The Off Wing

Opinion and Fact…From the Off Wing

Boston Bruins Development Camp 2017…James Corcoran Edition

Boston Bruins Development Camp hit its third day today and it started out with the campers looking like they all had been doing some kind of resistance training since 6:00am. The start time for camp was 10:30am and by 10:35 half of the young men had hands at their waist hunched over looking for that next breath.  The boys of winter were looking to impress the Bruins top brass, who all appeared to be in attendance at some point.  This year’s edition includes 29 campers, 17 forwards, 9 defensemen and 3 goaltenders.  There was also one surprise guest, and may I say he was a pleasant one…

The only invite with no name or number on his back came out with the second session, including all the goaltenders, as the first session appeared to be all about skating and windsprints.  Makes one wonder if there was some kind of punishment being handed out.  Most likely not, but by the behavior of a couple players someone might reach that conclusion.

Back to Mr. No Name.  Turns out that he is a Massachusetts high school goaltender who attended Walpole High School  His name is James Corcoran, and will be a senior at Winchendon in the fall.  Elite Prospects lists him as 6′ 4″ tall and 185 pounds.  Tough to tell but he didn’t look that tall on the ice.  Standing next to 2017 fourth round draft pick Jeremy Swayman, he appeared to be about the same height, and Jeremy is listed at 6’2″.  But just to whet your appetites, here are some numbers, keeping in mind that this is high school…

# NAME YR POS. GP GA GAA SH SV SV%
1 Jon Stasiukevicius SR Goalie 0.00 0 0.00 0 0 0.000
30 James Corcoran (C) SR Goalie 23.78 11 0.46 368 357 0.970
39 Micheal Panciocco JR Goalie 0.38 1 2.65 5 4 0.800

Now focus on the goalie in the middle and salivate…Yes you are seeing this correctly.  .46 goals against and a .970 save percentage.  Also, as I have had to reformat the box above to make it fit into the format of the blog, Mr. Corcoran had one assist, but the impressive number is 14.  This is the number of shutouts he threw against his opponents last season.  This talented young man should be getting some serious interest by scouts and schools, but research has not revealed any of that information as of yet.  As far as his on ice performance, James looked strong in net.  He wasn’t in any way fazed by the performers around him or the level of interest he may have gotten from the brass, or he just hid it very well.

Mr. Corcoran’s ability to move laterally post to post was good.  He held the post very well, and while leaning forward still had solid control of the goalie paddle.  His glove appeared to be strong, as it is with most American born goaltenders.  He does come well out of his crease to challenge shooters and backs in, keeping track of his crease in the process.   He did not disappoint nor did he appear out of place.  This young man is someone to keep tabs in for the future, and I will be doing just that.

Reflections on the NHL Draft…

It’s Saturday, June 24th around 7:00 o’clock at night. Today may be just another day on the calendar for the huddled masses either enjoying time with family or completing chores around the house, but for the avid hockey fan it is so much more. You see, today is the completion of yet another year that the now 31 NHL teams add to their crop of young talent. Today is the culmination of another season of NHL hockey. That’s right, the NHL Entry Draft is now complete, and 217 young men have been selected to continue their childhood dreams of following in the footsteps of Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier and the newer crop of superstars. Here are some reflections on the NHL draft…

Let’s first look at the newest NHL team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. While they just completed the expansion draft, where they were allowed to select one player from each current NHL team, this was their chance to build on their future as well and add to what should be an interesting farm team.  After choosing what should be their cornerstone goaltender in Marc-Andre Fleury as well as 29 other players, they started this weekend with 12 picks in the 7 rounds that encompassed Friday night and Saturday.  The Knights started with a young center, Cody Glass, who in the next two years or so should be their top line center.  He has talent to spare, excellent hands, but more so a top notch hockey IQ.  He doesn’t make many mistakes and when he does, he learns from them in an attempt to not repeat them.  It is reported that he is dangerous on the attack and he should be an electric player that puts people in the seats.  Las Vegas had 3 picks in the first round alone, and all 3 are expected to be impact players at some point in the very near future.

Other teams that had an extensive amount of picks are the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings.  The Red Wings had a total of 11 picks throughout the 7 rounds of excitement, stocking up on big, beefy defensemen such as Gustav Lindstrom, Kasper Kotkansalo and Malte Setkov.  In all they took five d-men, all are 6 feet 2 inches or taller.  They also took a projcect goaltender in Keith Petruzzelli, a 6’5″ body who could someday be a serviceable NHL goalie.  In all, only one of the 11 picks is listed under six feet tall, Brady Gilmour (I don’t believe his nickname is Happy).  He is 5’10” and 170 pounds. He is certainly a project, but if he can put on a little weight and work on his fundamentals there may just be something there.  He is considered a “high character” kid and he was one of the best players on a bad team.

