Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Boston Bruins 2011 Draft Picks Update: 30 June

By popular request, here is the latest on Bruins picks for the 2011 Draft.

Right now, B's are looking at eight selections, with a third- and seventh-rounder already having been traded, but extra 1st, 2nd, 4th-rounders having been picked up, with the possibility that the 4th could turn into a third if Phoenix re-ups Derek Morris.

One of those 2011 first-rounders will turn into a nice bargaining chip at next March's trade deadline if the Bruins are solidly in contention. We'll have to wait and see.

Boston Bruins 2011 Draft Picks

1st Round- 2
Boston
Toronto (Completes Phil Kessel trade)

2nd Round- 2
Boston
Minnesota (Completes Chuck Kobasew trade)

3rd Round- 0
Traded to Florida in Nathan Horton deal; June, 2010

4th Round- 2
Boston
Phoenix (Completes Derek Morris trade)*
*Becomes third-round pick if Morris re-signs with Coyotes

5th Round- 1
Boston

6th Round- 1
Boston

7th Round- 0
Traded to Chicago for their 7th rounder in 2010 (Zach Trotman)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Bruins top-10 prospects list (vacuum packed)

Per request, I'm going to hit you with my as-of-today, Boston Bruins top prospects listing as I see it on June 29th. Now, this list is being created in a vacuum, so I will reserve the right to adjust and publish a more comprehensive list after I attend the B's development camp next week.

I'll follow up with the other requests I've received this week, because as much as I want to take a break, it's just not really in my blood. Must be all the years I spent on tanks...when you can go about three days without sleep at a time during field exercises and combat operations, you tend to figure out that rest is overrated.

Anyway- here's the top-10 list with brief snippets on each player. At the conclusion of camp, I will publish a comprehensive listing with detailed profiles on every prospect in attendance.

For now, this should serve as a nice bridge to get us there.

Boston Bruins Prospects Pre-development camp edition

1. Tyler Seguin, C
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft goes right to the head of the class in Beantown (and probably won't be there long because he's going to make the team next year). The Bruins think so highly of him that they have allowed him to claim No. 19, last worn in November, 2005 by Joe Thornton in Boston. It also happens to be the same digits that Seguin's idol, Steve Yzerman, wore in his 20+ year Hall of Fame career in Detroit. Seguin is as good a prospect as the Bruins have had since Thornton, but my feel after being around him for a few days in L.A. and having talked to him several times during the season is that he's more mature and better ready to make the transition to the NHL than Thornton was in 1997.

2. Joe Colborne, C/LW
Colborne took over for Tuukka Rask as Boston's top prospect in 2009-10, but he doesn't have Seguin's skill and upside, so he's back to being No. 2. At 6-5, he's got the kind of size most can only dream of having. He left Denver University after two years and had an excellent sophomore year, his scoring taking off after moving to the wing. He got some good seasoning in Providence at the tail end of the year, but showed he's clearly not ready for primetime in Boston. He's going to have his ups and downs in 10-11, but the team will be patient and keep grooming him for a job up the middle with the big club.

3. Jordan Caron, RW
The left-shooting power (off)winger may lack ideal scoring upside, but don't count him out as a 30-goal or more guy one day. He does a lot of things well and is a horse along the wall and down low/in front of the net. He's not a fighter, but plays with a lot of energy and is a smart, dedicated, coachable player. Watch for him to earn Providence coach Rob Murray's trust off the bat, and if he can stay healthy, may be among the best in the AHL rookie class this year. I thought that prior to the collarbone fracture at Team Canada evaluation camp Caron could have hit 50 goals in the 'Q' and after he struggled to find his timing upon returning to action in November, he hit his stride nicely once he was traded to Rouyn-Noranda, scoring at that kind of a pace.

4. Maxime Sauve, C/LW
The blazing fast center will likely move to wing given Boston's surplus of talent up the middle, but he's got to get stronger in order to play regularly in the NHL. He impressed at training camp and preseason a year ago, but could benefit from a full year on the farm; there's no need to rush or expect him to be in Boston right away unless he plays so well as to leave the team no choice but to keep him on. The wheels and hands are what get him noticed on the ice right away, but he's actually got some pretty nice offensive hockey sense to boot. He needs to work on his defensive awareness, but as the son and nephew of NHL players, he grew up around pro hockey and knows what he needs to do in order to be successful.

5. Yuri Alexandrov, D
The 37th overall pick in 2006 signed a two-year deal and is skilled and experienced enough to make the Boston roster out of camp so long as he can prove he's strong enough to handle the NHL grind. He's put up very nice numbers for a KHL defenseman and has some interesting potential if he continues to develop. Remember that because he's been playing pro hockey since the age of 17 that he's not your average North American rookie. His biggest challenge will be the smaller ice surface and cultural transition and not the level of play, but don't be surprised to see him in Boston quite a bit next year.

6. Jared Knight, RW
A bit of a surprise pick at 32nd overall on Saturday, Knight has scored some outstanding goals for his namesake club in junior. Although not invited to the draft combine, his agent, Murray Kuntz, did a brilliant job of marketing his client to NHL teams and the B's were obviously smitten with Knight's natural shooting ability, production and tenacity. On the downside, he's under six-feet and is a barely average skater needing some hitch in his stride. Also, one NHL scout I talked to really wanted to like Knight, but told me that he's done most of his damage on the power play and needs to improve his 5-on-5 play next season; didn't feel he was all that creative (at least for himself) and really benefited from playing with Nazem Kadri.

7. Brad Marchand, LW
The infusion of pure talent into the organization has dropped Marchand down the depth chart a bit, but he got a chance to play in Boston last season and proved he belonged, even if he wasn't able to find the back of the net (one assist). Marchand's value lies in his speed, sandpaper game and clutch play. He's been an outstanding find in the third round of the '06 draft and you could certainly make an argument to have him higher on the list, but in the end, I don't see a lot of offense from him at the NHL level unless he takes a quantum leap in his development. Still, he's a player for all of the other reasons.

8. Ryan Spooner, C
The small but highly skilled pivot became the first 16-year-old in Peterborough's long and storied history to score 30 goals in 2009, but a fractured collarbone last January cost him 21 games and a chance to make a definitive statement as a first-round pick. He's a very talented forward with some real speed and will go back to junior with the chance to put up a lot of points while he continues to get stronger. I thought he was a terrific value at 45th overall; one mock draft had him going 20th overall to Pittsburgh, and I have a hunch that he was a first-rounder on more than one NHL team draft list.

9. Zach Hamill, C
The most polarizing prospect in Boston's system earned a little breathing room for himself when he rebounded from a horrific start in Providence last season, finished the year strong and earned his first NHL callup to Boston for the 09-10 year's final game, earning an assist. He's criticized mainly for being the eighth pick in a down draft, but he looks like he could be a serviceable NHLer on the third line and on special teams in time because of his soft hands and elite hockey IQ. Strength/adding mass to his lean frame and getting quicker continue to be his biggest obstacles to a regular spot in Boston, but if the team runs into salary cap issues, Hamill might not be that terrible an option for the bottom line.

10. David Warsofsky, D
He's on the list ahead of Button, Cross and McQuaid because of the upside. Yes, he's tiny. But, the beautiful skater has the hands, shot and sense to overcome his size deficit. Oh, and he's pretty pugnacious, too. When Peter Chiarelli first announced the trade in the post-draft media scrum at the Staples Center on Saturday, my first thought was that Vladimir Sobotka was being swapped for a carbon copy version of himself on defense. I believe he's a guy who can be more than the sum of his impressive parts in time. I heard from one insider at the draft that the South Shore (Marshfield) standout may have been bored in the NCAA at times last year, so he'll certainly get his challenge in the AHL. I also thought his manhandling of the bigger, stronger Cross in front of the net in the Fenway game between BU and BC was something to behold: heart-- you can't teach it.

On the bubble: Ryan Button, D; Adam McQuaid, D; Jamie Arniel, C; Tommy Cross, D

* Fluto Shinzawa reported in the Boston Globe that B's 7th-rounder Maxim Chudinov will not be at development camp next week. Chudinov projects around 15 on Boston's prospect rankings...I will do a more comprehensive list with scouting reports and background info. after development camp.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Back at home base

I had a great time in Los Angeles, but I'm back on the East Coast and it's nice to be home. Weather in SoCal was fabulous, though. For real. Came back to 90% humidity here...bleccch.

Was in the air when the Mark Recchi post-signing conference call happened, but he'll be very, very good not only for Tyler Seguin, but all the young kids who will be around him in training camp. He's a pro who will show them what right looks like.

OK. We have some time before prospects development camp, so what would you guys like to see on here between now and then?

Boston Bruins 2010 draft: the day after Pt 2 of 2

Continuing on with the post-draft breakdown of the Boston Bruins' 2010 haul in Los Angeles, I thought that they did a solid job to close out the second day in the last two rounds.

In Round Six, they grabbed the very raw Zane Gothberg, a Minnesota high schooler from the border (with North Dakota) town of Thief River Falls. Opinions are a little divided on this kid, but I like the pick for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that Gothberg has some very good upside to go with his sterling character and work ethic. Another positive to the selection is that Gothberg is a long-term project, so given Boston's situation right now with Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas with the big team and Mike Hutchinson (third-rounder in '08) on the farm, there is absolutely no sense of urgency to get him in the mix. He'll have all the time to develop in the meantime, and that's looking like one or two years in the USHL with the Fargo Force followed by three, maybe four years at the University of North Dakota (depending on their goalie situation) before he's going to be ready to even be discussed as an option for Boston.

