PuckNerd Presents: Bruins PuckRants

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By: Spencer Fascetta                                                                            Twitter: @pucknerdhockey

Featuring: Mike Cratty                                                                         Twitter: @mike_cratty

I had Mike Cratty join me for a long-awaited episode of PuckRants, the official PuckNerd podcast. We discussed a myriad of topics, including the recent World Junior Championship Tournament, some Bruins’ prospect talk, and the tire fire that seems to be half of the Atlantic Division. Listen to all the fun yammering on Episode 7 of PuckRants!

Bruins Prospect Ryan Lindgren – The Great Wall of America

( Above Photo Credit: Rena Laverty / Photographer )

By: Aaron Chisling                           Follow Me On Twitter @achisling

Ryan Lindgren was selected by the Bruins in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft 49th overall in the second round. He has been flying under the radar. Defensemen are a great strength in the Bruins pipeline with flashy names such as Urho Vaakanainen, Jakub Zboril, and everyone’s favorite stallion Charlie McAvoy who officially graduated this year. With these promising blueline futures attracting the majority of the attention, Lindgren can be easy to overlook. He shouldn’t be.

Ryan Lindgren is a 19-year-old logging big minutes with the University of Minnesota and was named to the team’s leadership team as an alternate captain with the Golden Gophers. He’s a defensive defenseman that has strong, confident strides and great lateral movement. He protects the net well, intercepting cross-crease passes and clearing out traffic from around the crease. He’s a bull on the boards, winning more than his fair share of puck battles.

USA Hockey hasn’t overlooked what Ryan, brother of the Montreal Canadiens upcoming goaltender Charlie Lindgren, can bring to the table. Ryan is a member of the 2017/2018 Team USA World Juniors team and one of the returning players in the American’s quest to repeat as Gold Medal winners and champions of this illustrious tournament. Lindgren is tasked with the difficult defensive assignments and flourishes, allowing his counterparts to face lesser competition and use their offensive creativity against lines they match up well against.

From Future Considerations:

“Lindgren, the U18 team captain, is an interesting prospect because he plays with such self-assurance, presence and physical edge. He skates with a wide base and is tough to knock off the puck. He has a very strong stride and gets up to speed quickly. He also moves well lat- erally and excels at slowing attackers down. Lindgren plays with an intimidating intensity. He throws his weight around like a wrecking ball and shows no hesitation when attacking loose pucks.”

Lindgren doesn’t project to be an offensive dynamo on the blue line, but he could very well develop into a strong two-way defender at the NHL level. Lindgren could be a very reliable second pairing defenseman for the Bruins in the future or could be flipped as part of a package in a trade for an asset that could help the Bruins now as the black and gold are quickly finding themselves in an enviable position in the standings. No matter which avenue Don Sweeney and the Bruins elect to pursue in regards to Ryan Lindgren, he’s got the defensive talent to make at the NHL level, whether it is in Boston or not. Keep an eye on this kid, he won’t go under the radar forever.

2018 World Junior Championship Will Feature Plenty Of Bruins Prospects

(Photo Credit: Rena Laverty: Rena Laverty Photography & Design)

By Mike Cratty                                                    Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

The 2018 U20 World Junior Championship will get underway starting Monday, Dec. 26 in Buffalo, New York. Team USA won the tournament last year in dramatic fashion over team Canada in a shootout. The World Junior Championship is a great tournament every year – one that is worth gluing your eyes too as you watch some young, highly-touted players showcase their skills. The two groups in the tournament are comprised of five teams. Those groups, as well as the schedule for the whole tournament, can be found below.

Group A: USA, Canada, Denmark, Slovakia, Finland.

Group B: Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus.

Schedule: http://www.buffaloworldjuniors.com/schedule

Six Boston Bruins prospects will be in action throughout the tournament and will all be worth watching. These prospects are featured three of the 10 teams; USA with Trent Frederic, Ryan Lindgren, and Jeremy Swayman, Finland with Urho Vaakanainen and Joona Koppanen, and Sweden with Oskar Steen.

USA: Trent Frederic

The 29th overall pick in 2016, Trent Frederic is having yet another solid season at Wisconsin, this time as a sophomore assistant captain. Frederic’s 16 points in 21 games have him in second place on the Wisconsin Badgers, two points behind senior forward Ryan Wagner.

