June 1, 2012

Combine rumor: Are the B's looking to trade up at the draft?

By Kirk Luedeke

Defensemen Brady Skjei (left) and Slater Koekkoek are two players that may compel the Bruins to move up at this year's NHL Draft. (Skjei photo: Tom Sorensen, Koekkoek photo: Ken Andersen)

With the NHL Scouting Combine in full swing this week, the Boston Bruins have gotten a chance to interview plenty of prospects who are being considered for the team’s top choice at the NHL Entry Draft June 22 in Pittsburgh.

Without picks in the second and fourth rounds, the B’s are rumored to want to make that first one count.  Like Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots back in late April, in order to get the best bang for the proverbial buck, it may take some maneuvering on the draft board to get things done for Peter Chiarelli and the B’s.

New England Hockey Journal heard from a source today that aggressively moving out of the 24th spot makes a lot of sense for a team that has some assets in the form of roster players and prospects to jump up some slots to get the guy they want.

And who could be the one they want?

Looking across the organization at its strengths and shortcomings, we have to believe that the player the B’s have likely identified as the best player they can realistically land is a defenseman. Seeing Zdeno Chara on the wrong side of 30 only reinforces that Dougie Hamilton is still a prospect and could certainly benefit from having another strong future asset with upside in the system.

Slater Koekkoek, Derrick Pouliot, Brady Skjei and Olli Maatta are all players who fit the mold of what Boston covets in a player. Don’t forget the players nobody is talking about because they are expected to go inside the top-10: Jacob Trouba and Morgan Rielly. The first four defenders are not projected to be on the board when the Bruins turn comes at 24, while the final two are certain to be gone. If Boston is going to move ahead, any of these players could be worthy options.

There is also the indication that at least one team picking just ahead of Boston is also dialed-in on one of those same targets. The belief here is that if the player is still on the board at 15, both teams will likely start maneuvering to get their guy.

If the good news for Boston is that the organization has legitimate currency to make a deal to jump up, the bad news is—so does their potential rival suitor.

We won’t reveal the other alleged rival team just yet while seeking to get a secondary confirmation. However, based on the way things are setting up, especially with regard to how Hamilton fell into Boston’s lap a year ago, we think this has legs.

Watch for things to play out slowly for now, but as we get closer to June 22 and various players are brought in for private visits and workouts, the picture will better come into focus.

What do you think? Should the Bruins surrender assets to move up in the 2012 NHL Draft or should they stand pat?

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