I've been told he's a highly skilled kid who has a great personality. One person went so far as to say the way he (Gothberg) talks reminds him of the William H. Macy character from the 90's movie "Fargo" after slamming a double espresso, and he meant that in a good way; that the youngster is extremely enthusiastic and is brimming with confidence and it shows when you talk to him (that edit was for Bruins fan "Pie O My" who apparently didn't get the meaning of the Macy character reference).

I give the pick a B+. Gothberg has some real potential down the road and was a solid value in the sixth round to boot-- Central Scouting had him as their sixth goalie among North Americans. He's done well enough to get an invite to the Team USA World Jr. Evaluation Camp, and although he's not likely to make the cut, that he's on the roster shows that Gothberg has done well to get himself on USA Hockey's radar.

In the seventh round, the Bruins addressed the defense position, grabbinig a pair of 20-year-olds in Russian Maxim Chudinov and a third Michigander in Zach Trotman of the once-formidable Lake Superior State Lakers on the cold, cold Upper Penninsula town of Sault Ste. Marie.

Chudinov has gotten more than a few thumbs-up from scouts I talked to at the draft who had seen him. Red Line Report's Kyle Woodlief was particularly enthused, saying: "I think he's a really good player. He's got nice skills and also plays a physical game as well. He's not all that tall, but he's got a squat build and has very strong legs which generate a lot of power in his skating and gives him the leverage to get up under guys who are maybe a little taller or wider, but not as strong on their skates."

Peter Chiarelli told us all afterward that although the team normally shies away from Russians (told ya) this was an exception because the team had real discussions with Chudinov and his agent, who are close with B's prospect Yuri Alexandrov on the Cherepovets KHL team. We're still trying to figure out if Chudinov is going to come over on July 6-10 for Bruins development camp, but it looks like he's expected to sign in two more years and after four years of KHL play at 22 by that time, he could be ready to step in and contribute right away.

I give the pick a solid B, with waffling toward a B+ because of his edginess. This is one of those players who very well could be ready to immediately make an impact once he's ready, but at the same time, we need to temper expectations and remember that he's a seventh-rounder and probably doesn't have top-pairing potential, even with some nice numbers in the KHL. Just a good, solid versatile guy who can play it both ways, but is stronger and a little nastier piece of work than most Russians. He might be cut from the similar cloth as former Detroit Red Wings star Vladimir Konstantinov, without the size and higher-end skill, but same kind of player and on-ice mentality.

Trotman has the nice, tall frame (6-3) and expects to fill out the lanky build with about 30 pounds of solid muscle when all is said and done. He's got pretty good feet, but lacks the vision and hands to be much more than a mobile shutdown guy in the pros. At the same time, the Bruins liked his character and drive, and saw some real potential in the kid as a late-bloomer.

Again, we're talking about the very last pick in the 2010 draft here, so while you obviously don't get too high about it, you have to be realistic if you're looking to be critical. I was told he's a solid guy who's going to play a lot of minutes in the next few years and is probably a longshot anyway. The Bruins could have done much worse, and who knows? Maybe Trotman ends up being one of those guys who overachieves and surprises a lot of people in time. Pick grade: C+

Now, as to why the Bruins didn't trade for any defensemen who fell, or grab any early in the second round... I think once again, it illustrates the team's philosophy of Best Player Available. Even though they grabbed Seguin 2nd and then followed up with Knight 32nd when guys like Justin Faulk, Alex Petrovic, Jon Merrill, etc. were there, and then went with Spooner at 45 when they weren't just tells you that they simply do not deviate from the method of stockpiling talent in the early rounds. Although Chiarelli said he was surprised that Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley fell, he didn't entertain the serious notion of trading up for them, which surprised a lot of folks, myself included. But at the end of the day, while WE may think highly of said players, the team evaluated them on- and off the ice and decided the risk-to-benefit simply wasn't there.

Right, wrong, good or indifferent, it looks like 2011 may be the year where the Bruins could try to load up on a real option for the blue line. Or, they've added enough prospects up front in this class, that they could do something similar to what happened with their trading of Vladimir Sobotka for David Warsofsky, whom I've always liked as a great skater and real skill guy who brings great intangibles to the mix. He's the classic overachiever, even though he's yet another undersized defenseman for the Bruins, but try finding someone who has a bad word to say about him, NHL or otherwise, and you'll be looking for a while.

I still remember the way he manhandled Tommy Cross in the BU-BC game at Fenway last January, and this was from a guy who gave away four-to-five inches and about 20 pounds. I don't know exactly what Warsofsky's upside is, but he's better than most of Boston's prospects on 'D' and has that special compete/fiery intangible to his game that coaches will love. I suspect he'll find a way to be a player for the B's sooner than people think.

Well, it's time to start getting ready to head to the airport to wing my way back to the East Coast. I had a nice time here seeing so many people I know and meeting new folks. I thank all who have taken the time to read and post great feedback. I'm probably going to take a little bit of a rest this week unless I get some breaking news, but will be back and then after the July 4th holiday, it'll be off to Boston to see the new guys on the ice.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Boston Bruins 2010 draft: the day after Pt 1 of 2

I've slept on what transpired in Los Angeles over the past two days (and not much, mind you- we had a very nice time out and about Friday and Saturday nights w/ a sincere h/t to our new pals in the NHL) and I've got to grade the Boston Bruins draft a solid 'B'.

Anytime you can come out of it with a high-end player of Tyler Seguin's caliber, well...let's just say that they could have had not one more pick and the organization is better today than it was on Friday at 4 pm local (Pacific). That said, there was some things to like about the draft and some other head-scratchers that make you kind of just shrug and leave you no choice but to wait and see how it all plays out.

Seguin was the no-brainer. Let's face it- we all pretty much knew that once Taylor Hall grabbed the CHL by the throat by leading Windsor's galaxy of stars all the way through the OHL and Memorial Cup that he was going to be the guy for Edmonton. And, there were plenty of Boston fans who were more than happy to let that transpire and welcome Seguin with open arms.

There's no more need to rehash Seguin here; he's an A+ pick and the man of the hour in Boston right now. After hanging out with him a bit this week in L.A. at the Target Terrace, I'm convinced that the team scored huge with this kid. I was equally impressed with Hall for his gamesmanship and big stage presence when it comes to winning games, but Seguin is a better fit personality-wise for the team and is simply a mature, polished player who is ready to take on the NHL next season.

Jared Knight was an interesting selection at 32. The Bruins made it abundantly clear that they liked this guy enough to take him at 15, which would likely have spawned a Dylan McIlrath-to-the-Rangersian reaction from a lot of Boston fans. Now, Peter Chiarelli did caveat that statement with the fact that Knight was the last of the cluster of four or five guys the B's targeted at 15 before they dealt the pick to Florida for Nathan Horton this week.

I have to give credit to the B's staff for their subterfuge in disguising their genuine love for Knight, which dates back to last season based on some of amateur scouting chief Wayne Smith's comments yesterday. They did a great job of keeping their interest in Knight very cool and under the radar, which is the way the team likes to operate. I didn't catch wind of the legitimate interest until I found out he was in Boston visiting last week and by then, I had pretty well missed the bus on Knight. Kudos to Mark Edwards, Alex Linsky and the guys over at HockeyProspect.com who had Knight highly ranked because their interest in the undersized but dangerous forward mirrored Boston's.

I've got to give the pick a B- because even though he has the high-end offensive tools and the major league shot, I've not gotten raves about his overall game from two of my OHL sources outside of Boston. I think that had the B's grabbed Ryan Spooner at 32 and Knight at 45, it would make more sense to me, but then again, what do I know? Knight could end up being every bit the scoring presence the B's think he's going to be. I'll have a better idea when I see him at camp and I do respect the hell out of a guy who markets himself like he did after getting snubbed by Central and not getting an invite to the combine.

Spooner...well, what can I say? I felt like Rob Schneider's old early 90's SNL character "Orgasm Guy" (Oh god, Oh god, Ooooh) when they announced the pick. In fact, I was talking to one of my OHL sources in early May who was adamant that Spooner would not be available to Boston at 32 let alone 45. And, he absolutely loved him, I would add.

Undersized? Yep. Needs to add strength? Uh huh. An effing amazing skater who has the stones and chops to get it done all over the ice? You betcha. Spooner gets a solid 'A' from me.

Now, after missing out on the third round, I thought there were some intriguing options available in the fourth to the Bruins, so I was more than surprised when Craig Cunningham's name was announced at 97 (in another little twist, he led Vancouver with 97 points). The instant I heard it, my thought was, "Oh, great- I just got MacDermid'd", which is exactly what that pick was. Skilled guy? Sure. Hard working? Yes. But an early September 1990 birthdate who had been previously passed over. Now, I've heard very good things about him both as a player and a person.

Mark Stowe, who's a player agent based in the Pacific Northwest (he represents former Bruin Shaone Morrisonn for one) and knows him well thinks very highly of Cunningham, and believes that he has the skill and moxie to make something of himself in Boston. I respect that, and I appreciate Stowe's efforts to shed some light on the player the Giants like to call "Richie."