Something very noticeable about Frederic’s game is his composure and maturity on the ice. His calm, intelligent hockey mind allows him to make smart plays with smoothness in his stride, making things happen in all three zones. In his first go-around in the world juniors, Frederic will be looked to in order to help secure back-to-back tournament victories for the United States.

USA: Ryan Lindgren

At 49th overall in 2016, 20 picks after Frederic came Ryan Lindgren, who will wear an “A” on his sweater throughout the tournament, as he does at the University of Minnesota. Through the first 20 games of his sophomore season at Minnesota, Lindgren has scored two goals and added two assists. This will mark Lindgren’s second world junior tournament with team USA. Last year, he tallied an assist in seven games en route to a shiny gold medal,

Although he isn’t known to put up prolific offensive stats, Lindgren boasts a rigidly defensive game, awareness with and without the puck, and solid skating ability. The United States goaltenders have comfort in knowing Lindgren will be there to clear opponents out of their faces.

USA: Jeremy Swayman

The third Bruins prospect on Team USA is Jeremy Swayman. Drafted just this past summer, 111th overall, Swayman has already taken the role of starting goaltender at the University of Maine of Hockey East in the NCAA. A good friend of the Black N’ Gold team, Drew Johnson of the Hockey Writers, has been all over it when it comes to Jeremy Swayman. Just a glimpse of Drew’s praise for the young goaltender is given when talking about an incredible weekend Swayman put together earlier in the month.

With Jake Oettinger and Joe Woll in the goaltending mix as returners to the team, it is uncertain how much playing time Swayman will receive. Regardless, learning from fellow talented Hockey East goaltenders in Oettinger (BU) and Woll (BC). Swayman carries a 7-3-1 record with a 2.58 GAA and .927 save percentage for the Maine Black Bears heading into Christmas. It’s worth noting that Swayman holds the nation’s eighth-best save percentage, amongst goalies who have played at least 33 percent of their team’s total minutes. Pretty impressive for a freshman.

Finland: Urho Vaakanainen

The most recent of Don Sweeney’s first-round pick’s, specifically 18th overall in 2017, will return for his second World Junior Championship. Likened to that of Scott Niedermayer, Vaakanainen is an excellent skater who makes smart decisions with the puck. Spending his first season with SaiPa of the Liiga, Urho has a goal and three assists in 23 games. Like Ryan Lindgren, he’s not a defenseman who will be leaned on to produce offensively, but rather jump start chances with their skating ability and vision.

In his last go-around in the World Juniors, Urho had a goal in six games on a surprising struggling Finnish squad one year removed from taking gold in 2016 on a wheelhouse Finnish team. Finland will boast an experienced blueline this year including five first-round picks on it (Vaakanainen, Juolevi, Heiskanen, Jokiharju, Valimaki). Vaakanainen will be relied on heavily to make Finland a powerful force in the tournament again.

Finland: Joona Koppanen

Joona Koppanen is off to a weird start to his season playing for Ilves Tampere in the Liiga. Moving up a level from playing for Ilves in juniors to playing for the big club has proven to make things tougher for Joona scoring wise. Playing juniors last year, Joona tallied 23 goals, 31 assists and 54 points in just 38 games. Since being loaned from his junior team to the big club, he has yet to tally a goal but has eight assists in 24 games. The stats show that this may be an adjustment year for the young Finn, which isn’t a bad thing for his development in the long run.

Craziness aside, Joona is an intriguing late-round prospect, 135th overall in 2016, with a daunting 6-foot-5 frame. He skates well for someone of his size, uses his frame effectively and has solid offensive tools. A big guy like him playing amongst a talented Finnish team could produce more great results for Joona in his first go-around in the U20 tournament.

Sweden: Oskar Steen

Oskar Steen, drafted 165th in 2016, boasts some of the best speed and acceleration in the Bruins’ prospect core. An undersized player who can play center and wing that turned some heads at Bruins prospect development camp this summer.

