Bruins laud 'complete success' in drafting six future prospects

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Bruins laud 'complete success' in drafting six future prospects

PITTSBURGH Boston Bruins scouting director Wayne Smith admitted after it was all over that the 2012 NHL Draft class wasnt one of the strongest, but the Bs were still happy with their treasure trove of six picks at the end of Saturday afternoon.

We accomplished everything that we set out to do, said Smith. We wanted to get some depth in goal, we wanted to add some size and toughness and we got some character players. All in all it was a complete success with the scouting staff and management working toward the plan.

This was a year where universally people across the league thought it was a down year. Whereas next year projects to be the strongest draft in 20 years, so anytime you have a draft like this year you go off your gut and the work of your scouts. Sometimes you go off the board. Some teams did that because they had feelings on players that we didnt agree with. Im sure there are players we picked that some other teams might have shook their head at. Were really comfortable with what weve done.

In the first round the Bruins obviously nabbed Belleville Bulls goaltender Malcolm Subban, and then followed that up with five selections on Saturday after collecting an extra fifth round pick in the Benoit Pouliot deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

First and foremost Smith said Subban was a no-brainer for them at the 24th overall pick in the first round, and mentioned him in the same elite class of prospect as last years defenseman pick, Dougie Hamilton.

His upside is so high. Subban is a quality kid and hes a tremendous person, said Smith. Anytime you can attain an asset like that its very exciting for the organization. Hes like a Dougie Hamilton. These kids are winners.

Hell be the starting goaltender in the CanadaRussia series upcoming this summer and Dougie Hamilton will there as well.

In the third round the Bruins went local and tapped Charlestown native Matthew Grzelcyk, a defenseman from the US Team Development Program thats set to play for Boston University in the fall. Hes undersized at 5-foot-9 and 171 pounds, but Smith felt like the Bruins were able to get a player with an elite set of offensive skills with a bargain draft price.

Hes the type of kid that plays much bigger than he is. Hes got a Bruins mentality, said Smith. I meanhe plays to win. He plays hard. Hes tough to play against. He plays a virtually mistake-free game, and his decision-making and ability to move the puck are second to none in this draft.

Obviously its a great story because his father has worked at the Garden for 35 years. We brought him in because we had keen interest in him. After meeting with him we feel like he could be a part of us winning another Stanley Cup.

With the 131st overall pick collected in the Pouliot deal, the Bruins grabbed Seth Griffith from the London Knights. The highly productive Griffith doesnt a skill that jumped out to scouts, but his overall production and ability to be in the right place at the right time was too good to ignore in the fifth round.

He was second in the Ontario Hockey League with 47 goals, said Smith. They were timely goals. Hes a big-time player that rises to the occasion. Dale and Mark Hunter both were preaching his game, and bring that quality when they played to win pucks and races.
Hes not really big and hes not going to bowl you over, but hes got a really high hockey IQ and an NHL release on his shot.

Fourteen picks later Cody Payne went to the Bs with their own fifth round pick, and the Florida product projects to be a third line power forward capable of dropping the gloves and 6-foot-2, 201-pound size. Payne didnt play much after getting traded to the Plymouth Whalers, Tyler Seguins old junior club, but the Bruins liked what they saw when he played in a top-six forward role.

Hes a big strong kid that played on a deep team and didnt have a lot of ice time this year, said Smith. We were lucky enough to catch him when his teammates were at World Juniors. Hes as tough as they come.

The Bruins went big defenseman with raw project Matthew Benning in the sixth round with the 175th overall pick, and certainly did assistant general manager Jim Benning Matthews uncle proud with the selection. Benning is a big, nasty blueliner with NHL bloodlines as the son of Brian and nephew of Jim, and fits right into the Bruins style of play.
His dad, Brian, was a 10-year veteran in the NHL perhaps best known for his first five years with the St. Louis Blues from 1984-1989.

Benning is a big, strong kid thats very raw right now. His father played in the NHL. He moves the puck extremely well and he plays with a chip on his shoulder. When hes on the ice people know about it. Hes the kind of guy that when youre running to the bench hell give you a shot to the head just cause you were looking at him.

Hes a really good puck-mover. He hasnt decided on his school, but hes playing in Dubuque next year and has a number of colleges after him. We were really excited about this pick because hes a late-bloomer and wasnt sure he wanted to play hockey because of the pressure of the family legacy. But now hes fully committed to playing.

The final pick in the seventh round for the Bruins went to another prospective power forward, Colton Hargrove, who skates the left wing for Fargo in the USHL and certainly has the projectable size as a 6-foot-1, 215-pound power forward type.

