Well, I just officially wrapped up the previous semester and still in grading mode so I though I would procrastinate a little more on some research and give a grade to this season's first year Bruins (since there were more than usual this season).
Some parameters-the player has to be in their first full season in the NHL (so no Eriksson or Mez) played 20 or more games with the big club (wiping out the limited contributions of Fraser, Lindblad, Florek, Trotman, etc), and this is for the regular season only which makes sense considering the playoffs are still on-going.
Here we go, the 5 first year guys CJ successfully integrated into the line-up on the way to a Presidents Trophy:
Reilly Smith (82gp 20g, 31a, 51p, +28, 14.42toi) A+; what more can be said about him? Beat out others for the coveted roster spot, took regular shifts, produced more than anyone could have foreseen. Not afraid to muck it up in the corners, plays his heart out, smart with the puck, and defensively responsible. Even when he was slumping he was valuable to the team. A keeper.
Carl Soderberg (73gp, 16g, 32a, 48p, +4, 14.15toi) A-; old Yeti started slow out of the gate, very slow. He was even a healthy scratch early on and I found myself wishing he go back to the forest from whence he came. However, something seemed to click in his noggin and from the second half of the season on (when CJ moved him to center) he silently became the most productive third line center this team has had since a young guy named David Krecji back in 08-09. A bull on the puck, plays a brilliant possession game, can distribute with the best of them, and has a deceptively accurate shot when he decides to use it. Probably would have challenged for the team lead in points had he been more consistent at the start of the season and played with players that could actually put the puck in the net on occasion.
Torey Krug (70gp, 14g, 26a, 40p, +18, 17.30toi) B+;2013 playoff run phenom did not disappoint on the whole this season. Scored the most goals for a Bruin rookie dman since lil Greg Hawgood back in the day. Wonderful on the PP and has a terrific outlet pass which helped the B's clear their own zone quicker....one of the secrets to the B's dominant season. Deadly accurate shot and smart with the puck. However, he still gets overmatched in the corners on occasion and gets crushed periodically with big hits. To his credit, he shakes it off most times and is never out of a play. Still, his minutes are limited and protected as CJ uses him selectively. The real question for me: "is he a Don Sweeney or Greg Hawgood type player?"
Matt Bartkowski (64gp, 0g, 18a, 18p, +22, 19.32toi) B-; another 2013 post-season regular. He has come a long way since I used to shake my head watching him play in his limited callups over the years. Not the biggest but very competitive and solid with the physical play. Has more skill then he lets on and can surprise with the odd perfect pass in the offensive zone. Another big plus is that CJ seems comfortable giving him tough minutes on occasion. However, can be inconsistent game in game out. Can also be caught out of position resulting in him having to take penalties. No goals in 64 games played and almost 20mins a game....you have to really try to accomplish this. Even Glen Feathernuts and Bruce Shoebottom scored at some point! That said, he is a good, cheap third pairing alternative.
Kevan Miller (47gp, 1g, 5a, 6p, +20, 17.27toi) B; the biggest surprise for me. Made the team briefly out of camp but promptly sent down. To me he was none too impressive in the pre-season anyway. Took McQuaid's place on the back end mid-season and never looked back. Tough hombre and legit middle-weight but also very, very defensively responsible. Almost always makes the smart, safe play and has the physicality to intimidate. His minutes steadily went up until he was playing almost 20mins a night by the end of the season. Not gifted offensively but can surprise on occasion (outscored Bart after all...lol). I see him as McQuaid's replacement. He is Adam-lite but more durable.
Well, that was fun...and therapeutic.