Oskar is adjusting to new surroundings in his first SHL season for Färjestad BK this year. In 28 games, he has scored three goals and added two assists in a year that will be a feeling out process where he’ll have to earn his keep. Tons of points shouldn’t always be expected in those types of years. Not only does Steen show great speed and acceleration, he shows a great desire to have the puck on his stick often, as well as a pretty decent wrist shot. His speed and offensive mind will certainly help within a dynamic, highly skilled Swedish U20 team.

The World Juniors come the day after Christmas so the gifts just keep on giving. Keep an eye on some Bruins prospects playing important roles and enjoy this fantastic tournament. Happy holidays.

Bruins 2017 First Round Selection Injured

( Above Photo Credit:  NHL .com )

By: Mark Allred                      Follow Me On Twitter @BlackAndGold277

Yesterday at the World Junior Summer Showcase game between Team Finland and Team USA held in Plymouth, Michigan, Boston Bruins 2017 first round selection Urho Vaakanainen left late in the second period after taking an awkward hit.

The Injury occurred at the with 3:31 left in the second session and didn’t return. At the start of today’s matchup against Team Sweden, Vaakanainen remains out of the lineup. At most this could be precaution with his injury in the middle of the offseason and time to rest before rookie camp happens in September. In three games in the Summer Showcase, he has zero points with five shots on goal.

Getting To Know The Newest Boston Bruins Development Camp Defensemen and Goaltenders

Image result for Boston Bruins 2017 draft class

(Photo Credit: NHL .com)

By Mike Cratty                                                                                               Twitter: @Mike_Cratty

On July 2, the 2017 Boston Bruins Development Camp roster and the official schedule was released. Development camp started yesterday, July 7. Here is the schedule from yesterday and the rest of it going forward. A list of who is attending is presented as well as some other information:

BOSTON BRUINS 2017 DEVELOPMENT CAMP SCHEDULE AS OF JUNE 30:

(Locations and times are subject to change)

Thursday, July 6 (Warrior Ice Arena, Brighton, MA)

-On-ice practice, 11:00 a.m.

Friday, July 7 (Warrior Ice Arena, Brighton, MA)

-On-ice practice, 10:30 a.m.

Saturday, July 8 (Warrior Ice Arena, Brighton, MA)

-On-ice practice, 10:30 a.m.

Sunday, July 9 (Warrior Ice Arena, Brighton, MA)

-On-ice practice, 10:30 a.m.

BOSTON BRUINS 2017 DEVELOPMENT CAMP ROSTER AS OF JUNE 30:

(Players are listed in alphabetical order by last name)

Forwards: Jack Becker, Anders Bjork, Ryan Donato, Trent Frederic, Jesse Gabrielle, Cameron Hughes+, Mason Jobst*, Joona Koppanen, Karson Kuhlman*, Josh Melnick*, T.J. Moore*, R.J. Murphy*, Cedric Pare, Eric Robinson*, Zach Senyshyn, Oskar Steen, Jack Studnicka

Defensemen: Victor Berglund, Ian Brady*, Daniel Bukac, Cameron Clarke, Jeremy Lauzon+, Ryan Lindgren, Wiley Sherman, Urho Vaakanainen, Jakob Zboril

Goaltenders: Robert McGovern*, Jeremy Swayman, Dan Vladar

*Indicates attendance to Development Camp is on an invite basis

+Indicates that player is unlikely to skate during development camp due to off-season surgery

(Via NHL.com)

Like with the forwards, there are a lot of new faces at development camp this year on defense and in the crease with the goalies. Learn more about the 2017 Boston Bruins development camp forwards here. The question is, who are these guys and what is worth knowing about them?

Defensemen

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(Photo Credit: eliteprospects.com)

Victor Berglund: 

The 17-year-old native of Örnsköldsvik, Sweden played J20 hockey for Modo Hockey in Sweden. As many seventh-round picks are, he is a project, but one with some upside. He only played three games at the U18 level and had two assists.

In his second season at the J20 level, Berglund tallied five goals to go along with 10 assists, for 15 points in 37 games. Those stats are pretty impressive for a defenseman playing in the most competitive Swedish junior hockey league at 17-years-old. He then played for just Modo Hockey and had one assist in 12 games.

It will be intriguing to see how a 17-year-old, right-shot defenseman does at development camp, although he turns 18 in less than a month.

