Boston Bruins prospect Denis Reul has spent most of this summer adjusting to North American hockey.
It started very well, as he attended the NHL Draft Combine in Columbus this past June and was chosen by the Boston Bruins in the 5th round, 130th overall.
Then in July, the 6’ 4”, 214 pound defenseman again made his way from his home town in Bayern, Germany to Wilmington, Massachusetts for Boston’s first ever Development Camp.
He was both nervous and excited to get his first taste of the NHL. However, current Boston Bruins forward Marco Sturm, a fellow German, did what he could to calm his nerves.
“He gave me some advice and wished me luck,” Reul said of his phone call with Sturm.
The week in Wilmington was an eye opening experience for Reul. Admittedly, it was tough adjusting to the North American game, but Denis kept a positive attitude throughout the high paced camp.
“It’s been okay,” he said after the first few days. “My skating has been getting better and better, and hopefully this will (help me) become a better skater and player.”
When asked what his favorite part of camp has been, Denis’ response was short and sweet.
“Don Sweeney,” said Reul.
Of course, Sweeney had good things to say about Reul as well.
“We expected Denis to compete,” said Sweeney. “That is his nature, and once you meet the young man, it is easy to see.”
Although getting the chance to learn from a former Bruins defenseman and current Director of Player Development and Hockey Operations was very exciting for Reul, he also enjoyed getting to know the players from other countries and could often be seen laughing with his new teammates and attempting to cull what he could from their conversations.
But Reul was most focused on proving himself on the ice.
His big size makes him an obvious candidate for hard checks and physical play, which is his favorite part of the game, but he has other strengths as well.
“I am good at one-on-one situations,” he said. “I can give good breakout passes and get the puck to the net.”
Denis showed this style during the four-on-four scrimmages at development camp and he also stood up one fellow prospect on a one-on-one at the top of the right face-off circle to stymie a good scoring chance. In the last scrimmage, Reul, who wore #55 during his first taste of Black & Gold, had a linebacker like day and registered three hits.
And Boston was not the only team with their eyes on Reul this off-season.
Reul said at the draft that he hoped to be playing for a North American junior team this upcoming season. And he got his wish just a week later on June 28th when the Lewiston MAINEiacs signed him in the 2008 CHL European Draft.
Lewiston moved up to the 15th overall spot in the 2008 CHL draft to get Reul, and now B's fans in Northern New England won't have far to travel far to see Denis in action. Surely, he will spend his time in Maine further acclimating himself to the North American style of hockey -- but not before he ends his fabulous summer when he is scheduled to get another taste of the NHL at the Bruins’ training camp in September.
The quiet big man has attempted to keep this all in perspective, but he has set many goals for both training camp and his upcoming season in the QMJHL.
“I have to improve on my (English) and other things,” Reul said humbly. “But especially my skating. The other guys are really fast. I need to change my skating and I need to play more efficient.”
“I have always wanted to play in the NHL, and I hope that someday, I will,” he said.