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Development Camp Gives Prospects Bruins Blueprint

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, Mass. - The Bruins’ ninth annual Development Camp continued on Wednesday with the second day of on-ice sessions at Ristuccia Arena.

Following the first day of camp, Bruins Development Coach Jay Pandolfo stressed the difficulty in judging the players right away, especially with intense off-ice testing affecting their energy on the ice.

As the camp goes along, it presents more of an opportunity for the prospects to showcase their skills on the ice to the Bruins’ management and scouts, fans and media.

Wednesday saw the roster of 37 players separated into two groups, with each spending an hour and a half on the ice. The first half of the session consisted of skills work with forwards and defensemen at opposite ends of the ice. Dynamic Skating’s Kim Brandvold ran the prospects through various power skating drills, while the other coaches set up battling and one-on-one drills and shots from the blueline for the defensemen.

“On ice, this year, we’ve got the skating and skills coach there every day, so we really wanted to concentrate on that,” said Pandolfo, who has taken the reigns from General Manager Don Sweeney, who ran the camp the previous eight years.

“In this League now, if you can’t skate and handle the puck, it’s tough to play, so we’re trying to build some of that stuff in every day and then still have a little practice. Those are the things on ice that these guys need to be able to do, so we’re trying to stress that this year.”

In addition to Pandolfo, the camp features a host of other coaches, including Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy, P-Bruins Assistant Coach Kevin Dean, Bruins assistant coaches Doug Jarvis and Joe Sacco, Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa and European Amateur Scout (and former Bruin) P.J. Axelsson. Providence College Head Coach Nate Leaman, who led the Friars to a national title in 2015, was also on the ice.

The second half of the session resembled a Bruins’ practice, with skating and shooting flow drills, battling situations and a small ice three-on-three game between the bluelines to cap everything off before they circled up for a stretch.

This year features the largest roster since the camp’s inception in 2007, and with 10 new draft selections this past June, there are several new faces - and styles of play - to learn.

The roster features 21 Bruins’ draft picks (including 10 from 2015), five players signed to NHL contracts as free agents, nine camp invites, one player acquired via trade (Sean Kuraly) and a player signed by the P-Bruins to an AHL deal. (A full roster for the camp can be found by clicking here.)

With prospects coming from different leagues in North America and overseas, it’s important for them to connect with each other and for the Bruins’ staff to get them all on the same page.

While the on-ice sessions are significant, the most important aspects of the week likely happen off the ice, where the players learn about nutrition, fitness, strength training and how to “be a Bruin,” showing high character, being involved in the community, treating the staff with respect and developing connections with their fellow prospects in Black and Gold.

“Off ice, they’ve got to learn how to work out - they spend a lot of time with [Strength and Conditioning Coach] John Whitesides,” said Pandolfo. “We had a nutritionist come in, they spend a lot of time with that. I mean, these are the things that - it makes it easier when you turn pro to kind of realize what you have to do, instead of coming in blind and not knowing what to expect.”

“These guys know what to expect. You give them the information. Now it’s up to these guys to put the work in and do it, and you can tell right away the guys who are doing it and the guys who aren’t, so that’s the biggest thing.”

Camp Notes

- Goaltender Zane McIntyre, who recently signed his first pro contract with Boston, is at development camp for his sixth straight year, surpassing Tommy Cross, who attended five Bruins development camps. McIntyre was drafted in 2010 (165th overall) and has developed into a strong leader. The goalie has been spending extra time with Bruins Goaltending Coach Bob Essensa as he prepares for his first training camp.

- Former Bruin P.J. Axelsson looks right at home on the ice in his Black and Gold warm-ups. This marks Axelsson’s first year on the ice as a coach. He’ll be entering his third season with the team as a European Amateur Scout in 2015-16. He’s responsible (along with longtime scout Svenake Svensson) for scouting overseas and keeping in close contact with the Bruins’ European prospects during the season.

- In injury update news, Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is not participating in the on-ice sessions at development camp this year, as he rehabs his knee following ACL surgery. He is still around the group, and taking part in the off-ice activities.

- Forward Joonas Kemppainen, who the Bruins signed as a free agent, has not taken part in on-ice sessions because of what Pandolfo labeled a hamstring injury. It’s expected that the Finland native - who will push for an NHL job come September - could be on the ice later in the week.

- The on-ice practices for the final two days of Bruins Development Camp (Thursday and Friday) begin at 10:00 a.m. at Ristuccia Arena and are open to the public.

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