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Spooner, goalies among Bruins' top 10 prospects

by Mike G. Morreale /

If there's one area on the ice where the Boston Bruins seemingly have cornered the market, it's goaltending.

It wasn't done by accident, either, as the organization had to move quickly when Tim Thomas decided to leave Boston after the 2011-12 season. By that time, though, the Bruins had Tuukka Rask in the fold and another prospect on the horizon in 2012 free-agent signee Niklas Svedberg.

Rask won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender in 2013-14 and Svedberg is projected to become his full-time backup in 2014-15 following the departure in free agency of Chad Johnson.

The depth in goal doesn't end there, as 2012 first-round pick (No. 24) Malcolm Subban and 2010 sixth-round pick (No. 165) Zane Gothberg are working their way up the ladder.

"There's a healthy progression that will take place for Malcolm, similar to what Tuukka went through when he was coming up the ranks," Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney told "Niklas assumed the responsibility of taking over as the starter for the Providence Bruins [American Hockey League] two years ago, and now Malcolm will push to take over that same role."

It's easy to project Subban and Gothberg as partners for the Bruins at some point in the future. Gothberg (6-foot-2, 204 pounds) went 20-10-3 with a 1.99 goals-against average and a National Collegiate Hockey Conference-leading .926 save percentage at the University of North Dakota last season. The 22-year-old will return to college for one more season in 2014-15.

"I think [depth in goal] was an issue not that long ago; it was talked about," Providence coach Bruce Cassidy said. "And then Svedberg got signed and Malcolm got drafted. Zane kind of had a real breakout year, and now all of a sudden it's an area of strength in terms of depth for young guys. Tuukka getting locked in and then winning the Vezina; clearly it's a good problem to have a lot of good goaltenders in your system."

Here's a look at the Bruins' top 10 prospects, according to

1. Ryan Spooner, C

Ryan Spooner might earn a spot on the wing on the third or fourth line for Boston. (Photo: Getty Images)

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 45), 2010 draft

Last season: 49 GP, 11-35-46, Providence, AHL; 23 GP, 0-11-11, Boston

The 5-foot-11, 181-pound left-shot forward will get a good look in training camp and might earn a spot on the wing on the third or fourth line. The 22-year-old projects to be a top-two center at some point because of his speed, offensive instincts and hockey sense. He played alongside Jarome Iginla and Milan Lucic for a few games when he was called up from Providence last season.

"He's been a productive player offensively and he's continuing to round out his game defensively at center ice," Sweeney said. "There's a lot required of our forwards down low in our system, and he has sort of built that into his repertoire. It still is to be determined if he can do a bottom-six role on wing to start out, but we'll explore that in training camp to see if he can expand as opposed to just being a one-dimensional center-iceman."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

2. Malcolm Subban, G

How acquired: 1st round (No. 24), 2012 draft

Last season: 33 GP, 15-10-5, 2.31 GAA, .920 save percentage, Providence, AHL

The 6-1, 200-pound goaltender was the only player with professional experience in the team's development camp last month, his third camp since being drafted.

The 20-year-old did well sharing time in net with Svedberg last season, and had a 2.96 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in six AHL playoff games. He's still adjusting to the speed of the pro game and learning to balance between his athleticism and the technical demands of the position. Subban will battle Jeremy Smith for playing time in Providence this season.

"We want Malcolm to assume the responsibility and pressure of taking over as the starter in Providence, which is something he was used to at the junior level," Sweeney said. "We're excited about where he's at despite some ups and downs, and we really feel good about where he's headed."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

3. Alexander Khokhlachev, C

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 40), 2011 draft

Last season: 65 GP, 21-36-57, Providence, AHL

Khokhlachev (5-11, 184) is another center who could be moved to the wing during training camp since there is a surplus of centers throughout the system. He has a knack for fighting for loose pucks, has a good shot and proved he could capitalize on scoring chances last season, his first full professional season. He did it well enough to earn a one-game call-up to the Bruins.

Sweeney thought the crafty Russian, who turns 21 on Sept. 9, had a tremendous season in the AHL and learned to play more of a 200-foot game. That will bode well for him as the Bruins consider their options in training camp.

"He's reliable and willing to go to the hard areas," Sweeney said. "He might not skate as well as Spooner, but he does similar things with the puck and plays hard in traffic. He comes out of piles with the puck. He's also gotten better awareness defensively and is now below the puck as opposed to being above it, and that has helped improve his two-way game."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

4. Joseph Morrow, D

How acquired: Trade (Dallas Stars), July 4, 2013

Last season: 56 GP, 6-23-29, Providence, AHL

Sweeney said the 6-1, 204-pound left-shot defenseman was a bit confused as to where he fit as an NHL prospect; since being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round (No. 23) in 2011 he has been traded twice, to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Brenden Morrow on March 24, 2013, and to the Bruins as part of the Tyler Seguin trade.

The 21-year-old represented himself well in Providence last season and is expected to improve on that performance. A solid training camp in September will go a long way in instilling further confidence in the coaches.

"We worked on identifying systematically how we think he needs to defend within the structure of how we require our defensemen to play while encouraging him to continue using his skating, his ability to push and transition pucks and get shots through," Sweeney said. "By midseason I saw his ability to play against top lines and being that transitional player who can also provide a lot on the power play."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

5. David Pastrnak, RW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 25), 2014 draft

Last season: 36 GP, 8-16-24, Sodertalje, SWE

Observers at the team's development camp in July felt the smooth-skating Czech Republic native was the best offensive prospect. The 18-year-old likely will return to Sweden this season for additional development before coming to North America full time.

