With the Ivan Hlinka tournament finished and the U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp over, the Beantown Classic took over center stage in the NHL prospect world this week. Held every year outside of Boston, the Beantown features many of the best draft-eligible New Englanders, plus a few kids who were passed over but still have potential a second time around.
One name that sticks out this year is Robert Carpenter – and not just because he goes by ‘Bobo.’
The youngster is the son of former NHLer Bobby Carpenter and is actually the third generation of Roberts in his clan, hence the fun moniker.
“My grandfather was Robert,” Carpenter said. “My dad got Bob, so I got Bobo.”
But there’s no clowning when it comes to the left winger’s game. Carpenter is committed to Boston University, where he is expected to join the Terriers in 2015-16.
“When I visited, it just felt right,” he said. “It jumped at me and I knew it would be a good place for me to go. I’m really looking forward to it.”
This season, Carpenter will split his time between high school hockey at Austin Prep in Massachusetts and the Middlesex Islanders, a junior team now part of the new United States Premier League. He did the same thing in 2012-13, registering 16 goals and 30 points in 20 games with Austin Prep and eight points in 18 games with the Islanders. It was important for Carpenter to come back and play for his high school team.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling and atmosphere,” he said. “The fans are great and I love playing for the school.”
A dogged worker who prides himself on his compete level, Carpenter cites New Jersey’s Patrik Elias as a mentor. The Czech veteran was prominent in Bobo’s youth when father Bobby was an assistant coach for the Devils. Now his dad is tutoring him.
“He’s been with me, by my side helping out,” Bobo said. “He knows I work my hardest and that I’ll bring it every time I step on the ice.”
One NHL scout who saw Carpenter this week had this report: “Tremendous release and he competes hard. Needs to work on his skating, but I love his energy and he has a good scoring touch – he can really snap it off. Tough kid.”
Here are some of the other 2014 prospects that stood out at the Beantown Classic:
Tyler Bird, LW, Kimball Union Academy: “Big-bodied kid, his skating has improved,” said the scout. “Willing to take the puck to the net. Disappears at times, but when he competes, he’s at his best.” Committed to Brown University.
Mike Lee, D, The Gunnery: “Makes a great first pass,” said the scout. “Scored a big goal for his team. He’s more of a shutdown defenseman, but he gets pucks to the net. Solid 1-on-1 defender and he blocks shots.” Committed to the University of Vermont.
Ryan Donato, C, Dexter School: “By far the best player at the tournament – him and Teddy Hart. One of the best sets of hands in the area. Dangerous every time he’s on the ice. Doesn’t have that extra burst of speed, but likes the 1-on-1 play and if he gets around you, it’s trouble. Very slick with the puck.” Father is Harvard coach and former NHLer Ted Donato.
Ted Hart, C, Phillips Exeter Academy: Brother Brian is a Tampa Bay prospect at Harvard. “He keeps improving,” said the scout. “Very good hands and 1-on-1 ability. Doesn’t have Brian’s power, but he’s a better skater. Brian has a better shot, but Teddy sees the ice better. Definitely piqued scouts’ interest.”
James Winkler, RW, Portland Jr. Pirates: “Big-bodied kid,” said the scout. “Good skill set. Would like to see him play more physical.” Committed to Northeastern University.
Honorable mentions include Craig Skudalski, who was passed over in the 2013 draft, but is playing for the USPHL’s South Shore Kings this year and learning how to maximize his intimidating 6-foot-6, 200-pound frame; Miles Gendron, who is a converted forward now playing defense; and JC Brassard, an undersized blueliner on Central Scouting’s watch list with good offensive instincts and a solid shot.