Boston Bruins Prospect Report: Matt Grzelcyk
By Benjamin Woodward (@_BWoodward)
PITTSBURGH, PA – JUNE 23: Matthew Grzelcyk, 85th overall pick by the Boston Bruins, walks on the draft floor during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Player: Matthew Grzelcyk
2011-’12 Team: United States National Development Program
Drafted: Third Round (85th Overall), 2012
Vitals: 5’9”, 171 lbs., Age 18
Hometown: Charlestown, Massachusetts
Camp Observations: By now, most everyone who keeps close tabs on the Boston Bruins is probably completely aware of the Matt Grzelcyk story. Growing up in nearby Charlestown, Massachusetts, Matthew Grzelcyk has been a lifelong fan of the Boston Bruins. In fact, his family even has its own roots well within the Boston hockey scene as Matt’s father, John Grzelcyk, is a longstanding member of the TD Garden bull gang. For those who don’t know, the bull gang is the group of Garden employees in charge of maintenance for the ice the Bruins skate on and the world famous parquet floor used by the Boston Celtics.
To be drafted by the very team that you grew up watching and cheering for would undoubtedly be a dream come true for any kid in North America who has ever laced up a pair of hockey skates. Back in June of 2012, Matthew Grzelcyk would realize this dream after the Bruins selected him with the 85th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
“It was awesome. You always dream about it as a kid. It was unexpected but I just couldn’t be happier.” – Matt Grzelcyk
A first appearance at an NHL rookie development camp can be an intimidating experience for any wide-eyed 18-year-old. Fortunately, Grzelcyk and his fellow members of the Boston Bruins 2012 draft class were lucky enough to be able to learn from more experienced campers like Tommy Cross and Torey Krug.
“I think guys like Torey Krug and Tommy Cross have been instrumental in helping us rookie guys around. (We were) Probably a little intimidated at first but they made it clear that they’re here for us. I couldn’t be happier to have those guys around.” – Matt Grzelcyk
Beginning the week with a set of realistic goals can also play a major part in creating a successful development camp experience for any rookie. This was no different for young Matt Grzelcyk, who was out to improve his strength while learning some valuable tricks of the trade from some of the camp veterans.
“Coming into the camp, I obviously knew that I have to get bigger and stronger. I try to learn off these guys. Body positioning, things like that, just see how the older guys handle themselves as well.” – Matt Grzelcyk
Future: At just 5’9″, 171 pounds, many teams were scared off by Grzelcyk’s small stature. Despite being considered undersized throughout most of his hockey career, Grzelcyk earned himself a spot on USA Hockey’s National Development Team for two years and a full-boat scholarship to Boston University to skate under legendary head hockey coach Jack Parker.
Grzelcyk is set to begin his collegiate career this fall on a Terriers team chock full of future NHLers with the potential to compete for a Hockey East Conference Championship. Garrett Noonan (Nashville Predators), Sam Kurker (St. Louis Blues) and Matt Nieto (San Jose Sharks) are just a few of the many talented names that Grzelcyk should have the opportunity to play with this season down on Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue.
In his first year at Boston University, Grzelcyk hopes to focus on improving his physical stature to help himself become a tougher player to go up against for opposing forwards.
“I’m just trying to focus on putting on as much pounds as I can and trying to get more physically mature.” — Matt Grzelcyk
Potential: There are two things about Matt Grzelcyk that will never come into question: talent and compete level. A nose-to-the-grindstone type mentality that will surely make Grzelcyk a fan favorite in Boston and perfectly fit in to the Bruins’ locker room culture more than makes up for what the blueliner lacks in size.
As a smooth-skating defenseman with superb on-ice vision, Grzelcyk reminds me a lot of retired Red Wings’ defenseman Brian Rafalski.
It might be quite a while before you see Grzelcyk make any sort of impact at the NHL level, but in the end, Grzelcyk may turn out to be one of the steals of the 2012 draft with the potential to become an extraordinarily valuable point-producing top-four defenseman.
Please check out the rest of my Boston Bruins prospect reports, published earlier this summer.
D Dougie Hamilton
D Tommy Cross
F Ryan Spooner
D Torey Krug
F Jared Knight