Here’s what Kirk Luedeke of scoutingpost.com had to say about Victor Berglund:

“Small, skilled defender was a total stealth/under the radar pick, as no one we were with at the draft knew who he was. We’ll let Bradley describe him thus: “Our Swedish guys were on top of him. They think he’s a mobile D. He’s skilled, ultra-skilled, and he skates well. Small. Six-footer, but [European scouts] P.J. [Axelsson] and Sven [Svensson] and Victor [Nybladh], they were pounding the table for him and we went along with it and I think we might have something there. Talking to his strength coach after the pick, he’s got him working on putting some muscle and weight on so we look forward to seeing him, too, at development camp.”

(Follow Kirk on Twitter: @kluedeke29)

Like Kirk noted, Berglund is on the smaller side at 6-feet tall around 165 pounds. Physical maturity will be essential for Victor Berglund’s development and hopes of playing professional hockey someday.

Ian Brady:

(Video Credit: Omaha Mavericks YouTube Channel)

Ian Brady is the only current college hockey player on the list, along with Rob McGovern (U. Maine). A 23-year-old native of Lombard, IL, Brady spent four years as a right-shot defenseman at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. He stands at 6-feet tall, 205 pounds. He then went on to play two games for the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, the Rochester Americans. He had one assist in those two games. What he will do next year is unknown.

Brady just finished up four years UNO in which he played 141 games. In those games, he tallied 15 goals, 62 assists, and 77 points. Most recently, in his senior campaign, he had 3 goals 18 assists and 21 points, good for his best scoring season in college. Brady is a USHL alumni of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, a team in which he played three seasons with.

Brady is a USHL alumni of the Cedar Rapids Roughriders, a team in which he played three seasons with. He will be for sure be a fun prospect to watch with good upside as one of the older guys at camp this time around.

Daniel Bukac:

(Video Credit: NHL Prospects YouTube Channel)

Daniel Bukac is an interesting prospect. Drafted with the Boston Bruins’ last pick in the draft, 204th overall, there appears to be some late-round value with Bukac.

The native of Most in the Czech Republic carries a solid frame at 6-foot-4, 185 pounds and skates well for his size. In his first season with the Brandon Wheat Kings, Daniel Bukac managed to score two goals and 15 assists in 72 games. With a bigger role next year, we could see some good things from the Czech blueliner.

Here’s what Kirk Luedeke of scoutingpost.com had to say about Daniel Bukac:

“Big, rangy Czech defender is raw and needs a lot of development, but could have a decent payoff down the road. Good skater for his size who will get better and more powerful in his stride as he adds lower leg strength. Long stick- terrific reach. Didn’t put up many points, but had a tough transition to North America with the Wheaties and came on strong at the end. More from Bradley: “He’s raw. He’s a project. Kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League. At the start of the year – he’s come leaps and bounds with his development. Talking to the people – the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they’re very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They’re expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp.”

(Follow Kirk on Twitter: @kluedeke29)

Bukac sounds like a great late-round value pick. Down the road, if he does get close to the NHL level he might have guys like Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo to mentor him, as all three players are right-shot defensemen. I for one am very excited about Daniel Bukac.

Urho Vaakanainen:

(Video Credit: SEER VIDEO YouTube Channel)

The guy that many fans are the most exciting for in the new prospect development camp crop, Finnish defender, Urho Vaakanainen. The Joensuu, Finland native played for JYP in Finland as a 17-year-old and impressed even with little offensive production. The Bruins could have gone for a talented winger at number 18 overall, but Vaakanainen is by no means a bad pick.

With JYP, he tallied just two goals and four assists, good for six points in 42 games. Don’t be concerned about the lack of production. He is young playing against older players, and not all defensemen have to be a massive point producer.

Vaakanainen has confidence in himself, which isn’t bad. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn into cockiness:

“I think I’m a great skater, I’m good with the puck, I make a good first pass,” he said. “I’m the complete package, a two-way defenseman. I was expecting to be taken in the first round, (but) I wasn’t expecting to be taken by Boston.”

I like a kid with confidence. If Urho works on his offensive game and physicality, a bit, we could have a top-four guy in the making when Zdeno Chara is gone. He isn’t wrong about his skating and the fact that he is a two-way defenseman. Whether he is the ‘whole package’ is unknown.

