Bruins come out ahead in NHL draft

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Bruins come out ahead in NHL draft

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
ST. PAUL, Minn. The Bruins were playing with house money during this years draft with the knowledge that they didnt need any of the players for next years team and had no specific needs to fill on a roster bulging with talent and Stanley Cup experience.

Since weve taken over thats what we were trying to get to the point where we could develop our players the right way by letting them play in Providence and develop there, said Bruins assistant GM Jim Benning. Then when theyre ready, pull them up and they are ready to play in the NHL. I think as an organization, depth-wise were at that point now.

With 14 players from their Stanley Cup roster under the age of 30 years old and expected to return for multiple seasons in Boston, the Black and Gold roster is locked in for many of the players in the short term. That allowed the Bruins to pull in an 18-year-old defenseman in Dougie Hamilton with the No. 9 selection that will need at least one more year of development before hes NHL-ready and then take some risks with their other picks while drafting for projectable futures rather than for any needs on the current roster.

Included among the five picks on Day 2 of the draft were a Russian left winger that reminds Bruins scouts of Scott Gomez, a hard-nosed, gritty Toronto native named Anthony Camara that reminds Bruins of Shawn Thornton, a pair of Ivy League-bound hockey prospects including one thats currently playing at Milton Academy and a Norwegian goaltender currently playing in the Finnish junior leagues.

In other words, the Bruins felt like they could take some chances on players that they liked and give each of these prospects plenty of time to develop their games and potentially turn into second day heroes like Patrice Bergeron (second round pick in 2003), David Krejci (second round pick in 2004), Milan Lucic (second round in 2006), Brad Marchand (third round pick in 2006 draft) and so many other homegrown Bs players over the last few years.

So with that in mind, here are some thoughts from Benning who has seen pretty much all of these players in person at least once through the junior hockey season about each of the six draft picks in the 2011 draft class.

1) Dougie Hamilton (6-foot-5, 190-pound defenseman from Niagara taken with first round pick). Bennings thoughts: We were really excited to get Hamilton at the ninth pick. You know hes 6-foot-5, hes a real good skater and he can handle the puck. Because of his wingspan and hes so long that he uses a long stick and he defends like Adam McQuaid, who likes to use his sticks to knock pucks down. Any time you can get a 6-foot-5 guy with his skill set, you are pretty excited. Its happened in the last couple of years where teams want scoring and theyre stepping up and taking scorers early. Last year wed seen it with Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley kind of slip in the first round. Then this year maybe even Hamilton kind of slipped. I dont think its a reflection on the player itself, but more that teams are looking to fill a need whether its center ice or scoring. Were just lucky to be in position where he ended up in our lap.

2) Alexander Khokhlachev (5-foot-10, 183-pound left wing from Russia, but played with the OHLs Windsor Spitfires last season as their second round pick). The Bruins did their homework on the nifty scorer and Koko wants to play in North America, so there wont be any issues with signability common for a Russian player. Benning: Hes a skilled, skilled player. He loves to score and for a Russian player hes really competitive. Hes strong on the puck, hes an elusive skater, and from the blueline in on the offensive endthats the strength of his game. He loves to score and create scoring chances. Hes so elusive and he can turn on a dime. Hes not tall, but hes a thick kid, so hes strong and he fits our core values of work ethic, character and skill. He measures up in all those things.

3) Anthony Camara (6-foot-1, 193-pound left wing from the OHL team in Saginaw taken in the third round). Camara is a grinderfighter with some offensive upside that the Bruins office compared favorably with Shawn Thornton. Benning: Hes a typical Boston Bruin-type player. Hes a good skater and he plays a north-south game. Hell fight anybodyhell take anybody on. He hits on the fore-check and when he was there in the third round it was a good fit for his style of game to the way we play. Hes not big and tall, but hes thick and hes a fearless player. Hes kind of like a Shawn Thornton-type for us.

4) Brian Ferlin (6-foot-1 , 201-pound right wing from the USHLs Indiana team taken with the last pick in the fourth round). Ferlin is bound for Cornell and Benning called him a power forward in the making. Benning: Ferlin is a power forward player. He does the things that we covet. Hes strong along the wall, hes strong protecting the puck and he takes pucks to the net. He ended up third in the USHL in scoring this year, scoring 73 points, so he had a good year. Hes going to Cornell next year. Hes a guy we see as a power forward playing in the NHL someday.

5) Robbie OGara (6-foot-2 , 185-pound defenseman from Milton Academy taken with the last pick in the fifth round). OGara is Yale-bound in two years and is somebody the Bruins have seen plenty of while skating at Milton Academy. Benning: Weve seen him play lots in Milton this year. Hes another kid thats a big boy, 63. Hes a good skater, he can handle the puck and make the good first pass. Hes going to be a guy that keeps developing and growing into his body. As he gets stronger we see a lot of NHL potential in his game.

