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.

Pare 'brings energy' as big-bodied, sixth-round Bruins pick

Pare 'brings energy' as big-bodied, sixth-round Bruins pick

CHICAGO – The Bruins aren’t ever going to shy away from big, strong centers with a willingness to play on the physical side, so it was no surprise they selected big French-Canadian center Cedric Pare in the sixth round of the NHL Draft Saturday at the United Center.

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The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Pare was described as “a project” by Bruins assistant general manager Scott Bradley, who said that he’s looking forward to the big-bodied forward playing a top-six role in the QMJHL next season. Pare had five goals and 16 points in 64 games for the Saint John Sea Dogs before posting three points in 18 playoff games. Bradley said the Bruins hope to see more offense as he gets more exposure as a player.

“Pare is a developed kid that we got in the sixth round. He went to the Memorial Cup and we’ve seen good things from him. We think we got good value there,” said Bradley. “He plays with a lot of energy and I think his skating is undervalued. Over the course of the year he really picked it up with his skating, and his stride has lengthened a little bit. We just like that he plays with energy and he scored in the Memorial Cup despite playing a limited role.

“He was playing on the fourth line last year. I think this year he’ll be playing on one of their top lines as a top-six forward and he’ll get a lot of ice time...hopefully get some good development there.”

Pare indicated that the Bruins had shown interest in him throughout the season and he had an idea the Black and Gold might call his name in the later rounds. While there’s always room in the B’s prospect cupboard for a big-bodied center that plays with plenty of energy, it remains to be seen if Pare was worth using a sixth-round pick on when there are plenty of big-bodied hockey players out there willing to play with energy and aggressiveness. 

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

Bruins tap Maine-bound goalie Swayman in fourth round

CHICAGO – It was thought the Bruins might swing for the fences with Boston University goalie Jake Oettinger, particularly if they traded down in the first round, but they ended up filling their goalie quota on Saturday in the fourth round of the NHL Draft at the United Center. The B’s selected University of Maine-bound Jeremy Swayman with the 111th pick in the draft after an impressive run for the Alaska native at Sioux Falls as a junior hockey player.

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The 6-foot-2, 183-pound Swayman posted a 2.90 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage in 32 games for a poor Sioux City junior team, but distinguished himself with his size, athleticism and competitiveness as the rare goalie prospect to come out of the great state of Alaska. Swayman was eating breakfast in his Alaskan home while watching himself get drafted by the Bruins. Needless to say, he was pumped as he readies for his first season in Hockey East.

“I’ve been working my whole life for this and just to kind of have the notion of, your work has paid off in a small area of time or a small trinket, it’s very worth all of the hard times and tough times, and kind of working at everything for it. It’s kind of a token back and just an incredible opportunity for sure,” said Swayman, who said he models his game after Braden Holtby while also envying Tuukka Rask’s flexibility. “I would describe myself as a challenge goalie. So, a competitive goalie just kind of fighting through traffic at all times. Being able to see the puck from anywhere on the ice, whether there is a screen in front or a point shot and, of course, a point blank shot. Again, I trust my ability on my skates. I have good feet. I can stay up longer than most goalies in situations where they would have to slide. So, I can stay up and cover more net on a backdoor pass, per say. I also like to cut down the angle a lot.”

Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley admitted that Swayman wasn’t the first choice of everybody at the B’s draft table, but said the scouts were confident making him the pick after another goalie was taken off the board before him. There were three goalies taken in the fourth round, including Prince Albert netminder Ian Scott taken one pick before the B’s selection, so it’s difficult to tell which other goalie Boston had their eyes on.

Clearly, the hope now is that Swayman follows in a proud tradition of stud Black Bears goalies that include Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, Scott Darling, Mike Dunham and Garth Snow, and that the B’s have drafted a new goalie of the future with Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre in the AHL.

“He’s a goalie that [Bruins goalie coach] Bob Essensa had really liked, and had scouted him. Most of our staff was on board with the goalie. We targeted another goalie, but he just went before our pick,” said Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley. “We heard good things from [the University of Maine] staff there, and we did our due diligence on him. We’re happy with him.”

It remains to be seen how Swayman develops in college, but the B’s hope it’s a steady, ascending development like that of McIntyre after they drafted him prior to his starring run at North Dakota.