The Boston Bruins – to the chagrin of many teams around the league – have been the beneficiaries of some good fortune in the NHL Draft in recent seasons. However, this recent prosperity comes on the heels of some very dark, dry years for the B’s in the draft… Still, will Bruins’ management’s tendencies and recent history evince their 2012 selection?
The Bruins have drafted thirty-one players during Peter Chiarelli’s tenure in Boston and the franchise’s decisions evince some rather interesting tendencies:
Almost a third of the Bruins’ picks since the start of the Chiarelli era hail from the OHL: This includes two first-round selections (Seguin and Hamilton), half of the B’s early-round picks and more than half of all their early- and mid-round picks during Chiarelli’s term in office. Ontario gets plenty of love from Boston.
The Bruins have refused to go on the defensive… at least in-terms of the Draft. Since his first selection in the summer of 2007, Peter Chiarelli has picked forwards almost exclusively in the top-four rounds. With seventeen early and mid-round picks since 2007, the Bruins selected thirteen forwards. The lone exceptions: Defensemen Tommy Cross (2007 second-round #35) and Dougie Hamilton (2011 first-round #9) and goaltender Michael Hutchinson (2009 third-round #77).
(North) America… F_ Yeah!
The Bruins under Chiarelli seem to have shied away from selecting Europeans early (especially if they play overseas). If one doesn’t consider Max Sauve French (and competing for Canada internationally seems to confirm that…), the Bruins have only picked-up a single Euro national in the first four rounds since 2007 – Alex Khokhlachev (2011 second-round #40).
A search for players from Euro leagues drafted by Boston reveals exactly four – four in five years with thirty-one possible selections. The earliest of these – Denis Reul – came-in hot at 129th overall in 2007. Since 2007, the Bruins have stayed away from European leagues, picking up just two players: Goaltender Lars Volden with the last pick of the sixth-round in 2011 and drafting Max Chudinov with a seventh-round selection the year before.
The Bruins’ selections don’t demonstrate a clear ‘type’ that they draft. Sure, they go for the gritty north-south no-nonsense types with great work ethic (like Knight, Caron and Cross)… but they also have shown a soft-spot for kids with projectable skill and finesse play (including Seguin, Spooner, Sauve and Khokhlachev). The one somewhat-identifiable trend is toward kids with high ‘hockey IQ’ or ‘hockey-sense’: Players who read the game at a high level, can anticipate the play and make decisions quickly and correctly.
Still, with the talent heavily weighted towards defense in this upcoming draft, the Bruins might have to break from their forward-first mentality in the opening round. But will that mean a break from their Euro-shunning and OHL-favoring traditions as well?
If they hold-to all but the forward-first mentality, Matt Finn and Slater Koekkoek fit the bill perfectly. Both play in the OHL (Koekkoek for Peterborough, Finn for Guelph), both have solid two-way upside and there’s a decent chance at least one will be available for the Bruins at 24. Finn’s outstanding hockey-sense might put him over the top, even if he lacks the high-end projections Koekkoek seems to attract.
Either way, the Bruins would come out with a great young player and of course the B’s won’t bias themselves against guys like defenseman Hampus Lindholm from Rögle or Brady Skjei of the U.S. National Team Development Program. Heck, even if they stick to their guns and draft an OHL forward, Tom Wilson and Brendan Gaunce may be available for the taking.
For more NHL Draft news, profiles and insight: Head over to THW’s Dedicated 2012 Draft Page – The Next Ones
Follow Bob Mand on Twitter at @HockeyMand
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.