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Button ready to push himself

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / September 16, 2011

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WILMINGTON - Ryan Button is a veteran rookie, and though that may be an oxymoron, it’s not such a bad classification for the 20-year-old defenseman. Drafted in 2009 by the Bruins as a potential puck-moving blue liner, Button may be moving his career up ice - be it to here, in the Hub of Hockey, or Providence.

“I’ve played four years in the Western League,’’ Button said yesterday, as Boston’s rookies wrapped up their work at Ristuccia Arena and prepared to resume their training today on Causeway Street. “So I think I know what that’s all about. I think I’m ready for the next step, whatever that is.’’

Selected 86th overall in that draft, Button began his fourth year at Prince Albert last October, then was dealt to Seattle for the final 25 games of the season. His WHL season complete, he then joined the Baby B’s for seven games.

Technically, he can rejoin Seattle for an over-age year of junior, but that’s not likely, especially after his fortnight’s work with Boston’s AHL affiliate.

“Those seven games felt like they were my best seven games of the year,’’ said Button. “There’s no knowing how any of this plays out - main camp is about to start, and that’s where you want to be - but I think I’m ready for the pro game.’’

This is Button’s third camp. His first trip to Boston came in July 2009, just days after he was drafted, when he reported for the club’s annual development camp. Now approaching 200 pounds, he is some 10 percent heavier than he was when drafted and figures he’ll eventually level off at a playing weight of 210.

“That’s probably another two, three, or four years,’’ he said. “I’ve added 10 pounds in the last little while, and that should help me.’’

Rookie assessment Assistant general manager Jim Benning, in charge of overseeing the Bruins’ talent pipeline, met briefly with the media after yesterday’s workout. He felt many of the rookies looked strong and capable in their first of two frosh games vs. the Islanders Monday, but saw some dropoff in the second game Tuesday.

“Not so good,’’ he said. “We couldn’t seem to score.’’

Benning and the rest of the Boston cognoscenti met after the workout, and the assistant GM said he expected four of the 22 rookies who practiced yesterday would not stick with the main camp. Those four cuts could come as early as today.

Defenseman Dougie Hamilton, Boston’s first selection in the June draft, will be one of the fans’ focal points this weekend.

“He just needs to go through a camp,’’ said Benning, “and see the strength and speed of NHL players. He’s involved in the process.

“There’s no pressure for him. He just has to play his game, learn, see how he does.’’

Hamilton, 6 feet 5 inches and 193 pounds, has the size and maturity to remind some longtime fans of Ray Bourque and Brad McCrimmon when they arrived as fresh-faced newcomers in September of 1979. Both made the varsity squad.

It’s likely the 18-year-old will spend this season back in the OHL (Niagara IceDogs). He must spend the year in the NHL or back in juniors.

Chara to return Zdeno Chara, who attended yesterday’s memorial service for Pavol Demitra in Trencin, Slovakia, is flying home today, according to his agent, Matt Keator. Demitra was among 44 killed in a plane crash outside Russia last week . . . The kids are back on the ice this morning at TD Garden, while veterans, in attendance for their annual physicals, are not obligated to put on skates. Full-scale workouts begin tomorrow at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Ditto for Sunday. All the weekend workouts will be open to the public . . . A sight to behold: the clever twirlings of skating instructor Besa Tsintsadze, who led the rooks through skating drills and at times looked as if he were some Pixar animation figure. Incredible moves. And to dial the way-back machine to the musings of ex-Bruins goalie/coach Gerry Cheevers: “Everything in this game comes from skating.’’

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at dupont@globe.com.

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