The B's also got a solid character reference from Milan Lucic, who is tight with Cunningham and just the other day was working out with him and joking that the Bruins were going to bring him in. Boston's Western Canada scout, Dean Malkoc, was a major impetus behind the pick, so it will be interesting to see where Cunningham goes from here. He's ready to contribute right away and they'll need him in Providence. I think he's like a Marty St. Pierre, personally-- he'll end up being a pretty good AHL scorer in time and will help in a pinch, but top-six forward in the NHL? That's a tall order. My grade: C+ (because of the speed, skill and universal praise for his character)

The Bruins MacDermid'd us again in the fifth round when they grabbed May 1990 birthdate Justin Florek out of Northern Michigan. Big guy, good hands, good hockey sense...not a great skater. Maybe that's why he got passed over twice; third time was the charm. I heard some OK things about him from Red Line's Max Giese (who is, by the way, one of the most hard-working independent scouts out there- he's going places), but I guess I have a harder time getting on board with someone who seems to be a big kid, good guy, but simply hasn't done a great deal to stand out. Now, I do know that at least one NHL team was surprised that Florek was passed over in '09, so maybe, just maybe he did enough this year to get over the hump. But, I keep thinking that Troy Rutkowski of Portland might have been a better roll of the dice in the fifth. He went two spots after Florek did to Colorado at 137 overall. Grade: C-

OK- gotta run. I'll be back later with more analysis and a final recap of the draft.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Spooner to the Bruins at 45



The B's continued their tour of the Ontario Hockey League when they selected Peterborough Petes star Ryan Spooner.
I've heard a lot of real good things about this kid from my OHL sources. Personally, I would have flip-flopped the picks of Knight and Spooner, but these are two highly skilled scoring forwards. They don't have a lot of size, but they can really get it done in the offensive end.
Here's what I wrote about Spooner on the Bruins 2010 Draft Watch blog in a post called "Here Come the Little Guys" back in February.
Ryan Spooner, C Peterborough Petes (OHL) 5-10, 177
Another super-fast, game-breaking scorer from the Ontario League, Spooner showed what he is capable of in the CHL Top Prospects Game, when he finished off a 2-on-1 break with Taylor Hall. Spooner has excellent speed and always keeps his feet moving, which is sure to earn him high marks from scouts. He may not quite have Skinner's natural touch around the net, but he's got the wheels and intensity to make NHL teams forget about his small, light frame. He hasn't had a lot of help in Peterborough this year scoring-wise, but he's shown to have the kind of character and ability to come through despite increased checking pressure that makes him a player to watch, especially if he slips out of Round One. Author's Note- A broken collarbone suffered by Spooner in January will probably impact his draft status negatively. With him out for the most crucial period of time for a team trying to make the OHL playoffs means that Spooner will likely end up becoming a nice value pick for a good team that otherwise would not have had a shot at him were he playing and contributing to the Petes' playoff run. Bad break for Spooner and Peterborough, because the kid has the goods. 2/19/10
And, although I didn't have much on Jared Knight, I did see Spooner as a viable option for the Bruins back in April.

Jared Knight to Bruins at 32

London Knights forward Jared Knight is now a Bruin, taken 32nd.

Not surprising-- he came into Boston for a visit.

The skinny on Knight is that he is an undersized, but very tenacious forward with a lot of skill. He had a poor start to the season and looked out of sorts until it was determined that he suffered from Diabetes. Once treated, he really took off, finishing the season with 36 goals.

He's not big (about 5-11 and that's being generous) but anyone who's seen his workout video he made because he wasn't invited to the combine knows that the kid has some real functional strength and a legitimate hockey body right now.

His skating is average; he lacks in an explosive burst, but he's fine in a straight line and turns well.

Knight's real strengths lie in his shooting skills and offensive hockey sense, which, when added to his high-energy and toughness, makes him a pretty intriguing prospect to watch here in the next couple of years.

On Easter Sunday, I wrote up a little something on him for those who may not be familiar:
Jared Knight review and projection- April 2010

I just found out from John "Bish" Bishop who interviewed him as pool reporter over the phone, that Knight missed the draft because his sister had a driver's test. He said it was OK that he wasn't in L.A. because his family is very close and he had the chance to celebrate his selection with his family.

Second round thoughts

Alex Petrovic, Justin Faulk and Tyler Toffoli are on the board.

But, what about skilled Swede Calle Jarnkrok. I've talked to a few teams and they said that he's a heck of a player and they'd take him.

Tyler Pitlick to Edmonton at 31- good selection. Thought he could go 1st, but early 2nd is good.

Friday, June 25, 2010

And Charlie Coyle


Charlie Coyle, 28th overall to San Jose
Another great kid...the fact that he went just four picks after Hayes shows how close the two were all year. I think he's a tad safer to make the NHL than Hayes, but not as big an upside.
Their rivalry will continue in the Hockey East with Coyle at BU. Great stuff for hockey fans.

Here are the New Englanders: Kevin Hayes


Kevin Hayes, 24th overall to Chicago
Kudos to Pie-Mac for calling both Hayes and Coyle in the first round.
Hayes is a terrific young man and he's moving on to Boston College in the fall.

Second coming


Welcome to the Boston Bruins, Tyler Seguin!

Final draft thoughts...the big day is here

Well, the big day is finally here!

All the work, all the speculation, now we’ll get down to the nuts and bolts of the 2010 NHL Draft and the players we’ve been following all year (and in some cases for much longer, right, Taylor Hall?) will know their NHL futures.

I spoke to Brandon Gormley yesterday at the top prospects luncheon and he had some nice things to say about the Bruins: “Yeah, it was great—everything went well and I had a nice time meeting with all those guys. Cam Neely was there and it was an honor to meet with the players and staff. I think they wanted to get to know me more and personalities and things like that. It was a good time.”

Then, came the surprise: When I asked him how his visit to Boston went, he replied: “I didn’t go to visit Boston, actually, but I’ve heard great things about the city.”

Now, there are two conclusions you can draw from that: No. 1, the Bruins recognize that Gormley is out of reach and therefore didn’t want to expend the time and energy to bring him to Boston for a visit. OR—the more likely scenario is, that they knew, even with the 15th pick prior to the Horton trade, they were out of range for the surefire top-five player, so they didn’t want to alert any other teams who may covet Gormley by tipping their hand with a visit to the Hub. That’s my feeling, because I’ve been hearing about the team’s interest in Gormley for months now. And why not? He’s skilled, poised, mature and has a depth of character that the team covets.

It remains to be seen whether GM Peter Chiarelli can make the move to land Gormley, but trade rumors have been swirling around about Marc Savard, Tim Thomas and Michael Ryder. We’ll see if there is any truth to the belief that Gormley is coveted by the Bruins and if they’re willing to give up the core player and assets to do it.

Now, moving onto 32. I’m hearing that Edmonton has some real interest in Charlie Coyle at 31 if he slips out of the first round, and that makes a lot of sense. He’s a very good player, and could be a first-rounder if you’ve read the comments section here recently. Now as far as Chicago goes, I’m hearing from a good source here in L.A. that the’Hawks covet Austin Watson, actually and with two first-round picks and two second-rounders, are trying to wheel themselves in position to get Watson.

Coyle and Kevin Hayes could both go in the first, but I think that’s more of a longshot. They’re good guys, but I think it’s one or the other but not both. We’ll see- 22 and 24? Probably very early but you never know.

If you believe that Jack Campbell is the only goalie who will be picked in the first round, then Seattle’s Calvin Pickard might be an interesting option to Boston at 32. Now, he’s under the radar a bit because his team didn’t make the WHL playoffs and he didn’t play well in Team Canada’s disastrous under-18 outing, but this kid is a real athlete who was a major reason the Thunderbirds even had a shot at the postseason. He was often assaulted nightly in net and put up great individual numbers even if the wins weren’t there.

“I think it’s pretty clear he’s the second-best goaltender in this draft and there’s a pretty big dropoff after that, so if you’re thinking of getting a goalie and you can get him in the early second, that’s a pretty good value there,” said Red Line Report’s Mike Remmerde.

Portland’s Brad Ross is another consideration at 32. Red Line had him in their first round, and as much as Remmerde likes him, even he admits that top-30 will probably be too high for the agitator extraordinaire, who impressed a lot of people with his skill and production this year playing on the uber-draft line of Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen.

London Knights forward Jared Knight could also be in play at 32-- he didn't get an invite to the NHL combine, but put out an impressive video of his own attempts to duplicate physical testing and even some on-ice skating work. He visited Boston along with Watson and Justin Faulk two weeks ago, so you have to think the interest is there. At 32? Maybe not. But 45, certainly. He's got a pretty mediocre first few steps, but is one of those guys who came on strong after a diabetes diagnosis early in the season.

Chiarelli has said he doesn’t plan on moving the 32nd pick because his staff believes that the value between 15-32 is pretty close and they believe that they can land a player they had targeted early in the 2nd that they had projected in the middle of the 1st. That said, that’s also scoutspeak for “anything can happen” and don’t be surprised to see the Bruins jump up a few spots in the late 1st to get a player they covet who perhaps drops unexpectedly and they don’t want to risk losing by waiting till 32. When it comes to this strategy, everything is so dependent on what happens with those teams in front of Boston as we get down to pick 25 and later.

Finally, welcome back Rex!

James Murphy reported that future Hall of Fame winger Mark Recchi has signed a one-year extension and will be made formal on Monday. It’s a nice Catch-22 for Boston, who will return the ageless one for a 22nd NHL season and his second full campaign with the B’s since being acquired in March, 2009. The veteran forward will be a solid option on the ice, but he’ll really bring value in helping to mentor and set the right example for Boston’s top pick and any of the other youngsters on the team next year. Last fall, he took '09 third-rounder Ryan Button under his wing, and he’s one who takes his leadership duties and professionalism seriously. Although we missed Rex at Botegga Louie—we ran into NHL commissioner Gary Bettman there—sounds like Joe Haggerty got the better end of the deal in his chat with Recchi.

Well, I’m seeing a lot of NHL jerseys on Figueroa street, so hockey is in the air. Time to wrap this up and get ready for the big event. We’ll be at the rink in a couple of hours…it’s almost time.

