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NHL Boston Bruins

Top 10 Boston Bruins Prospects and Why They’re Not Blue-Chips–Yet

The Boston Bruins are the focus of NHL.com’s 30 in 30 series today and one of their features studies 10 promising Boston Bruins prospects in the pipeline.

Their list begins by pointing out that they don’t believe the Bruins really have too many big-name prospects, with one exception: Dougie Hamilton. He led the OHL in scoring by defensemen (72 points in 50 games, plus 23 more in 20 playoff games), made a big impression at the 2012 World Juniors, played in the Canada-Russia Challenge for the victorious Canadian squad and even his OHL coach doesn’t expect to see him again this fall.

Hamilton is certainly impressive and I would not be surprised at all to see him make his way into Boston’s defensive corps this season, especially with scoring stats like those. I tend to imagine him paired with Torey Krug (number six on the top 10 list) for a study in contrasts because Hamilton is 6’5″ while Krug is 5’9″.

Krug also had a gilded scoring touch at his most recent playing level, college, where he most recently had 34 points in 38 games, led his conference for scoring by defensemen and got an offensive defenseman award in 2010-11. Unlike Hamilton, he’s touched Bruins ice before–twice in this past season, putting up an assist and getting a firsthand feel for the big show.

Hamilton and Krug are the only defensemen on this top 10 list. Exactly half of the list is populated by centers: Ryan Spooner (two), Jared Knight (three), Alexander Khokhlachev (five), Max Sauve (seven) and Carter Camper (eight).

The practically inseparable Spooner and Knight–even they have bought into the idea of a ‘bromance’ between them–are together of course on this list.

Spooner just finished his OHL career, where he had at least 32 points in every season and put up 62 while with the Kingston Frontenacs in 2010-11. He’s also played eight games for the Providence Bruins and, now that he’s grown out of juniors, that’s probably where he’ll go for 2012-13.

Knight has also had a big OHL career with at least 30 points in all of his seasons, including a high-water mark of 70 with the 2010-11 London Knights. His 52 points in 52 games campaign this past season was capped off with a trip to the Memorial Cup, where the Knights almost won the Cup itself but lost the decisive game in overtime. Like Spooner, he’s been on Providence ice before and will probably follow his bromance partner to Rhode Island this fall.

It makes sense that Khokhlachev’s last name includes the letters KHL, because that’s where he is going this fall. In just two years in the OHL, he’s already proven himself beyond junior level: he scored 76 points his first year and 69 his second. The decision to go to Russia this year made the Windsor Spitfires general manager displeased, but Khokhlachev’s dad is the general manager of the KHL team he’s chosen, he’ll be competing on a higher level and his main goal is to crack the NHL.

Sauve has had injury problems, but nonetheless put together a good junior career in the QMJHL, including a 79-point campaign in 2008-09. He’s been with Providence steadily for two years now, though he played just 39 games this season, but he did have his NHL debut this season as well. He’ll definitely stay with Providence.

Camper, who recently got married, had a big four-year college career with Miami University, scoring at least 41 points in all four seasons. He spent most of 2011-12 in Providence, where his 48 points sent him to the top of the team in terms of scoring, and put up a goal in his three Boston games this season. He’ll be in Providence continuing to hone his skills.

Right-winger Brian Ferlin (nine) is the only winger represented on this list. He was drafted this year and just finished his first year at Cornell University, where he scored 21 points in 26 games and was named Freshman of the Year for the entire conference. Previously he spent two years with the USHL’s Indiana Ice (Krug’s former team too) and improved from 16 points in his first season to 73 in the second. Expect him to spend at least another year or two at Cornell.

The list also focuses on two young goalies: Malcolm Subban (four) and Niklas Svedberg (10). Goaltenders often take longer to develop, that’s no secret, but both Subban and Svedberg have shown promise that could someday translate to NHL success, Subban especially.

He’s only been a goalie since he was 12, but has improved so quickly that he was ranked first heading into the 2012 draft. He’ll spend at least another year with his OHL team in Belleville, where he went from a 10-17-2 record to a 25-14-0 record and improved both his goals-against average and save percentage.

Svedberg is new to the Bruins but comes with some prior experience in the Swedish elite league, where he backstopped the Brynas team to the league’s championship. Now that Anton Khudobin will get boosted to backing up Tuukka Rask, Svedberg and Michael Hutchinson will make the tandem in Providence.

The Bruins’ system isn’t generally to draft the huge stars in the making and immediately throw them into the Boston lineup–we’ll exempt Tyler Seguin from that, since he went second overall and was part of a huge ‘Tyler vs. Taylor [Hall]‘ hype stretching up to the draft–but to pick guys who show some promise, groom them in the system and watch them grow.

I personally think all 10 of these guys have shown flourishes at whatever level that could translate to NHL-level success. Sure, maybe only Hamilton is really ready to go to the big show for 2012-13, but considering that much of the team is young anyway, that gives the young bloods more time to develop.