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.