Tyler Seguin


The logical option for Boston with the No. 2 overall choice in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft displayed some California cool on the eve of his big moment, meeting the press and getting some good natured jabs in at the media at large and the circus that has become the Taylor-Tyler debate.

Tyler Seguin and Brandon Gormley at Top Prospects luncheon; June 24, 2010


Tyler Seguin (l) and Brandon Gormley hang out before
the media availability. Will we possibly be seeing these
two in Bruins jerseys tomorrow evening?
The NHL hosted a nice shindig for the top-10 (as ranked by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau) prospects in the 2010 draft today at the Target Terrace in Los Angeles.

You can also get more draft coverage over at http://www.hockeyjournal.com/


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Arrived in Los Angeles...blogging to resume forthwith

So, two things I noticed about LAX Airport today when I got in:

1. It's a very big place.

2. They don't have much in the way of restaurants.

But we were hungry and had an hour-plus to kill before a third colleague's flight arrived, so Mike, Rod and I end up over at the Encounter Bar (pretty much the only place serving food that you didn't have to pass a security checkpoint to have access to)...you had to ride an elevator to get to it, and the ceiling was decorated with some kind of 60's-era pink art deco and the elevator music sounded like the lost soundtrack to Gene Roddenberry's never-aired Star Trek spinoff show (back in the days before Deep Space Nine, Voyager and what have you) It was weird, but the bar was nice with a nice view of the airport, the distant smog-obscured L.A. skyline and not much else.

Anyway- there isn't much of a point to this other than to say that tomorrow, I'll be back in the saddle. Will attend the top prospects luncheon and meet and greet- going to forego the B's presser because it's over in Marina del Rey and conflicts with the prospects dealio, which is downtown.

I missed the whole Dustin Byfuglien trade, so am still playing catch up.

Oh, and thanks for the kind comments, guys. Just trying to do my part to raise the buzz factor on this important draft for Boston. It's a little bit of a buzzkill to not have the 15th pick, but the more I think about it, the more I can't take too much of an issue with the Horton-Campbell deal.

Time will tell...Bruins might still have some moves up the sleeve...

Off to L.A.

Well, I'm headed to the airport to catch my flight to Los Angeles.

Have a busy few days ahead, but it's all good. Even with the 15th overall selection now belonging to Florida, this is still going to be a key event for the Bruins and they'll infuse some organizational depth with their seven (or whatever they end up with pending any more trades) picks.

Keep checking back in with the blog, but the priority of effort is going to be the New England Hockey Journal and hockeyjournal.com

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jumping in the wayback machine and traveling to 2003...

Now that Nathan Horton is a member of the Boston Bruins, I thought it would be cool to go back to 2003 and see what the various draft publications and magazines were saying about him then. I went through my archives and found old standbys Red Line Report and THN, plus the defunct Hockey's Future publication (which lasted the 2002-03 season before shutting down) and ISS's first-ever draft guide.


Let's face it-- Horton hasn't achieved all that was expected of him, but he's that rare mix of real size and pure scoring ability at forward, even if he hasn't put it all together yet. He's not been in the greatest situation down in Florida, so perhaps the change of scenery will do him good.


Anyway-- here are some of the writeups on him. He had quite the buzz going back then, and I've seen moments when he justified every bit of that hype. Unfortunately, those moments have been few and far between for him thus far in his NHL career.

Nathan Horton, C Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Red Line Report 2003 Draft Guide
Ranking: #2 of 281 (Behind M-A Fleury)
Projection: 1st line power forward
Style compares to: Joe Thornton-lite/Bill Guerin

Entered season as top-ranked player, but was maddeningly inconsistent. Terrific size, speed, strength and a bit of a nasty streak all add up to world-class prospect. Outstanding skater for a big man who can make plays at top speed and is adept at giving and receiving passes. Has excellent hands and a shot that he can get off in tight quarters, but sometimes doesn't look like a pure finisher. Very strong on the puck, has a solid work ethic, and understands defensive concepts. Year has been marked by too many highs/lows. Needs to play a physical style but occasionally plays on the perimetre. If he learns to compete hard all the time, Horton has the highest upside (of any '03 prospect). Struggled for quite a while after getting jaw broken by fellow top prospect Anthony Stewart in early season fight, but could be a franchise player. Once he's comfortable with the role of true power forward, he will be a force.

RLR 2003 Awards section:

#10 in "Best Pure Skaters" category": Rare for such a big man to have the combination of power, acceleration and balance that he has.

The Hockey News 2003 Draft Preview
Ranking: #3 of 100

There is a train of thought that says Nathan Horton could wind up being a better NHL player than Eric Staal if he shows more consistency in his game. The book on Horton reads like this: smart player, above-average skater who competes very well, smart defensively and responsible in his own end. He has the makings of a budding power forward who can put up points and finish plays. But he could use his size better.

There were times this season when scouts wished they could see the Horton they saw in 2001-02. He played a hungrier game then.

"Consistency is a concern, but we heard the same thing about (Ilya) Kovalchuk and (Jason) Spezza," said one GM. "These guys sometimes get bored. But he turned it up in the playoffs when he had to."

Scouts still talk about the time Horton took a beating in a fight with Anthony Stewart of Kingston and how he wasn't the same player for about a month after.

"But he came back at the end of the season and he had a couple of great playoff games."

Hockey's Future Magazine, June 2003 Draft Issue
Ranking: #3 of 240 (Behind Eric Staal, M-A Fleury)

The Analysis: Nathan Horton is a power-forward type center with enough finesse elements in his game to be offensively productive at the NHL level. For his above-average size, he has great skating ability. He also has terrific touch around the net and the offensive awareness to develop plays. His overall offensive ability is coming out of the raw stages that plagued him earlier in his career. Horton continues to show promise of being a consistently productive offensive force. He is an agile enough skater currently to handle OHL defensemen down low but could use a little refining at the next level. He's an exceptional skater with great straightaway speed, excellent puck skills as well as an accurate wrist shot and slap shot. Horton goes to the net with tenacity and is physically dominating in traffic and along the boards every game. He is great on the forecheck and he can force defensemen to make mistakes and create space for his smaller teammates. His defensive responsibilities need work, but that will come with time and increased opportunities to learn that aspect of the game.

The Skinny: Horton has the potential to be somewhere in between a Joe Thornton and a Jason Arnott or Keith Primeau-type player in terms of offensive production. His bull in a china shop mentality will serve him well through the rigors of the NHL grind. Expect him to be a team's No. 1 center in the future or a great No. 2. One of the top prospects this year, Horton is expected to be among the top five picks in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

Internation Scouting Services 2003 NHL Draft Guide
Ranking: #1 of 250
Report Card
Size/Strength: A
Skating: B+
Shot/Scoting B+
Puckhandling: B
Hockey Sense: A
Leadership: A+
Poise: A
Defense: B

Skill: Blue-chip prospect. Good neutral-zone player. Has a nose for the net. Has a good scoring touch. Explosive skater. Strong in the corners and in front of the net. Protects the puck well- a real team leader.

Overall Game: Highly skilled, tough power forward with tremendous upside. He shows great strength and balance. What makes him ISS's #1 ranked prospect is his ability to dominate both offensively and physically, and control the pace of the game. After suffering an injury, he bounced back from a somewhat disappointing regular season filled with high expectations. Horton elevated his game in the playoffs, displaying his franchise player qualities.

Weakness: His only need is consistency.

ISS forecaster: The total package; look for Florida to add Horton to complement Bouwmeester and Luongo.

(Editor's note- The ISS rankings are curious- Eric Staal had significantly higher grades on his report card than Horton did but was ranked #2. Weird.)

So, that was what was being said about him seven years ago.

Now, that you've seen Horton in action since at the NHL level what say you?

Seems like a disappointment who's shown flashes of that predicted dominance, and has certainly done OK in scoring as 20-goal guy, but who probably hasn't been nowhere near as good as people thought he'd be.

Can he turn it around in Boston? We'll find out soon enough.

I've dug up some stuff on Greg Campbell and will get to him a little later, but let's face it- he's replacing Steve Begin in the lineup. He's a fourth-line veteran with NHL experience, but he'll contribute offense just once in a blue moon...just like Begin.

Wideman, 15th pick to Florida for Horton, Campbell

Well, the big story is breaking...Nathan Horton, the third overall selection in 2003 and Gregory Campbell have been acquired by the Bruins for lightning rod defender Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall selection in the draft and another undisclosed pick (maybe one of the 2011s edit- report is 3rd rounder in 2011), according to TSN's two-headed monster of Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger.

It was initially looking like the Bruins might have avoided having to give up the mid-first-rounder, when Dreger tweeted that players were being notified and it was a two-for-one Panthers to Boston swap, but the pick is a part of it.

Well adios, aspirations on Austin Watson, Emerson Etem, Dylan McIlrath, etc. but if you're a fan of Horton's I guess you really like this deal. He's a former 31-goal scorer and he certainly addresses a major need for the B's.

On paper, Boston gets a power forward and finisher, but Horton doesn't have the greatest reputation for attitude. Will he get it together and rehab his image in Beantown?

I guess we'll see. Horton has been a bit of an enigma thus far in his career, but there's no denying that he's that big-body with real skill.

New England 2010 draft prospect roundup

Here's a quick-hitter on the who's who of 2010 draft prospects from New England. I may follow up with writeups on kids who aren't New England natives but who play in the region, but for now, we'll forcus on the locals.


And, you can read more detailed writeups of these guys if you can get your hands on a copy of the June, 2010 Draft Preview issue of New England Hockey Journal.


