There’€™s something the Bruins see in players that the Western Hockey League doesn’€™t.

Like Milan Lucic once upon a time, British Columbia native Danton Heinen was passed over by the Western Hockey League coming out of Bantam. Heinen, attending his first Bruins development camp this week, says it was because of his lack of size.

“I was a little bit of a late bloomer,” Heinen explained Wednesday.

Indeed he was, in more ways than one.

While Lucic ended up finding a home in the WHL, Heinen’€™s lack of attention from the league turned his attention to college. After he committed to the University of Denver, the Bruins took him in the fourth round of last summer’€™s NHL draft. Heinen expected to be picked later if at all, yet just as he grew in stature after the WHL draft, his profile has grown since his NHL selection thanks to a monster rookie year at DU.

Playing on Denver’€™s first line, the left-shot wing (he played on the right side due to a surplus of lefties) established himself one of the top players in college hockey. His 45 points tied him with fellow B’€™s prospect Austin Czarnik for 15th in the country, while the only freshmen with more points than him (Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin) were drafted in the top half of the first round last month.

Now, as he goes from unheralded incoming freshman to a solid NHL prospect, Heinen’€™s stay in college could be shorter than expected. He’€™ll need at least another year of college before going pro, however, as he still needs to add to his 6-foot-0, 161-pound frame.

“You can tell he’€™s talented,” Bruins development coach Jay Pandolfo said Wednesday. “He’€™s got a lot of poise with the puck. He’€™s got a great release, great shot. He’€™s going to be a really good player.

“He still needs to get a little stronger. That will help him with protecting pucks, but he looks really good. I thought he stood out today.”

While the build still isn’€™t quite there, Zane McIntyre says the skill is. The Mike Richter Award winner and a Hobey Baker finalist said he was impressed in each of the five teams his team faced Heinen’€™s Denver squad.

“He’€™s really skilled,” McIntyre said. “I think the biggest thing is probably him being poised with the puck. He’€™s really strong with his and his body position at keeping the puck and making a play. He’€™s able to do that with his abilities of keeping the puck on his stick and how strong he is.”

Heinen said he’€™s comfortable playing either wing, but the idea of having a top left wing prospect in the coming years along with 2015 first-rounder Jake DeBrusk gives the Bruins hope at a position they’€™ve failed to develop in recent years. Brad Marchand is the last big-name left wing they’€™ve developed, but Heinen’€™s selection provides hope for the future.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Don Sweeney deserves a lot of the criticism he’s received this offseason. He traded Dougie Hamilton for a relatively minuscule package, overpaid for Adam McQuaid and, for some reason, traded a third-round pick for Zac Rinaldo. There’s plenty to criticize without adding in quotes he didn’t say.

On Tuesday morning, a couple of tweets referring to a quote from Sweeney made the rounds. The tweets suggested the Bruins felt they adequately replaced Milan Lucic, Hamilton and Reilly Smith with Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes. Believing it to be true, folks rightfully pointed out how silly that logic was.

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Being busy with development camp, the whole thing was overlooked on this end. After finally listening to the appearance (which came on WAAF), Sweeney did not say that. Essentially, he said the Bruins lost guys who scored and they need the ones who came in to score. Here’s his answer to Lyndon Byers’ question about replacing Hamilton:

“Well, LB, we did a goal exercise prior to going into the draft and free agency, and clearly between Milan, Reilly and Dougie, it was about 41 goals in the course of [last] year. Now, Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes had, you know, good offensive years and accounted for 41 goals between them, so we certainly had to be cognizant of goals going out and goals coming in. Clearly, those guys are going to have to come in and score.”

Much like Sweeney shouldn’t be let off the hook when he screws up, he shouldn’t be criticized for things he didn’t say.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Bruins announced Wednesday that they have signed defenseman Jakub Zboril, the first of their three first-round picks in last month’€™s draft, to his entry level contract.

Jakub Zboril was taken 13th overall by the Bruins last month. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jakub Zboril was taken 13th overall by the Bruins last month. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Bruins announced Wednesday that they have signed defenseman Jakub Zboril, the first of their three first-round picks in last month’€™s draft, to his entry level contract.

Zboril, a 6-foot-1, 184-pound blueliner is among the prospects at this week’€™s development camp. A well-rounded defenseman, Zboril had 13 goals and 20 assists for 33 points in 44 games for the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs.

