Charlie McAvoy will skate in a Bruins jersey for the first time this week. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
The worst question a Bruins fan can ask during the team’s annual development camp is a totally understandable one:
“Who looks good?”
That’s always a tough question to answer because of what the camp is: a few days of guys doing drills, seeing the city and getting to know the organization. Given that the camp is an assortment of prospects of varying degrees, it’s easy to get carried away with “who looks good” because some players are skating with kids who are either quite a bit younger than them or a lot further away in their development. For example: Is soon-to-be 24-year-old Zane McIntyre going to look good facing shots against some 18-year-old defensemen? Probably.
This camp is the athletic equivalent of a checkup, rather than an actual competition to make the NHL team. That said, it will be worth checking in with a number of Boston’s prospects when the on-ice portion of camp gets underway Tuesday. While keeping in mind that two of the team’s prospects won’t be there in Zach Senyshyn (mono) and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (a number of reasons the team listed: school, family, travel), here are 10 players to watch this week:
Danton Heinen, Forward, Providence (AHL)
The Bruins need right wings like you read about and the left-shot forward has experience playing both sides. The B’s got him to go pro after his sophomore year at the University of Denver, so he’s a good bet to play in Providence this season unless things get dire in Boston.
A fourth-round pick in the 2014 draft, Heinen is considered a natural scorer whom prospects ace Kirk Luedeke feels can push 30 goals at the NHL level some day. He put up 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 40 games as a freshman and 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 41 games as a sophomore. The Bruins aren’t overflowing with high-end right wing prospects who are relatively close to pushing for an NHL job, but Heinen is perhaps the most intriguing.
Brandon Carlo, Defenseman, Providence (AHL)
A defensive defenseman, the 6-foot-5 righty is probably the closest of all of the Bruins’ 2015 draft picks to reaching the NHL. The B’s see him becoming a better Adam McQuaid, which begs the question of how many more seasons McQuaid will spend in Boston.
Zane McIntyre, Goalie, Providence (AHL)
Last offseason, McIntyre was considered quite the get when he chose to sign with the Bruins rather than becoming a free agent. It wouldn’t have been Vesey-Level, but the 2015 Hobey Baker finalist was an in-demand prospect coming out of North Dakota. Splitting time with Malcolm Subban in Providence, McIntyre was underwhelming as a first year pro, posting an .898 save percentage over 31 games. Though this will be his seventh development camp, he’s still just 23 (24 next month) and has plenty of time to continue developing.
Jeremy Lauzon, Defenseman, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
While Carlo gets the hype, some observers will tell you that Lauzon, who was chosen 15 picks later, is the better prospect. He’s got good size (6-foot-2, 193 pounds) and put up 50 points (10 goals, 40 assists) in 46 games in the QMJHL last season. Luedeke says he’s a ways away from the NHL, but believes the lefty’s ceiling is sky-high.
Charlie McAvoy, Defenseman, Boston University (NCAA)
With the exception of last year (when fans were angry) and 2013 (when the team didn’t have a first-round pick), fans have always been super-eager to get a look at the team’s top pick. The most notable case was in 2010, when fans giddily watched every stride taken by Tyler Seguin and other recent first-rounders Jordan Caron and Joe Colborne.
McAvoy figures to require at least another year at BU, with the B’s hoping his skating and offensive skill pays huge dividends down the road.
Daniel Vladar, Goalie, Chicago (USHL)
You’ve probably heard of this kid because he’s tall (6-foot-5, 185 pounds), but at 18 years old (19 on Aug. 20; hey, he and McIntyre have the same birthday!), the 2015 third-round pick has nothing to do with the Bruins’ immediate future. Still, he’s tall.
Jakub Zboril, Defenseman, Saint John (QMJHL)
The team’s first pick in 2015 saw his stock drop after an underwhelming season in the QMJHL. Luedeke noted last month that “there are too many nights where he’s just kind of passive and unengaged.”
Jesse Gabrielle, Left Wing, Prince George (WHL)
He’s bigger than Brad Marchand (many people are), but the 6-foot-0, 200-pound left wing models his game after the Bruins’ top scorer from both an performance and agitation standpoint. The 2015 fourth-rounder scored 40 goals in 72 WHL games last season.
Jake DeBrusk, Left Wing, Red Deer (WHL)
Injuries got in the way of DeBrusk putting up the type of season Senyshyn did, but since he’s eligible for the AHL this season it will be worth keeping an eye on whether the B’s feel the player is ready to turn pro.
Malcolm Subban, Goalie, Providence (AHL)
The Bruins’ signing of Anton Khudobin was something of a surprise here, as it would appear Subban would be ready to push for an NHL job. Yet Subban is coming off a throat injury that ended his season in February, so this week provides an opportunity see Subban on skates and facing shots again.