Charlie Coyle, RW South Shore (EJHL)

I've waffled between Coyle and Kevin Hayes all year as to who is the better prospect in the class, but in the end, I keep going back to the fact that the Boston University-bound Coyle may not quite have the size and skill/upside of Hayes, but he's a more complete player at this stage of their development. He's more physical and from what I've seen, more willing to go out and do the dirty work and initiate contact, whereas Hayes plays more of a finesse game. I like both players, but when projecting who will likely be the better pro, I have to go with Coyle.


He's a bit of a lumbering skater in his first few strides, but once he gets going, he's fine. He has a nice array of shots and goes hard to the net. Along with Chris Wagner, Coyle and the rest of the Kings offense gave opponents fits last season.



Kevin Hayes, LW Noble & Greenough (HIGH- MA)
I don't want people to get the wrong impression on Hayes-- this is a really solid kid and prospect. He's got size, speed and skill. The Dorchester native also put up some bigtime numbers at Nobles last season. There appears to be quite a bit of interest in him in the late first-round, which makes sense given that he has the most upside of any of the New England draft-eligibles this season. Now, for the bad news: I think he's very much a work in progress, so any team picking him will need to be in it for the long haul. He has accelerated so he can be on Chestnut Hill next season, which helps his stock at the draft, but he's got to get stronger and show more of a willingness to play in the greasy areas of the rink. He reminds me a lot of what I was hearing about Joe Colborne two years ago: very big and very talented, but needing to show more commitment in all areas of his game.

One thing I've heard is that he's more skilled than his older brother (and Toronto '08 second-rounder) Jimmy, but not as gritty and physical. If he can add a little bit of Jimmy's sandpaper to his game, I think he'll become a pretty big name in prospect circles because he doesn't lack for talent.

Connor Brickley, LW Des Moines (USHL)
'Little Brick' is Andy Brickley's second cousin and an interesting prospect because he seems to be entering the draft with his stock really rising up. I'd say a lot of that has to do with the fact that he had a solid 20+ goal season in the USHL and is coming off a gold medal with the Team USA under-18 squad, where he played his tenacious, big-hitting role to perfection. He's a good skater who may not have the greatest hands or natural finishing skills, but makes the most of his talent and creates problems for opponents when he's going all out. A relentless forechecker who anticipates the play extremely well, he seems to always be in position to lay the big hits and separate the puck carrier from the biscuit to create turnovers.

I really, really like this kid. He could've stayed at Belmont Hill and smoked everyone, but he recognized that he needed to play at a higher level to help disinguish himself from some of his peers, so he left home and played well enough to earn time in several big international competitions. He's not the biggest guy out there, nor is he the most skilled...but you always know he's there. Someone will grab him sooner rather than later. Second round may be a tad soon, but early third is not a bad spot for him.



Billy Arnold, LW U.S. NTDP (USHL)
This is another guy who deserves a lot of credit for getting out of the comfort zone of what would have been a crazy scoring fest with Hayes at Nobles. Instead, Arnold went out to Ann Arbor and the U.S. Under-18 team where he overcame a slow start and was one of Team USA's most consistent forwards from February on through the under-18 tourney in April. He doesn't have a lot of height, but he's well-built and strong, very strong on his skates and the puck. He works the play nicely coming out of the corners and can pick the corners. Arnold is a real opportunist around the net. He's shifty and smart-- he diagrams the play and then gets where he needs to go in order to make something happen. He's got to stay diligent on his conditioning. He began the season not in the proper shape and although he got there, it's just something he's going to have to pay attention to going forward. NHL teams are getting more and more stern about off-ice conditioning of their players and if you have any questions, just talk to Bruins prospect Jordan Knackstedt, who found that out the hard way last fall at Boston training camp.

Arnold is probably not going to go as high as Central has him, but you never know. He's going to a very good program at Boston College, and I just really like his mental makeup and approach to the game. I think he's gotten a bum rap in some circles, but the kid is a winner and he's going to prove it down the road.

Brian Billett, G NH Jr. Monarchs (EJHL)
Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report says that the EJHL Goalie of the Year is the most underrated player in the 2010 draft and I have to agree. All this guy did was win, and demonstrate a big-game ability. But you know, try as I did to find NHL folks who believed in him like I and a few others did, I wasn't so successful. I hope Billett gets some vindication on draft day, I really do. Because he's one of these people who is a serious competitor and who plays hard and is well respected by his teammates. It takes a special kind of goalie to win as many games as Billett did and post the excellent numbers without facing a lot of shots. My big fear is that Billett will be like The Gunnery's Alex Vazzano last year and get passed over, but whereas Central had Vazzano high on their list and apparently none of the NHL's 30 teams did, Billett did not make it into Central's top-30 in their final rankings. That's an oversight in my opinion. He'd be a good pick in the late third/fourth rounds, but I'll be happy if he goes 5th/6th/7th to be honest. He deserves to get picked.


Mike Pereira, LW Avon Old Farms (HIGH- CT)
If speed kills, then you're looking at the best skater of all the New England draft-eligibles, a guy who elevated his game when it mattered most and led Avon to the prep title last March. You talk about a net opportunitst, and Pereira is it. He'll quietly circle around and then explode onto the puck and bury it into the back of the twine in the blink of an eye. I can't tell you how impressed I was with his performance in the playoffs-- he was that good. He's lean and raw, and will need some good seasoning and coaching from Toot Cahoon at UMass-Amherst, but I really like him as one of those long-term project players with a lot of upside.

Chris Wagner, C South Shore (EJHL)
Small but skilled, productive and gritty center made a statement after getting passed over last year. This guy can play some hockey-- I watched him singlehandedly dismantle the Green Mountain Glades in the first game of the playoffs, registering two goals and an assist in the first five minutes of action to say "Goodnight, Irene!" just like that. He was tenacious, opportunistic and when the puck was on his stick, he didn't flub it. Apparently, he was like that all season, because Wagner set an EJHL single-season record for scoring with 83 points in 44 games. He's gotten stronger, and although he's not going to an elite program at Colgate, he's one of those players who could fly under the radar a bit. The Bruins brought him in for a visit, so he's at least attracted their attention. Not surprising, though- 83 points in any league will do that for you.

Tommy O'Regan, C St. Sebastian's (HIGH-MA)
I saw this guy in the winter and he impressed me with his skating and real ability to dangle and create offense on his own. Apparently, he didn't have a lot of help on the Arrows this year, so O'Regan was forced to do a lot by himself, which can be tough for any player. He's got very nice puck skills and has an offensive acumen that will be welcome at Harvard in 2011. That said, I'm told compete levels were up and down and he went through a rough stretch in the middle of the year before surging and finishing strong. His dad was an NHL player, so he's got the bloodlines.

Garnet Hathaway, C Phillips Andover (HIGH-MA)
Real character/hear-and-soul center doesn't have tremendous skills or a projectable offensive element in the pros, but he's going to give you all he has and then some. He's got size and skates well, always moves his feet and plays with a lot of energy. Hands and offensive instincts are not what they need to be, but he's headed for Brown and could surprise. He's a late-round guy if he gets drafted, but could work his way into the mix down the road as a free agent if he gets passed over. A coach's dream.

Luke Curadi, D Penticton (BCHL)
The Monster from Cheshire, Conn. was passed over last year, but my guess is that someone will take a chance on the 6-6, 250-pound blueliner after he went out west and played at a higher level. This is one tough kid-- and he plays as nasty as his vitals make him out to be. He's a pretty decent straight-line skater, but his footwork and lateral agility need a lot of work. He hits to hurt and can fight...oh, can he fight. He was recruited to RPI in 2011 by then-assistant Jim Montgomery and will join Montgomery in Dubuque with the expansion Fighting Saints of the USHL next season. They don't come much more raw than this kid, but NHL teams are always looking for legitimate size and toughness-- he's got that in spades.

Cody Ferriero, F Governor's Academy (HIGH- MA)
Arguably the most skilled player of all the New England prospects, he also lacks size and some scouts aren't impressed with the attitude and character. If you're watching him in action, the speed and hands jump out at you, but he also lacks discipline at critical moments and will take bad/selfish penalties. If a team believes that it's jsut a maturity thing and that he can be brought to heel, he'll be drafted just like his older brother Benn was, but I've been told about some red flags with him, so it will probably be later.

Mike Reardon, D Noble &Greenough (HIGH- MA)
Underrated d-man has good mobility and is a smart player who often gets overlooked in the New England class. He's not a spectacular defender, but he gets the job done. Red Line Report had him listed in their "mid-round sleepers worth a look" section and he could be a player that some NHL team has targeted late in the draft because he does have some long-term potential.

Other New Englanders in the mix for the draft and ranked by Central: Brian Ward, Brandon McNally, Jacob Rutt, Derek Deblois ('91), Mike Seward.

Not ranked by Central: Danny Federico, Nick Lovejoy, Peter McIntyre, Pat Mullane ('90), Brandon Russo. Nick Thompson, Steven Whitney ('91), Jared Wiedemann, Colby Drost

Capitals release 2010-11 schedule

The Caps are on the ball; here's the dope:

Bruins are in town three times to face Alexander Ovechkin and company: one preseason game on September 28th, then Tuesday, October 19th for the first of a home-and-home, with the B's opening at TD Garden against the Caps two nights later on the 21st.

Then the B's, close out their regular season visit to Washington on Friday, November 5th. This beats the two games in the final week of the season that we endured last year. The series wraps on Saturday, December 18th at the TD Garden.

Caps also are in the 2011 Winter Classic in Pittsburgh. I broke the rumor way back in February and got the teams right, but venue wrong. 2 out of 3 ain't bad. But, the Caps have been promised their own WC sometime soon by the NHL according to owner Ted Leonsis, so we'll see. The NHL may kill its golden goose with these forced AO-Sidney Crosby matchups, but it is what it is.

