By Kirk Luedeke
WILMINGTON, Mass– Brian Ferlin may not have been expecting the Boston Bruins to pick him in last month’s NHL Entry Draft, but he’s rewarding their faith in him with a strong showing at the prospects development camp at Risuccia Memorial Arena this week.
“It’s been awesome so far,” Ferlin told New England Hockey Journal. “It’s all I exepected– it’s very difficult– but I’m just trying to make a good impression and show what I can do.”
Born in Jacksonville, Florida Ferlin was raised in the Sunshine State and played his minor hockey there until a year ago, when he went to Indianapolis to skate for the USHL’s Indiana Ice. He said that through a personal connection with someone in the Ice organization, he was able to get a tryout with the club and make the team that way instead of going the traditional route through the USHL entry draft.
“The ECHL teams definitely had a big part (of the growing popularity of hockey in Florida),” he said. “I played out of Fort Myers for my triple-A, which is where the (ECHL) Everblades played. It was definitely a lot of travel because I live like five hours from Ft. Myers and we woud go down there for games on the weekends. It’s a lot of travel and a lot of dedication, but it needed to be done.”
Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney has seen some of the attributes that saw the Bruins spend a fourth-round selection (121st overall) on the 6-foot-1, 205-pound right wing after he posted a 25-goal, 73-point season in the USHL.
“Well, I think there’s a lot of room for growth on Brian [Ferlin],” said Sweeney. “He’s got tremendous upside athletically. I think he’ll continue to get more and more comfortable on the ice as he plays more and more hockey.”
Ferlin was on hand in Minnesota to hear the Bruins call his name along with earlier picks Dougie Hamilton and Alexander Khokhlachev.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said reflecting on the thrill of pulling on the black and gold sweater and draft cap in the Xcel Energy center June 25. “Obviously, I watched [the Bruins] in the playoffs, watched them growing up and stuff. They’re a great team, a great organization. They just won the Stanley Cup. It’s awesome.”
Ferlin also had the pleasure of seeing several of his Indiana teammates selected in the 2011 draft as well in Blake Coleman (3rd round- Devils) and Sean Kuraly (5th round- Sharks).
“[Coleman] was on my line for both years in Indiana so we kind of had most of our junior careers together so it was neat to see him go,” said Ferlin. “Kuraly’s one of my best friends from high school up in Indiana, we both went to school together so it was good to see him go, too.”
Like most of the guys at the 2011 development camp, Ferlin has quite a bit of developing to do, but his intriguing package of size and ability has the Bruins thinking big.
“I think that’s, as he plays more that athleticism will start to show up,” Sweeney said. “He’s got good speed, he’s got good size, he’s got good skills, he’ll understand now in terms of how to utilize those even better as he plays with better players and moves forward. We’re excited. I think he’s a nice project and a nice piece to have to continue to go to work with and then see where he takes it.”
When asked to describe what he brings to the table, Ferlin took little time in breaking it down.
“I’m a power forward,” Ferlin said. “But I try to mix in a little skill. I use my body to my advantage to try and protect the puck well and try to get the net and play hard in the corners.”
In the fall, it will be off to the Ivy League for Ferlin as the 19-year-old will join the Cornell Big Red, which produced a recent NHLer for Boston in Byron Bitz, traded more than a year ago in the deal that brought Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski to the Bruins.
Although onlookers have yet to see Ferlin perform in even a scrimmage, he’s shown off decent skating ability and a heavy shot in the limited on-ice drills over the first three days. Soon, fans in attendance will have the opportunity to see the productive winger in action against his fellow Boston prospects.