The signing of Zboril likely will not impact his track to the NHL. Because he plays in the Canadian Hockey League as a member of a QMJHL team, Zboril has to be returned to his junior club if he doesn’€™t stay in the NHL, per the NHL/CHL transfer agreement. Zboril can play nine NHL games before the first year of his contract would be burned, though he isn’t expected to push for NHL time this season.

Zboril’€™s circumstances will be different than that of 2014 first-rounder David Pastrnak, who was playing in Europe when he came to the Bruins and therefore was allowed to spend much of last season in the AHL as a member of the Providence Bruins. Pastrnak was the youngest player in both the AHL and NHL last season.

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

WILMINGTON ‘€” Bruins prospects took the ice for the second day of development camp Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena, with the injured Joonas Kemppainen (hamstring) still not participating.

Here are some notes from the second day of the four-day camp:

– Joonas Kemppainen said he suffered his hamstring injury while training last Monday. The 27-year-old Swedish import does not speak English well, but he articulated his frustration with being kept off the ice well enough.

Said Kemmpainen: “It sucks to do some rehab work, but I hope to [have] a quick recovery.”

It’€™s still possible that Kemppainen could get on the ice Thursday or Friday.

– Providence College coach Nate Leaman was among the instructors on the ice Wednesday. The coach of the national champions is familiar with at least two players in camp in forwards Noel Acciari and Brandon Tanev, both of whom played for him last season. Acciari signed with the Bruins as a free agent, while Tanev is in camp on an invite basis.

– Fifteenth overall pick Zach Senyshyn showed off his skill set a bit more Wednesday, beating defenseman Jeremy Lauzon in a 1-on-1 drill and sliding the puck past third-round pick Daniel Vladar from a tough angle.

– Defenseman Max Iafrate is an interesting kid. While he too has a very hard shot, he doesn’€™t have much in common with his father, Al Iafrate, regarding their paths to the NHL.

Al, a longtime NHL defenseman who played for the Bruins when Max was born back in 1994, was the fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft. Max, meanwhile, went undrafted and had been in three different development camps (Washington, San Jose and Colorado) prior to signing his first professional contract this summer with the Bruins.

“€œI’€™m a 21-year-old on an AHL contract,”€ he said. “€œThere’€™s tons of different ways to get there, but [Al] got there pretty easy. He was in the NHL when he was 18. He didn’€™t really face anything that I’€™ve had to face.”

The 6-foot-2, 218-pounder will play in Providence next season, where the Bruins hope he will follow Kevan Miller as an unheralded player who developed into an NHL contributor.

“I think any defenseman that goes into Providence is going to learn a lot quickly,”€ Jay Pandolfo said. “€œBruce Cassidy and Kevin Dean do an unreal job down there. I played a long time, and going down there this year, I learned a ton from those guys.”€

– P.J. Axelsson, a Bruins scout who is serving as an instructor this week, is enjoying his new profession. Axelsson, who played his entire NHL career with the Bruins before playing four seasons back home in Sweden, admits he’€™s still getting used to being a scout.

“€œSo far, I love it,” Axelsson said. “I’€™m still learning, obviously; I’€™ve only been doing it for two years, but it’€™s fun.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Zane McIntyre was a Hobey Baker finalist last season. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)WILMINGTON -- For the sixth consecutive year, Zane McIntyre is among the prospects taking the ice at Bruins development camp.



Jakub Zboril was taken 13th overall by the Bruins last month. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jakub Zboril was taken 13th overall by the Bruins last month. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

WILMINGTON — The Bruins held their first day of on-ice work as the ninth annual development camp got underway Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena. The camp, which is headlined by goaltender Zane McIntyre and Boston’€™s trio of first-round picks from last month’€™s draft, will last until Friday.

Here are some notes from Tuesday, which featured two different groups that took the ice two times apiece:

– Absent from the sessions was Joonas Kemppainen, a 27-year-old center from Finland who was signed in the offseason. Development coach Jay Pandolfo said that Kemppainen suffered a hamstring injury in recent weeks, but could be on the ice later in camp. Kemppainen is on a two-way contract and could potentially contend for a spot in Boston this season.

– After the on-ice sessions, Pandolfo reiterated what we already knew: None of the skaters at this camp will be in Boston this season.

Said Pandolfo: “I don’€™t think we’€™re expecting to see another Pastrnak here, so we’€™ve got to make sure we’€™re patient with those guys.”