So, Bruins schedule release should be any time now. Keep your eyes peeled.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Addendum to Austin Watson

Hi, all--

If you haven't seen it, I have a new draft feature up on the hockeyjournal.com website on Austin Watson.

I had wanted to include comments from one of my NHL sources who's seen him an awful lot going back to the 08-09 season, when he was an OHL rookie with Windsor, but couldn't track him down in time to meet my deadline.

So, I talked to the source this afternoon and mentioned to him that some see Watson as one of those "safe" picks who doesn't have the kind of upside to justify selection at 15th overall, and he had a visceral reaction to that assertion.

Here are his comments:

"He goes to Peterborough and immediately puts up two points per game," the NHL scout told Bruins 2010 Draft Watch. "He's a heart-and-soul guy for me. He scores big goals and blocks shots. That's the kind of kid and competitor he is."

But, the doubters may say, those comments don't address Watson's scoring upside. Well, there's more:

"Watson's a surefire second-liner in my view," said the scout. "He can play center or wing and I think you'll see Boston start him at the wing, assuming they were to draft him, but he has the versatility to switch back to the middle, as he's played both positions and can do both very well. I think that people who say he's a 'safe' pick either haven't seen him or only saw him once or twice with Windsor. He's a guy who can both score and set up the play and is going to give you every bit of what he has. If that what amounts 'safe' to someone, then I don't know what kind of hockey they're watching."

Well, there it is. One scout's opinion, but he does get paid to do his job and he's very good at it. It doesn't mean he's bang-on and nor does he have a crystal ball, but I feel pretty confident with his judgment and assessment.

I also think there's a good chance that all of this is moot; that Boston will give up the 15th pick and more to try and move into the top-five to secure a top defenseman prospect rather than wait, but if that falls through and Watson is there at 15 when the B's are picking, I have to think that he'll be their guy.

Bob McKenzie's final draft ranking is up on TSN.ca

Every year, the fanfare seems to grow with Bob McKenzie's list, but he works his contacts relentlessly to come up with what is usually a pretty good indicator of where the picks will fall on draft day.

Here's the link.

Not a surprise that he has Taylor Hall first, is it? Again, this is what I was hearing back when the NHL Draft Lottery was held in April, and Hallsie's unreal playoffs/Memorial Cup only cemented his top selection in my view. And, this is no affront to Tyler Seguin, who is a terrific prospect in his own right, but the fact is-- he stopped playing hockey a full month before Hall did. I don't want to hear the stuff about better teams and all, either-- it is what it is.

But, just to prove that I can play devil's advocate effectively-- stay tuned to hockeyjournal.com this week, because I will be publishing two articles in a series called "The Case For..." in which I will put my best debating skills to work in favor of both Hall and Seguin.

Realistically, the next big B's prospect is Seguin, and everyone should be ecstatic with that. You won't catch me saying he's a better fit, though. Nobody knows the truth, and I think it's a bit disingenuous to argue that Seguin is a better player right now.

As far as McKenzie's list goes, there are some other interesting names. Erik Gudbranson and Brandon Gormley are both ranked ahead of Cam Fowler, who is fifth. I believe that Gudbranson at three is a reflection of the fact that when Randy Sexton was running the show in Florida, the Panthers' scouts were enamored with Gudbranson and he was apparently a done deal to go third. Now that Dale Tallon is on board, will he go against the advice of his boys? Or, might Tampa Bay swap picks with their cross-state rival to grab Fowler third and then see Gudbranson likely drop to the Panthers at six (or maybe Tallon takes someone else?). This is why the draft is going to be so much fun...I think some interesting things are going to happen in L.A.

Ryan Johansen edges teammate Nino Niederreiter at 6 and 7 respectively. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see Johansen go top-10. Red Line's Mike Remmerde has been clamoring about that possibility since January.

Nice to see that Bob and I are in agreement about Jeffrey Skinner being the best pure goal scorer in the draft. At 10, he's a good pick there. I (as well as my pal Dom) would certainly take him earlier, but unless Boston moves up, he's not making it to 15.

No real surprises from 11-17, unless you consider Dylan McIlrath at 15 a surprise, and I don't. Here's one for all the guys out there harping on Big Mac's alleged lack of upside: Yes, guys, more than a few NHL people do believe he has it. So, before you knock the guy, if McKenzie's connections count for anything, his having him at 15 speaks loudly for where McIlrath's stock is with the people who matter: the NHL teams heading into L.A.

Now, having Beau Bennett at 18 is curious. While doing the spotlight series, I brought him up for the first time around there...makes sense, because the guy is just a high-end offensive talent, and like Skinner, those players don't grow on trees. You take 'em where you can get 'em. Early off the board pick perhaps? Wouldn't surprise in the least.

Other interesting guys in the top-30: John McFarland, Tyler Toffoli and Justin Faulk. They barely made my 1st-round mock cut, but were close. McFarland is an uber-talent, so I'm sure there will be one team out there picking late who's willing to roll the dice on him getting his act together and becoming the player that saw Sudbury grab him with the OHL's 1st overall pick a few years ago. A word of caution, however-- 1st overall junior picks don't always pan out. Anybody remember Kyle Chipchura? Didn't think so.

Faulk is a guy one NHL scout I respect has told me repeatedly is highly underrated by most. That he's in the top-30 speaks volumes and shows that perhaps the NHL guys think a lot more of him than a lot of those public lists you see floating around out there. "A pitbull on skates" is what I heard Faulk described as...very interesting.

Two guys not in the top-30: Kevin Hayes and Charlie Coyle. Will be interesting to see where they go. Again, I've heard that there's at least one or more teams out there who like Hayes in the late 1st (and be sure to read Pie Mac's comments on my Mock Draft post- very interesting) and Coyle has been my No. 1 guy coming out of New England since March, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him sneak in as well, but McKenzie has Coyle 32nd and Hayes a little further down at 49.

Guys in my top-30 who are not in McKenzie's: Calvin Pickard, Brock Nelson, Stanlislav Galiev.

Guys in his not in mine: Tyler Pitlick, McFarland, Toffoli.

All of those guys were close, and I even had Pitlick at 30 before swapping him out for Brock Nelson. Go figure.

The publication of this list is always the final glidepath to the draft...when it comes out, it's a reminder to all of us that we're just days from the big event.

TSN will broadcast analysis of his list tonight at 7pm EST for those of you in Canada. In the USA, we get bupkus.

Because you asked for it...Mocking picks 31 and 32

I've gotten some offline feedback wondering why I didn't go on to mock the 31st and 32nd selections, so without further ado, here it goes:

31. Alex Petrovic, D- Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers got Taylor Hall 1st overall, and now they add a solid defenseman with a mean streak and who also has some two-way potential in Petrovic. He was expected by at least one scout I talked to to have the kind of season that Dylan McIlrath did, but is still an interesting project with good size, mobility and toughness, not to mention the skills to be a good pick at the top of the second round.

32. Justin Faulk, D- Boston Bruins
Brought in for a visit to Boston last week, the Minnesotan and U.S. NTDP product is not the biggest rearguard at at about six-feet tall, but he's very strong, tenacious and can skate very well. He's better defensively than Matt Hunwick, although he does qualify as another "undersized" defender which makes him an iffy projection for Boston. Still, here's what Austin Watson, who skated with Faulk in April's Under-18 tourney had to say about him: "He's a really competitive kid who can skate and has a big shot from the point. He did a lot back there to help us win the tournament-- very good player."

I'm also sticking with my prediction that if he's on the board, defenseman Julian Melchiori will be Boston's selection at 45. That gives Boston two high-end forwards in Seguin and Watson, and two project defenders who can go both ways. Not a bad haul at all for Boston, and they'll still have four more picks to add some depth to the organization.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

This one goes out to all the dads out there...great work, guys!

I have an Emerson Etem story up over at hockeyjournal.com that you might find interesting.

http://www.hockeyjournal.com/news/2010/06/20_etemhas.php

Saturday, June 19, 2010

B2010DW Mock Draft Continued: Picks 21-30

As promised, I'm back with the final 10 projected picks of the first round, simply because I don't have the time to do in-depth spotlight profiles on them. Maybe next year, I'll start earlier in May on the series so I can do all 30 if that's something you guys want to see.

But anyway- here are the final picks and remember-- doesn't really mean a darned thing. I'll be interested to see what Bob McKenzie's top-30 list looks like on Monday night. Nobody is more connected than he is when it comes to stuff like this, so his picks will be a strong, strong indicator of what that first round will look like names-wise, even though there will be variance with the picks in terms of where they go.

21. Mark Pysyk, D- Detroit Red Wings
He's big and skilled, but scouts I talk to say he's soft and for all the superlatives about his offensive upside, the production is nothing to write home about (though he does play for a scoring-poor Oil Kings team). Still, he's got the kind of natural size and ability that the Wings could turn into a sizeable gain on their blueline...if they can figure out how to get him to keep his "on" switch activated, that is.

22. Jonathan Merrill, D- Phoenix Coyotes
The Desert Dogs grabbed a high-upside centerman with their first pick, now they grab another blue liner with a lot of untapped potential. I've heard that at least in a couple of cases, that Merrill didn't ace his draft interviews when it came to answering some of the off-ice questions, but to get a player of his caliber at 22 is not a bad way to go.

23. Quinton Howden, LW- Buffalo Sabres
Last year, the Sabres snagged a power forward in Zack Kassian, and now they add another winger with size and speed in Howden. The former No.1 WHL bantam pick in 2007 isn't a very physical player, but he brings a lot of other things to the table and is solid value here.

