By: Andrew Taverna | Follow me on Twitter @andrewtaverna
Since having to skip development camp last summer due to an ongoing global pandemic, scouts around the world have been using alternative methods for evaluating and watching players. Last week, some sense of normalcy returned as the Boston Bruins hosted their 14th development camp at Warrior Ice Arena. The week-long activity between August 2nd and August 6th included off-ice activities, on-ice drills, and even a bit of five-on-five scrimmaging on the last day. As a Bruins fan, the real question that comes out of development camp every year is: of the 28 players, who were the standouts?
Ben Meyers is a name that I am sure several NHL teams will be watching as an available forward with project potential. The 5’11, 194 pound Minnesota native has spent the last couple of years playing NCAA hockey at the University of Minnesota. Last season, Meyers had 28 points in 31 games. During camp, he showed some impressive hand-eye skill and the ability to put the puck in the back of the net.
Also, an invitee to camp, Parker Ford, was especially impressive to me during this camp. A Rhode Island native playing for Providence College, Parker scored seven goals and had 12 assists for a total of 19 points in 25 games last season at the NCAA level. The most impressive part of his camp showing for me, though, was his pure effort level. Every minute he was on the ice, Ford appeared to be giving it his all. A relatively common theme for the invitees to this year’s camp, but he, in particular, stood out.
Kuntar is a name many Bruins fans are probably familiar with, and if they are not, it’s a name you’ll want to get to know. The Buffalo NY native was drafted 89th overall in the 2020 NHL draft by the Boston Bruins and is currently playing his college hockey for Boston College. Only 20 years old, Kuntar has become known for his heavy shot and ability to score from almost anywhere on the ice. He also single-handedly owns the bragging rights of the most insane goal during the development camp.
Honorable Mention: Matthew Kopperud
I was not going to include Kopperud in my original shortlist, to be honest, but after talking to a few folks and watching him during camp, there was something impressive about him. An undrafted camp invitee out of Arizona State, he held a particular poise and professionalism about him during the entire event. I don’t know a whole lot about his game, but I’ll be sure to check him out a bit more this year as he led ASU in points last season as a freshman and had one of the better showings at development camp.
If you were to ask me about who looked most NHL ready at the Bruins development camp this year, my answer would be simple, Brady Lyle. His skating, size, and overall awareness of where he was on the ice were particularly impressive. Lyle spent last season with the Providence Bruins and had a great season, albeit a short sample size because of the shortened season. The 22-year-old defenseman makes a lot of sense as a depth player should the Bruins need one this year on a call-up.
Mason Lohrei is another prospect many of you have probably heard of before. Mason was drafted 58th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft.
Lohrei had a strong camp and continues to look good at every level of the game he has played. He most recently played with Green Bay in the USHL but is headed to Ohio State University to play NCAA hockey in the fall. While he is not an NHL or even AHL-ready player just yet, Lohrei remains a promising prospect for the Bruins if he keeps developing his game with the same pace he has to this point.
Malmstrom is not a name I had heard of heading into this Bruins development camp. However, a scout that works for the Bruins organization was kind enough to share with me that “he is a guy to watch” that might not be on everyone’s radar. That advice did not disappoint. One of the primary characteristics to look for in a defenseman you’re unfamiliar with is poise and comfort with the puck. Malmstrom had both of those when participating in drills and scrimmages. Currently, Malmstrom is set to play another season at Bowling Green State University but will undoubtedly be interesting to watch as he continues to develop.
I am not an expert in goaltending, but the Bruins hosted Kyle Keyser, a prospect in the Bruins system. Including his impressive play, he notably had an interaction with a fan giving away his stick and was almost always first and last off the ice. This type of work ethic and attitude is exactly what you want to see from a promising young goaltender in your system. In addition to Keyser, the Bruins invited goaltenders Zachary Stejskal and Keith Petruzelli to the development camp. Both of these guys had solid showings as well, but I’d give Petruzelli the slight edge on a better camp.
I was always scratching my head why Brady Lyle was never drafted. Watching him play in North Bay & Owen Sound. Able to handle the big forwards in front of the net. I remember one play in particular were he litterly picked Phil Tomasino up with one arm and moved him off the puck. Could be that diamond in the rough.
Agreed Jim! Although I didn’t know much about him from his OHL days, I did watch all 25 games he played for the AHL Providence Bruins. He played on the top defensive pairing with smaller blueliner and first-year member Jack Ahcan. Brady played in all situations and was a real minute eater for a minor-pro affiliate of the Boston Bruins in an abbreviated 25 game regular season. I totally agree with you on the undrafted diamond in the rough mention.