As we continue to count down the hours before the start of festivities in Pittsburgh, the Boston Bruins 2012 NHL Draft picture remains murky.
Who should they pick in round-one? Which players will even be available?
Those are the questions Peter Chiarelli & Co. are discussing at this very moment, as the clock ticks towards Edmonton’s opening selection. Their position – twenty-fourth overall – is far from ideal, and certainly lacks the luster of their two previous drafts when the Bruins possessed the second and ninth selections, respectively. It’s much less probable that they walk away with an ‘impact’ player.
Still, twenty-fourth hasn’t been unkind in the past: Mike Richards, Daniel Briere, Alex Steen and T.J. Oshie represent the cream of the crop at this position in recent memory.
The problem lies with the current class – which is arguably shallower than many in recent memory and which seems to taper rather rapidly in the first, depending on your vantage point. Worse still, this season’s draft ‘tiers’ seem to indicate a significant drop-off right around the B’s pick at 24.
Additionally, this draft-class is heavily weighted towards defensemen. Arguably twelve of the top-24 players in the draft are blueliner. And while another blue-chip defenseman is something the organization will be on the lookout for, they’ve tended to avoid rearguards early during Chiarelli’s tenure: Partly due to need, but also due to the greater inherent risk in drafting and developing defensemen.
Of course, Bruins fans should have some faith in the Chiarelli team, which has delivered several excellent talents to Boston even after their initial high picks in recent seasons. That said, even the best and most confident scouts will acknowledge the major role luck plays in each selection – and more and more as the distance from first overall increases.
Yes, some 2012 NHL Draft mocks (including my own) have the Bruins securing a player who’s a good fit. However, the basic truth – that it’s improbable they’ll obtain the kid they want at twenty-four – should provoke the B’s into seriously considering moving the pick.
The Bruins current situation as top contenders has provoked a number of NHL rumor-mongers to suggest the B’s are chasing a franchise winger on the trade-market – and that their first-rounder is just one of the chips in the potential deal. Rick Nash and Bobby Ryan represent just two of the names that Boston fans see linked to their franchise almost daily. They encourage some lively discussions – but don’t seem based in the B’s current salary-cap or roster-construction reality.
Nevertheless, a trade makes sense – just not for an established star. Bruins’ management should be actively working on setting-up draft-day trades to move up and down the ladder.
The subject certainly hasn’t escaped the B’s. During the NHL Draft Combine, New England Hockey Journal’s Kirk Luedeke pointed out:
“ … aggressively moving out of the 24th spot makes a lot of sense for a team that has some assets in the form of roster players and prospects to jump up some slots to get the guy they want.”
The direction of the trade doesn’t matter. A modest move up into the top-20 (perhaps swapping with Chicago at 18) would give the B’s several solid options to choose from. At least a few of Brady Skjei, Matt Finn, Slater Koekkoek, Olli Määttä and Derrick Pouliot should still be around.
The B’s may try to jump even higher if someone like Morgan Rielly – arguably the best offensive-defenseman in this class (and certainly on Boston’s radar) – falls past ten.
However, if the Bruins are more interested in drafting a Dalton Thrower, Ludvig Bystrom, Damon Severson or Ville Pokka; they should consider a move into the back-end of round-one or early on the second-day. They’d pick up another asset (perhaps a second-rounder) and get the guy they want at a much more appropriate location.
There’s a chance – not a good one – that the Bruins’ stand-pat and get the guy they want at 24. That will indicate the B’s were set on drafting a forward (likely one of Nicolas Kerdiles, Phil Di Giuseppe, Tomáš Hertl or Tom Wilson) or a goaltender. It could also mean that their desired defenseman who just happened to fall into their laps.
In any case, it behooves the Bruins to move to get their target – up or down – and not let the draft’s inherent uncertainty hurt their chances of securing the rights of the player they covet the most. Future evaluations of the Boston Bruins 2012 NHL Draft may depend on successful movement in either direction.
For more NHL Draft news, profiles and insight: Head over to THW’s Dedicated 2012 Draft Page – The Next Ones
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Bob is a Boston Bruins Correspondent for The Hockey Writers. He lives in the Boston Metro Area with his wife, Amanda and their five-year-old son, Cormac.