– McIntyre is here for the sixth consecutive year, making him the most frequent attendee in the camp’€™s history. The 2010 sixth-round pick was a project when he was drafted, but he comes to New England this season as one of the best goaltending prospects in hockey. The 22-year-old signed with Boston this offseason, but could have opted to become a free agent and sign elsewhere. Check back later for a piece on his decision to sign with the B’€™s.

McIntyre was joined by 2015 third-round pick Daniel Vladar and Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig.

– It’€™s early for real impressions to be made, but Jake DeBrusk stood out the most among the Bruins’€™ three first-round picks based solely on his size. Listed at 6-foot-0 and 174 pounds, DeBrusk looks a bigger and thicker. Pandolfo said the 18-year-old is not done growing, so he could be a powerful player down the road.

“He plays hard. … He’€™s still got plenty of room to put on weight, but he was a little taller than I thought, too,” Pandolfo said. “If he can keep gaining some weight and add size, it’€™s going to help us for sure.”

– Former Bruins forward and current Bruins scout P.J. Axelsson served as a coach for Tuesday’€™s sessions. As a responsible player and a fellow Swede, he would figure to be a good influence on 2015 second-round pick Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson.

Other coaches included Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco, Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy, Providence assistant coach Kevin Dean and skating coach Kim Brandvold.

– Miami University center Sean Kuraly, whom Boston acquired from the Sharks in the Martin Jones trade, is among the attendees. Pandolfo said after the on-ice sessions that Kuraly ‘€œfits the mold of a Bruin.’€

– Pandolfo isn’€™t wild about spending much of the camp scrimmaging, though he did say he’€™s thinking about potentially having a 4-on-4 scrimmage on Friday. That would provide some of the stronger skaters an opportunity to showcase their attributes.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Former Bruin and current Panthers forward Shawn Thornton joined Middays with MFB on Monday to discuss his time with the B’s and his opinion on the NHL‘s new rules on fighting. To hear the full interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Thornton discussed how the Bruins fan base motivated him and why he continues to call Boston home.

“I love the passion,” Thornton said. “I’ve always tried to self-motivate. If you’re a professional, you should show up to work either way. I didn’t miss the winter, I miss the fans, I miss the city and I’m back here for the summer. … This is still home and I love it here.”

When asked about the tendency of teams in the NHL to move toward smaller, skilled lineups as opposed to the roster construction of the Big Bad Bruins, Thornton maintained his faith in the success of physical teams.

“I don’t really pay attention to a lot of what’s said,” Thornton said, “but I saw, I think it was somebody in LA, the assistant GM or something, people were asking him sort of the same type of question, I think. … He said, ‘We take a step back and look, are we a team that made the playoffs this year or are we a team that’s contended in the last five years? And we’ve answered yourself as being closer to a team that’s contended in the last five years.’ They brought in [Milan Lucic], they kind of still play the big, bad — I mean, when you play against LA, you’re in one. It’s physical, they keep coming and coming and coming. And they went to the finals whatever, four times, however many times.

“Listen, we in Boston lost to Montreal and it was Armageddon, and people said, ‘You can’t win running people over anymore, you’ve got to be small and skilled.’ They forgot, LA won that year with the biggest, baddest team in the league. But it all got forgotten because we lost.”

Thornton continued to laud the Kings’ model, comparing it to his Panthers squad.

“In Florida, we have a skilled team, but we have a pretty big team,” Thornton said. “We play a physical style and it works for us, it works for LA. I still think that’s the way you have to play playoff hockey when it comes down to it. … Each organization’s going to go their own way, but I kind of like where LA is, they’re like, ‘Let’s not blow everything up, it’s working. Let’s keep running people over.’ ”

Thornton also commented on the NHL‘s new fighting rules, which limited his enforcer duties last year with the Panthers.

“I’d love to say that [the role of enforcer is] still there,” Thornton said. “I had six fights last year and it’s impossible some nights to find them. You have to be able to play nowadays to stay in the game. There’s not too many guys that are one-dimensional. … I remember me and Chris Neil got in a fight this year and my helmet came off three seconds in and they broke it up, and we were both irate. For Florida, it’s the first time we’ve had 14,000 people in here and everyone’s standing up and now they’re booing.”

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

Jimmy Hayes uses his size, but he isn't overly physical. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)Being a local kid playing for the Bruins presents one type of pressure. Being a big kid playing for the Bruins presents quite another.



The Bruins have signed defenseman Matt Irwin to a one-year deal worth $800,000, the team announced Friday.