Business has slowed but hasn’t stopped in the NHL during the shutdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
Teams have been signing their own draft picks and also chasing down NCAA free agents. In the past couple weeks, the Bruins’ crack staff of NCAA free agent trackers came through again with the signing of defensemen Nick Wolff and Jack Ahcan.
The Skate Podcast co-host Matt Kalman recently caught up with both players for a bonus edition of the podcast.
Wolff, out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, won two national titles with the Bulldogs and was their co-captain this past season. At 6-foot-5, 230 pounds he might look like the type of player that’s being phased out in the quicker, speedier NHL. But Wolff’s confident his game will translate to the pros, and there’s someone in a Bruins sweater that provides him inspiration.
“Well look at Chara,” Wolff said. “He’s been there for however many years, 20-odd years, so obviously yeah I look up to Chara and shape my game after his. But you know I’m not going to change anything different by the way the game’s changing. I’m an open-ice big hitter, hard to play against the D zone, and I’m not going to change that. I’m going to be a pest to play against and if I have to jump up in the rush too I’ll do that too. But I just want to be a pest to play against.”
Ahcan, out of St. Cloud State, is on the other side of the size coin. He comes in at 5-8, 185 pounds, and he emulates another current Bruins player. Should Torey Krug stick around next season, Ahcan is looking forward to meeting him and getting a closer look at the fellow left-shot blueliner.
“Yeah, I’ve watched him ever since he’s been in the league,” Ahcan said. “He’s obviously been a huge influence for me. Even the way the Boston Bruins play is always fun. But I think it’s one thing that will kind of help out is maybe mentoring a little bit. Like if we’re both there, if I end up having a good camp or whatever, if I can learn from him and everybody’s seen the type of success that he’s had, I think that would be a huge step in just being a sponge and just listening to him or just watching him play how he plays. Because the comparison is there and I mean I’ve tried to model my game as much as I can from him because he’s a great player.”
Wolff and Ahcan also talked more about their collegiate careers, their reasons for signing with the Bruins and what life is like staying at home while the pandemic unfolds.