Development camp this year had many good players. Too many to mention in just one post. So here they are, the guys manning the blue line and the blue area in front of the trapezoid…
Matt Benning – The young man just barely turned 18 before development camp. Went down a couple times on the first day during practices. Showed some skills during the second session and the second day. Appeared to struggle with power skating during the first session on day three. During the first session on day 4 Matt left the ice with an apparent leg injury. We later learned that he had a groin issue. Some seasoning is in order as he is quite young but could prove to be a talent down the road.
Chris Casto – A big boy to be sure, but appeared to need a little toughness. He seems to be a stay at home defenseman. Good shot from the point, but it looked like he was getting pushed around at times. His size is something that can’t be learned, and he has that going for him, but with the size of the other invitees and draft picks at camp, he didn’t overly stand out.
Tommy Cross – The senior member of development camp. He has attended every one for the last six years. Tommy has developed into a strong defensive defenseman. Good skills, positionally sound and knows when to pinch and when to remain at the blue line. Also has the ability to get physical. Tommy, in this writer’s opinion, is the most NHL ready of the campers this year. Not the fastest skater on the ice but he counteracts that with his solid positional play. Also not the hardest shot, but he keeps it low to the ice and accurate. He finally scored at a development camp, a fact he pointed out to the press on hand.
Matt Grzelcyk – Boston University has a lot to look forward to with this young man. Not the strongest shot, but knows when to stay at the blue line and when to pinch. He was paired up with Dougie for most of the second scrimmage and it gave me cause for worry having two offensive defensemen on the blue line, but Matt covered well when Hammy pinched (which was often). Good speed and footwork complete the package. Some seasoning at B.U. will do him good and I am looking forward to seeing him again next year as well.
Dougie Hamilton – Fellow viewers and writers present at Development Camp have already heard my opinion on Dougie. A very talented young man with size to spare. Dougie had good offensive skills and is good on the back check. He has a quick outlet pass to the neutral zone and can catch up to the play with his speed. All this being said, Dougie is not ready for the NHL yet. Peter Chiarelli states that Dougie has put on 11 pounds since last year. He still hasn’t filled out his 6’5″ frame and was being pushed around on the ice. Dougie also showed his propensity for hot-headedness when he opted to return the favor for a check he received from Daniel Carr. The hit was perfectly legal, but you could see Dougie planning it in his head from the time he received the initial hit. Dougie was also caught below the offensive goal line on more than one occasion. He will play for the big club, without a doubt, it just shouldn’t be this year.
Torey Krug – Torey has speed and good hands. Good defensive skills which showed up when paired with Dougie. As we all know, Dougie is an offensive defenseman, a good part of Torey’s game as well. Torey showed the understanding to hang back and patrol the blue line, freeing up Dougie to pinch down low. Torey’s size could be a hindrance to him as he is only 5’9″ or 10″ but he stayed on his skates for both scrimmages and performed very well in power skating.
Robbie O’Gara – Congratulations Yale…You’ve got a real good defenseman heading your way! Size, strength, a little speed, likes the contact (or so it appeared), and good positional play. Robbie was more than willing to clear out the slot area and neutral zones when opposing offensive players were passing through. I’m sure lacrosse had something to do with that. He was paired up with Tommy for a bit, and what a “D” pairing that would look like for the Black and Gold in a few years. Also spent time with Trotman and Grzelcyk. Take care of this one, Coach Allain, the Bruins are gonna want him back!
Zach Trotman – More size on the blue line. Zach has a shot that gets through more often than not. He was paired up with Tommy and Robbie. With Tommy he manned the blue line more frequently but with Robbie he was more the offensive defenseman. Zach can throw his weight around and does a decent job in the corners. No struggles in the skate drills and represented himself well. Zach will look good in Providence.
Well, the plan was to include the goaltenders in this post as well however in my efforts to be thorough, I have rambled on long enough, so the men between the pipes will get a post of their own this afternoon.