“It’s pretty cool — definitely, you know, a little different than watching them on TV,” said the forward, Boston’s fourth-round pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. “But it’s definitely neat, and they’ve all been really nice — you know, really willing to help me on and off the ice so far. I just felt like it was good for me to get in this week and kind of get my feet wet before training camp and everything starts.”
Ferlin, who signed his first professional contract in April, has been a welcome presence at captains’ practices over the last couple of weeks at Ristuccia Arena. He inked his deal with Boston after spending three seasons at Cornell, racking up 72 points in 92 games.
“[Signing the contract] all happened pretty quick once the season ended,” Ferlin said. “Obviously had a lot of emotions going both ways, with leaving my friends at school and everything. But I knew that obviously I wanted to be a pro hockey player, and that’s kind of been my dream since I was a little kid, and I just felt like, after talking to [Don] Sweeney and all those guys, that this was a good time for me to kind of get in the organization. And I felt like I was physically and mentally ready to make the jump.”
With several informal practices under his belt, it is now time for Ferlin to take the next step with rookie camp, which opened on Thursday. After undergoing off-ice conditioning tests in the morning, a group of 22 players took the ice at Ristuccia Arena for a variety of drills, and on Friday, they will depart for Nashville, where they will participate in a tournament against their peers from the Predators, the Lightning and the Panthers.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Ferlin said. “I mean, obviously, like I said I’m not going to think too much about it, but I’m just going to work hard and play my game. I have faith in my ability, so I think that if I do what I can do, I can make a good impression. So we’ll see what happens.”
Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney said that given Ferlin’s strength and his skill set, this seemed like the right time for him to make the jump from college hockey to the AHL.
"Brian spent three years at Cornell and had a real good frame when we first saw him and drafted him – athletic build, explosive," Sweeney said. "When you look at his vertical jump numbers, you realize there’s an athleticism to Brian Ferlin that translates to the ice. He’s a powerful guy, shoots the puck well coming down the wing. I think he’s done a lot of good work. He spent the entire summer up here in Massachusetts training with a group, and I think he’s excited to get his pro career underway.
"I think the organization is excited about the progression he’s made as a player. He’s a guy who protects pucks and cycles pucks really, really well. It’s probably the strength of his game, from the tops of circles down, but now you realize how much quicker he gets up to speed and goes by his defensemen.
"But again, it’s another level, and I think that’s what rookie camp will represent for Brian, as well, to sort of get some nerves out and just jumping into the mainstream thing where you’re trying to make a hockey club. You can make some mistakes in rookie camp and sort of learn from them, and then you get to main camp and you realize, 'I know some of the things I can now get away with.' So we’re excited. It was a tough decision for him to make to leave school – we would have supported him either way – but we’re very excited he’s now a part of our organization."
It has only been a few months since he left Cornell, but already, Ferlin is studying the differences between the collegiate game and the professional game — and between Cornell’s style of play and Boston’s style. Most notably, he has been focusing on his conditioning: In the early summer, he planted himself in Foxboro, Mass., where he has been working out at Edge Performance Systems in an effort to get himself into the best possible shape for camp.
“When I got there this summer, we kind of did our base testing and sort of focused on the areas that I felt I was a little weaker,” he said. “Maybe I didn’t do as much at Cornell — I guess I was training more smaller muscles. It was more quick twitch training, so trying to get more explosive and faster and all that stuff.
“So it was definitely different — not as much Olympic lifting and stuff you do in college. More like functional movements, I guess. So yeah, something I’ve never really done a whole lot of before. I felt like it kind of gave me an extra boost this summer. I feel like I have an extra step on the ice right now, so it was definitely what I wanted to do going into the summer.”
In addition to taking that extra step into camp, Ferlin will also take what he has learned from the vets over the last 10 days or so — particularly Lucic, who serves as a decent comparison, given Ferlin’s 6-foot-2, 201-pound frame.
“He’s a monster — I guess I maybe need to hit the weights a little more,” Ferlin joked. “But you know, he’s definitely someone I’ve watched a lot over the years, especially since I got drafted by Boston because I kind of felt I could be a similar type player to him. But yeah, just kind of watching him a little bit — on and off the ice, and how hard he works and stuff like that, and then on the ice just — I love his compete level. He plays hard, he plays with an edge, and he’s got skill, he’s got speed, which are two big things that I’m trying to bring to my game, too.”
Ferlin is a long ways away from getting to where Lucic is right now, but until he gets there, he plans on “being a sponge” — soaking in as much as he can and establishing himself as a physical, explosive force to be reckoned with.
“I’ve kind of been watching those guys the past few days since I’ve been here, and that’s really what it’s all about for me,” he said. “Obviously I want to make a good impression, and hopefully, you know, we’ll see what happens. But I’m just going to come in and work hard and do what they tell me to do. And that’s that.”