June 22, 2012

Bruins may stand pat with 24th pick

By Kirk Luedeke

PITTSBURGH— If trades are to be made, the Boston Bruins won’t be major players unless things change in the 11th hour at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft being held at the Consol EnergyCenter. 

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli (Getty Images)

While that may come as a disappointment to some B’s fans, the team appears to be content to sit back and see how things play out with the club’s first-round pick at the 24th selection.

“We don’t have anything significant going on with respect to the trade market right now,” said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli the Friday afternoon before the first round. “I might have mentioned the second level market after July 1 is probably going to be a little more active than it is now.”

Chiarelli opined that the quality of the draft, said to be lacking in depth when compared to recent seasons, may be a factor in seeing the trade of Sergei Bobrovski to Columbus by the Flyers for three draft picks to kick off the annual draft time trade sessions.

“We were just finishing up our meetings we get down in the latter portions of our list and it gets thin pretty quick,” he said. “That’s not out of disrespect to the players it’s just seemed to get thin really quick and maybe that’s why you might see more draft picks involved in trades.”

He went on to say that he didn’t characterize that as a major trade, but did seem to be a lot to give up.

Chiarelli talked about the possibility of trading up in the draft, something the club would seemingly need to do if the interest in Peterborough Petes defenseman Slater Koekkoek or Guelph Storm’s Matt Finn is high enough.

“I’d say it’s like 20/80—20 percent chance of moving up,” he said. “There seems to be more people that want to move down.”

While he wouldn’t completely rule out the option of trading down himself, Chiarelli did not seem to indicate that the team would do that.

As far as whether the club would try to draft for need or just take the top prospect on their board—the best player available or B.P.A. in scout speak—the B’s GM was pretty clear it would be the latter.

“That’s what we all like to use and that’s the philosophy we try to follow,” said Chiarelli. “When it gets down to the nitty gritty and there’s tie-breakers in certain areas, you’ve got to look at team needs, team fit. You look at coaching style, the style you want to play going forward.”

With that in mind, here is a look at who some of the final candidates for Boston’s top pick could be in the first round:

Slater Koekkoek, D Peterborough (OHL)

Do not be concerned with the shoulder injury that caused the standout two-way rearguard to miss the rest of the season in late November. The Ottawa-area native was outstanding at the NHL scouting combine in the bench press and pushup events, and brings the kind of tenacity and character the B’s covet along with skating and puck-moving skills.

Projection: 20/80 At 24, Koekkoek will not likely happen, even though the B’s benefited from Dougie Hamilton’s slide a year ago. B’s will need to move up to snag him, so while the GM was conservative in his projection of that happening, never say never.

Brady Skjei, D U.S. NTDP (USHL)

Minnesotan is a smooth skater who is headed to his hometown Golden Gophers. A standout defensive defenseman with Team USA in Ann Arbor the past two years, his upside is to be determined, but character guys who can move always in demand. He’s smart, poised and the kind of player the Bruins gravitate to. Put him with an offense-minded player and the best could be yet to come. After a few seasons in the NCAA, of course.

Projection: 50/50. Skjei is projected to be available with the 24th selection, so if he’s high enough on Boston’s board, he’ll go there.

Brendan Gaunce, C Belleville (OHL)

Burly center has a big body and the attitude to be an effective power forward in the NHL. His skating is labored, but fixable. He has NHL bloodlines with an older brother in Colorado and brings a solid offensive body of work from the Bulls. At one time, the second OHL pick behind Alex Galchenyuk (who went third overall toMontreal) in 2010, Gaunce is one who fitsBoston’s prototype for what they look for except for the speed. He’s excellent in the puck possession game and can do a little bit of everything.

Projection: 40/60. Gaunce might be a kid the Chicago Blackhawks or Philadelphia Flyers are dialed-in on.

Stefan Matteau, LW U.S. NTDP (USHL)

Big, strong winger has size and snarl even if his upside is limited. The son of former NHL winger Stephane Matteau hits anything that moves and plays a north-south game with a powerful shot. Not all that quick with his feet, he’s not all that an instinctive player either. Scouts feel he’s more of a “safe” pick who will play in the NHL and be a bottom-six fixture. Do you take someone like that at 24? As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if the B’s think he can be more, they’ll take him.

Projection: 30/70. While Matteau is a BostonBruins-type pick, he just has the look of a player who is not going to be the top player on the board at 24. He came into Boston to visit after the NHL Scouting Combine, so the interest is there. How much remains to be seen.

 Oscar Dansk, G Brynas (Sweden Jr.)

Although Malcolm Subban is the popular name for possible goalie options amongst Bruins fans, we’re not sold at all and believe that the former Shattuck St. Mary’s star from Stockholm is the one for Boston. It would be odd for the B’s to take a goalie in the first round, but if they did, Dansk is a player who has plenty of upside and poise. He’s a little unorthodox at times, playing deep in his net and switching from butterfly to standup styles, but he can stop the puck any way you want. On the downside, his star lost some luster with a horrific performance in the gold medal game vs.USA at the World Under-18 championship. Rumored to be going to the OHL to the London Knights next season.

Projection: 10/90. It’s not that we don’t like Dansk, but goalies are so hard to peg. They can probably do better than taking a keeper in the top-30 picks, and if one of Skjei or even Gaunce is available, it would be hard to pass on them for the Dansk.

Kirk Luedeke can be reached at kluedeke@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @kluedeke29.