunham. I like the approach of this move because, again, it’s a low-risk, high reward scenario. When you look at the lower depth chart in the crease concerning the minor-pro level, you can see a move like this could be an ace in the hole move if further service negotiations go south with veteran netminder Grosenick and current prospect Keyser. If a goalie like Petruzzelli excels at the ECHL level, it would be a no-brainer to get him in the mix and continue to offer low-risk contracts as a way of increasing his confidence at each level.

The Former University of Quinnipiac member earned the Bobcats Most Valuable Player at the close of the 2019-21 campaign. Petruzzelli is a hard worker, so striving to be better is a valuable attribute you want to see in a young prodigy. In an article on NHL.com, Shawn Horcoff Detriot, Red Wings director of player development, had this to say this below in a piece released on the Wings official website written by Arthur J. Regner.

“Keith had a really good bounce-back year this year, good for him. I think for Keith when we drafted him, we had a really physically and mentally immature player. He had no idea what it took to be a pro, he had no idea what eating habits, workout habits, sleeping habits (he needed). There was a lot for him to work on, and to his credit, he’s starting to figure that out, and he’s starting to put the time in, and he’s starting to mature, and he’s starting to do the necessary things it takes to become a solid goaltender. He’s getting results because of it. Kudos to him for being able to do that. Obviously, this is just the start, there’s a long way for him to go, but he’s moving in the right direction.” – Shawn Horcoff, Red Wings director of player development and assistant director of player personnel.

Before the rigors of the NCAA hockey level for four seasons, the now 22-year-old Petruzzelli spent time in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks before his arrival to the Division 1 Connecticut hockey program. With the Lumberjacks in his only season in the tier-1 junior hockey league, the 6′-5″ 185-pound netminder was clearly ready for a college hockey workload as he posted a record of 22-10-1 with a 2.40 goals-against-average and .918 save percentage in 35 games during the 2016-17 USHL regular season. Keith’s postseason with the Lumberjacks that year didn’t exactly fair well, and his numbers per EliteProspects.com show a better example. With the NCAA Bobcats, Keith appeared in 94 games and posted a career record of 51-27-8 with a GAA of 2.17 and .915 Save%.

With all this being said and the future landscape of the crease soon to come, it should be interesting as the NHL Boston Bruins look to save cap space to address needs outside the blue shaded area along the goalline. It’s apparent the youth movement is on with the upward movement of Bruins prospect and former University of Maine netminder and instant fan favorite Jeremy Swayman. It’s never a bad idea to add depth or sustain a need at a certain minor-pro level, but when you get to have a look in-house for four days at no risk at all, you take it, and I look forward to hear about what Petruzzelli had to offer from media available to attend this annual event.