Thursday, September 04, 2014
A week after Oleg Yevenko was honored as Hockey East’s co-Top Scholar Athlete for his 4.0 grade point average, the UMass rising senior defenseman got another indication that he might not need to put his management degree to use for a while.
Yevenko will take part in Boston Bruins rookie camp next week (July 8-13) at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. NCAA rules allow college hockey players to participate in NHL camps without compromising their eligibility. Inviting a handful of collegians has numerous benefits for NHL teams. It adds roster depth to the workouts, permitting teams to conduct full practices. More importantly it gives them a chance to get an up close look at the development of players they’ve previously drafted, or gain insight on an undrafted players the team might want to sign as a free agent down the road. Yevenko is one of six college players in Bruins camp.
Playing in a camp doesn’t bind either the undrafted player or club to sign or offer contracts in the future, but it’s not uncommon for players to sign with a team they’ve been to camp with. Yevenko, a native of Belarus, who wasn’t drafted as an 18-year-old, had multiple camp invitations, but chose Boston.
“It’s close in terms of locations and it’s a very good organization in terms of developing players. It felt like the right choice,” said Yevenko, whose best chance for a professional future is as a defensive-minded blue-line presence and as a physical player. His offense has been limited with just one point, an assist, in 32 games last year as a junior.
At 6-foot-7, Yevenko is one of the tallest players in all of college hockey. He’s paid added attention to the Bruins during his college career to watch Boston defenseman Zdeno Charra, the NHL’s tallest player at 6-foot-9.
“The Bruins are an organization known for developing their defensemen. They have a big defenseman, so I’m sure there’s a lot to learn there. He’s probably one of the best defenseman in the NHL,” Yevenko said. “It’s similar — his size and my size — so I definitely try to watch him and the way he does things as much as I can.”
Yevenko was eager to get to camp.
“I’m excited for it. It’s going to be a good opportunity to show what kind of player I am and let the organization become more familiar with me. You get to play against a lot of good players and with a lot of good players,” he said. “It’s a chance to evaluate yourself and to see how good of a player you are compared to other good players. After college I’m hoping to play professional hockey. I’ll work hard to get there. Going to development camp is a step toward that direction.”
Yevenko will be one of five members of the 2013-14 Minutemen who’ll be in rookie camps. Brandon Montour, a second-round draft pick of the Anaheim Ducks, is in camp with them. Frank Vatrano, Adam Phillips and Steve Mastalerz have camp invites which haven’t been officially announced yet.
Former Minuteman Conor Sheary, who finished the 2013-14 season for Scranton Wilkes-Barre Penguins after UMass was eliminated from the Hockey East playoffs, will be in Penguins rookie camp as well.
Matt Vautour can be reached at email@example.com. Get UMass coverage delivered in your Facebook news feed at www.facebook.com/GazetteUMassCoverage