Hargrove is a similar player to Payne. He played on a deep team in Fargo. Hes a big, strong kid and hes going to be going to Western Michigan University. Hes very physical and very tough. Im sure Bruins fans will get a chance to know and love Payne and Hargrove when their day comes.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

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Saturday, Aug. 27: Adding toughness Habs' priority

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, after a busy morning celebrating my 3-year-old’s birthday at the trampoline park. Yee-ha.

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri says that adding toughness was a big offseason priority for the Montreal Canadiens.

*There’s at least one big fan of the Edmonton Oilers trade that brought defenseman Adam Larsson from the New Jersey Devils, and that fan’s name is Mark Letestu.

*Here’s everything you need to know about the Ice Guardians movie premiering this fall that takes a long, balanced look at the NHL enforcers.

*Roberto Luongo has an alibi for the robbery in Winnipeg with one suspect getting away in goalie equipment, and it’s funny as you would expect it to be.

*CSN Washington takes a look at the New York Rangers in their season previews for the Metro Division.

*I’m not entirely sure whether this “RIP Harambe” thing is genuine or meant to be ironic by the largely millenial group that seem so enamored with it, but I think it’s just stupid. I think the same with the crying Jordan meme…also stupid.

*For something completely different: a look at how Triumph the Insult Comic Dog learned how to poop on Trump’s politics.

 

Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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Countdown to camp: Danton Heinen

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Danton Heinen.

Danton Heinen exploded into a high-profile prospect for the Bruins after finishing among the NCAA’s top scoring players a couple of years ago as a freshman along with a couple of guys named Jack Eichel and Dylan Larkin. 

Since then, Heinen has continued to produce offense at the University of Denver and continued to create offense that leads to points. Now, the 21-year-old Heinen will be entering the professional arena for his first full season with the Bruins and he’ll be attempting to transition from the prospect phase to a regular gig in the NHL. That’s the challenge for a talented player who appears headed into a very good opportunity in NHL training camp.

 

What happened last year

Heinen was every bit as explosive in his second season for Denver as he was in his brilliant freshman campaign. He improved on his scoring with 20 goals and 48 points in 41 games. Then Heinen signed with the Bruins at the end of his sophomore season and played in a couple of pro games in the AHL with Providence as a tune-up for this first full pro campaign with the Bruins organization. Heinen finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating in four games with the P-Bruins and showed the coaches in Providence that he was ready to play and produce with more talented players. If Heinen surprised a little bit as a breakout freshman two years ago, his sophomore follow-up in Denver last season proved to everybody that he wasn’t a fluke.

 

Questions to be answered this season

The real question surrounding Heinen is about his ceiling as an NHL player and just how good he can become as a player with the skills and playmaking abilities to be a top-six forward. He’s proven he can dominate at the collegiate level while admittedly playing with some pretty good teammates at Denver. Heinen showed at the end of the season in Providence that the pro scene might not be much different for him. At this point, Heinen simply needs to go out and prove it against the best players in the world and show that his speed, playmaking and hockey sense are all elite in the AHL or NHL. Heinen’s biggest obstacle might be his size. He'll need to survive as a targeted skill player despite not being much more than the 6-feet, 180-pound range for a forward. It’s about average for a playmaking wing in the NHL, but the hits and attention will be at a much more intense level than anything he faced in the NCAA world.

 

What they're saying

“He’s the type of player that he can play with good players because he’s got high hockey IQ and he’s got really good skill. I think anywhere you put him, he’s smart enough to figure it out. I think you’ll notice him during training camp. It will definitely be up to him, but I think he’ll push some guys.” –Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo on Heinen during last month’s development camp where Heinen soared as a performer.

 
Outlook

While Heinen still has some things he’ll need to prove before he’s a regular contributor for the Bruins, he comes into the Boston fold as an experienced player following two very good seasons at the college level. So, Heinen should be a little closer to plug-and-play for Claude Julien than some of the other young players that have come through the system in the past couple of years. Heinen will still need to flash in camp while being handed a big spot to perform with high-end veterans Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand potentially off playing in the World Cup of Hockey. Heinen also has a much greater chance of winning an NHL job sooner rather than later after the Bruins lost out on the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes and still have a top-six forward opening that somebody is going to fill. Heinen and Frank Vatrano are the two biggest favorites to fill that position, which became vacant when Loui Eriksson departed for Vancouver. Whichever winger loses that battle should be also be a strong candidate for a role on the third line, as well, barring any late veteran signings by the B’s. That set of circumstances leaves a very good situation for Heinen to potentially walk into with the Black and Gold, but he'll still have to show he’s fully capable of seizing his good fortune and good timing.