The New England Hockey Journal’s Kirk Luedeke contributes an in-depth feature to the Boston Bruins Prospect report every edition.
The Boston Bruins continue to see a strong payoff for their recent scouting emphasis in Ontario with five impact performers in the OHL.
London winger Seth Griffith currently sits in second place in league scoring, on pace for 100+ points this season. Until being blanked Nov. 27 against Kitchener, he had registered at least one point in every November game and snapped a 13-game point streak. In watching him this year, he is going into high traffic areas more and effectively fighting for position in front of the net. His 19 goals in just 27 games is proof of his willingness to go into the greasy areas and take hits to make plays.
Anthony Camara continues to be a productive presence for the Barrie Colts. He has already eclipsed his previous career highs in a season for goals and points, and continues to finish his checks and play a physical style. The fourth-year junior is doing a good job of driving to the net and cashing in on scoring chances. He has a heavy shot and uses his speed to aggressively attack defenses and create matchup problems in the slot.
Although the scoring numbers for Cody Payne have tailed off since his blistering start, that has more to do with a decrease in ice time and reduced role due to the return of injured veteran players than poor play. The Floridian still shows a lot of promise and could be looking at a major breakout year in 2013-14.
In the NCAA, a pair of 2011 draft picks are competing against one another in the ECAC. Cornell forward Brian Ferlin (who like Payne hails from the Sunshine State) is still looking for his first goal of the season after earning ECAC Freshman of the Year honors a year ago. A good skater with size and a strong net presence, the down numbers are not for a lack of trying. Yale freshman and former Milton Academy captain Rob O’Gara, taken one round after Ferlin, is having an immediate impact in New Haven. A smart, athletic two-way defenseman, he’s putting more of an emphasis in his own end in his first college season, but watch for his production to increase in the next few seasons with the Bulldogs.
Also in the ECAC, Clarkson University captain Ben Sexton is playing well for the Golden Knights, distinguishing himself with a solid, all-around game while producing at near a point-per-game clip. The 2009 seventh-rounder is a junior who is eligible for one more NCAA season but could turn pro and jump to Providence in the spring.
After missing all but two games with a nagging hamstring injury, look for rookie winger Jared Knight to make a return to action with Providence in mid-December. Although the Michigander is working hard to get back into the lineup, the team can afford a more cautious approach to prevent a lost season.
Finally, 2007 second-rounder Tommy Cross made an instant impact in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays and was called up to Providence on November 28. Boston’s new affiliate in Charleston, S.C. saw the Boston College captain’s sterling character and work ethic on display. The unexpected production is icing on the cake and an encouraging sign for the stay-at-home defender and two-time NCAA champion.
Bear Cup Snapshot
Boston’s top goaltending prospect, Subban is having a career season as the Belleville team’s workhorse netminder.
Talent analysis: With good height (6-foot-2) and long limbs, Subban possesses elite athletic qualities. An explosive burst from a standstill along with uncanny lateral agility make him tough to beat with the first shot.
Thick legs and powerful lower body drive provide exceptional lower net coverage. Subban can recover instantly and is one of the most effective goalies versus the breakaway/shootout in hockey.
His glove positioning and ready stance is unconventional, but seems to work for him. With some refinements and solid coaching, he’ll likely improve his mechanics going forward. Even if Subban doesn’t change much in the way of his technique, Tim Thomas is a rare example of someone who can stop pucks at an elite level no matter how he looks doing it.
Subban is playing more in control this season, his improved composure and patience is noticeable in terms of staying in the net and not getting himself out of position. A great attitude coupled with the right kind of swagger round out an impressive body of work for the first-rounder.
Outlook: The Bruins wanted to add a potential high-level NHL starter and may have done so with Subban. Early picks on goalies can be risky business, but as the clear-cut starter in Belleville and projected No. 1 for Team Canada’s World Junior U20 squad in Sochi, Russia next month, the decision is paying off.
Because he has a December, 1993 birthday, Subban will be eligible to turn pro and play a full season in the AHL next year. He has elite NHL starter upside, but is still a work in progress and will require time and patience in his development before he’s ready for primetime.
We’ll be back in two weeks to look at the 2013 World Junior Championship and the potential impact Boston prospects are expected to have on that signature amateur tournament.
Kirk Luedeke covers the Boston Bruins and NHL prospects for the New England Hockey Journal and is a contributing editor and hockey scout for the Red Line Report. You can follow him on Twitter at: @kluedeke29
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