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Malcolm Subban, Bruins' Prospects Ready to Impress at Rookie Camp

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA - The 2014 Bruins Rookie Camp presented by AT&T kicked off on Thursday with off-ice testing and an on-ice session at Ristuccia Arena for the 22 players participating.

The camp shifts to Tennessee on Friday for a tournament hosted by the Nashville Predators, with Bruins' rookies competing against Nashville, Tampa Bay and Florida rookies.

This time serves as an evaluation tool for Boston. It's a step up from the club's development camp that takes place in July. That's about getting comfortable and making an impression; this is about competition.

It's also the first official order of business for the Bruins to begin the lead-up to the 2014-15 season.

"It's an exciting time. Obviously, it kicks off a training camp environment," said Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney, following the first day of action. "These guys have worked hard to earn an opportunity to come. We talked a lot about opportunity [with them], with the organization itself and the competitiveness."

"[This is] about jobs now, and your career and the path you're choosing as a professional hockey player. So, it's time to put your best foot forward."

The rookie camp roster includes 13 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders. The average age of the roster is 21.6 years old. They're all young in their pro careers, or about to embark on them.

Twelve players are Bruins' draft picks or players signed to NHL deals, including forwards Anthony Camara, Mitchell Dempsey, Alex Fallstrom, Brian Ferlin, Seth Griffith, Matt Lindblad, David Pastrnak and Ben Sexton; defensemen Linus Arnesson and Chris Casto; and goalies Malcolm Subban and Adam Morrison.

The other 10 players on the roster are signed to AHL deals with Providence or attending the camp on a tryout basis. The full roster can be found here.

"They know they're being evaluated now. Each and every day, from their testing, to the time they step on the ice," said Sweeney. "And now, they'll play some games against their peers, where kids get acclimated before they really step to that next level of competition in a main training camp environment with the veterans for a National Hockey League job."

"So it's important to go out and make the impression, understand what it takes from a pro mentality."

While, technically, everyone at the camp starts off competing for a job in Boston, there are naturally some prospects who appear closer to making that next step than others.

It's no secret that the big club has spots open up front for a bottom six role. Players like Pastrnak, Lindblad, Ferlin, Griffith and Camara, among others, all enter rookie camp with high aspirations. Lindblad is the only player on the roster to have made his NHL debut.

"Your mindset always has to be to reach the top," said Lindblad, who said he got much stronger this summer (so much stronger that he blew away his previous numbers in fitness testing). "And to get there - whether it takes longer or not - I’m coming into camp, I’m really looking forward to showcasing all the hard work that I put in this summer and hopefully it pays off."

The rookie camp atmosphere - with teaching moments from P-Bruins coaches Bruce Cassidy and Kevin Dean, evaluation from the Bruins' brass and competition against their peers - is built for the young players to show off that hard work.

"It’s a great tune up for main camp, and it’s a great way to prepare yourself," said Lindblad, who took part in last year's rookie camp put on by the Panthers in Sunrise, FL. "Everyone is very excited to get to see each other again, and get back to work."

For a player like Pastrnak, rookie camp serves as another step towards earning a role in Boston, and getting closer to his NHL dream.

"Yeah, one of the many steps," said the winger, with an emphasis on "many."

"We are happy we can be here, and we just want to do our best to play and enjoy it."

For a player like Arnesson, the rookie tournament is his first time playing against his peers in a format other than international competition with Sweden. It's important for him to begin to adjust to the North American game, especially after he earned his first NHL contract with Boston in June.

"It’s an absolute step up from Development Camp. It’s fun to be around all the older guys, trying to take after them as much as possible, and just kind of gaining new experiences," said Arnesson.

The master plan for the defenseman is that he would go back overseas and play in the Swedish Hockey League with Djurgardens.

"But, you never know," said Sweeney, who noted that Arnesson came into rookie camp in better shape and has progressed quickly. "Players themselves dictate who plays and who stays, and who doesn’t. But I know his team over there is excited to have him come back if that does happen."

"You've still got to deliver on a higher level and that’s a challenge for me," said Arnesson. "And I like challenges. So that's good."

For a player like Subban, the camp provides an opportunity for him to take on a greater leadership role, while using it as a tune-up for Boston's main training camp.

"It just helps me to get back with the flow of things and get your mind right," said the second year pro. "Obviously you’re playing against pro guys in the main camp, so you want to get the best advantage you can get."

Subban has gone up a step on the goalie ladder in Boston, with Niklas Svedberg primed for the backup role behind Tuukka Rask. Whether he's the starter in Providence or seeing time with the big club in 2014-15, he's taking every chance given to him to keep making an impression.

"I mean that’s the reason you come to camp, right?" he said, of setting his sights on challenging for a job in Boston. "You come to camp to show what you can do and anything can happen, so that’s what I’m looking forward to right now."

"I know that I have to have a great camp, regardless. That’s all I can control, is really just playing my game and you know, whatever happens, happens."

Not all players from rookie camp will make the jump to the main camp, when it officially opens on September 18.

For those who continue on, it's another step towards possibly becoming a Boston Bruin this season. It's another chance to prove themselves, whether they're already in the Bruins' system or with the Black & Gold on a tryout basis.

"These guys all are here with an opportunity in front of them, to make an impression," said Sweeney. "They need to come out and don't hold anything back."

"Just come and put your best foot forward as a hockey player and as a person to try and carve out a little bit of a niche for yourself and get in front of somebody. You've got to push somebody out of the way in this business in order to take somebody's job and the earlier they understand that, the better off they'll be."

For the players who head back to Providence, juniors or overseas after rookie camp, it's another step towards becoming a Boston Bruin down the road.

"Yeah, Absolutely. There are many steps," said Arnesson. "But this is one step, and you've got to embrace it."

2014 Rookie Camp Schedule

Friday, September 12 (Boston, MA / Antioch, TN)

-Rookies travel to Nashville, TN
-Rookie practice, Ford Ice Center, 6:00 p.m. CT

Saturday, September 13 (Antioch, TN)

-Game vs. Florida Panthers Rookies, Ford Ice Center, 1:00 p.m. CT

Sunday, September 14 (Antioch, TN)

-Game vs. Tampa Bay Lightning Rookies, Ford Ice Center, 4:00 p.m. CT

Monday, September 15 (Antioch, TN)

-Practice, Ford Ice Center, 10:30 a.m. CT

Tuesday, September 16 (Antioch, TN)

-Game vs. Nashville Predators Rookies, Ford Ice Center, 1:00 p.m. CT

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