There were 23 Finnish players taken in this year’s draft.  This has led some of the talking heads to question whether the country is just getting better or if the rest of the European countries are getting worse.  To me, this is all cyclical, just as it is here in North America.  I would love to make the blanket statement that American born players are better than Canadian born ones, but I would be ignorant of the fact that it took 20 plus years for an American to win the Conn Smythe trophy (as playoff MVP).  the Fins have been slowly improving their talent pool over the last many years, Players such as Patrik Laine and Sebastian Aho show us just how good they have become.  So it is no surprise that the Fins increased their number of draftees from 7.1% in 2016 to 10.6% in this past draft.  As a trend, I would say this will increase again next year as well.

One of those previously mentioned Finnish players was selected 18th overall by the Boston Bruins.  Urho Vaakanainen, a left shooting defenseman will be calling Boston his home in the NHL at some point in his future.  The biggest buzz however was over their second round pick, Jack Studnicka.  A six foot, 172 pound forward, Jack has played the last two seasons as a center with the Oshawa Generals.  His numbers are not good, not bad, just middle of the road is the best way to put it.  He did double his point production from years one to two, and he had 15 points in 11 playoff games this past season, which could be the start of the excitement.  Overall, it wasn’t a very enthralling draft from a fan’s perspective with three defensemen, two forwards and a goaltender, its almost as though they were following some formula for a team that needs a goal scorer but most likely won’t find one in free agency.  They drafted for the future, or depth, or both.  I’ll have a better feel for the youngsters drafted after this year’s development camp.

Until then, keep listening to the Two Man Forecheck…the sage and I wax poetic from week to week about everything hockey!

L.W.L.

 

The NHL’s Embarrassing Moment

While watching overtime of game 5 between the Boston Bruins and Ottawa Senators, it became abundantly clear that the NHL doesn’t want Boston to progress further…or they want the Senators to advance. Maybe it’s a bias against a city that has had post-season success with all of their sports franchises since the beginning of the century. Maybe its the fact that none of the Canadian teams were good enough to make it this far last season and the NHL feels they are owed as much. Or maybe the officials are just plain idiots that don’t know what the hell they are doing. Whatever your interpretation here..this is the NHL’s most embarrassing moment.

First off, the official standing right behind the net doesn’t have the stones to actually make a call when the Bruins appeared (it was a goal, but i am trying to be fair) to have scored. Then, after meeting with other officials for a minute, announce that there is no goal due to goaltender interference.  After three plus minutes of review, which I understand is done in Toronto, the announcement is no goal.  I don’t understand why the on ice officials are looking at replays if they have nothing to do with the decision, but that is for another time.  This leads to more questions than answers.  Where is Sean Kuraly supposed to go?  How is it interference if he is allowed to follow the puck into the area when it is a rebound opportunity.  Craig Anderson makes no attempt to reset when laying on the ice while his teammate and Noel Acciari are putting the puck behind him.

Not more than what seemed to be two or three minutes later, Jean Gabriel Pageau wraps his hand around the puck while in the crease area before pushing it to Anderson, clearly a penalty shot opportunity for the Bruins.  Kerry Fraser, a former NHL referee tweets out that he didn’t have to wrap his hand around the puck, just falling on it in the crease is a penalty shot.  Not only was none of this awarded, but the officials felt the need to announce that there was no goal as the puck had not crossed the goal line, but did not address why the puck had not crossed said line.

If the NHL cannot effectively control their officials and enforce some form of consistency from the men wearing black and white stripes, then why bother playing the games.  It would save everyone involved the physical, mental and emotional stress of having to win or lose based on what these four extra skaters say and do.  Coaches could manage their rosters better, already knowing whether they would be playing in the second round or not.  Please give us some kind of advanced notice if the game we are preparing to watch has already been assigned a predetermined ending.  Not only will the coaches benefit, but those of us watching can plan to watch something that is supposed to be scripted…something like World Wrestling Entertainment, at least I can expect the officials to be useless and the team that the League wants to win will do so.

Bruins Development Camp Day Three 2016 Edition

The 2016 edition of Boston Bruins Development Camp is cruising along and Day Three saw brought with it a plethora of skating drills. While this was certainly not the creation of a certain power skating coach from days of yore when none were able to master his drills, yesterday’s drills required some effort and concentration on the part of the boys. A couple of the participants were even seen coming off their skates during one drill in particular. It seemed that this drill was designed to humble even the best of the skaters and put them all on an even playing surface, but it was entertaining.  The crowd on hand has collectively been clamoring for a scrimmage, and while they might get a full one today (the last day), there have been mini scrimmages which have allowed this year’s attendees to show off their wares in a competitive light.

There have been a few of the campers that I haven’t said much about to this point, and with good reason.  There really hasn’t been much to say when it comes to most of them, and others I haven’t really seen them while trying to focus on one area of the ice while three separate drills are going on.  But in the interest of equal and fair play, here are a few of the campers that haven’t been mentioned yet…

Jack Becker has good size.  He has appeared to struggle with some of the skating drills, but has handled himself well.  He hasn’t done much to stand out but doesn’t appear to shy away from contact, just doesn’t appear to initiate it either.  Having spoken to others in the crowd I’ve heard everything from “he looks really good” to wow, he’s really struggling out there”.  I will reserve judgement until after today when he will hopefully get to show something before the end.

