WILMINGTON, MA — Last season, “puck-moving defenseman” was such a buzz term around Boston that it eventually became the butt of jokes. As funny as some of those jokes were, the term isn’t going away any time soon. The Bruins, along with every other NHL team, will continue to look for and develop those buzzworthy puck movers much like NFL teams search for pass rushers.
One of the players at Bruins rookie camp who fits that mold is David Warsofsky, a 2008 fourth-round pick of the Blues. The Bruins acquired the rights to Warsofsky last summer in exchange for Vladimir Sobotka. Warsofsky probably won’t be moving too many pucks in Boston this season, but if his development goes according to plan, he will be in the future.
“He’s a guy that’s a very good skater. He plays with his head up, he moves the puck,” assistant general manager Jim Benning said after Sunday’s practice. “His transition game is excellent. His ability to walk the line on the power play and get pucks to the net, that’s his game. He’s never gonna be a big hitter or a physical player, but if he’s skating, carrying the puck, moving the puck, creating offense, he has a future.”
On paper, it might appear that the 5-foot-9 Warsofsky is at a disadvantage because of his height, but Benning said he doesn’t see it that way.
“On almost every team now, like [Tobias] Enstrom in Winnipeg, there’s guys that are his size that are playing in the NHL because of their skill set,” Benning said. “We’re hoping that he can develop into that type of offensive, puck-moving defenseman for us.”
Warsofsky, a Marshfield native who spent the last three seasons at Boston University, said he’s never used his height as an excuse before and he doesn’t plan to now.
“Obviously I’ve gotten used to it over the years,” said Warsofsky, who has won both an NCAA national title and a World Junior gold medal. “I’ve kind of been playing like that my whole life. You just do what you can to handle [bigger guys] and outsmart them. You’re not always gonna outmuscle them, so you have to think ahead of them sometimes.”
After serving as an assistant captain at BU last season, Warsofsky elected to forgo his senior season and sign an entry-level contract with the Bruins last March. He saw action in 10 AHL games in Providence, tallying three assists while there. Warsofsky said that brief stint was an important step in his development.
“I think just what it takes to compete at this level,” Warsofsky said when asked what he learned. “You get an idea of how you need to play to compete at this level and what you need to do every day to be a professional hockey player.”
At BU, coach Jack Parker gave Warsofsky the freedom to jump up on offense whenever he had the chance. Warsofsky said he hasn’t talked to the Bruins coaching staff yet about how much freedom he’ll have here, but he knows they want him to be involved in the offense.
“I think over the years, I’ve kind of developed into the certain type of player that I am, so you kind of just go out there and try to do that,” Warsofsky said. “I think in these [rookie] games, I’ll have to pick and choose my opportunities when to jump up, just like I did in college. It’ll be interesting.”
The first of those rookie games is Monday night against the Islanders, and Warsofsky isn’t taking it lightly.
“I think for everyone, it’s a real game,” he said. “Everyone’s kind of fighting for a job out here. You obviously want to make it to the [main] training camp. So I’m taking it as a real game, and I think a lot of guys in the locker room are, too. It’ll be intense. It’s gonna be fun to get back out there after a long summer.”