By Kirk Luedeke
Bruins prospect Alexander Fallstrom has shown plenty of promise since the Bruins acquired him in the Chuck Kobasew-Alexander Kokhlachev trade of 2011. (Getty Images)
CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. – He’s probably the best forward prospect who is under the radar at present, but forward Alexander Fallstrom just keeps getting better in his quest to earn a spot with the Boston Bruins.
Originally a fourth-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2009 after a terrific season with famed prep school Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn., Fallstrom came to the B’s just a few months later as part of the October trade that sent Chuck Kobasew to the Land of 10,000 Lakes in exchange for the Harvard freshman and a second-round pick (Alexander Khokhlachev) in 2011.
“Just to try and build on what I learned during my time in Providence last season,” Fallstrom said when asked about his mental approach to attending Boston’s main camp this week. “It was a great experience; I learned a lot and got a lot of good feedback from Coach Cassidy and from Don Sweeney, so I’m just going to keep working on what they’re talking about and carry that into the upcoming season.”
Back in July, when the B’s convened their annual prospects development camp, GM Peter Chiarelli talked about the club’s new dynamic and what it meant for the competitive atmosphere at camp.
“I like the fact that we have guys that are pushing to play, maybe a couple of guys here, a couple of guys we got in trades, a couple of guys we’ve got in Providence,” Chiarelli said. “(Competition) breathes new life into everybody. I think in this year we’re going to have a bit of challenge in that respect because we played so long into the summer and it will be good that there will be some young guys coming into the lineup and breathing new life and new enthusiasm into the team.”
Fast forward to September and one can only wonder if Fallstrom, who turns 23 on Sep. 15, was one of those Providence players Chiarelli alluded to, but if his solid performance in Florida is any indication, the smart and hard-working winger could be positioned to be a surprise candidate for the third line that no one is really talking about.
For the Stockholm native who spent the last four years in Cambridge while skating for his GM’s alma mater, the familiarity with Boston is an added bonus as he heads into camp with the mindset that he can make the big team. And if the NHL is not in the cards for him just yet, Fallstrom enjoyed his brief time in Providence last spring for the end of the regular season, and looks forward to a return engagement to build on his early pro success.
“It’s nice, it’s nice being close to the city that I’ve lived in for the past four years,” he said. “I love Boston, I love Cambridge, so it’s nice not to have to move too far.”
Fallstrom’s best offensive output came in his junior season with the Crimson, when he potted 13 goals and 25 points in 28 NCAA games, but he showed a surprisingly deft goal scorer’s touch in limited AHL action last April, tallying four goals in 10 games. Although offense is not what is going to get Fallstrom to the NHL, his overall game just might do the trick.
“I’d say I’m kind of a power forward,” he said. “I like to play fast and tough. I think I have a pretty good shot and pretty good skill.”
That skill came out in the second rookie game against Florida, when Fallstrom took part in the five-player shootout at the end of the game, putting on a dynamic series of dekes before tucking the puck into the open cage past a befuddled Rob Madore. Fallstrom then drove the net hard and scored a gritty goal off the rebound in the final contest against Nashville, a 2-2 tie.
“I thought Fallstrom had a much better game against Florida than he did yesterday (against Tampa Bay),” said Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’s a strong kid who can play an effective two-way game.”
Having picked up a few steps from when Boston acquired him, the 6-foot-2, 205-pound right wing may not win many popularity contests when it comes to who is most recognized Bruins prospect, but his own hockey idols may give an indication of what style of player he wants to be for his team.
“(I like) a lot of Swedes, especially Daniel Alfredsson, Mats Sundin,” said Fallstrom when asked who he looks up to and tries to pattern his own game after. “And ‘the Mule’, Johan Franzen of the Red Wings, is a big idol of mine.”
If his talent and penchant for playing a rugged, but effective defensive game is any indication, Fallstrom might one day follow in one of his favorite player’s footsteps and achieve his own NHL dream.