Chiarelli, Bruins waiting for their chance at NHL draft
This weekend, the gift that keeps on giving will cease providing its fountain of riches. For the first time since 2009, the Bruins will not have a pick courtesy of the Phil Kessel trade, which shuttled three of Toronto’s selections their way.
In 2010, the Bruins drafted Tyler Seguin with the No. 2 pick. Seguin was the team’s leading scorer as a second-year pro in 2011-12. With the No. 32 pick, the Bruins drafted Jared Knight. The 20-year-old Knight projects to be a top-nine NHL forward once he racks up some pro mileage in Providence.
Last season, the Bruins picked Dougie Hamilton with the No. 9 selection. Hamilton was named the OHL Defenseman of the Year in 2011-12. Hamilton should break camp with the big club in 2012-13. The Bruins believe Hamilton will be a top-two defenseman with offensive touch and a shutdown presence.
This year, the Bruins won’t be called to the podium at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center until late on Friday night. The Bruins have the 24th overall pick, the lowest they’ve drafted in the first round since 2009. That year, the Bruins drafted Jordan Caron with the 25th selection.
So far, Caron projects to be a third-line NHL wing. The 21-year-old has yet to establish himself as a consistent NHLer.
Back to reality.
“We have to really go into more different combinations and scenarios for a later pick if the player goes there,’’ Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said during a conference call Monday. “If you’re moving down to get that player, there are a lot more scenarios to discuss. The quality of player, while still good, is obviously not as good at that point. Those players are higher up. You really have to drill down more. There are more meetings and discussions at a more minute detail on these players.’’
The Bruins also have picks in the third, fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. They lost their second-round pick as a condition of the Tomas Kaberle trade when they advanced to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Last summer, they traded their fourth-round pick to Carolina for Joe Corvo.
The game-breaking talent the Bruins drafted in Seguin and Hamilton won’t be available when they make their first-round selection Friday. In all likelihood, the player will be a teenager who returns to his junior or college club for at least two more seasons. Once he turns professional, he will go through the usual development process involving a stop in Providence.
Instead of the slam-dunk decisions they had in Seguin and Hamilton, the Bruins’ inner circle - Chiarelli, assistant GMs Jim Benning and Don Sweeney, president Cam Neely, director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith, assistant director of amateur scouting Scott Fitzgerald, and director of player personnel Scott Bradley - will hunt for future NHLers whose futures may not be so high-definition clear.
“We’ll identify a cluster of players that, we feel, there’ll probably be two or three there when we pick,’’ Chiarelli said. “It’s tough trading down to gauge where he might fall. But you at least want to address those scenarios. At the table, we’ll have five or six trade-down scenarios and five or six trade-up scenarios. I’ll try to cue up, or at least plant the seeds, for Friday and flesh them out as the draft progresses.’’
Nail Yakupov is considered the runaway favorite to be the first overall pick. Edmonton currently has the No. 1 selection, although the Oilers may trade down. After Yakupov, experts believe there is a second tier of seven or eight solid players. The Bruins are hoping one or two of the preferred targets on their board drop to the No. 24 slot.
Overall, outside of Yakupov, this year’s draft doesn’t feature the high-end talent of earlier seasons. But there are a handful of solid defensemen, led by Matt Dumba. Other defensemen include Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, and Jacob Trouba.
Up front, forwards who might be available include Henrik Samuelsson, son of Ulf Samuelsson, and Stefan Matteau, son of Stephane Matteau.
The Bruins will most likely keep the 24th pick. However, Chiarelli noted the level of trade chatter heading into this year’s draft.
Last season, the Flyers pulled the trigger on two thundering deals, moving Mike Richards to Los Angeles and Jeff Carter to Columbus. This year, the most sought-after piece is Rick Nash. The Rangers chased after Nash prior to the trade deadline. They could make another push for the power forward.
Although the Bruins aren’t expected to be major trade players, Chiarelli is participating in the leaguewide conversation.
“It ramps up right now because there’s picks - the draft picks available on Friday and Saturday,’’ Chiarelli said of trade talks. “Specifically to this year, it’s a function of a shallow pool of free agents. You’ve got teams that may not delve into free agency that are trying to be proactive. They’re trying to acquire guys prior to free agency, because when the pool is shallow, prices get pretty high.’’