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On Wednesday, the Boston Bruins announced that the organization had signed four of its prospects – Jordan Caron, Joe Colborne, Michael Hutchinson, and Steven Kampfer – to three-year entry-level contracts.
Jordan Caron, a 19-year-old forward, was the Bruins’ first-round pick in last year’s NHL Entry Draft (25th overall). This season, the Sayabec, Québec-native split his time between the Rimouski Oceanics and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, both in the Québec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In 43 games Caron scored 26 times and notched 27 assists in addition to winning a silver medal for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. Playing for Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL playoffs, Caron currently leads all scorers with 13 points (6-7-13).
Joe Colborne, a sophomore at the University of Denver who is widely-held as the Bruins’ top prospect, was the team’s first round selection in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft at 16th overall. While the Pioneers bowed out to the Rochester Institute of Technology in the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, Colborne, a 6’5″-forward, led the team with 22 goals, 11 of which came on the power play, also good enough to lead the team. The Calgary, Alberta-native more than doubled his production from his freshman year, when he scored only 10 goals.
Michael Hutchinson, a goaltender for the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League, played in 46 games during the regular season. He posted a 2.86 GAA and 91.3% save percentage while registering a 32-14-0 record with three shutouts. The Barrie, Ontario-native was drafted by the Bruins in the third round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, arriving at 77th overall.
The rights to Steven Kampfer were acquired at this year’s trade deadline from the Anaheim Ducks by the Boston Bruins in exchange for a conditional fourth round pick in either the 2010 or 2011 NHL Entry Draft. The 21-year-old defenseman played in 45 games for the University of Michigan Wolverines before they lost to the Miami University (Ohio) Redhawks in the NCAA Tournament. On the season the Jackson, Michigan-native had three goals, 23 assists, a +18 rating, and 50 PIM.
It is highly unlikely that any of these players will be seen in a Boston Bruins uniform this season. If Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli does decide to call one of them up, they will have had to have completed their season in whichever league they play (meaning Caron and Hutchinson are currently unavailable) and they will play less than ten games because it would be unwise to spend a year of one their contracts this season. It is most likely that all four of the new Bruins will spend a season or two playing for the Baby Bruins in Providence, although salary cap issues and injuries could easily see them driving up I-95 sooner.
When that does happen, the Bruins roster will radically change, especially at the center position. Caron and Colborne are both centers, just as other highly-touted prospects Zach Hamill and Maxime Sauve are. With David Krejci’s lack of production this season and an over-abundance of capable replacements would make trading or not re-signing Krejci in 2012 much more manageable. Conversely, if Krejci bounces back to last year’s production levels, the prospects or current Bruins centers Steve Bégin and Vladimir Sobotka can be used as great bargaining chips or trade-sweeteners.
None of these players will have an direct impact on the Bruins this season, but Caron indirectly helped the team’s cause. The Huskies, for whom Caron plays, eliminated the Val-d’Or Foreurs (brush up on your French, people) from the QMJHL in six games, making Sauve available to play in Providence. His odds of being called up aren’t too high, especially since Brad Marchand and Trent Whitfield have already played in Boston, but he’s one step closer to the big time than his fellow prospects.