February 21, 2012

Prospect roundup: Camper's sixth sense keying success

By Kirk Luedeke

This article originally appeared in the Boston Bruins Prospect Report.

Since the 1992-93 season the Boston Bruins have maintained an affiliation with the AHL’s Providence Bruins. 

Before being recently called up to Boston, Carter Camper led Boston with 38 points in 53 games. (Getty)

Although the farm club has not made the playoffs since the 2008-09 (after winning the Calder Cup championship a decade earlier) season, the B’s have some prospects at forward who bear watching for their versatility and potential to contribute to the big club’s fortunes down the road.

Although the Providence team has struggled at times to generate consistent offense, several young players have established themselves as options coach Bruce Cassidy is utilizing more and more.

With rookie Carter Camper the leading scorer and focus of the Bear Cub profile below, fellow freshman Craig Cunningham currently sits third on the club’s scoring list with 10 goals and 21 points. After beginning the year on the bottom line, Cunningham had a strong December to earn more playing time to go with his production. The former Vancouver Giants captain who won a Memorial Cup with Milan Lucic in 2007 finished his outstanding WHL career last season with the Portland Winterhawks before signing with Boston. Although undersized, he’s a scrappy, intelligent two-way forward who can play in all situations.

Center Zach Hamill is back in Providence after an extended recall to Boston. The former eighth overall selection in 2007 has eight goals and 16 points in 27 AHL games after posting a pair of assists in 16 NHL contests. At 5-foot-11, 180 pounds Hamill’s challenge has been adding weight and strength since turning pro, but has flashed signs of his vision and playmaking ability in 20 career games with the Bruins (four assists).

Lane MacDermid is in his third pro season after being an overage pick of the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2009 draft (as was Cunningham). Another Memorial Cup winner (Windsor Spitfires), MacDermid, 22, has NHL bloodlines and has been one of Providence’s toughest players with more than 400 penalty minutes since he broke in with the club. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound winger plays a similar style to current Bruin and fan favorite Shawn Thornton.

After appearing in the 2011 AHL All-Star Game, Jamie Arniel is having a down year by his standards. With just four goals and 10 points in 49 games, the versatile third-year centerman is looking to rebound as the 2012 season enters the stretch drive. An excellent skater who tallied 23 goals and 50 points last year while making his NHL debut in a one-game callup, Arniel is the nephew of former Columbus Blue Jackets coach (and Bruins forward) Scott Arniel.

Rounding out the young B’s prospects at forward is Max Sauve, who has missed much of the season with a concussion after taking a high hit during a December game against Manchester. With just 3 goals and 5 points in 20 games, it has been a season to forget thus far for the 2008 second-rounder and 22-year-old, who has fine speed and offensive skill. The son of former NHLer J.F. Sauve had 21 goals in 61 games a season ago for Providence and could jumpstart the team‟s scoring attack if he can get healthy.

Also in the mix is former QMJHL leading scorer and 2009 playoff MVP Yannick Riendeau, who has split all three of his pro seasons between Providence and the ECHL‟s Reading Royals. The undrafted free agent is undersized and not a great skater, but has outstanding hockey sense. Stefan Chaput has been limited to just 11 games this season for Providence (4-1-5).

Not covered: prospects over 25 years of age (Josh Hennessy, Kirk MacDonald, and Jamie Tardif, or those on AHL contracts Calle Ridderwall, Kyle MacKinnon).

Bear Cub snapshot: Carter Camper, C

The undrafted free agent and Ohio native was signed by Boston last spring out of Miami University (CCHA) after finishing his  four-year career with 69 goals and 114 assists in 156 NCAA games. With 11 goals and 35 points in 50 AHL contests, Camper is having an immediate impact in his very first pro campaign.

Talent analysis: Although undersized (5-foot-9, 175) and not especially fast, Camper makes up for that with tremendous vision, soft hands and a sixth sense when it comes to finding open teammates and exploiting seams in defenses. A slick passer/playmaker, the 23-year-old also possesses an underrated shot that he will use to good effect as he continues to gain experience and confidence at the AHL level.

Outlook: It will be an uphill battle for Camper to establish himself on the Boston roster given the team’s depth chart, but at present, he provides an important stabilizing scoring presence in Providence. A smart player and honest competitor, he could be more than the sum of his parts who forces his way into the NHL picture as a third- or fourth-line player and special teamer. For now, Camper will continue to bring consistent if modest production.

In parts two and three of the Providence Bruins prospect series, we will analyze the defensemen and goalies.