An Update On Bruins Prospects Frederic And Hughes

(Photo Credit: Jessi Schoville, The Daily Cardinal)

By Mike Cratty                                                            Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

The Wisconsin boys, Cameron Hughes and Trent Frederic held down the top two center spots and came to North Andover, MA last night to take on Merrimack College, along with the rest of a strong Wisconsin squad. Both of the Boston Bruins prospects are NCAA studs and had solid showings Wisconsin’s 4-1 win over Merrimack.

I’m a team manager for the Men’s hockey team at Merrimack. This game was a treat as a Bruins fan and writer, not as a Merrimack student, unfortunately. Part of what makes it so great is the view I have for every home game.

Cameron Hughes really came to play last night. As a senior, Hughes has the “C” on his chest and for good reason. His skating sticks out, his stride is smooth, and he is pretty agile. Hughes put together a good all-around showing despite not tallying a point. One negative that stood out was that he struggled on a few defensive zone breakouts, which can be fixed.

Hughes displayed great passion as the Wisconsin captain. Merrimack’s only goal was questionable is his eyes, and he made it known. That type of intensity from a leader is significant and should always be a valued quality. Although he was riled up a bit, he didn’t blow his lid and do anything too rash.

A right amount of playing time came his way, including power play and penalty kill minutes. He did an excellent job forcing a timely turnover in the first that lead to a decent chance for Wisconsin. Trent Frederic did the same a few minutes later in the period. Impressive hockey IQ was definitely present from Cameron Hughes.

Hughes was just under a point-per-game with 32 points in 36 games and has two points in five games to start his senior season. Altogether, Cameron Hughes holds good late-round value as the 165th overall pick in 2015.

(Photo Credit: http://www.uwbadgers.com)

Frederic, who was drafted 29th overall in 2016, picked up the secondary assist on Wisconsin’s fourth goal. He was locked in last night, I couldn’t think of one negative thing to say. What sticks out the most to me in Frederic’s game is his patience and willingness to take care of the defensive zone first. Not to mention the fact that he earned an “A” on his chest after tallying over a point-per-game in his freshman season. He is picking up where he left off with five points in five games to start his sophomore season.

With new responsibility comes substantial playing time. Frederic saw the ice a whole lot, including power play and penalty kill time. Getting back to his patience, one moment where it really stood out was in the first period last night. On the penalty kill, he was patiently waiting in open space for a pass to come his way and didn’t overcommit to his man. This lead to him stretching out his stick to pick off a Merrimack pass and dump the puck. While that may seem like a simple thing, patience and poise like that from a 19-year-old is very good to see.

On the power play, Frederic occupied the half wall on the right side boards and worked hard down low. It looks so simple to him. His 6-foot-2 frame allows him to box opposing players out, control, then distribute the puck however necessary.

Frederic plays a mature and poised game, with the skill to add to an impressive arsenal of good qualities for a hockey player to have. Last Friday, October 6, Wisconsin took on Ohio State, and one of the Fox Sports announcers had high praise for Trent Frederic. This praise entailed him saying something along the lines of that he thinks Trent Frederic may be NHL ready soon, if not now. He also brought up how thinks Trent Frederic is a real leader at such a young age, with former Wisconsin captain Luke Kunin leaving for the Minnesota Wild organization.

The value of drafting Trent Frederic at 29th overall is looking very good, he really is an impressive player.

Both of the Wisconsin boys are making their presences known with the 4-1-0 Badgers. Boston Bruins fans should be very excited to see how their developmental process goes in the future.

PuckNerd’s Bruins’ Prospect Pyramid – The Finale

By: Spencer Fascetta                                        Twitter: @PuckNerdHockey

It’s finally here. The final installment of my ongoing Prospect Pyramid series. A few differences from the early entries into this series – there are two tiers rather than one (one is the final tier of true prospects, the other is what I define as “tweener” players – not really prospects, but still worth a quick mention), and I steered away from NHL comparables in this installment, if simply because very few of these players have a legitimate comparable at this time. If you are new to this series, you can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 here. I have thoroughly enjoyed this project, and I look forward to the healthy debate that will ensue!