24. Calvin Pickard, G- Atlanta Thrashers
He played on a bad team, but Chet Pickard's little bro kept his Thunderbirds in just about every game with his athleticism and ability to weather a storm of shots every night. He's precisely the kind of late-round value pick that the Thrashers can smile about as they call his name at the podium in L.A.

25. Riley Sheahan, C- Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are torn between Minnesota high schooler Brock Nelson and Sheahan, but opt for the more proven commodity at this stage in the former OPJHL scoring star who showed flashes of his high offensive ceiling as a freshman at Notre Dame. An alcohol-related arrest in the spring won't sink his stock out of the first round.

26. Jarred Tinordi, D- Washington Capitals
Washingtonians are well-acquainted with what Jarred's pop did for them when he played, and let's face it- the Capitals' achilles heel in the 2010 playoffs was not having a legitimate big shutdown 'D' with both skill and snarl. Although the younger Tinordi is a ways from being NHL-ready, he has the size, toughness and character to be a solid pick here.

27. Stanislav Galiev, RW- Montreal Canadiens
The Habs saw enough of the skilled Russian's merits in 09-10 while he was a member of the QMJHL-finalist Saint John Sea Dogs to grab a flyer on him here. Although he still needs to pack on the mass, "Stas" is an electrifying one-on-one talent whose game needs a little fine-tuning, but could turn out very nicely as a late first-rounder. With two years of North American hockey under his belt, he's coming along well in his progression.

28. Beau Bennett, RW- San Jose Sharks
The Sharks grab the California native and BCHL scoring leader and don't look back. The speedy sniper who needs to work on his defensive game good value here, and has a lot of upside as he moves on to Denver University and coach George Gwozdecky's outstanding pro-style program/system.

29. Kevin Hayes, LW- Anaheim Ducks (via Philadelphia)
The extremely talented and high-upside pick is a bit of a surprise here, but this is one of those swing-for-the-fences types of prospects. Brother of Jimmy Hayes will be at BC in the fall and skates, passes and shoots as well as any big man can. Competition level is always the question with prep players, but I hear someone likes him very much late in the 1st. Is that someone Anaheim?

30. Brock Nelson, C- Chicago Blackhawks
The Stanley Cup champs grab a potential homerun with the grandson of Minnesota legend and U.S. Olympian Billy Christian and nephew of Miracle on Ice and former Bruin Dave Christian. As a dominant scoring pivot for Warroad High on the Canadian border in Minnesota, Nelson has all the NHL tools but needs to refine his overall play against better competition.

Just missing the 1st-round cut: Tyler Pitlick, C Minnesota St. (WCHA), Ryan Spooner, C Peterborough (OHL) Tyler Toffoli, RW Ottawa (OHL), John McFarland, C/W Sudbury (OHL), Alex Petrovic, D Red Deer (WHL), Justin Faulk, D U.S. NTDP (USHL), Ludvig Rensfeldt, LW Brynas (Sweden Jr.)

Friday, June 18, 2010

Speaking of Bruins development camp...

Just got the official release from the Boston Bruins.

The fourth annual team prospect development camp will happen at the Ristuccia Memorial Arena in Wilmington from July 6-10.

So, come on out and check out the new guys. It promises to be a much more attended event with all the buzz that will be surrounding the 2010 draft.

And, don't be stranger- come on over and say hello if you get the chance. I won't bite (unless you get on my case about Kiri...ooops you almost got me to say it!)

The distance to here

In addition to being an album by Live, which is one of my favorite alternative bands in the 90's, the distance to here for my informal mock draft (and my first round draft spotlight profiles) is thus:

1. Taylor Hall, LW- Edmonton Oilers
2. Tyler Seguin, C- Boston Bruins
3. Cam Fowler, D- Florida Panthers
4. Erik Gudbranson, D- Columbus Blue Jackets
5. Brandon Gormley, D- New York Islanders
6. Jack Campbell, G- Tampa Bay Lightning
7. Mikael Granlund, C- Carolina Hurricanes
8. Jeff Skinner, C- Atlanta Thrashers
9. Nino Niederreiter, RW- Minnesota Wild
10. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW- New York Rangers
11. Brett Connolly, LW- Dallas Stars
12. Ryan Johansen, C- Anaheim Ducks
13. Alexander Burmistrov, C- Phoenix Coyotes
14. Derek Forbort, D- St. Louis Blues
15. Austin Watson, LW- Boston Bruins
16. Emerson Etem, C- Ottawa Senators
17. Dylan McIlrath, D- Colorado Avalanche
18. Nick Bjugstad, C- Nashville Predators
19. Jaden Schwartz, C- Los Angeles Kings
20. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C/LW- Pittsburgh Penguins

I'll post the rest of the round with quick writeups on the picks 21-30. I hope you enjoyed the spotlight series- it was a lot of fun writing them, and a labor of love, but not the easiest project in the world to pull off.

A quick look tells me that I probably have Jack Campbell too high and Brett Connolly too low. But, what's the point of having a mock that looks like everyone else's though? The great thing about the NHL draft is that every year, at least one guy who is often considered a "lock" to go a certain place drops, while there is usually someone surprising who goes a lot higher than predicted. No one could have seen Phoenix taking Blake Wheeler fifth overall in 2004, and you never know if you'll have another big surprise off-the-board pick.

In one week, we'll know for sure, as we're literally exactly a week from seeing what should be Taylor Hall walking up on stage first at the Staples Center.

I did talk to Emerson Etem and Austin Watson today, so watch for features on them this weekend over at hockeyjournal.com. I have a piece on Brandon Gormley up now for those interested.

Next week, I plan to keep the posts coming. Thanks to all who have stuck with me from the beginning and those who showed up during the course of things. It's been a lot of fun and I appreciate you getting the word out about this blog. Next year, the Bruins 2011 Draft Watch should be even more streamlined and informative. But for now, we're entering that last furlong before the draft is in the books.

Then, in July, I'll be up in Boston to see the new guys at development camp (along with the rest of the usual suspects) and we'll close out B2010DW and roll out B2011DW and start it all over again.

First round draft spotlight: Evgeny Kuznetsov

Evgeny Kuznetsov, C/LW Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
6-0, 170
Born: May 19, 1992 in Chelyabinsk, Russia
Shoots: Left


Scouting report: Swift and skilled centerman is a high-upside prospect who has shined against the top global competition among his peer group, but his signability is a question mark at this stage after signing a two-year extension with his KHL team.


Strengths: Marvelous skater who is very quick off the mark, can pull away from defenders and has that almost universal speed and shifty/elusive dynamic that Russian players possess. The rare player who can both speed the game up or slow it down, depending on what is required in a given situation-- a real game-breaker if he gets any time and space to work with. Outstanding hands; has a lightning-fast release and picks the corners with ease. Impressive array of shots in his arsenal that he is able to use in space or when in tight. Plays with that instinctive desire to be the guy who finishes off the play every time; goes to the net looking to score and wins a lot of the close battles for loose pucks because he wants it more. Underrated passer who gets a lot of attention for his natural goal scoring ability, but who can also thread the needle and has impressive vision and sense for the flow of the play around him. Played in the KHL against men at age 17; didn't see a lot of ice time but could be ready for a big breakout in 10-11. Going off of pure hockey talent alone, there aren't many players in this draft class who are better.


Weaknesses: Not a lot of height and doesn't possess a lot of room to fill out; looks like he'll be an average-sized player when he reaches his physical maturity. Not very strong; can get knocked off the puck when the hitting picks up or he goes one-on-one against big, mobile defenders who can stay with him and maintain position. Doesn't play defense very effectively and his intensity/compete levels tends to waver at times; not a natural hustler who goes all out in every situation. Tends to take undisciplined penalties; needs to demonstrate less selfishness and more self-control. Signed a two-year extension with Chelyabinsk in the spring and his intention to play in North America/the NHL is still relatively unknown at this point.

Style compares to: Alexander Semin, Maxim Afinogenov


Draft prediction: 20th overall to Pittsburgh. The Penguins are in a position to swing for th fences on a high-risk/high-reward prospect like Kuznetsov, and the thought of using Evgeni Malkin to mentor him has some natural appeal. Because of the Pens' recent success, they can afford to gamble a bit and that's precisely what picking this player in the top-20 is-- a gamble. But, if he puts everything together, and can do enough to win a job on that Pittsburgh roster down the road, he has all of the skill in the world to become a lethal component up front for them. Other potential picks here: Riley Sheahan and Brock Nelson are two centers with upside and a few years from being ready for the NHL. On defense, there are several of the U.S. NTDP guys who could find a spot here: Justin Faulk, Jarred Tinordi (to replace the aging Brooks Orpik) and even Jonathan Merrill, who has a lot of skill and upside, but apparently did not impress some teams at the combine with his answers about the ugly off-ice issues he had this year. Don't forget Stephen Johns, the big and talented blueliner who is from Pa. and could be an option here, but one would think that if the Pens were going to draft this kind of player, they'd opt for Tinordi at 20 over Johns. Want another high-upside/risk/reward prospect at 20? Then John McFarland fits the bill as the best option in that category after Kuznetsov and without the signability concerns.


Projection: On pure ability alone, Kuznetsov is easily a top-six forward with some All-Star potential and a 35-40 goal ceiling. However, he has more concerns than other players in the top-20 and with his status as a Russian and one who is signed for another couple of years, that could drop him out of the first round altogether. Still, there are some teams who won't see these things as red flags as much as others, and if those teams fell in love with him at the Six Nations and Under-18 tournaments (which by most accounts would be easy to do as he was electric there), he's not a surprising option in the opening 30 picks. He's one of those enigmas who you watch on the ice and can become quickly captivated by, but when you see him loafing or taking undisciplined me-first penalties, makes you wonder. I see it quite a bit being based in Washington and getting a good look at Alexander Semin...the ability is never in question, but you never know when you're going to see the good, bad and ugly with him. Kuznetsov appears to be cut from a similar cloth.



