Bruins eyeing a number of prospects at 24th pick

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Bruins eyeing a number of prospects at 24th pick

PITTSBURGH The NHL Draft is finally upon the hockey world at the CONSOL Energy Center this weekend, and the Boston Bruins will land themselves a quality prospect with the 24th overall pick.

They wont be the belle of the ball this time around with the late pick in the first round, but there are a number of players in the mix for Bostons pick. None of them will be ready to assist the Bruins next season, but thats not really necessary given that Boston returns 12 forwards and five of six defensemen from last years team along with the expected ascendance of 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is fully planning for one of their targeted players to be available when they pick 24th heading into Friday nights first round festivities, and here are a list of the draft candidates in order of probability Boston will select them.

Slater Koekkoek A good defenseman on a bad junior hockey team that suffered a shoulder injury last season at the worst possible time. The expectation is he will slide because of the time missed due to that injury, and he still has plenty of filling out to do at 6-foot-2 and 184-pounds. He can skate and produce on the power play, and has a ceiling as a top four defensemen in the NHL. One thing scouts have noticed aside from Koekkoeks ability to play in all situations is that his quality of play doesnt dip despite logging heavy minutes for the Peterborough Petes. If he drops to the Bruins theyd be overjoyed with that situation.

Olli Maatta A native of Finland that really raised his stock last spring while helping carry the London Knights into the Memorial Cup Finals, Maatta is a defense-minded prospect that isnt going to light things up as a puck-moving defenseman. The 6-foot-2, 202-pound prospect can skate and shoot, and finally loosened things up offensively this year at the OHL level. But its his solid set of defensive skills and ability to protect the front of the net that will earn him a paycheck in the NHL. Scouts dont see him as a PP guy, but instead a simple, efficient puck-lugger that wont create much offensively. But he wont hurt a team either, which is important in this day and age of withering forechecks.

Matt Finn A 6-foot, 195-pound lefty shooter for the Guelph Storm that rededicated himself to the weight room prior to last season and put up 48 points in 61 games. Hes got a big shot and the ability to skate with the puck, and is another defensemen prospect that brings a good defensive mindset to the table. Finn seems to be just be clueing into how good he can be as a hockey player, and hes expected to be long gone by the time the Bruins select 24th. But he could be a Bruin if he slides.

Hampus Lindholm A 6-foot-2, 185-pound prospect out of the Swedish Elite League that can skate, skate, skate and move the puck. In todays NHL its a strength that cant be understated and he impressed scouts with a solid performance for Team Sweden in the World Juniors last season. The word is that Lindholm also blew people away with his conditioning at the prospect combine in Toronto, and that is something hockey personnel people love when gauging young players.

Brendan Gaunce A 6-foot-2, 208-pound center that has the puck possession and face-off skills that the Bruins covet, and could be a prototypical third line center with grittiness and a fair amount of offensive ability. Gaunce put up 28 goals in 68 games for the Belleville Bulls this season and has solid size and a good shot, but there are questions about his overall skating ability at the next level. Not a bad choice for a team thats always looking to build on their organization depth at the center position.

Tom Wilson A mean, dirty, nasty 6-foot-4, 203-pound power forward that screams out Bruins kind of player. Wilson would be a great fit on the wing with his Lucic-style NHL game, but this right wing prospect isnt expected to be available when the Bruins make the 24th overall selection. Wilson doesnt have the greatest hands in the world, but he can skate well for a big, bruising winger and is expected to continue improvement offensively. The chatter out of Pittsburgh was that Wilson wouldnt get past the Buffalo Sabres picking a few spots ahead of the Bruins, so Boston will be missing out on their perfect-fit forward.

Stefan Matteau A 6-foot-1, 210-pound prospect at the wing that plays a northsouth game and struggles a bit with staying out of the penalty box at this point in his career. Matteau is the son of New York Rangers hero Stephane Matteau and is US-born out of Chicago. He has good size and solid offensive ability along with an excellent motor, but doesnt project much beyond a third line winger at the NHL level. The shot and hands are there, but the power forward prospect needs to work on the skating part of the game.

Oscar Dansk A 6-foot-2, 186-pound Swedish goaltender that confirms the Bruins are looking to collect a coalition of nations as their organizational depth between the pipes. If all of the defensemen and forward prospects are gone when the Bruins get to the 24th selection then theres a very real possibility they could add another top-tier goaltender with Tim Thomas now out of the picture. Its said that Dansk impressed Bruins scouts when he played a strong game against Bs draft property Zane Gothberg in international competition. He wouldnt be ready to jump into the NHL right away, but its important to keep the European goaltending pipeline active and strong.

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction. 

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while sorting through all the Bruins-related alternative facts out there.

*Matthew Tkachuk is having some disagreements with his parents about his mouth-guard usage with the Calgary Flames.

*Former Yotes D-man Keith Yandle says that the Arizona Coyotes “know what they’re doing” despite their decent to the cellar in the Western Conference.

*Insights on every goaltending situation in the NHL from the crack ESPN.com staff breaking down the fantasy rankings.

*The struggles continue for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they can’t seem to gain any traction in the Atlantic Division.

*Wayne Simmonds took the blame for a late penalty that led to Philly’s undoing as they battle for playoff position in the East.

*Sounds like Patrik Laine might be nearing a return to the lineup, and that’s a very good thing for the Winnipeg Jets.

*For something completely different: We have a title for the next Star Wars film. It’s going to be called “The Last Jedi.”