The Boston Bruins organization is full of talented prospects. There’s no doubting the potential. The Bruins have so many talented young players, in fact, that they own the Eastern Conference’s best record while playing a lot of those prospects at the NHL level. For an AHL affiliate like Providence, the P-Bruins get to reap the benefits of a deep organization. The P-Bruins have compiled a 41-24-3-2 record by using a mix of prospects and veterans. Two forwards in particular are now veterans of the organization and invaluable to the P-Bruins’ lineup.
Providing Dependability for P-Bruins
Colby Cave and Colton Hargrove have three NHL games combined between the two of them in a combined six seasons in the organization. However, the duo has provided a reliable presence for Jay Leach’s squad this season.
Cave has the three appearances for Boston. He was called up in December when illness struck the NHL club and most recently against the Lightning this week. The North Battleford, Saskatchewan native was signed as a free agent after four seasons with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. Cave captained the Broncos in his final two junior seasons.
The undrafted center was second on the Broncos in his final year of junior hockey, trailing only linemate and current Bruin Jake DeBrusk. Now in his third season in the Bruins organization, it only took Cave one season to earn a letter on his jersey for the P-Bruins. He was named an alternate captain before the 2016-17 season.
Cave is a solid two-way player who improved steadily every year in Swift Current to earn a professional contract. His 35 goals, 40 assists, and 75 points in 72 games in 2014-15 don’t jump off the page by junior hockey standards, but his versatility has proved invaluable to the organization since his signing. In his most recent call-up, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy had Cave out on the penalty kill in a crucial late-season game with Tampa Bay.
In a league where rosters can change quickly over the course of the season, Cave has been a mainstay in the P-Bruins’ lineup over the last three seasons. He’s missed a total of three games in three seasons, missing two this year with the call-ups. His most recent call to Boston was about more than reliability. Cave has an 11-22-33 stat line in 68 games this season but had been on a recent tear with 7-4-11 over his last 15 games.
Hargrove Improving Complete Game
Hargrove, like Cave, joined the Providence Bruins during the 2015-16 season. Unlike Cave, Hargrove was a draft pick, selected in the seventh round of the 2012 NHL draft. The Rockwall, Texas native took a different path than Cave to land in Providence. Hargrove spent three seasons at Western Michigan University before signing with the Bruins organization.
The 6-foot-1, nearly 205-pound winger provides the P-Bruins energy as a straight-line, physical forward. When he played under current Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy his first season in Providence, Cassidy remarked Hargrove needed to improve his 200-foot game. Cave’s versatility may be a reason he has earned some games at the NHL level while Hargrove has yet to get a chance. However, the Texan’s offensive game has steadily improved at the AHL level. While he works on a more complete game, Hargrove still knows how to find the back of the net.
Check out Hargrove's goal!! pic.twitter.com/soAS0rTMh4
— Providence Bruins (@AHLBruins) January 14, 2018
Although he’s lost some time to injury, Hargrove is close to tying his career high in points. He’s currently sitting at 28, just two shy of his high of 30. He’s done that in considerably fewer games, appearing in 46 this year compared to the 66 games he played in 2015-16 when he set the mark. That’s a 0.61 points-per-game average this season compared to his former career best of 0.45. While he may never be a top-six forward at any level, he’s provided steady contributions in the P-Bruins’ lineup. To win at the AHL level, having a pair of AHL veterans in the lineup willing to accept a certain role is crucial to success.
A life-long follower of the game of hockey. Communications experience with the AHL’S Portland Pirates, and a former coach at the college club level. Covering the Providence Bruins and prospects.