Youll have to pardon the Bruins if theres a certain element of shock and awe when they select 24th in the first round of the NHL draft this weekend in Pittsburgh. They have to make their splash when they can because after that, GM Peter Chiarelli and the Bs dont have another pick until the third round with the 85th overall selection.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, they will no longer have a top 10 pick as they had in 2010 (Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick) and 2011 (Dougie Hamilton with the ninth overall pick) courtesy of the Maple Leafs as part of the Phil Kessel deal.
So there will be a little more digging to be done for Bostons scouting staff this time around, but Chiarelli said the Bruins have already targeted five players who will likely be around at the end of the first round in a defensemen-heavy draft.
Its a little harder to pick when youre later on down the line, but its a draft thats very heavy on defensemen and weve kind of narrowed it down to five players that were looking at, said Chiarelli. Four of them are defensemen. Weve been wrong before, but were usually pretty good when we bring in a cluster of players.
There are a bunch of good defensemen that are available, and thats not a bad thing. Those can be hard to find. Were going to get a good player with the 24th pick.
Chiarelli added that hed like to add some wingers with size to the Bs organizational depth (as they did in 2009 when they selected Jordan Caron with their first round pick) if possible throughout the 2012 draft, so keep an eye out for that.
So who are the five players that the Bruins have poked, prodded, interviewed and targeted as hopefuls when the 24th pick arrives (barring any trades to move up in the draft of course)?
Heres a list with a quick scouting report:
Slater Koekkoek (defenseman) The 6-foot-2, 184-pounder had 18 points in 26 games for the Peterborough Petes before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury. He probably could have gone before No. 24 if hed had a healthy season. He plays big minutes and would be a steal for the Black and Gold if he slides.
Matthew Finn (defenseman) The 6-foot, 196-pound defenseman finished sixth in the OHL in defensemen scoring with 48 points in 61 games for the Guelph Storm, and has the NHL bloodlines as first cousin to St. Louis Blues defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo. According to NHL.com his favorite player is Drew Doughty, and the Bruins would be extremely happy if he developed into anything close to that should they end up choosing him. Right now Finn is viewed as a viable defensive product still working on the offensive end of the game.
Olli Maatta (defenseman) The 6-foot-2, 202-pound lefty shot is a native of Finland, but traveled to North America to play for the London Knights of the OHL this season. Maatta led all OHL rookie defensemen with 32 points in 58 games last season and has played for the Finland World Junior entry in each of the last two seasons. In fact Maatta became the youngest player to participate for Finland since 1998 in the 2011 tournament when he qualified for the team as a 16-year-old. Maatta has a big shot and scouts say hes smooth in every area of the game. His favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption, so its clear he also appreciates the classics.
Hampus Lindholm (defenseman) A 6-foot-2, 196-pound Swedish defenseman that shoots lefty and is one of the top-ranked European players eligible -- and the top-ranked blueliner -- for the draft this year. No big eye-popping numbers, but Lindholm appears to have all the tools to be yet another excellent defenseman from Sweden.
Brendan Gaunce (center) A 6-foot-2, 215-pound lefty shooting center for the Belleville Bulls and led the team in rookie scoring with 36 points in 65 games. His older brother Cameron is a defenseman in the Colorado Avalanche organization that played 11 games for the Avs in 2011. Gaunces favorite player growing up was Brendan Shanahan and he was a punter on his high school football team showing a little bit of athletic versatility. Hed a very nice building block if he lasts to the 24th pick.