By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins InsiderFollow @hackswithhaggs
MINNEAPOLIS When it gets right down to it, there are probably only three or four ways the Bruins are prepared to go when they make the ninth overall pick in the NHL draft Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center.
None of the names on Bostons draft list are expected to be ready to jump in for the Bruins next season, as first-round pick Tyler Seguin did this past year, but general manager Peter Chiarelli has learned to "never say never" when it comes to the draft.
We saw a player in Cam Fowler who dropped to 12th that ended up playing well for the Anaheim Ducks, so you never say never about a player that gets drafted that low, said Chiarelli. There may be one player that could play next season if he dropped to us, but that would be a huge bonus. Its more about getting the right player and developing them.
The Bruins could find themselves with a Fowler type, as the Ducks did last season, and get real immediate value on a player that somehow dropped into their laps just inside the top 10.
Fowler led all rookie defensemen with 40 points in 76 games during an eye-opening first year and the Bruins hope to catch that kind of lightning.
Bostons GM referenced the B's lack of elite defense selections in drafts past under his regime.
Chiarelli and his scouting staff have never used a first-round pick on a defenseman, and have instead counted on deals for NCAA defensemen like Steve Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski and Colby Cohen to address their organizational depth along the blueline.
Aside from 24-year-old Adam McQuaid, the Bs defense corps is pushing toward or over the age of 30 years old, and a young blueliner or two could work wonders for Bostons organizational depth over the next 2-3 years.
Chiarelli indicated hes received a couple of calls for the No. 9 overall pick this season, but wont move the selection and will hold the highest first round selection for a Stanley Cup champion since the New York Islanders tapped Pat LaFontaine in 1983.
I dont think there will be any magic for us in the first round. I think after the first three or four players there is another group of eight that well be picking through, said Chiarelli. There is a good batch of defensemen, wingers and centers. Oftentimes players you have ranked below your pick can creep in ahead of your pick, and good players can fall right into your lap . . .
From afar, it would seem like we want to draft a defensemen, but you also dont want to bypass a really good young player at another position. Well be wary of that.
The Bs general manager said that four draft-eligible players were invited to Boston over the last month to visit with the Bruins front-office brass in anticipation of the draft, among them defensemen Ryan Murphy and Nathan Beaulieu.
Here is a quick sketch on each of Bostons possible first-round selections:
He is an extremely cerebral two-way defenseman with size, smarts and an ability to make plays on the man advantage. Hamiltons 6-foot-4 frame, his leadership skills and his dominant play at the junior level mean that he a top-notch student who could become a doctor rather than a hockey player if he wanted to will be gone by the time Boston picks at No. 9.
Hamilton cranked up 58 points in 67 CHL games last season, and it would be a minor miracle if hes still on the board after the New York Islanders select a player with their fifth overall pick. He would also be the first Dougie to lace up for the Bruins for the first time in recent memory, which should count for something.
Likely the sentimental favorite in Boston given his Irish last name, Murphy has elite-level skating speed and an ability to quarterback the power play. He is undersized ata shadeover5-foot-10 (he's listed at 5-foot-11 but the measurements are usually generous come draft-time), but he also holds the most explosive offensive arsenal among the available defensemen in the draft. He's said to have the best skating speed in the entire draft among the defensemen group, and he's capable of pushing the pace of play with his ability to move the puck.
Murphy has been at the top of many draft boards all season long, and could be a Fowler-style slider that drops right into Bostons laps if other late-charging names get tossed into the first round mix. Murphy spoke in interviews about modeling his game after defensemen like Dan Boyle and Duncan Keith, and that is exactly the kind of player Boston is missing.
A good option if all the good defense picks are off the board.Strome is a creative, speedy play-making center who offers a little less offense, but a little more two-way awareness, than Tyler Seguin did last season.
Strome had very similar numbers to Seguin as a pivot in the OHL, and Boston is always looking to continue fortifying its organizational depth at the center position. His 33 goals in 65 games last season are nothing to sneeze at for a team thats constantly looking for better scoring from its forwards.
Beaulieu is a 6-foot-2, smooth-skating, big shot from the point on the power play who had a good-but-not-great season for a Saint John team that won the Memorial Cup. That's the kind of big game, winning experience at the junior hockey level that the Bruins absolutely covet.
Beaulieu is a better defensive option than Murphy, but would be a step below both Murphy and Hamilton in terms of high-end potential for a home-run selection in the first round. But Beaulieu also has a little bit more grit and toughness to his game, and has an edge that both Murphy and Hamilton havent shown yet in their young careers.