Haggerty: Looking at Bruins plans for NHL Draft

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Haggerty: Looking at Bruins plans for NHL Draft

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.

Krejci, Krug aim to be ready for Bruins opening night

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Krejci, Krug aim to be ready for Bruins opening night

BRIGHTON – Only two Bruins players spoke to the media following the team’s first informal captain’s practice at the new Warrior Ice Arena facility, and it happened to be the two key players coming back from offseason surgery.

Torey Krug had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder shortly after last season was over, and David Krejci had hip surgery to take care of a lower body issue that had bothered him for each of the last two seasons. Both were on the ice on Monday morning along with John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, Frank Vatrano and Noel Acciari, though Krejci hopped off the ice 15 minutes into the session once the skating drills started to ramp up.

Similarly, Krug wasn’t taking any one-timers or winding up for slap shots while working with the puck during drills amidst a six month recovery window that’s expected to carry over into October. Both said that playing on opening night was their goal at this point still weeks ahead of NHL training camp, but a decision should be forthcoming for Krejci when it comes to the World Cup of Hockey. It didn’t sound like the playmaking pivot was going to end up competing for Team Czech Republic in the tournament, but Krejci isn't shutting the door just yet.

“It’s another day closer. I did a little bit more stuff today and I’m obviously already on the ice, so I’m kind of getting there. This injury takes time, but I like where I’m at right now,” said Krejci, who originally hurt the left hip in the final preseason game prior to the 2014-15 seasons. “Every day is a step closer. I’m excited for tomorrow. If you asked me a long time ago [about the World Cup] then I would have said ‘yes’, but right now I just want to get to 100 percent.

“If I’m ready then that would be awesome, but if not then I have to do what I have to do to be 100 percent. I’m in contact with the national team coach, and we talk pretty every week. They’re asking about my updates, so they know what’s going on. I’m sure they have some backup plan if it’s not going to work out. We’ll see what happens.”

It’s not quite as cut-and-dry with Krug, who will start slowly going into training camp while ramping up to being ready as quickly as possible. Similar to Krejci, the shoulder injury was something Krug played with pretty much all of last season while scoring a career-low four goals in 81 games. The 25-year-old D-man wasn’t using the bum right shoulder as an excuse, but said he’s looking forward to feeling good as new again as soon as possible.

“When you miss the playoffs it’s a long summer, but I was very fortunate going through the shoulder surgery that I had a lot of time to recover,” said Krug, who averaged a career-high 21:37 of ice time last season. “Hopefully I’ll be good to go for the first game. I didn’t know what to expect, but from a medical standpoint they tell me that [I’m ahead of schedule]. I’d never been through a surgery or anything like this, but I feel good.

“It’s probably a harder road, but I’m in good hands and they tell me I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m not even using my shoulder shooting the puck. I’m taking it slow and day-by-day with plenty of time still leading up to camp. It’s probably going to be a play it by ear situation [to start camp]. They said six month, so camp would be about five months. So I doubt I’ll be taking part in the physical aspect of it [to start camp]. We’ll see how it goes.”

The bad news is that Krejci and Krug had to go through surgery at all last spring, but it sounds like both aren’t going to miss much, if any, time at all for the B’s once the regular season winds up. 

Krejci more disappointed in losing Eriksson than missing out on Vesey

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Krejci more disappointed in losing Eriksson than missing out on Vesey

BRIGHTON – The Bruins held their first informal skate at the new Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning and there were a number of players present that also took part in the Jimmy Vesey recruiting session a few weeks ago.

Both Torey Krug and David Krejci skated on Monday along with John-Michael Liles, Frank Vatrano, Adam McQuaid and Noel Acciari, and those two aforementioned Black and Gold veterans were also part of the recruiting group that met with the former Harvard captain at their new practice facility.

A few days later, Vesey spurned the Bruins to sign with the New York Rangers, and the reactions weren’t all that overheated from the B’s players. Krug played with Vesey on Team USA during the World Championships a little more than a year ago, and didn’t really begrudge the highly sought Hobey Baker Award winner choosing the Blueshirts.

“I’m not going to go into details. He had the right to do what he did, and obviously it was a smart decision to interview with all those teams and figure out the best fit for him,” said Krug. “We wanted to him here, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. Now we move on, and there’s an opportunity for other guys to step in and take that spot. This group moving forward, we’re highly motivated this year.”

Krejci would have been Vesey’s center, as pitched by the Bruins management in the meeting with Vesey, but that wasn’t enough to woo him to play pro hockey in his hometown. Krejci said he was more disappointed losing linemate Loui Eriksson than falling short in the Vesey sweepstakes. The carousel of changing wingers will be moving once again for the B’s pivot.

“I wasn’t really disappointed with that guy. Obviously I’d heard he was a good player, but he has to prove himself on the NHL level. I was more disappointed that we weren’t able to keep Loui. I felt like we had some good chemistry going,” said Krejci, referencing 30-goal scorer Eriksson departing for the Vancouver Canucks and a six-year, $36 million contract. “It was tough to see him go, but I’m getting kind of used to seeing my guys, my favorite guys, going away [like] Milan [Lucic], Nathan [Horton] and [Jarome] Iginla.

“So I’m going to have to play my game, and find chemistry with whoever is going to play on my line. I did meet him, and talked to him a bit. In the summer there aren’t many [hockey] things for people to talk about, so this [Vesey watch] was something for people to talk about. Obviously there was pressure on him, but he brought it on himself, I guess. I feel like he would have been a good fit on our team, but he made the decision he did. I don’t know exactly why he made the decision that he didn’t want to stay [in Boston], but it’s his career and he has all the right to decide where it is he wants to play.”

So Vesey becomes just another Harvard grad headed to New York City to start his career, and the Bruins will likely turn to Vatrano or perhaps rookie playmaker Danton Heinen as left wing candidates alongside Krejci and David Pastrnak after Boston missed out on both Eriksson and Vesey this summer. 

 

Monday, Aug. 29: Jones settles in as ‘the man’ with Sharks

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Monday, Aug. 29: Jones settles in as ‘the man’ with Sharks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while largely satisfied with the payoff from “The Night of” on HBO. I’m fully satisfied from watching that rather than catching even one minute of the VMAs.

*Martin Jones is still pretty new to all of this as he settles into his role as “the man” between the pipes for the San Jose Sharks.

*Alex Ovechkin is now a married man, apparently.

*A pretty good rundown on a piece about the explosion of statistical analysis in sports where so much of it is simply stating the obvious. I don’t need a bar graph to tell me a player is struggling when I can plainly see it on the ice.

*Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is optimistic that his team can overcome the injury bug to start their season defending their Stanley Cup championship.

*Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen has had a long offseason to ponder his Game 7 meltdown in the playoffs.

*This Alex Radulov era in Montreal promises to be an interesting one for both the enigmatic, talented Russian and the Habs.

*For something completely different: I’m sure pro wrestling aficionado James Stewart is a little green with envy that my Mr. Fuji tweet made the Washington Post. It was a sad day learning that the Devious One had been elevated up to the big squared circle in the sky.