Selecting 24th overall, the Boston Bruins were in some unfamiliar territory at the 2012 NHL Draft, having picked among the top 10 in the previous two years. However, despite their lower slot, the Bruins still managed to draft a potential franchise player when they selected goaltender Malcolm Subban.
The Bruins came into the 2012 NHL draft with four picks; 24, 85, 145, 175 and 205, but they also picked up an extra fifth round pick, number 131, when they traded Benoit Pouliot to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boston's most pressing needs were for another blue-chip defenseman and a high-end goaltender. In the end, the Bruins filled one of their major needs with Subban, and rounded out the rest of their draft board by adding depth at forward and defense.
Malcolm Subban, G – Belleville Bulls (OHL)
1st round, 24th overall
Height: 6'1 Weight: 178 lbs
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli describes Subban as an athletic, hybrid-butterfly goalie who needs to improve his technique, but is very competitive.
"He searches for pucks in traffic, he's big and strong, (and) his lateral speed is tremendous," Chiarelli said. "Based on our interview with him at the combine and where we had him on our list, we didn't need to bring him in. We knew that if he was there we were going to take him."
When asked if he drafted Malcolm Subban because of the rivalry with Montreal and his ties to Montreal Canadiens defenseman PK Subban, Chiarelli joked, "Yes, we draft based on best player available, fit, need, and rivalries."
Subban had an outstanding season in the OHL, finishing fourth in goals-against and fifth in save percentage with a gaudy .923. He also went 12 for 12 in shootouts, and practically pushed his team into the playoffs single-handedly. At Boston's development camp Subban looked poised, confident, and well spoken. In the on-ice sessions, he showed explosive mobility as well as a Tim Thomas-like ability to get a glove or a stick on stray shots. The technical issues were also present, at times he played too deep and at other times he was overly aggressive, but overall he was impressive. It was easy to see why the Bruins were so high on him and why they see him as Tuukka Rask's heir apparent.
The immediate plan for Subban is to return to his junior team to continue to gain experience. It may be that Subban's technical issues are tied to the fact that he hasn't played goal for very long, only converting to the position at age 12. Subban is also the front runner for the starting job on Canada's World Junior team. Once his junior career is finished, expect Subban to follow in Rask's footsteps and play a season or two in the AHL. With Rask in Boston, there's no need to rush Subban's development and he may in fact be better served by taking the long road to make up for lost developmental time.
Matt Grzelcyk, D – USNTDP (USHL)
3rd round, 85th overall
Height: 5'9 Weight: 177 lbs
Grzelcyk (pronounced GRIZ-lihk) is a small, talented two-way defenseman, and while the Bruins need talented blueliners in their prospect pipeline, the pick was somewhat surprising given they already have two similar players in their system in Torey Krug and David Warsofsky.
Like Krug and Warsofsky, Grzelcyk is an outstanding skater. He has good acceleration, top-speed, and excellent four-way mobility when defending. He can rush the puck and shows some nifty one-on-one skills. He sees the ice well, both as a playmaker and as a defender. He also plays with grit and determination. However, the lack of size in this trio is an obvious obstacle and it showed at Boston's Development Camp when Grzelcyk was matched up against bigger players like the 6'4 Justin Florek.
However size doesn't have to be an Achilles' heel. Especially with the current style of game played in the NHL, where athletic, mobile defensemen are at an absolute premium.
Grzelcyk has numerous ties to the Boston area. He's from Charlestown which is only minutes from the TD Garden, where the Bruins play. His uncle is also a member of the Garden's bull-gang, which is the crew that converts the arena from a hockey rink to basketball court. Grzelcyk will also be attending Boston University in the fall.
Seth Griffith, RW/C – London Knights (OHL)
5th round, 131st overall
Height: 5'11 Weight: 185 lbs
In the fifth round, Chiarelli traded the rights to Benoit Pouliot in order to select Seth Griffith from the London Knights. Chiarelli and his staff are quite familiar with Griffith because of his time alongside one of the Bruins top prospects, Jared Knight.
Griffith, was passed over in the 2011 draft, but exploded offensively this year to the tune of 45 goals and 85 points which led the Knights and tied for eighth overall in points and third in goals in the OHL. Griffith also proved to be a determined playoff performer for London, frequently winning battles against bigger players and leading the OHL champions in goals and post-season points.
Griffith's best attributes are his hockey IQ and hands. He has the skill and smarts to be a top-six forward at the NHL level, but concerns about his size and speed have hurt his value. At Boston's development camp, he frequently found open ice, curling away from checkers, hitting trailers, working give-and-goes, so he certainly looked like a player who knew how to play to his strengths and minimize his weaknesses. Whether he can do that against stronger, faster opposition will be the deciding factor in how he develops over the next two to three years.
Cody Payne, C – Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
5th round, 145th overall
Height: 6'2 Weight: 189 lbs
In Cody Payne the Bruins are once again going for a player with Milan Lucic or Chris Neil type upside.
Payne first and foremost is a tough kid who plays a rugged, north-south game. He dropped the gloves 14 times this season, and threw some huge hits. At development camp, he drove to the net with power, and then stayed there, pushing and punching anyone who challenged him for that ice. He only scored 16 points this season, but that could be a byproduct of being buried on the fourth line of a deep Plymouth team. Payne skates well and is a diligent two-way player. He earned a spot on Team USA's entry to the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, where he continued to play an energy role for the Americans.
Look for Payne to get a bigger role this season, and to develop his offensive game in Plymouth.
Matthew Benning, D – Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
6th round, 175th overall
Height: 6'0 Weight: 216 lbs
The nephew of Bruins' Assistant GM Jim Benning and son of 500-game NHL veteran Brian Benning, Matt Benning was the 176th ranked skater in North America by Central Scouting, and a former second round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft.
In terms of playing style and attributes, Benning is a strong, defense-first defenseman who plays with an edge and makes a good first pass.
"He moves the puck extremely well," said Director of Amateur Scouting Wayne Smith. "A real good puck-mover."
Benning will play for Dubuque of the USHL in 2012, which ironically is owned by Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli.
Colton Hargrove, F – Fargo Force (USHL)
7th round, 205th overall
Height: 6'3 Weight: 209 lbs
For their final selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft the Bruins stayed with the theme of 'toughness late' and grabbed another hard charging forward in Colton Hargrove.
Hargrove is one of those "tough to play against" types; hard on the forecheck, heavy on the walls, and tough in front of the net. For the second straight year, Hargrove racked up over 100 penalty minutes in the USHL, hitting 140 in just 58 games this season, good for eighth in the league. However, like Camara and Payne, the Bruins believe there's more to Colton Hargrove than just a pair of knuckles. In addition to the 140 penalty minutes, Hargrove also put up 38 points and of his 16 goals, six of them were game winners, which is impressive considering how much ice time he missed due to penalties and ejections. At Boston's development camp, Hargrove was one of the pleasant surprises; showing a flair for well-timed drop passes and working well with more offensively inclined players.
Hargrove will attend Western Michigan in the fall, which is a good place to develop his all-around game, as the NCAA does not allow fighting.