The first two days of Boston Bruins rookie development camp gave fans the opportunity to get their first glimpses of highly-touted draft picks Dougie Hamilton and Alexander Khokhlachev, as well as the chance to see how two of last year’s picks, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner, have progressed.
Hamilton, a 6-foot-4 defenseman out of Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League, has impressed fans and staff alike with his size, speed, skating, and puck-handling. He still looks a little lanky as he only weighs 193 pounds (only being a relative term considering his height) so he does have some strength and size issues in comparison to what he will eventually see at the NHL level.
“[Hamilton] moves really well for a kid that’s 6-4,” Bruins assistant and camp director GM Don Sweeney said. “I like his overall approach to the game. He looks like he wants to get up ice and is conscientious about his one-on-one play. And it’s a small sample size, obviously, but based on all of our games we watched him play, he’s a well-rounded player that has a lot of room for continued development so we’re really excited to have him.”
Khokhlachev is the latest of a long line of talented centers the Bruins have drafted recently, following last year’s selections of Tyler Seguin, Knight, and Spooner. The 17-year-old Moscow native played 67 games for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL last season, scoring 34 goals and adding 42 assists – good enough for third-place among rookies in the talent-rich OHL.
More impressively, he shone even brighter in the playoffs, scoring 9 goals and 11 assists in 18 games.
“He’ll take a hit to make a play and he’s not at all afraid,” NHL Central Scouting Bureau scout Chris Edwards said. “I’ve seen him get hit hard a few times and he just bounces right back into the play. His energy level is always there, and he’s always working hard. Down the stretch for Windsor, he’s played well. He’s a skilled forward.”
He has looked good in the drills against his fellow rookies, but with all the depth the Bruins have at center, it’s almost a certainty Khokhlachev will spend the 2011-12 season back with Windsor.
Knight and Spooner, both of whom made solid impressions at last year’s camp, have been just as impressive this year. The Bruins are optimistic one or both might be ready to make the jump to the NHL this year, as Spooner almost made the club last year before being sent back to juniors. He was very impressive in his season with Kingston of the OHL, putting up 25-37-62 numbers in 50 games. He played three games with Providence at the end of the season, scoring two goals and assisting on another.
Knight had a solid season with his junior team, posting 70 points, has shown a nice physical side during drills and scrimmages, using his 5-foot-11, 200-pound frame to his advantage.
In addition to all the on- and off-ice workouts the 24 players in camp will spend part of their day Sunday in Boston-area communities.
Anthony Camara, Craig Cunningham, Brian Ferlin, Justin Florek, Dougie Hamilton, Brett Olson, Ben Sexton, Ryan Spooner and Zach Trotman will help provide instruction at a hockey camp for young players at Cronin Arena in Revere.
The second group of Marc Cantin, Zane Gothberg, Michael Hutchinson, Josh Jooris, Jared Knight, Rob O’Gara and David Warsofsky will help sort through donated items at Cradles to Crayons, a charity that assists young children who are homeless or living in low-income households.
The final group of Ryan Button, Tommy Cross, Alexander Fallstrom, Alexander Khokhlachev, Tyler Randell, Steven Spinell and Lars Volden, will be in North Andover at the Stevens Memorial Library in North Andover. These players will participate in the Bruins’ “When You Read You Score” program, reading to young children.