BUFFALO – After three days at the Prospects Challenge, it’s time to empty the notebook. Here are some odds and ends from the weekend.
KIDS WERE ALRIGHT
It was a solid tournament overall for Boston’s better prospects.
Anders Bjork played well. Jack Studnicka had his moments, especially on Monday. After a couple of so-so games, Urho Vaakanainen was good on Monday.
“Anders had two strong games, was pretty noticeable. Urho had his best game today, was sharp moving pucks, involved,’’ GM Don Sweeney said after Boston’s 3-2 OT loss to New Jersey.
Jakub Lauko, per usual, let the other teams know he was there. Oskar Steen had 2-1-3 on Saturday night.
Trent Frederic played only one game, then was held out as a precaution with lower body soreness. Sweeney said he’ll be ready when Boston camp opens.
I didn’t see Kyle Keyser on Friday night, but he was sharp on Monday in 30 or so minutes.
Now it’s on to NHL training camp, where the men will be separated from the boys.
BJORK IS FIT
As far as his health is concerned, Bjork, who had a second shoulder surgery in January, is good to go.
“His strength has fully returned. He just hasn’t played hockey in a long time, so his timing needs (work),’’ Sweeney said.
“We may play him on the left side, his strong side, as opposed to his off side. He’s able to play both and I think you saw how effective he was against his peer group. Now he’s got to get acclimated to that next group.
“He’s been pretty honest that at times it’s been a bigger jump than he might have even thought. He’s got special qualities that we’re going to try and continue to harvest and see if he can make the jump.’’
WHERE TO FOR LAUKO?
Jakub Lauko could return to Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL, or he could turn pro with Providence. He’s eligible to play in Boston, too, but it doesn’t sound like that’s likely to happen this season.
“Jakob played real well the first two games. Might not have had his best game (Monday),’’ said Sweeney, summing up Lauko’s weekend.
The Bruins GM said the season in the Q helped the youngster.
“Maturity on and off the ice. Habits, details, things that he needed to work into his game, he’s slowly working into his game. We know how effective he is to get in on the forecheck and under the skin of players. … We’re excited about where he’s at. We just know that he has details to put into his game,’’ Sweeney said.
“He’s the one that’s going to establish if he can play down (in Providence). We’re very, very cognizant of 19-year-olds playing in that league. It’s a big jump. Physically, we do not want them exposed to the possibility of getting injured. Obviously, anybody can get injured. We just want to be careful.’’
Studnicka got better as the tournament went on. He didn’t have a lot to show on the score sheet, though he made a nice pass to set up a power-play goal by Scott Conway against the Devils.
“I thought his execution – we talked about it a little a couple of days ago – was just OK. … That’s just part of being a 20-year-old kid learning how to be a pro. But he’s physical, he’s willing to shoot. He’s pretty good on his faceoffs. He can play in all situations. I thought he was pretty effective,’’ said coach Jay Leach.
SIZING UP HANNOUN
It feels like we haven’t heard the last of Dante Hannoun, who scored the only goal for the Bruins on Monday.
He was an interesting player to watch all weekend. He’s only 5-foot-6 but didn’t play like it.
“Obviously, size doesn’t seem to bother him,’’ Sweeney said. “Goes to the (tough) areas of the ice. Is quick, he can dart, is effective on the power play, as well.
“He’s signed as a depth player for us, will be battling for a spot in Providence. If not (in the AHL), he’d start in Atlanta with (coach) Jeff Pyle down there. We’re excited about what he’ll bring to the table there.’’
After watching him for three years at Providence College, it was no surprise to me that rookie defenseman Jacob Bryson stepped in and played very well for the Sabres.
The elite skating that made him a great college player shone through. He retrieved pucks, eluded forecheckers and made smart plays exiting the defensive zone and entering the offensive end.
“I think I held my own out there, first pro games under my belt. It was exciting playing with a different group of guys and a different atmosphere than the college level,” Bryson said.
“I think I played three good games this weekend. It’s definitely different than playing two games every weekend in college hockey. You get a little more tired, it’s harder on the body.
“The pace was pretty similar to what we do with coach (Nate) Leaman at Providence. He’s one of the best coaches to play for and it carries into pro. The coaching staff here is amazing as well,’’ he said.
Bryson’s parents and a cousin made the two-plus-hour drive from London, Ontario, to watch the Friday and Saturday games.
The next step is Buffalo’s training camp, starting late this week.
“I’m excited. It’s my first one. It should be fun to keep it rolling with this group of guys,’’ he said.
CONWAY CASHES IN
Bryson’s PC teammate, Scott Conway, scored a goal in both games he played in for the Bruins.
“He’s the type of player … it doesn’t really look pretty, but it’s effective. Somehow he always gets that puck. Somehow he’s always in the right spot. Heady player and then when he gets an opportunity to bury, he buries, which is important,’’ Leach said.
Conway has an AHL deal with Providence.
BEST LINE OF THE WEEKEND
I happened to see Tom Fitzgerald of the Devils minutes after his son, Casey, a Sabres rookie, pummeled 6-foot-5 Andrew Angello of the Penguins in a fight.
“Did you teach him that?’’ I asked.
“No, his mother did,’’ he replied, without skipping a beat.