The Boston Bruins annual rookie camp has come to a close and one of the biggest issues for the Black & Gold ahead of the upcoming season is defense.
With the team’s future on display last week, many of the team’s well-known defensive prospects were at the forefront. Boston University products Charlie McAvoy and Matt Grzelcyk both had solid camps. Brandon Carlo has already seen ice-time in AHL Providence while Jeremy Lauzon anchored his Rouyn-Noranda Huskies’ defense on a run to the Memorial Cup final.
But as for the five dark-horse defensemen, which of the group turned some heads and who underwhelmed last week?
The University of Minnesota commit played 61 games for the United States National Team Development Program last season, amassing 25 points. Lindgren is a fast, physical, and pesky defender with great awareness on the ice. He displayed good puck control during stickhandling and defensive drills. The 2016 second-rounder also garners an adept shooting touch as his quick release will be a valuable asset for this two-way player. Overall, a solid rookie camp for Lindgren.
At 6’7”, Sherman is definitely the most noticeable presence on the ice. More than his size, his skills are what make Sherman a can’t-miss prospect. For a big guy, Sherman is a strong skater who can move quickly around the ice. He has a great shot and stick-handling ability, both of which have been top notch for Harvard. A shut-down defender, Sherman is physical and uses his stick well on defense. It would be nice to see him become even more assertive, but his development into an NHL-caliber defenseman is already well-underway.
Zboril is certainly deserving of his first round draft selection, but his performance at rookie camp was slightly underwhelming. A strong skater with a decent shot, Zboril could use some improvement on his shot. His physicality and stick-work on defense are second to none, but Zboril lacks necessary the necessary discipline for the NHL. During 1-on-1 drills, there were various occasions when Zboril committed infractions for holding, holding the stick, tripping, and hooking. With 57 PIM last season down from 73 the previous year, Zboril isn’t far off from being ready for the NHL.
FAILED TO MAKE AN IMPACT:
Johansson displays some positive quality, but still has a long way to go before being NHL-ready. A mid-level skater, Johansson has trouble making quick cuts and turns to stick with his man. He is a decent puck-handler, but a very skilled shooter. Despite being fast and physical, he was often caught holding his opponent on defensive drills. Although his discipline in Sweden was top-notch, the NHL is an entirely different game and Johansson just simply isn’t ready yet.
A Ferris State commit, Clarke is a smooth player whose hockey ability seems to come naturally. Clarke was selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft and doesn’t seem like he will develop into an NHL player. He has some speed but is not an explosive skater. His shot was ok, but like everyone at his level it could improve. Clarke has minimal puck-handling ability and lacks the physical presence necessary to compete at the pro level. Maybe a few years in college will help to change this. But if Clarke plateaus, it’s not likely he will see ice time in the NHL.