By Kirk Luedeke
This feature originally appeared in the Boston Bruins Prospect Report.
The Boston Bruins are getting some mileage out of their prospects playing in the NCAA ranks.
Tommy Cross ranks second among Boston College defensemen with 17 points. (Photo courtesy of the Boston Bruins)
Boston College senior captain Tommy Cross has more tenure in the Boston system than any other player. The former second-round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft is just one point away from tying his career high for points, currently posting a 3-14-17 line in 27 games with the Eagles. His 14 assists are a single-season best for the Simsbury, Conn. native, who will be eligible to play for the Providence Bruins of the AHL when his college campaign is over. The big, mobile defender is a physical player who brings a wealth of experience and leadership to the mix.
Another senior, 2008 draft pick Nick Tremblay, is enjoying a productive year with the ECAC’s Clarkson University Golden Knights as well, his 25 points are the best of his collegiate career. His 13 goals in 26 games is a new top mark for the former Smith’s Falls Bears standout. Mark Goggin, who was drafted 24 spots after Tremblay that year with the 197th selection, returned to action this year for Dartmouth after missing the entire previous season with a wrist injury. Goggin, who is an Illinois native but played prep hockey at Choate Rosemary Hall, has three goals and five points in eight games with the Big Green.
Ben Sexton is the lone NCAA player from the 2009 Boston draft class, the team’s final pick, 206th overall. In 16 games, the son of Randy Sexton, former NHL GM with Ottawa and Florida, has six goals and 16 points. He’s battled through some nagging injuries, but is enjoying solid offensive production as a sophomore next to fellow B’s prospect Nick Tremblay at Clarkson.
Northern Michigan University captain and senior Justin Florek has already set a new season high for goals in a year with 14 in 26 games with the Wildcats. Florek enjoyed a strong performance at the July Bruins development camp and could see time in Providence when his college career comes to an end this spring. The big-bodied winger has a heavy shot and drives hard to the net.
Lake Superior State junior d-man Zach Trotman is enjoying another strong season with the Lakers, topping his previous high with eight goals. His 17 points leads all defensemen on the team in scoring and is three away from tying his best season from a year ago. At 6-foot-4, Trotman brings mobility, good two-way play and some intriguing offensive upside.
Bear Cub Snapshot: Brian Ferlin, RW
After being passed over in his first year of eligibility in the NHL Entry Draft, Brian Ferlin heard his name called by the Bruins with the final selection of the fourth round, 121st overall, in 2011. The first born-and-trained native of Jacksonville, Fla. (via the USHL’s Indiana Ice) to be drafted has gotten off to a strong start at Cornell University, with seven goals and 18 points in his first 21 games.
Talent analysis: Possessing good size at 6-foot-2, Ferlin has surprisingly good speed and quickness/agility for a big man. He is quick out of the blocks and has a separation gear when he gets into open ice. With strong on-ice vision and a quick stick, Ferlin is a capable playmaking wing who generates a good number of his assists by getting his heavy shot on net and letting his linemates go to work on the rebounds.
Although not overly physical as far as fledgling power forwards go, Ferlin does honest work along the walls and is willing to pay the price in front of the net. He needs to keep adding mass and strength to his frame, while continuing to learn the nuances of the game at the NCAA level.
Outlook: Ferlin has the look and feel of a solid third-line winger at the NHL level with enough offensive potential to push for a top-six spot eventually. A superb athlete who is a hockey natural, the 19-year-old (who turns 20 in June) has enjoyed a sizeable developmental curve despite coming from a non-traditional hockey background. Although his production has cooled of late after a blistering start, Ferlin has the raw tools and hockey sense to establish himself as a top-five prospect in the Bruins organization one day.
In the next prospects report, we’ll travel down I-95 to Providence, for a closer look at the B’s AHL forwards in the first of three parts analyzing Boston’s minor league options.