Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Peter Chiarelli's post-lottery conference call and more on Seguin, Hall

Last night, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli met the press after the formal announcement came that the Bruins would select second overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft with the lottery in the books.

They had a 60.8% chance of landing inside the top-two and a relieved Bruins Nation was glad the percentages played out. Sure, winning the thing (18.8%) outright would have been super, but the fact remains that whether it be Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin who goes to Boston, the B's are getting a tremendous talent.

Now, nothing is guaranteed-- as excellent as these two players have been this year, we don't know how they'll fare in the NHL. However, the Boston GM seemed to believe that both of them will be in the big league next season. How much of an impact they'll have for their respective teams remains to be seen, however.

My colleague Doug Flynn and I combined to provide some specific lottery content and analysis for you over at the New England Hockey Journal official website, so I urge you to check it out here, here and here.

This is a big deal not only because it is now starting to look like sending Phil Kessel to a division rival may be vindicated. Yes, Kessel is a proven NHL talent and tallied 30 goals for the second consecutive season, but Seguin or Hall are on the verge of contributing to Boston's fortunes right away, even if we're not sure whether that contribution is going to be along the lines of Joe Thornton's minimal impact in 1997-98 or Patrice Bergeron's more substantial performance in 2003-04.

Speaking of Bergeron, this is starting to look like the scenario which unfolded back in 2002 when veteran forward Bill Guerin left Boston to sign a $9 million per annum deal with the Dallas Stars and under the CBA back then, the B's got the 45th overall compensatory selection in the second round a year later in 2003. Using it on Bergeron, the Bruins benefited from as immediate an impact as possible under the rules back then, getting 16 goals and 39 points plus outstanding two-way play from the rookie in the season right before the lockout. If Hall or Seguin get picked by Boston and is then in the Bruins' lineup on opening night 2010, then you can start to say that this trade balances out. Chiarelli still has a ways to go before proving that surrending Kessel for picks was the right payoff, but an immediate contibution by whomever the team gets at No. 2 would certainly get the puck sliding in that direction.

So, with the 2010 playoffs about to start for Boston in Buffalo, draft watchers can now content themselves with running the debate between Hall and Seguin and not be overly concerned about which of the interesting, but nowhere near as lauded defensemen Cam Fowler, Eric Gudbranson and Brandon Gormley may go with the third overall pick.

Boston caught a huge break in seeing that deal with Toronto in June (7th overall pick, Tomas Kaberle) fall through. With all due respect to Kaberle, he's a soft player and would not have provided the Bruins what the team needs to be an over-the-top contender, and if rumor is to be believed that Zack Kassian was the B's target with that pick (Toronto picked Nazem Kadri), he's a decent power forward who has looked much better with Windsor than he did with Peterborough before the trade (for Austin Watson, a first-round prospect in June), Kassian (a Sabres prospect) has nowhere near the skill or upside of Hall and Seguin.

Who knew that the Leafs would go into the tank this year?

Chiarelli claims he didn't envision it, and so this is all so much gravy for the Bruins. They're in the playoffs and if Tuukka Rask can continue his magnificent play, and the others can step up, anything is possible.

An elite talent like Seguin or Hall is going to be the proverbial cherry on top.

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