Tier 4

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Victor Berglund is an intriguing flier taken by Boston in the 2017 Draft. Joe Haggerty

D Victor Berglund, MODO Hockey J20 (SuperElit)

Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft (7th Round, 195th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 37 GP, 5 G, 10 A, 15 P, 16 PIM

NHL Projection: Fringe Bottom Pairing Offensive Defenseman

NHL ETA: 2020-21

Victor Berglund could ultimately prove all of us wrong in 4-5 years. As Assistant GM Scot Bradley said, PJ Axelsson, the B’s go-to for European Scouting, was extremely high on Berglund throughout the entire draft process. Berglund is a slight 6’0″ and is one of the more agile defensemen in the system. His offensive upside is clear, but he needs to work on his defensive zone coverage and smarts. He has the upside to be a plus transition defenseman on the bottom pairing and absolutely is worth the flier in the 7th Round, but I would not expect to hear from him for at least 3-4 years, if at all.

Mahtomedi forward Jack Becker celebrates after scoring during the second period of a Class A quarterfinal game of the state boys hockey tournament at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Wednesday, March 4, 2015. Becker scored three goals as Mahtomedi won 6-3. (Pioneer Press: Ben Garvin)

Jack Becker is an absolute conundrum. Ben Garvin, Pioneer Press

C Jack Becker, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Acquired: 2015 NHL Draft (7th Round, 195th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 49 GP, 16 G, 12 A, 28 P, 38 PIM

NHL Projection: Fringe NHL Power Forward

NHL ETA: 2024-25

Jack Becker can kind of be summed up by asking “who?” Becker was a late flier in 2015 by the B’s, a young player with a large frame that they are hoping can be an effective NHL player at some point. The unfortunate part is that Becker is now two seasons removed from his draft year, and he still is toiling in the USHL. For that matter, it isn’t as if he is dazzling in the USHL either. If he makes it, he could be a decent energy guy in the bottom 6 – but that’s a BIG if.

Daniel Bukac may have some untapped potential on the back end. Doug Westcott

D Daniel Bukac, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft (7th Round, 204th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 72 GP, 2 G, 15 A, 17 P, 38 PIM

NHL Projection: Bottom-Pairing Two-Way Defenceman

NHL ETA: 2021-22

Bukac, like Berglund, was a late flier taken by the B’s in this year’s draft. He already has a big frame at 6’4″, which he still needs to grow into. He struggled with the transition to North America this year with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, but both the Bruins and the Wheat Kings’ coaching staff were impressed with the progress he made throughout the season. This is likely a long-term project, but one that could provide excellent depth down the road.

Lone Star Brahmas Defenseman Cameron Clarke

Cam Clarke is not your typical overager. Lone Star Brahmas

D Cam Clarke, Ferris State University (NCAA)

Acquired: 2016 NHL Draft (5th Round, 136th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 35 G, 1 G, 10 A, 11 P, 26 PIM

NHL Projection: Bottom Pair Dynamic Offensive Defenseman

NHL ETA: 2021-22

Cam Clarke is the definition of an intriguing prospect. He was taken as a Draft+2 last year, meaning he’d already been passed over in two full drafts before finally being selected by the Bruins. I have championed the drafting of overage prospects before, but Clarke is not your classic more overage. He put up astounding numbers in his final season in the NAHL, but he also is a converted forward and has only played the position for two years. As such, he needs significant work in his own end before he can be considered an NHL defenseman, and he had a down year of sorts in his freshman season at Ferris State. Nevertheless, he’s definitely a guy to keep an eye on moving forward.

