BostonBruins.com - Several off-season newcomers to the Boston Bruins organization have made an important AHL impact felt early in the 2013-14 hockey season.
Two of the four players acquired from the Dallas Stars on July 4, left winger Matt Fraser and defenseman Joe Morrow, have gotten off to fast offensive starts in Providence’s first 13 games of the season.
Fraser, whose 70 goals entering the season was a Texas Stars franchise record, has picked up where he left off, firing home 11 goals and 13 points for Providence in as many contests. The Red Deer, Alberta native was an undrafted free agent by Dallas and has rapidly developed into a consistent and dangerous goal scorer at the AHL level. With 13 NHL games under his belt, the 23-year-old has a chance to see some big league action with the Bruins at some point, but with a loaded top-nine Fraser may have to keep plugging away in the Ocean State for now.
Morrow, a former first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins (23rd overall) in 2011, is an offensively gifted rearguard who is leading Providence in scoring from the blue line with 10 points in 13 games. The 6-foot-1, 206-pound Morrow is a fluid skater who is crisp on his edges and can handle the puck well at top speed. Morrow is making an impact on Providence’s league-leading power play with his big shot, effective puck distribution (four assists) and lateral mobility, while working to improve his overall defense. After struggling to adapt to the speed, pace and demands of pro hockey, the former WHL star with the Portland Winterhawks has embraced his major role in Providence under head coach Bruce Cassidy and his development is back on track.
Veteran forward Nick Johnson was signed in July to provide scoring depth and experience to the Bruins organization. After an excellent preseason in Boston, the Dartmouth standout and former Penguins draft pick was assigned to Providence and began the season on fire. The 27-year-old Calgary native is an opportunistic, two-way forward who can score in a variety of ways and brings more than 100 NHL games of experience to the mix. Although the numbers have tailed off from the blistering early season pace, Johnson continues to be a valuable contributor on the farm with the potential to help Boston in a pinch.
Although defenseman Mike Moore has just one point on the season, the free agent signing and Princeton University graduate has brought a consistent and stabilizing presence to the Providence blue line. A former Sharks and Predators farmhand, Moore is a no-frills shutdown player who plays a hard-nosed game without taking undisciplined penalties and can log effective minutes. Moore may not attract a lot of attention with his steady performance, but he’s the kind of solid veteran who has helped Providence to a 7-4-2 record, good for second in the Atlantic Division.
Bruins prospect snapshot:
Matt Fraser, LW Providence (AHL) Scouting report:
At 6-foot-2, 204 pounds, Fraser is a fledgling power forward who is one of the AHL’s most lethal finishers. His skating is a work in progress in terms of the acceleration and top-end speed, but he gets where needed effectively enough. Sublime release: the puck explodes off his stick in an instant, and he pounces on rebounds and secondary scoring chances around the net like a predator on unsuspecting prey. In just his third AHL season, Fraser is off to the best offensive start of his young career and poses matchup problems for opposing defenses for his size and ability to slip through seams in the offensive zone. He will initiate contact and stick up for teammates. Although Fraser can go long stretches where he doesn’t stand out in a game, he can suddenly strike quickly with multiple tallies and is productive on the power play. Outlook:
With his (albeit limited) NHL experience and impressive AHL goal scoring totals, Fraser is putting himself in position to earn an opportunity in Boston. His biggest challenge to translating his excellent AHL production to the highest level is in more effectively handling his play when the game closes up on him so much faster in the NHL. Fraser has top-six forward potential, but cracking the B’s lineup will depend on him taking rapid advantage of any chance or call-up he gets.