With the Bruins announcing their Development Camp roster, we'll take a look at some of the prospects who will be attending this year's practices. Today, we profile Matt Grzelcyk, a defenseman currently playing for Boston University.
The Bruins have been very successful of late identifying young, defensive talent, and grooming it into NHL-ready products. Only a few miles away from where the team plays its home games at TD Garden, Matt Grzelcyk is fine-tuning his game at Boston University’s Agganis Arena, although he already holds a pretty close tie to the team that plays at Legend’s Way for a number of reasons.
Grzelcyk will be entering his junior year at Boston University this upcoming season, and was taken by the Bruins in the third round of the 2012 Draft with the No. 85 overall pick. But before Grzelcyk was patrolling the Terriers’ blue line, he was tagging along with his father John, a member of TD Garden’s Bull Gang, a group responsible for all the changeovers made to the arena’s surface.
So when Grzelcyk heard his name called by the Bruins' brass two years ago, it was all the more special, but maybe a bit unexpected. Grzelcyk was not predicted to be picked in the draft’s first three rounds, and the Bruins certainly weren’t short on defensive prospects in the system at the time.
But since hearing his name called that day, the 5-foot-9 Grzelcyk has turned some heads with both his offensive game and hockey IQ. An undersized defenseman, Grzelcyks ability to anticipate and read plays is paramount to buoying how effective he is in his own end.
When the puck is on his stick, Grzelcyk is at the top of his game, very much in the mold of Torey Krug.
His tenure on Comm. Ave. hasn’t come without its growing pains, however.
It was a sophomore season of ups and downs season for the Charlestown native. Grzelcyk was selected to represent Team USA at the World Junior Championship Championships in Sweden, ended up leading all USA defenseman, and was second on the team in points for the tournament.
While BU was going through a rare down year, things got worse when Grzelcyk returned from Sweden, as he dislocated his shoulder in a practice leading up to Frozen Fenway.
So Grzelcyk was forced to sit out and watch the rest of the 2013-14 campaign. He did resume skating toward the end of the season, and is all systems go moving forward. That's good news for BU, and encouraging for Grzelcyk, who will get a chance to play alongside one of his World Junior teammates, and the top prospect coming into college hockey this season, Jack Eichel.
There will be no rush to pry Grzelcyk away from the collegiate ranks, as the Bruins again are stacked with defensive talent in the organization. When he does turn pro, however, Grzelcyk figures to be another power play quarterback, and a player who can start the rush and get out in transition from his own end. His 28 assists in 57 career collegiate games are a nod to the on-ice vision, and his knack to put his teammates in quality scoring positions.
Barring a (very) late growth spurt, Grzelcyk will continue to have to find ways to play against bigger competition. Krug (vertically challenged himself at 5-foot-9) is providing a pretty good blueprint, and a BU alumnus, David Warsofsky (also standing 5-foot-9), also in the Bruins' system, may have some good teaching points for Grzelcyk.
Playing in a more competitive Boston University environment will certainly be good for Grzelcyk’s growth as a defenseman. This will be Grzelcyk’s third development camp.