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Ryan Fitzgerald is getting to live out the Massachusetts kid dream of playing for the Bruins. richimagesphotography.com

C Ryan Fitzgerald, Boston College (NCAA)

Acquired: 2013 NHL Draft (4th Round, 120th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 34 GP, 12 G, 19 A, 31 P, 56 PIM

NHL Projection: 4th Line Two-Way Center/Depth Forward

NHL ETA: 2018-19

Fitzgerald had a solid career at Boston College and made a good impression with Providence last spring when he signed with the B’s at the conclusion of his senior season. He isn’t going to dazzle anyone, he’s not tremendously good at any particular facet of the game, but he is solid at most of them. He has had a good preseason thus far and seems to be in the mix for the 4th line, but I think he could use a full year in Providence to hone his game to better fit the professional level.

Cameron Hughes photo

Cameron Hughes has shown steady improvement in his time at Wisconsin. M.P. King, State Journal

C/LW Cameron Hughes, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)

Acquired: 2015 NHL Draft (6th Round, 165th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 36 GP, 7 G, 25 A, 32 P, 16 PIM

NHL Projection: Bottom 6 Offensive Forward

NHL ETA: 2021-22

Cameron Hughes had a nice season at Wisconsin this year, as his offensive profile begins to grow. He has never had a great shot, and is not a stellar passer, but has a knack for getting himself in the right position to put up points. He needs to continue to get stronger on the puck and clean up some of the decision-making, but the tools are there.

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Emil Johansson needs to gain confidence in taking some risks on the back end. Bildbyran/Andreas L Eriksson

D Emil Johansson, Djurgardens IF (SHL)

Acquired: 2014 NHL Draft (7th Round, 206th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 49 GP, 7 G, 10 A, 17 P, 26 PIM

NHL Projection: Bottom-Pairing Two-Way Defenseman

NHL ETA: 2022-23

Johansson is an intelligent two-way defender, but that is almost as much of a curse as it is a blessing. He has a tendency to always settle on the safest play and can panic at times under pressure. He needs to gain more confidence using his natural skating and puck-moving talents to be successful in North America.

Cedric Pare was buried on a stacked Saint John depth chart last season. Saint John Sea Dogs

C Cedric Pare, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft (6th Round, 173rd Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 64 GP, 5 G, 11 A, 16 P, 26 PIM

NHL Projection: 4th Line Defensive Center/Depth Forward

NHL ETA: 2021-22

Pare was stuck low in the pecking order on a stacked Saint John team this year. He is big, tough, and willing to grind out his offensive chances. The big concern here is the skating. Any player who has a hope of playing in the NHL needs to be a good skater, and Pare’s skating ability ranges from “meh” to “bleh.” He will get a much larger role this year in Saint John and is quite young for his age at this point. He has a ceiling, it just doesn’t appear to be an overly high one right now.

1) Wiley Sherman

Wiley Sherman is an imposing 6’7″ d-man – but can he crack the NHL? Joe Haggerty

D Wiley Sherman, Harvard University (NCAA)

Acquired: 2013 NHL Draft (5th Round, 150th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 36 GP, 0 G, 13 A, 13 P, 24 PIM

NHL Projection: Depth Defensive Defenseman

NHL ETA: 2019-20

Wiley Sherman was literally drafted because he was a big guy who could skate. I kid you not. Then Assistant GM Jim Benning (yes, THAT Jim Benning) was quoted saying as much after the 2013 draft. To his credit, Sherman has developed into a solid, stay-at-home d-man at Harvard, but he does not move the puck nearly well enough to make a significant impact at the NHL level. That 6’7″ frame is most of what makes him intriguing, so don’t start buying Wiley Sherman jerseys just yet…

Swayman will head off to the University of Maine this fall. NAPHL

G Jeremy Swayman, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)

Acquired: 2017 NHL Draft (4th Round, 111th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 32 GP, 2.90 GAA, .914 SV%

