BostonBruins.com - As we prepare to flip the calendar over to a new month, scoring is the name of the game with Boston Bruins prospects making a positive showing in both the amateur and pro circuits.
Ryan Fitzgerald and Brian Ferlin are both providing a consistent offensive spark for Boston College and Cornell University with the NCAA season in its early stages.
Fitzgerald has not looked out of place in the Hockey East, scoring at a point-per-game clip with the Eagles and surprising some observers with his precocious two-way play.
The two-time Massachusetts state champion with the Malden Catholic Lancers has always possessed a high-level hockey IQ, but the freshman center brings a well-rounded game that allows coaches to use him in a variety of situations. At 19, the 2013 fourth-round selection has made a seamless transition to the elite competition faced at the NCAA level, and looks like a seasoned upperclassman in the early going of his first campaign.
Ferlin said before the season that getting off to a better start than he did a year ago was one of his objectives, and he has backed that up with six goals and 12 points in his first 10 games of 2013-14.
At 6-foot-2, the Floridian does not play a snarly, aggressive game but is adept at using his big body to establish an effective net front presence and is a consistent offensive contributor when using his quick skating burst, impressive vision, hard shot and deft passing touch to generate quality scoring chances for the Big Red. The natural athlete whose father played college baseball may not come from a traditional hockey hotbed in Jacksonville, but he thinks the game well and his overall game has improved considerably in his junior year since arriving in Ithaca, N.Y.
In Providence, 2010 second-rounder Alexander Khokhlachev is enjoying more consistent success in his first full AHL year, as he is adapting to the more rugged and faster pace of that professional league.
Although he doesn’t possess blazing wheels and explosive jump on his skates, “Koko” compensates with slick puck skills and the high-end creativity to make plays in tight spaces. Looking ever more comfortable, the former Windsor Spitfires star has gotten stronger and is showing more willingness to consistently take the puck into traffic than he was in the past. When the 20-year-old Moscow native is on top of his game, he can back defenders off with a dazzling array of moves and effortlessly create scoring opportunities. Although he was scratched from a recent game vs. Springfield, that roster decision had more to do with roster management and matching up than anything performance-related.
Anthony Camara tallied his first career AHL goal against Springfield and has had to make the most of every opportunity he gets, playing 14 out of his team’s first 18 games. With so many talented forwards in the Providence lineup, ice time has been harder to come by for a few of the rookies, but the depth will help keep Boston’s farm club competitive throughout the season.
BRUINS PROSPECT SNAPSHOT:
Kevan Miller, D Providence (AHL)/Boston (NHL)
Scouting report: With a 6-foot-2, 205-pound frame and quick feet, Miller is a textbook shutdown defenseman for the modern pro game. His skating is above average with a wide-base, good edge control with fluid pivots and direction change. He plays with his head up, looking to advance the puck with crisp, high-percentage outlets even if he does not often lead the rush or attack aggressively on offense. Although not much of a goal scorer, the right-shooting Miller has a heavy shot that he launches from the point and keeps low to the net for deflections. He is a rugged, tenacious defender who staples opposing wingers to the boards and uses his strength to win one-on-one battles or keep the front of the crease clear. A natural leader who captained the University of Vermont Catamounts, Miller has the on- and off-ice attributes the Bruins covet.
Outlook: At age 26, the Los Angeles native is a little older than the average B’s prospect, but has earned his NHL opportunity the old fashioned way, with hard work, perseverance, and opportunistic play. The undrafted free agent who signed with Providence on an AHL deal after his final NCAA season earned his NHL contract with a steady, hard-nosed game and willingness to buy into the Bruins culture. Beginning the season as the team’s eighth defender on the depth chart, Miller took advantage of his recent call-up by playing the simple, yet effective brand of hockey he’s become synonymous with in Providence. His value as a plug-and-play option speaks to the impressive depth the B’s have built across the organization. Miller serves as an inspiration to aspiring pros who are passed over in the NHL draft, but willing to do the grunt work and take the longer path to hockey’s highest level.
Kirk Luedeke covers the Boston Bruins and NHL prospects for the New England Hockey Journal and is a contributing editor and hockey scout for the Red Line Report. You can follow him on Twitter at: @kluedeke29