Bruins fans and the media have recently been abuzz with talk about rookies bearing the spoked B. What sparked these discussions could be the fact that the trade deadline is coming up (February 28th) or the recent games in which No. 2 overall draft pick Tyler Seguin has been scratched.
Young Bruins skaters have been taking the ice at the TD Garden quite often this season. As expected Seguin has spent the entire season with the big club (He was not returned to his junior team nor can he be sent to the AHL except for a conditioning stint) and a handful of other rookies have made their debut or returned.
Looking only the players who have spent time in Boston, the picks from the 2006 entry level draft are really coming into their own. Regardless of him being traded away, Phil Kessel was important in his time here. The fifth overall draft pick was the highest pick the team had since 1997 when Joe Thornton was drafted. As much as he lacked in physicality, he made up for in his goal scoring ability (Thanks Savard). As every Bruins fan knows, Kessel was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs after the 2009 season for Leafs draft picks which is how the Bruins picked up Seguin. So far this season, Kessel has not even amassed 20 goals and is currently scoreless through the past 14 games.
Milan Lucic, who is having a career year, was drafted 50th overall in 2006. The left winger has been embraced in his time in Boston getting love from the fans for his hard hits and blood-drawing fights. This season fans have been seeing another side of him in his scoring ability as he currently leads the team in goals with 23. The most goals he previously had in his four seasons here was 17.
Perhaps most surprising this season for newer players is rookie Brad Marchand. A 2006 draftee, Marchand is 16-14=30 in 53 games this year. The under 6′ Halifax native also leads rookies in +/- as a +20 (he’s ranked 9th in the entire league)and is 5th for rookies in goals. A quarter of Marchand’s goals have been shorthanded and to throw out more stats, put him in second for most shorties in the league. He spent a lot of time on the “Energy Line” or rather, the “Merlot Line” with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell as a scrappy, quick and sometimes annoying type of player. However as the season progressed Marchand worked his way up to play on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, a line that has proved to be a force to be reckoned with.
So who else? There were high expectations set for 2007 8th overall pick Zach Hamill but in a mere 4 NHL games he 2 assists. He puts up good AHL numbers for the Providence Bruins but his recent call up people rumored to be to show him off in order to trade him. The 25th overall pick of the 2009 draft Jordan Caron showed a lot of spunk considering that he was not even expected to make the team out of camp. Just six weeks after being drafted last summer he broke his collar bone and was unable to attend the September rookie camp for last season. However this season Caron was 3-4=7 through 23 games perhaps giving fans a look into the future and giving them a smile if he is called up again.
Now look at Tyler Seguin. A lot has been expected of the teenager but perhaps too much. Media and fans have jumped all over him for his lack of goals, ice time and occasions when he watches the game rather than plays in it. Seguin is 9-9=18 in 52 games, playing most of his game on the fourth line. When he did not come out scoring a hat trick per game as media portrayed him to be able to do, he was unfairly compared Steven Stamkos in his first season. That comparison though, will prove to be even more unfair is Seguin does not come out swinging in the 2011-12 season. He has a long career ahead of him and maybe he will become deserving of the superstar title that was slapped on him or maybe it will turn out that he was never meant for the NHL. It is way too early figure that out and only time will tell.
If one ever cares to look at prospects, the Bruins have a lot of up and comers in their farm system. It will certainly be fun to watch players grow and have a shot at facing off in the TD Garden.