On Brett Bulmer and Opportunities

Today was to be the day when the proverbial fat cap was to be peeled off the training camp roast; a large collection of bodies were pared off and either sent to Houston or put on waivers with the intention to be sent to Houston. You get the point; a lot of bus tickets doled out to players today.

As it stood, the usual suspects remain, along with a few injured players, and Brett Bulmer.

photo courtesy of The Scouting Report

Mike Russo categorized it as a bit of a "surprise"; and to a certain extent it is. By and large the crop of junior-eligible prospects in the system were jettisoned last week, after being rewarded for their play in Traverse City. Kris Foucault and Zack Phillips, Bulmer's linemates in TC, were sent packing this weekend. The three were Minnesota's top line in the Prospect Tournament, and saw time in some exhibition games as well. The formula was pretty simple; Phillips was the playmaker, Foucault the shooter, and Bulmer was the space maker.
And physical presence.
And gadfly.
That's not to say he's got jack squat on the offensive side of the coin; he's tough with the puck along the walls, he's got a great shot, and not only able to keep up with Foucault and Phillips, but also complement them in a scoring line capacity.

That being said, he is being given every chance to succeed by the Brass. He went to Houston on an Amateur Tryout after his season in Kelowna, and immediately was a part of The Aeros playoff run until a knee injury forced him out. He was supposed to be on a line with Mikael Granlund and Johan Larsson for the Prospect Development Camp Scrimmages, and I just mentioned his role in TC. It plays into this "hands on" development policy The Wild have going on with Bulmer, and the growing of his game. His game is still pretty raw, but its in Minnesota's best interest that they do what they can to accelerate the development curve.

For now it seems that the numbers game is in his favor because of the injuries in Camp to Cody Almond, Matt Kassian, and Casey Wellman, but the key to how long Bulmer stays in Minnesota could be the suspension to Brad Staubitz- Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that he's done for the rest of the preseason plus some of the regular season. If that is true, and coming from Dreger it likely is, then that would open up a roster spot for a couple of games into the regular season, which conceivably could be an opportunity for Bulmer to stay with the big club and see NHL action. Remember, He can play up to nine games and be returned to Kelowna (where he impressed at Rockets Training Camp) without burning a year of his Entry Level Contract, and be returned up til 40 without starting his free agency clock.

But considering the route this regime took with Colton Gillies, essentially banishing him to Houston in order to grow after a year with Minnesota while he was still junior-eligible, one has to wonder why Minnesota would take that route with Bulmer, who is still raw and physically immature, even if he is gritty and willing to take the body on the ice.

4 comments:

  1. I predict he gets his <10 game cup of coffee, and back to juniors. Fletcher has shown a great deal more sensibility about these things, and consciously trying to rotate prospects thru short stints as both reward and development.

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  2. Remember how indecisive Gillies looked his first year? Gillies is over it now obviously, but I don't think Bulmer has ever suffered from it. Where Gillies looked like he was constantly trying to figure out what he was supposed to be doing I think Bulmer either knows already or will fake it and just plow forward with his own game plan. I don't think he'll stay beyond 10 games if he gets there, but if he were up here I don't think his growth would be stunted.

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  3. He's still only a buck eighty-five on a 6'3" frame. For the game he wants to play, in the NHL, he'll stay healthy longer when he has some beef on him. He may not have Gillies confidence issues, but he still has man-body issues vs what his game needs to be.

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  4. One thing which popped out immediately was the comparison to Cody Almond and the time it took to develop. Remember that many considered Bulmer to be a reach at #36 and while he is being given a deserved opportunity right now, he is still putting his game together.

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