Saturday, August 11, 2012

One To Watch: Boston Bruins

The only downside to being a prospect of the Boston Bruins might be that you're a prospect of the Boston Bruins. The 2011 Stanley Cup champions are still very deep and any hole that the NHL roster might have because of injuries to Marc Savard and Nathan Horton, there's a line up of guys waiting for their shot. 

I was going to go a bit off the map and spotlight goaltender Zane Gothberg because I think he is an interesting story heading into this year. Here's a guy who was drafted back in 2010 and has been patiently playing in Fargo of the USHL since then. I say patiently because he's been waiting for North Dakota goalies Brad Eidsness or Aaron Dell to either turn pro or graduate, the latter finally happening for Eidsness. Gothberg joins UND this year, and I'll be watching to see how much he gets to play. 

But I didn't stick with Gothberg and those who frequent this blog or listen to the show won't be shocked at all by the Bruins prospect I have latched on to. 

Photo: NHL

Carter Camper (RW)

Providence Bruins
5'9, 173 lbs
Signed as Free Agent in 2011 

I can't deny it, I'm a big fan of Carter Camper. Maybe it's the underdog story, the little guy proving doubters wrong every step of the way, but it doesn't matter. 

How can you not get behind a guy coming out of Rocky River, Ohio who finished top 4 in USHL scoring in 2006-07 then carried that scoring touch to the NCAA? Camper racked up four consecutive +40-point seasons with the Miami RedHawks including a 57-point senior year. 

But of course that was college where small guys can still live and thrive right? Well he shot that theory all to hell in a hurry. He turned pro in 2011 having signed with the Bruins and last season Camper went on to lead their farm team in scoring and was named an AHL All-Star, all in his rookie campaign.   

Photo: Miami RedHawks
I was really surprised that the Columbus Blue Jackets didn't sign him. An Ohio native that played collegiate hockey for four years at Miami for the Redhawks... it seemed like a natural fit to me. Maybe his size put Columbus off, they already had drafted Cam Atkinson, but the Bruins were interested and got it done.

Camper dressed for three NHL games last year and scored in one of them. Does he get another, bigger, opportunity in 2012-13? 

Sure there is the chance that Camper is just one of those guys who can dominate the minor leagues but is just a half step behind NHL speed. It's definitely not his size; Brian Gionta, Nate Gerbe, Tyler Ennis, Martin St. Louis, David Desharnais and Steve Sullivan have all proven that you don't have to be 6'2 and 200 lbs to be successful in the NHL. 

Respected Bruins watcher Kirk Luedeke had this to say about Camper recently: 
"Although [Camper] led Providence in scoring as a rookie, he did so with a paltry 48 points, which is more of an indictment of that AHL club’s punchless team offense than a critique of Camper’s ability. Undersized and lacking in blazing speed, the former Hobey Baker finalist makes up for that with tremendous vision and a natural feel for the game. He knows where to be on the ice and has a soft touch on the puck for exploiting seams in defenses.  A versatile, hard-working player, Camper will always have to fight for respect because he is small and undrafted, but he went out and did in just three NHL games what eighth overall pick Zach Hamill could not in 20 career games with the B’s: find the back of the net. A productive player at every single level, watch for Camper to raise his production in Providence this season while giving Boston an option up front if injuries cut into the big club’s depth."
I couldn't agree more and I eagerly wait to see what he'll do for an encore. That's why, for me, Carter Camper is Boston's "One to Watch" prospect in 2012-13. 

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