6) Lars Volden (6-foot-3, 198-pound goaltender from Norway playing for the Junior Blues in Finland taken with the last pick in the sixth round) Benning: Hes the typical butterfly style that you see come out of Finland. Hes big, he covers the upper part of the net in the butterfly Well keep monitoring him. It takes goalies a long time to develop. There have been a lot of good goalies to come out of Finland, so were excited to get him out of the sixth round.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

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Morning Skate: Guy Boucher proves to be a man of the people

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while putting the pieces together now that the hockey season is O-V-A-H here in Boston. 
 
-- FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Arthur takes a look at the end of the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who put on a good show with their young, talented crew. 
 
-- In the interest of self-promotion, here is this morning’s interview with Toucher and Rich where I talked about the Bruins taking a step forward despite their season being over. 
 
-- He might look and sound like a Bond Villain, but Guy Boucher was far from it in stopping to shake hands with Senators fans at the airport after their playoff win over the B’s. 
 
-- Interesting that John Stevens is named head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, since the change isn’t expected to be a big departure from what was already going on there. 
 
-- The San Jose Sharks are all done for this season, and one wonders if GM Doug Wilson is going to have to choose between Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau moving forward. 

 -- Speaking of the Senators, PHT writer James O’Brien has Clarke MacArthur and Craig Anderson making Ottawa’s playoff victory all the more emotional

 -- For something completely different: Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is coming to a theatre near you soon, and here’s a review. I’m looking forward to this one.

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

Haggerty: Cassidy should be rewarded for a job well done

BOSTON -- After the Bruins were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs Sunday, nearly every player was in agreement in identifying the turning point of the season:

The coaching change.

The B's went 18-8-1 in the regular season after Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien and rallied to make the playoffs after a late-season, four-game tailspin had them in danger of missing out for the third straight year. And despite being ravaged by injuries, they showed fight and spirit in pushing Ottawa to six games, including a road victory in a double-overtime, Game 5 thriller, before eventually succumbing in overtime, 3-2, on Sunday.

Certainly there were moments of sloppiness -- ill-timed penalties, moments when the Bruins simply couldn't bust through Ottawa's 1-3-1 trap -- but Boston's gutty playoff showing, coupled with the regular-season surge, makes it seem clear Cassidy deserves to be awarded the full-time head coaching gig. 

Several Bruins players voiced their endorsement of Cassidy on Sunday, lauding him for bringing energy, offensive thrust, and open-mindedness to using younger players. 

"The results speak for themselves," said David Backes, who played some of his best hockey in Games 5 and 6 once he was paired with center Sean Kuraly. "We were climbing uphill when [Cassidy] took over and we made our way [to the playoffs] . . . [He] certainly did a heck of a job."

And how does Cassidy -- who had gone more than 13 years since his last NHL head coaching job before replacing Julien on an interim basis, and spending the previous eight seasons at the AHL level in Providence -- feel? 

"Absolutely. 100 percent," said Cassidy, when asked if he wanted the Boston job on a permanent basis.

And if he got it, perhaps those improvements would continue.

"Maybe a full year with him, he changes a few things," said Backes.

"That will be determined going forward by management whether I continue to be the head coach, and what players will be here will [also] be determined by management," said Cassidy. "So it's a tough question to answer [on what improvements need to be made]. I think we scored some goals this year. We were good on the rush as well and the power play . . . and we were always a good forechecking team. This series took on a personality that we were going to have to score on the forecheck. 

"I thought that's why you see guys like [Noel] Acciari and Kuraly get into the lineup and really contribute. It's the strength of their game, and maybe less so from other guys that are more line rush guys. Don't forget, we had a lot of neophytes going into this series in terms of National Hockey League playoffs. So there's a learning curve for them and that's part of the growth process that we hope that, if we're sitting here next year at this time talking about advancing, that they learn something from this year. That's what every team goes through and the [David] Pastrnaks of the world, [Charlie] McAvoy . . . pick your players that are new to it, and [they] have to learn from [it]."

The decision to start Anton Khudobin in Brooklyn late in the regular season after the Bruins had lost four in a row was a turning point-type move, where Cassidy certainly pushed some buttons with No. 1 goalie Tuukka Rask. And his insertion of Kuraly for Ryan Spooner in Game 5 worked on every level, and probably prolonged the series. So give him credit for both of those things along with the pumped-up offense he helped orchestrate in the final few months of the regular season. 

The Bruins won't be making any public statements or pronouncements on Monday, but one has to assume Cassidy holds the inside track on the job after guiding the team back into the playoffs for the first time in three years. Certainly there may be courtesy interviews for other candidates like Providence College coach Nate Leaman, but it's difficult to see anything else Cassidy would have to accomplish to be fit for the position. 

As Backes said himself, the results speak for themselves.