NHL Projection: League Average Backup Goaltender

NHL ETA: 2026-27

Many Bruins fans liked the fact that the B’s invested in another goaltending prospect after several years of souring public opinion on 2012 1st Round Pick Malcolm Subban. Unfortunately, the Bruins waited too long in this year’s draft to take a goalie and were kind of stuck with Swayman as their best option. He has a big frame with plenty of room to grow even more and posted respectable numbers on a mediocre USHL team. He is quite aggressive, and uses his athleticism well, but can get himself out of position quickly, and has a tendency to try and do too much rather than make the simple save. He will have plenty of time to refine his game at the University of Maine, where he will start this fall. It will likely be a long time before we see anything from him at the pro level.

 

Tweener Tier

Each of the following players has yet to complete a full season in the NHL, project mostly as AHL players but are signed to NHL contracts, OR whose NHL rights are held by Boston, but are not currently under NHL contract and are instead playing in a professional league overseas. Szwarz, Cross, Cave, and Hickman all fall under the category of the former, and should not really be more than “competent bums” who help lead the dearth of younger players that comprise most of Providence. With the organizational depth on the backend, and after a season ravaged by injuries, Linus Arnesson chose to return to Sweden for this season. He is a big, strong, defensively sound rearguard, but the lack of offense is glaring, which severely limits his NHL upside. If he can spend time in Sweden working to improve his support game, he could eventually develop into a quality depth guy.

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Alexander Khokhlachev has taken the KHL by storm. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The two most intriguing players here are clearly the two Russians. Alexander Khokhlachev had the unfortunate problem of inaccurate timing when he was drafted in 2011. He has shown at the AHL level that he can score at a consistently high-end level, and at his best is a flashy, quick, dynamic, offensive dynamo. When he became a part of the Bruins’ organization, it became the classic conundrum of attempting to jam a square peg into a round hole. Nobody is going to mistake Khokho as the next coming of Patrice Bergeron, and Claude Julien does not tolerate defensive shortcomings in his younger players (see Ryan Spooner). After repeatedly being passed over for lesser talented players (regarding true, raw, offensive ability), Khokholachev understandably became frustrated to the point where he jumped ship at the end of the 2015-16 season and returned to Russia to play in the KHL. Playing for perennial powerhouse SKA St. Petersburg, he produced at over a point per game rate. I expect him to make an NHL return in the next few years, and the Bruins’ would be wise to keep him in their sights. He has the potential to be a game-breaking offensive talent in the modern NHL.

Image result for Maxim Chudinov hockey

Maxim Chudinov may never make himself known in North America, but he has quitely become one of the best defensemen in the KHL. NHL.com

Many of you likely are saying “Who in the heck is Maxim Chudinov?” Well, that’s not entirely unfounded. Chudinov, a 2010 7th Round Pick, has never given the impression that he is interested in coming to North America. He is intriguing, however, as a player who would make an impact at the NHL level. He’s not the biggest d-man, but he loves the physical side of the game, has quick feet, makes a good first pass, and knows what he’s doing in the offensive zone. He has developed into one of the better young defensemen in the KHL – the question is, how likely is it that he decides to come over to the NHL? I’m not hedging my bets on this one…

 

D Linus Arnesson, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Acquired: 2013 NHL Draft (2nd Round, 60th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 20 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 8 PIM

NHL Projection: 7th Defenseman

 

RW/C Jordan Szwarz, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Acquired: Free Agent Signing

2016-17 Season Stats: 65 GP, 22 G, 32 A, 54 P, 76 PIM

NHL Projection: Depth Forward

 

C/W Alexander Khokhlachev, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

Acquired: 2011 NHL Draft (2nd Round, 40th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 60 GP, 23 G, 45 A, 68 P, 12 PIM

NHL Projection: Dynamic Top 9 Offensive Forward

 

D Tommy Cross, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Acquired: 2007 NHL Draft (2nd Round, 35th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 74 GP, 12 G, 23 A, 35 P, 69 PIM