Here’s what Kirk Luedeke of scoutingpost.com had to say about Urho Vaakanainen:

“Good height and long limbs; plus-skater who can move with speed, quickness and agility. Breaks out pucks efficiently with head up. Will join the rush and can handle the puck effectively from the blue line when the play is in the offensive zone. Smart defensive player who uses his length and reach to deny paths to the net. Not overly physical and prefers to use angles, gap work and a quick stick to keep opponents from generating scoring chances. Six points for JyP in his second pro season in the SM-Liiga, but could be on the verge of breaking out offensively with SaiPa next season.”

(Follow Kirk on Twitter: @kluedeke29)

It’s time to jump on the Urho Vaakanainen bandwagon if you haven’t already.

Goaltenders

Image result for rob mcgovern hockeydb

(Photo Credit: Bangor Daily News)

Robert McGovern: The Weymouth, MA native is new to Bruins development camp and spent the last two years at the University of Maine, of Hockey East in the NCAA.

The 22-year-old is a tower in the net at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds. Things haven’t been easy for McGovern in college due to a rebuilding Maine Black Bears team in front of him. Maine is a team that lacks great puck-movers on the back end.

In his NCAA career, he had made 49 appearances. His GAA dropped from 2.78 in year one to 2.99, but his save percentage went up from .905 to .912%. His overall record at Maine is 11-29-6, 9-15-3 this past season. Things have been rigorous for McGovern, but he is still an impressive player, with good qualities playing against a high level of competition.

The spotlight will be bright as there are only three goalies at camp. Jeremy Swayman and Daniel Vladar being the others.

Jeremy Swayman:

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(Photo Credit: USHL.com)

Thank god Don Sweeney drafted a goalie. Trading a third-round pick for Zac Rinaldo made it so he missed out on promising goalies like Wilbraham, MA native Keith Petruzzelli, and Memorial Cup Champion goalie Michael DiPietro, as well as other goalies. This is not meant to diminish Swayman’s value by any means. Six goalies were taken in the third round.

An Anchorage, AK native, Swayman stands at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds in the blue paint and could join camp invitee Rob McGovern at the University of Maine in the 2018-2019 season. Autocorrect tries to correct his last name to ‘Swagman.’ New nickname?

Last season with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede, Swayman appeared in 32 games and finished with a 2.90 GAA, and a .914 save percentage. He was ranked as 12th on NHL Central Scouting’s North American goalie list. Not bad for an 18-year-old being thrown into over 30 appearances his first season at a new level of competition.

Playing in the NCAA next year, no matter how much action he gets, will be very beneficial for his growth as a prospect.

Here is what Kirk Luedeke had to say about Jeremy Swayman:

“High-end athlete with good size who probably isn’t finished growing (his dad is 6-6) checks all the boxes for a developmental project goalie. Excellent quickness and great hands- glove and blocker are effective at catching pucks or directing them away from danger areas. Gets a good lateral push and tracks pucks well. Put up very good save percentage and GAA numbers (.914, 2.90) on a non-playoff USHL club, and was often lost in the spotlight of other bigger-name goalies playing in that league. Needs to be more patient at times- gets caught trying to do too much and will have to put in the work to refine his game and keep getting better. Says all the right things, but the proof will be in the continued progression and body of work.”

(Follow Kirk on Twitter: @kluedeke29)

Kirk notes his Dad’s height being 6-foot-6, so if Jeremy keeps growing, we could see another Ben Bishop with that size. Ben Bishop was once a Maine Black Bear too. Did that just blow your mind? Kirk also notes that it was tough for Swayman to succeed as much as he may have wanted to with a non-playoff team in front of him.

Kirk also notes that it was tough for Swayman to succeed as much as he may have wanted to with a non-playoff team in front of him. The thought of him growing with at a higher level with a Maine team will hopefully improve.

Swayman is a guy to be excited about because the Boston Bruins really needed to add a solid goaltending prospect and they did. He will be a bit of a project, but one that sounds very promising.

Development camp season is an exciting time for all. Fans, coaches, and other players see the future of the organizations that they are involved with at the time.

(All height, weight, and statistical information: hockeydb.com, eliteprospects.com, scoutingpost.com)