The 5-11, 168-pound forward still needs to improve his strength and leg drive, but Sweeney was surprised the organization was able to get him where they did in the 2014 draft.

"He is a high-skilled player who goes into traffic and gets the puck," Sweeney said. "You could see the skill, the quickness and lateral movement during development camp. He might not have the flat-out speed but has that quickness, elusiveness and shiftiness to get himself open and be both a scorer and passer. When he gets stronger I believe he'll become an even better overall scorer."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

6. David Warsofsky, D

How acquired: Trade (St. Louis Blues), June 26, 2010

Last season: 56 GP, 6-26-32, Providence, AHL

Warsofsky (5-9, 170), who played collegiately at Boston University, signed a one-year, two-way contract with Boston in July and will challenge for an NHL roster spot this season. He got a taste of NHL life last season when he had one goal and one assist in six games with the Bruins.

The 24-year-old left-shot defender, chosen in the fourth round (No. 95) by the Blues in the 2008 draft, was traded to Boston in exchange for center Vladimir Sobotka. In 190 regular-season AHL games he has 14 goals, 66 assists and a plus-6 rating. In 24 AHL playoff games he has two goals and 10 assists.

"David is a guy who understands his physical limitations," Sweeney said. "He became really good transitionally because he didn't look to skate pucks everywhere, but moved the puck and didn't over handle them as he did earlier in the year. He has good stick positioning and is able to box out bigger and stronger players to the outside while still taking away the inside ice. He can step into our lineup and be a contributor right now; he gets that big shot through with regularity."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

7. Niklas Svedberg, G

How acquired: Free agent, May, 29, 2012

Last season: 45 GP, 25-15-4, 2.63 GAA, .910 save percentage, Providence, AHL; 1 GP, 1-0-0, 1.97 GAA, .943 save percentage, Boston, NHL

The 6-0, 176-pound goalie, who signed a one-year contract in June, is the projected backup to Rask in 2014-15. He and Malcolm Subban shared the goal in Providence last season, and Svedberg did well enough that he earned his first NHL start, stopping 33 of 35 shots in a 3-2 overtime win against the Nashville Predators on Jan. 2.

"He's an ultra-competitive player who wants to be in the tough situations," Sweeney said. "He's committed to getting even better."

Projected NHL arrival: 2014-15

8. Zach Trotman, D

How acquired: 7th round (No. 210), 2010 draft

Last season: 53 GP, 8-16-24, Providence, AHL; 2 GP, 0-0-0, Boston, NHL

The last pick in the 2010 NHL Draft signed a two-year contract with Boston in July and he'll enter his third professional season with the organization.

Trotman (6-3, 219), 23, got into two games with the Bruins last season due to injuries and knows that his primary responsibility is closing and ending plays in the defensive zone. Cassidy said in his opinion Morrow and Trotman are next in line to earn a defense spots with the Bruins.

"When healthy he was one of our most consistent defensemen in Providence," Sweeney said. "He's a strong [defenseman] and is still working on the physical side of his game. He skates well for his size and has a big shot from the blue line. Like Morrow, he'll come into camp and continue to push our group between this year and next."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

9. Brian Ferlin, RW

How acquired: 4th round (No. 121), 2011 draft

Last season: 32 GP, 13-14-27, Cornell, ECAC

Could the 6-2, 209-pound right-shot forward eventually supply for the Bruins what Jarome Iginla did last season? While the 22-year-old might not reach that level, he certainly has the size and determination needed to give it a shot.

Ferlin led Cornell in goals and points and finished tied for fourth in assists in 2013-14. In three seasons with the Big Red (2011-14), he had 31 goals, 72 points and a plus-25 rating in 92 games. He signed his entry-level contract with the Bruins in April and will start his professional career this season.

"Brian decided he wanted to take the next step and we're excited about that," Sweeney said. "He's a big, strong player and he does have some similarities to Iginla, and that's the challenge for him. He likes to cycle and play strong along the walls. Once he gets up to speed he can track the puck very well and he has a good shot. He worked hard in the offseason, staying in Boston to train all summer. He's a physical specimen and diligent about his work habits."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

10. Anthony Camara, LW

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 81), 2011 draft

Last season: 58 GP, 9-13-22, Providence, AHL

Camara (6-foot, 192), 20, is one of the organization's most intriguing prospects because of his toughness, effectiveness as a penalty killer and capability of coming through in clutch situations (five game-winning goals in 2013-14) while playing a bottom-six role. He has made many highlight-reel body checks and will remind fans in Boston of Milan Lucic whenever he hits the ice. The question is whether Camara can tone down that aggressive behavior to some extent at the next level and not take unnecessary penalties; after having 91 penalty minutes in 2012-13, his final season of junior, he had 50 penalty minutes last season, his first in the AHL.

"Anthony had some [upper body] injury issues that set him back last year, but when he played in that third-line role I thought he was very comfortable," Sweeney said. "He was trying to do too much early in the season. We simplified his game and he began playing to his strengths and was effective. He's a good skater, can track pucks and is good at going to the net with ferocious regularity, but he sometimes gets himself in trouble, and that's something we'll work on."

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17


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