NHL Projection: Depth Defenseman

 

D Maxim Chudinov, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)

Acquired: 2010 NHL Draft (7th Round, 195th Overall)

2016-17 Season Stats: 42 GP, 4 G, 10 A, 14 P, 26 PIM

NHL Projection: Top 4 Two-Way D-man

 

C/LW Colby Cave, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent Signing

2016-17 Season Stats: 76 GP, 13 G, 22 A, 35 P, 52 PIM

NHL Projection: AHL Forward

 

RW/C Justin Hickman, Providence Bruins (AHL)

Acquired: Undrafted Free Agent Signing

2016-17 Season Stats: 25 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 3 P, 19 PIM

NHL Projection: AHL Forward

All Statistics courtesy of EliteProspects.com

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Wisconsin’s Regular Season Is Over for Bruins Prospects

(Above Photo Credit: uwbadgers .com)

By Mark Allred   Follow Me On Twitter  @BlackAndGold277

The University of Wisconsin’s Men’s regular season may be over with two losses over the weekend at the hands of Ohio State University, but their mission for a National Title still remains. The Badgers start the Big-Ten Tournament on Friday at 3:30 central time against the winner of recently played Ohio State or Michigan State who they’ve beat four times this season. Two Boston Bruins prospects that will be heading to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena are freshman forward Trent Frederic and forward Cameron Hughes.

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Trent Frederic

When healthy the 2016 first round selection of the B’s had an outstanding rookie season of collegiate hockey. In 28 games this season he contributed with 15-18-33 numbers and set the tone for further development. Frederic had a nice point streak during the 2016-17 season when he went on a season-high eight game point streak where he contributed 8-6-13 numbers. The 6′-2″ 205-pound center from St. Louis, Missouri wasn’t the popular selection by Bruins fans nor popular hockey personalities, but after this season many have changed their opinions after this season’s effort. The rumor from the 2016 NHL Draft from Buffalo, New York was the Anaheim Ducks were going to select Frederic with their 30th pick they acquired from the Pittsburgh Penguins via the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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Trent is a good north to south two-way player that has outstanding speed and puck possession skills. He’s a productive special teams player with a great shot and skating ability but also has to take advantage of his NCAA career to add body size if he’s going to challenge fro an NHL roster spot after graduation if he, in fact, stays in school. With the Bruins depth down the middle to keep him competitive in the NCAA would most likely be beneficial to both sides as he continues to hone his skills. As a fan myself I worry about the Bruins organization aggressively seeking help from the college ranks and asking a player to leave school like what had happened to Danton Heinen when he played at Denver University. I still believe Heinen left too early by watching every AHL Providence Bruins game this season.

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Cameron Hughes

The 2015 sixth round selection of the Bruins finished the 2016-17 regular season with career highs in goals, assists, and total points in his Junior year. A 6′-0″ 170-pound Edmonton, Alberta native ended the year with 7-24-31 numbers and has shown offensive progression after struggling in his freshman year to contribute 13 points in 34 games. One reason for his lack of points as a rookie was his shot, but after many training sessions during the offseason, he came back to his sophomore year posting 5-20-25 numbers. Every year we see good things in his continued development at the NCAA level.

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Now a 20-year-old soon to be a senior at Wisconsin University we are sure to see the same progression offensively as he’ll most likely finish his last season with the Badgers before turning pro and transition into a depth role in the Bruins minor-pro system. Cameron is a left shooting center that’s known to be a good “set-up” player with his smooth skating abilities while possessing a very high hockey IQ. He plays a strong two-way game, but as his development continues, he’s going to need more physical maturity. With increased body mass, mainly focused on upper-body strength, his shot could be a lethal one to start a potential AHL career after next season. His all-around game should be on the radar of the Bruins in a bottom six role as the organization continues to build the foundation of a franchise looking for future playoff seasons as it was not so many years ago.

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