Background: Was successul in Belarus in 2010: captained Team Russia's Under-18 squad, also led Russia to a first-place finish the Six Nations Tourney (in February) leading all players in scoring with six goals, nine points in five games. Also played in the World Jr. (under-20) tourney in Regina, scoring a pair of goals and looking impressive as a 17-year-old. Score 2 goals and 9 points in 35 KHL games with Traktor Chelyabinsk playing limited minutes. Does not speak English. Favorite NHL player: Ilya Kovalchuk



Quotable:


“He is fast, skillful and talented. He is also a leader on the ice, he was captain of the Russian Under-18 team and he had an excellent tournament. He is very skilled.”- Goran Stubb, Central Scouting's Director of European Scouting to NHL.com


“Leaving Chelyabinsk makes no sense to me. I’m under contract with Traktor for further two seasons and I’ll leave the team only if the management would release me. I don’t want to have bad relationships with my home club. I will go to America later this month, to have the Draft Combine. Then I will further practice. I’ll take part to the Draft in Los Angeles. Then I want to skate in the training camp of the team that will pick me up. I really want to see the practices and the preparation for the new season. Then I will get back to Traktor.”- Evgeny Kuznetsov to Traktor's official website, translated by RussianProspects.com; May, 2010

Thursday, June 17, 2010

First round draft spotlight: Jaden Schwartz

Jaden Schwartz, C Tri-City Storm (USHL)
5-9, 188
Born: June 25, 1992 in Melfort, Saskatchewan
Shoots: Left

Scouting report: Offensive wizard tore up the USHL and is one of the draft's best pure offensive talents, even if his skating is pretty average for his small size.

Strengths: Hockey sense out the wahzoo; has a panoramic view of the ice, diagrams and instantly processes the unfolding play and has a natural understanding of the offensive flow of the game. Slippery and elusive; jitterbugs a lot and throws off bigger, stronger defenders who don't have the agility or footwork to stay with him. Plays a gritty, passionate game that belies his small stature; not afraid to go into the dirty areas of the ice or play in traffic. Blocks shots and shows a willingness to do the tough work and pay a price physically. Possesses excellent puck skills; can handle the puck like it's on a string and feathers soft and hard passes anywhere he wants them to go. Shot has surprising power and torque given his size. Plays with the kind of chip on his shoulder that other guys who've always been told that they can't play hockey at a high level because of their size always have.

Weaknesses: Size. Listed at 5-9, which means he's really closer to 5-7 when his skates are off. Skating isn't a flaw, but he doesn't have that explosive jump or blazing speed NHL teams feel a lot more comfortable with when you're looking at a player as small as Schwartz is. Will require a few years of developmental time in the NCAA; not ready for the rigors of pro hockey.

Style compares to: Scott Gomez

Draft prediction: 19th overall to Los Angeles. OK- full disclosure here. Schwartz probably won't go that high, but I like him a lot, and wanted him in my top-20. Most mocks have him going after 25 and the size is going to play a factor in it, but given his desire and attitude, I'm not so sure I wouldn't be banging the table to grab him around this part of the draft if my team needed the infusion of offensive punch and the ferociously competitive mentality he brings. Small guys with the pure skill and upside Schwartz has are continuing to prove the old adage about size mattering the most wrong, and if you look at the dominant scoring performances he's had at just about every level, he makes sense going to the Kings, who have some good size and skill up front and could probably put a player of his talents to proper use. If not, then maybe you're looking at a Riley Sheahan or local Beau Bennett here. The Bennett pick isn't a bad value given where he's been projected and the fact that he's from Cali would be a nice bonus. Jarred Tinordi's excellent defense, toughness and character would be a welcome addition to the Kings as well. If the Kings are looking for another skilled blue liner to complement Drew Doughty, then they might be willing to gamble a little by taking Justin Faulk, who is kind of like a defense version of Schwartz-- small, but very talented and feisty.

Projection: Schwartz has top-six upside, but should be a solid third liner even with the small size because he does so many things well. Even though he lacks the height and explosiveness, he's just one of those guys who seems to have that special "it" that most everyone else can only dream about. The size is going to scare some teams off, but the club that takes a chance on him and invests that early pick that he'll require could see a very nice payoff not too far down the road. He needs to work on his strength and quickness in Colorado Springs, but he's going to a good college program and will have his brother to help him with the transition.

Background: Central Scouting's 28th-ranked North American on their final list, but is #18 in the Red Line Report 2010 Draft Guide.Will turn 18 on the day that he could be an NHL first-round pick. A graduate of the prestigious Notre Dame Hounds program in Wilcox, Saskatchewan (his hometown), where teammates included Brandon Gormley. While there, he broke scoring records held by none other than Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier with 39 goals, 111 points in 44 games during the 2007-08 season. Spent the 08-09 season in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League before switching to the USHL. Led the league in scoring with 33-50-83 points in 60 games; the next-best scorer on his team had 45 in what is normally a more physical, defensive league. He scored the most points in that league since Thomas Vanek in 2001-02. Older brother, Rylan, plays for Colorado College; Jaden will join him there. Older sister, Mandi, in a battle with leukemia at age 22. She captained the Notre Dame women's team in Wilcox and played at Yale University before being diagnosed with blood cancer in 2008.

Quotable:

"Little puck magician has terrific hockey sense. Thrives on guile and a freakish understanding of game situations."- Red Line Report, 2010 Draft Guide

"Jaden was obviously a highly-touted player coming out of the junior hockey league, but the thing that sets him apart from other skilled players is his fearlessness and the fact he'll go down to block shots or take a hit if it means making a play. He's a special kid in my eyes because he'll do the dirty work in addition to finishing around the net when given the chance."- Tri-City Storm head coach Drew Schoneck to NHL.com; November, 2009

"I haven't seen a lot of kids with the kind of determination and will to succeed no matter what that Jaden has. Ask him to do something to help the team win and he'll do it. Put on the pads and play in net? Check. Drive the bus? Check. But at the end of the day, he's such a dynamic offensive force that all you really need him to do is go out there and play his game and the rest takes care of itself."- NHL scout to New England Hockey Journal; May, 2010

"It meant a lot to see my name so high on that list and I'm glad to be getting the recognition. I know it's only a ranking, but you can't help but read that list and no matter where you fall on it, you want to work even harder to improve and maybe climb the ladder."- Jaden Schwartz to NHL.com; November, 2009

"I've heard (Schoneck) say that (fearless) a few times about me, but when you watch the best players in the game, they're fearless too. I want to be that guy going into the corners and dropping to block shots when needed. Doing the dirty work helps your team win and that's what I'm set on doing."- Jaden Schwartz to NHL.com; November, 2009

"Mandi and Rylan were already playing and I wanted to join them, and she was definitely a part of me playing hockey," Jaden said. "We've kind of always played together every summer on the ponds or on the rink. She's such a hard worker, just like she is in anything in life. She's dedicated and wants to be the best she can. She can play scrimmages with the guys, so she was right there with all of us."- Jaden Schwartz to NHL.com; June, 2010

The scoop:

Schwartz Won't Let His Size Slow Him Down
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=507323

Schwartz's Excitement Tempered By Sister's Illness
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=531722

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bruins to host 2010 draft party, plus some thoughts on Brandon Gormley

The Boston Bruins announced today that they'll have a festive event for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market in the Olde Towne. Details on the party are here.

Should be a good time for all you Boston-area draftniks who aren't crazy enough to go all the way to Los Angeles to see the event in person. Plus, with the ice girls there to hand out some free chicken (that's militaryspeak for stuff you don't have to pay for), why not?

On a different note, I'm still hearing that the Bruins really would like to make a splash at the draft, and beyond grabbing Tyler Seguin second overall, they could do that by trading up into the top-five to secure a prime defenseman like Brandon Gormley, who I've been told that they've liked for months. The buzz on this kid has not died down, and he helped himself at the Memorial Cup.

I talked to his coach, Moncton Wildcats bench boss Danny Flynn, this afternoon, and he told me a couple of things I wasn't aware of. First, the Wildcats played 98 games this season between regular season and playoffs. That's a lot of puck for the amateur ranks. Secondly, Flynn personally went out to Wilcox, Saskatchewan when Gormley was skating for the Notre Dame Hounds to see him, and the P.E.I. native's great footwork and poise were what sold Flynn and the Wildcats on using the top pick in the 2008 QMJHL draft on him. Flynn likens him to Wade Redden in his prime, not the stiff with the bloated and untradeable contract on the NY Rangers.

I'm working on a feature on "Gorms" that should be up over at hockeyjournal.com in the next few days (also be on the lookout for a quick hit on some of the Europeans available), so be sure to look for it. Also, if you want to know more about Gormley, scroll down the blog post archive this month and check out the spotlight profile I did on him the first week in June if you haven't done so already. Or, if you're too lazy/disinclined to do that, just click on this, and the wayback machine will take you there.

Anyway- getting to five from 15 is going to be hard if the Bruins are serious about adding not one but two of the draft's premium talents to the stable. I can't see them making it happen with one trade, but a couple of deals to move up in increments could do it. It'll cost them a lot of the extra picks and some young kids/prospects to do so, but I've always said that if you really, really think a player is worth it, then go out and get him. The B's and Peter Chiarelli have been rebuffed in their attempts to do just that in recent drafts, so maybe 2010 is the year when it all comes together.