Cameron Hughes i owe an apology to for not mentioning him sooner but I haven’t seen that moment that makes one stand up and take notice.  On day three he fared very well in the skate drills and he showed up to play during the mini scrimmage.  Good speed, nice shot.  There’s something to like here and I will hopefully see more today.

Joona Koppanen was a late round draft pick and that may be appropriate.  He has struggled with skating and positioning but he does appear to have a nice shot with a not so quick release.  He seems to be a little more physical than your typical Fin but it serves him well considering his size.  At 6’5″ (listed), Joona tipped the scales at 194 pounds.  A little more weight and some skate work could turn him into a third line center and a nice defensive forward.

And now for a few (and I mean a few) quick notes regarding some previously mentioned campers…

This should be Matt Grzelcyk’s last camp.  He is really standing out as the best in camp, but this being his fourth one i guess that is to be expected.  He is smooth skating, properly positioned, and apparently becoming a sniper.  Three rush drills in a row he was able to pick the top corners on both Malcolm Subban and Stephen Dhillon.  I wouldn’t pencil him in for 50 goals, and the top notch goalies in the NHL will surely shut him down most nights, but it was a nice little added wrinkle to his game.  Time will tell if it’s just a camp thing or he can bring that to the next level.

Brandon Carlo appeared to be relying on his size and strength a little too much during one on one drills.  There were, by my count, four possible penalties that could have been called on two separate attempts.  I want to see him paste guys to the boards, but if he is going to follow the forwards behind the net, then he needs to come away with the puck or he will be beaten.

Wiley Sherman was the only defender during one on one drills that did not follow the forward against him behind the net.  Wiley let his man go and just met him out front.  Result…no goals or shot attempts from his foe.  Sherman may be onto something here.

I’m sure I’ve still not mentioned one or two of the boys, and I will rectify this oversight with my next edition, but for now, enjoy the hockey.

The Second Day of 2016 Development Camp

The second day of the 2016 edition of Boston Bruins Development Camp brought us skating and other exercises fast and furious. Not ones to allow standing around, the coaches had drills happening in all three zones. Boardwork to the left, goaltending to the right and skating in the middle, as though it were the basis for a good hockey player (wait…I think it is…).  With a surprise third session, yesterday’s instruction (at least for the benefit of all present) ended around 1:30pm.  With everything going on in the first session, it was difficult to keep track of everything happening so going on the slim notes and my memory, here are some thoughts on day two…

Trent Frederic started to shine yesterday when given the opportunity to show off his speed during rush drills in the second session.  Blasting past defensemen such as Jeremy Lauzon and Brandon Carlo, Trent was able to move in on both Zane McIntyre and Malcolm, scoring on the latter.

Speaking of both Brandon and Jeremy, they appeared to struggle during the skating drills and seemed to have to force it during the third session.  A little too upright and not quite as smooth transitioning forward to backward, they could still use their size and strength to shut down the offensive player during drills as long  as they were in front of that man.

Wiley Sherman has become one of the veterans here at development camp and this fact has made it a little easier to notice the filling out he has done during his dev camp tenure.  Listed at 6’7″ and 220 pounds, Wiley is a beast compared to his first camp where he disappeared when he stood sideways to you.  His physicality has improved with this increase in size, but so has his shut down ability, as his positioning during rush drills saw Wiley consistently in the right place to keep whoever he fronted from even getting off a shot.  And when the offensive player was able to do so, the shot was typically off the mark to one side or other of the net.

Oskar Steen once again showed off his speed and quick release as he was able to score not once but twice on Zane McIntye.  Oskar was able to pick different spots both times, once denting the twine between Zane’s pad and glove and going over his shoulder with the second goal.

And who can forget the goaltenders?  The young invite Stephen Dhillon was seen working with goalie coach Bob Essensa on his side to side movements and other fundamentals.  He has shown an ability to shut down the skaters but has some skills to work on as he progresses in his career.  Daniel Vladar again appeared much improved but was not spared the same work that Dhillon had to deal with.  Vladar was once again up to the task, but this writer missed something that was pointed out by another onlooker in the crowd.  Daniel was said to be leaving his glove hand too low when going down into the butterfly position, something that bears watching as the third installment of this year’s camp gets closer to kick off.

So what does all this tell us?  There is definite talent in the Bruins’ future, but there is also a definitive line between those that have been attending camp for a second or even third time and those that are rookies to the event.  With the proper guidance from the coaches on hand and their coaches and trainers at their various clubs (school or junior clubs) these issues will be addressed and next year should bring about the type of change that Sweeney and company are looking for.

More to come after day three.  See you then.

 

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