Bruins draft primer: Potential first rounders

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Bruins draft primer: Potential first rounders

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:

Dougie Hamilton
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.

Ryan Murphy
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.

RyanStrome
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.

Nathan Beaulieu
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.

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

Sweeney on chasing Stamkos, Lucic: 'We will make all the calls'

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Sweeney on chasing Stamkos, Lucic: 'We will make all the calls'

BUFFALO – While it certainly doesn’t feel like there’s any chance of it realistically happening, the Bruins plan to reach out to some of the bigger fish on the free agent market with roughly $21 million in cap space to work with.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney lost out on a defenseman trade target in Dmitry Kulikov on Saturday when he was dealt by the Panthers to the Buffalo Sabres and appears far away from acquiring top D-man target Kevin Shattenkirk.

So, the Bruins will turn their attention to the free agent market opening on July 1, and with that in mind Sweeney didn’t rule out the Bruins making a run at Stephen Stamkos, or potentially welcoming back power forward Milan Lucic.

“The interview period has already begun, and we were on the phone today with players that we had targeted. It was our first opportunity to speak with them, and see if things line up. It will play out over the next few days and we will be aggressive about it because we want to improve,” said Sweeney, who was adamant that the Bruins would make all the necessary exploratory phone calls when specifically asked about both Stamkos and Lucic. “We will take the temperature of whoever will help our hockey club, and it if lines up then that’s what we’d like to do.

“There are a lot of coveted ones on the market, and we will make all of the calls. It’s everybody. The city would embrace it, and the organization has great respect for [Lucic]. So there’s no question that we would explore all players.”

There may be some sentimental interest from Lucic's camp in returning to Boston, but there's also a sense the left wing has become comfortable back on his native West Coast. The Canucks in his home city of Vancouver and the Edmonton Oilers are expected to push hard for his punishing, board-rattling services. Wooing Stamkos would be particularly difficult given that the Bruins seem years away from truly competing for a Stanley Cup and have two frontline centers in Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci.

While either one would certainly help a Black and Gold team likely to be losing Loui Eriksson in free agency, much of their existing cap space is going to be eaten up by a contract extension for RFA Torey Krug, a deal for whatever replacement they have in mind for Eriksson should he sign with a different team and the top-four defenseman that Boston has needed since trading Dougie Hamilton at last June’s draft weekend in Florida. 

Bruins wrap up draft by picking Koppanen, Clarke, Steen

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Bruins wrap up draft by picking Koppanen, Clarke, Steen

BUFFALO – The Bruins continued their drafting of big centers, defenseman and potential bottom-six forwards on Day 2 of the NHL draft with their final three selections,  including a pair of European prospects.

With back-to-back picks in the fifth round, the Bruins took 6-foot-5 Finnish center Joona Koppanen with the 135th pick, then tapped 20-year-old late-blooming defenseman Cameron Clarke with the next pick. The big-bodied, defense-minded Koppanen sounded quite a bit like fellow countrymen and ex-Bruin Joonas Kemppainen as an overall player, but clearly the Bruins are hoping he can develop more of his offensive game over the next few years.

A 5-foot-9, 187-pound Swedish forward Oskar Steen was the pick in the sixth round. The Bruins then traded their 2016 seventh-round pick to the Florida Panthers for a seventh-round pick in 2017.

Add those three players to the first three players selected in the first two rounds (Charlie McAvoy, Trent Frederic and Ryan Lindgren), and the Bruins clearly pursued big, bottom-six centers and defensemen as their main target areas.

“I think we addressed the defensive part of our game, and we addressed our centermen. We got some speed and some compete, and those are things [we liked] from all of us,” said Bruins head of scouting Keith Gretzky. “Charlie likes to get up and give the big hits, and makes big plays with the puck. He was a young kid that played in an older league, and you’ve got to have the ability to do that. His game just got better as the year went along.

“With [Frederic] we wanted a center with some size and heaviness, and we really believe he’s going to a good program. His teammates all talked highly of him, and character is a very big thing. You want guys that will pay the price, and when you look at him and Lindgren [those are the type of guys]. Lindgren isn’t the most skilled guy like McAvoy, but he brought an element that we really liked as an organization. We believe he’s a leader, and you win with those guys.”

All six of the players will be in Boston for development camp a couple of weeks from now, along with the rest of the Black and Gold prospect group. 
 

Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick

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Bruins select hard-nosed D-man Lindgren with second-round pick

BUFFALO – The Bruins went back for another young defenseman with the 49th overall pick in the second round and drafted Minnesota-born Ryan Lindgren, who will be playing for the Gophers this season as another college hockey product in the B’s system.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Lindgren is a hard-nosed, high-character defenseman that didn’t blow away scouts with any one tool, but was solid with six goals and 25 points in 61 games for the US National Development Team Program Under-18 team last season.

Lindgren has good hockey bloodlines as the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren and would be more of a solid all-around defenseman rather than an offensive D-man like first-round pick Charlie McAvoy.

“I honestly could not be more excited,” said Lindgren. “They are one of the teams that seemed like they had a lot of interest in me. When you get selected by a team like the Boston Bruins, everyone knows what a great organization they are. I really could not be more excited.

“I think I’m a leader on and off the ice, and bring a good compete level. I bring it every day. I think more of a defensive defenseman, but I think I’ve got some offensive ability in my game as well. I’m a guy who’s going to be physical, going to bring it every game, block shots. [I am] going to do what he has to do to help the team.”

The choice of Lindgren is a nice bounce-back pick for the Bruins on Day 2 after reaching a bit for Trent Frederic at the end of the first round on Friday night. The Bruins could end up regretting that choice if second-round picks such as Alex DeBrincat or Pascal Laberge end up developing into high-end forwards in the NHL.