"It was an eye-opener for me," said Julien to bostonbruinsTV last week. "Not just to see the players, but also the travel. We drove a lot of miles, we drove a lot of hours, and gives you an even better appreciation of what our amateur scouts go through."
But Julien also admitted that he came home from Canada with a clearer idea of what the B's gained as an organization when they drafted Hamilton and Subban in 2011 and 2012, respectively.
Dropping in on Dougie & Malcolm
"I hadn’t seen him play in a real game at the Junior level," said Julien of Hamilton, a defenseman. "It was a real eye-opener for me to see how well he’s performed, and how well he’s doing.
"He had a great game, I was really impressed with him. That was a game that he played against Peterborough, in Peterborough. Then we headed to Belleville the next night, and we watched [goaltender] Malcolm Subban play.
"And again, [Subban] was outstanding, was the first star, only allowed the one goal, and it was really impressive."
It had long been surmised (and Chiarelli later confirmed) Hamilton would be fighting for time on the Boston blueline had he not returned to the Niagara IceDogs. But Julien said Hamilton's development continues to impress even a seasoned NHL coach.
"Well what I saw from Dougie Hamilton is that he’s gotten a lot stronger," said Julien. "He’s skating so well, but I was really impressed with how quickly he moved the puck up the ice.
"That’s something that we’ve been looking for from our team—to get a better transition game—so he’s certainly on the right path with that anyways. I was also impressed by the way he just follows the play up. He really has a tight gap [between himself and the puck carrier], and anybody who kind of understands that part of the game will know that having a good gap is important for a defenseman.
"He did all those things," continued Julien, "and because of his size and strength now, he kind of sets himself apart a little bit from a lot of the other players in that league; in the corners, winning battle and everything else."
Subban, who's admittedly in a different place in his own development, also found ways to leave an impression.
"Again, he was outstanding," said Julien. "He was the first star, only allowed the one goal, and it was really impressive—a lot of good things that I saw from him, and a few things we talked to him about working on and continuing to improve."
Subban’s athleticism was lauded even before the B's drafted him in the first round last summer, but the young goalie keeps adding facets to his game that will put him in good stead to compete for an NHL job when his time in junior hockey is done.
"I really like the way he handles himself when he moves laterally, he doesn’t over-slide, he gets back up quickly, he’s back into position," said Julien. "He’s got a really good quickness to his game when it’s about moving from side-to-side or up-and-back, and you don’t see that too often in goaltenders.
"He’s very poised, he’s very controlled—sometimes, maybe a little too much—and we want him to maybe be a little more focused, but it’s very minimal, and it’s something he’s going to gain with some experience.
"But again, I’m extremely pleased with both those guys and they showed a lot of potential."
Julien pointed out that both young men have clearly taken the things they learned at Boston Bruins Development Camp to heart even as they compete in the CHL.
"Both of them are great kids," said Julien. "I think I was really impressed with how well they’ve been doing not just from our end of it, but in perspective of what their coaches had to say about them.
We really saw a difference in the maturity, there was a difference in some of their training habits, and commitment to the little details. Not just on the ice we’re talking about, but off the ice. I think eating well, and getting your proper rest, and both guys seem to be acting like real professionals right now, so it’s just a matter of maturing through that, and getting some more experience as they move on.
"I’m one of the guys that really believes that both of those guys…the Bruins will see in their lineup at some point."
Coach Keeps Tabs on Providence
With the Providence Bruins officially kicking off their season, Julien continues to keep tabs on the Bruins professional prospects as well. Right now, the B's bench boss said he's watching a lot of developing AHLers figure out their way in the pros.
"We have a lot of young guys that are coming in this year and first-year players," said Julien. "You saw Torey Krug come in [to the NHL] last year, but he’s really in his first season.
"We see [Ryan] Spooner, we see [Jared] Knight; those guys are young prospects that I think a lot of people are expecting good things from those guys. [Niklas] Svedberg is a goaltender that’s come to North America for the first time, and is adapting to the North American style of hockey…so there’s a lot of things when I was in training camp that, you kind of keep an eye on, and what you’ve got an opportunity to do here is evaluate, and see how they adjust along the way.
"I’m looking forward to seeing those guys play in the regular season games right now…and hopefully we’ll see the potential that everybody seems to see in some of those guys."