The following feature appears in the February 5th edition of the Boston Bruins Prospect Report.
The New England Hockey Journal’s Kirk Luedeke contributes an in-depth feature to the Boston Bruins Prospect report every edition.
BostonBruins.com – One of the NHL’s top prospects is now making an immediate impact in primetime, and his success is near and dear to the hearts of the Boston Bruins’ faithful.
Dougie Hamilton’s sensational NHL debut serves as a fine reminder of the importance for teams to build from within. The former CHL defenseman of the year has four assists through his first eight big league games in help- ing the B’s go 6-1-1, but has shown terrific composure and veteran savvy despite his youth. So far, Hamilton is living up to the tremendous promise he showed when the Bruins spent a top-10 selection on him in 2011.
Centers Ryan Spooner and Carter Camper have climbed near the top of Providence’s scoring charts in the AHL. With veterans Chris Bourque and Jamie Tardif skating with the big club, Spooner recently posted a three- point night in the midst of his team’s five-game winning streak. Both are superb passers and playmakers, with Camper having consistently pro- duced offense for Providence over the past month.
Jordan Caron could be on the comeback trail soon in Boston. Although shelved for several weeks with an upper body injury, the 2009 first-round- er is back in the AHL to regain his timing and return to game shape. Watch for Caron to be given the chance to play his way back into the Boston lineup at some point, even if the numbers haven’t been stellar for him on the farm.
The outstanding season continues for Malcolm Subban. He is 6-2 in his last eight games, and is second overall in the OHL with a .931 save per- centage despite being pulled after allowing four goals in an 8-2 loss to Oshawa Sunday. Bumps in the road happen, but with Subban’s sheer talent and mental toughness, watch for him to be a pillar of strength down the stretch for the Belleville Bulls.
Two other Boston goaltender prospects had fine weekends: in Provi- dence, Niklas Svedberg won his 20th game of the year in a 2-0 shutout, while continue to display his outstanding quickness and competitive drive. With his Swedish Elite League experience, he is providing the Bruins with a nice insurance option going forward. In the NCAA, 2010 sixth-rounder Zane Gothberg put together a pair of quality starts against the University of Wisconsin, going 1-0-1. An instinctive, combative netminder who is still refining his overall technique, the Thief River Falls, Minn. native is earning the trust and confidence of his coach, Dave Hakstol.
Harvard senior Alexander Fallstrom’s production is a little down from where it was a year ago, but with the 2013 Beanpot Tournament around the corner, Bruins fans will get a chance to see him in head-to-head action against BU defender Matt Grzelcyk. Fallstrom is more of a grinding defen- sive forward who plays a physical game and chips in with timely offense. The Swedish native and former Shattuck St. Mary’s star will require some seasoning, but he should provide more organizational depth if signed at the conclusion of his NCAA career.
Bear cub snapshot: Colton Hargrove, LW, Western Michigan (NCAA)
After an adjustment process with limited playing time to start the year, the freshman winger has rewarded his team with a surge of offense in recent weeks. He scored three goals in a late-January weekend sweep of the Michigan Wolverines to take CCHA Rookie of the Week honors.
Hargrove has a power forward’s big frame and natural snarl. At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, he’s already ox-strong and physically ma- ture to play a rugged game along the boards and around the net. He pos- sesses a big, heavy shot and is strong on the puck in the offensive zone.
The 20-year-old shields the puck well and is able to win the 1-on-1 battles down low and against the walls. Does his most effective work in traffic and will give and take hits to make the play. An effective checker who rel- ishes body contact, Hargrove was an adept fighter and intimidating pres- ence in junior. He has heavy boots; needs to improve his first several steps and does not have ideal speed or quickness/agility at the NHL level.
Hargrove played in the USHL with fellow Bruins prospect Zane Gothberg last season. Although not particularly skilled or flashy, he is a grinding, in-your-face winger who plays that classic up-and-down-the-wing style. Hargrove may not bring a significant pro upside to the table, but he’s a hard-nosed character forward who can do a little bit of everything.
Assuming he’s signed after his time in the NCAA, Hargrove will provide toughness in the minors and will work to make a case for fourth-line NHL duty one day. Another in a growing number of Texas natives who are turn- ing into pro hockey options, Hargrove has a long developmental road ahead of him, but he is a prototypical blue collar-type player cast in the Boston Bruins mold.