Boston Bruins 2014 NHL Draft preview

By Richard Murray

Ryan Fitzgerald - Boston Bruins

Photo: Ryan Fitzgerald had a strong freshman season with Boston College, managing 13 goals and 14 assists through 40 games. Fitzgerald was selected in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL Draft. (courtesy of Justin Berl/Icon SMI)

The Boston Bruins 2013-14 season did not end the way the Bruins hoped and were exposed by a very skilled and quick Montreal Canadiens team. There will be changes this offseason and that could start right at the NHL Draft. The Bruins will likely be active on the trade market, and could dangle some of their top prospects as trade bait.

Top 10 Prospects:

1. Malcolm Subban, G
2. Ryan Spooner, C
3. Alexander Khokhlachev, C
4. Joe Morrow, D
5. Ryan Fitzgerald, C
6. Zane Gothberg, G
7. Seth Griffith, C
8. Anthony Camara, LW
9. Niklas Svedberg, G
10. Peter Cehlarik, LW

Team Needs

The Boston Bruins simply need to get faster to be able to keep up with the likes of the Montreal Canadiens and other talented NHL squads. The Bruins could have those answers internally with Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev, but how NHL ready they are remains to be seen. Spooner has had some success at the NHL level, while Khokhlachev has only played one NHL game.

Boston will likely need a new back up goalie next season, as it appears Chad Johnson appears to be moving on. Niklas Svedberg could be the answer internally, though, and the Bruins have depth in the organization in goal.

Organization Strengths

The Boston Bruins are loaded down the middle at center and are well off in the goaltending department. At the NHL level the Bruins have Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Carl Soderberg at the pivot, which is one of the stronger trios in the league. In the minor league system, Boston has Spooner, Khokhlachev, and Seth Griffith, who all project to be top-six skaters. They may end up on the wing, but their natural positions is at center.

Even with Johnson possibly departing, the Bruins are more than well off with Vezina winner Tuukka Rask keeping pucks out. The Bruins may even look to move one of their goaltender prospects this season, as Boston is reportedly shaking up its roster. Malcolm Subban is one of the best goalie prospects out there, so he could help bring in an impact player for the NHL roster. North Dakota goaltender Zane Gothberg is coming off a trip to the NCAA's Frozen Four and has proved to be elite at the collegiate level. Svedberg also appears to be ready to back up Rask in Boston.

Organization Weaknesses

The Bruins need to improve their speed and talent on the wing, especially in their prospect ranks. If Jarome Iginla re-signs, him and Milan Lucic are probably one of the slowest winger pairing a top line in the league. Their strength is board work in the cycle, but maybe separating that duo and using faster players to replace the other could give the Bruins a better look.

In the system, Brian Ferlin, Anthony Camara, and Peter Cehlarik are really the only wingers that project to potentially become top-six skaters. Ferlin has struggled build off his freshman season.

Draft Tendencies

Boston has been a bit all over the place drafting. For a while, the Bruins stayed away from drafting a lot of European players, but then they went and drafted three last season (Cehlarik, Anton Blidh, and Linus Arnesson). Before last season, most of the European players the Bruins did draft were already playing in North America too.

Since 2009, Boston has drafted a defenseman in every draft. The previous three drafts the Bruins have taken a defenseman with either their first or second selection.

Hockey's Future Staff Mock Draft Results:

25. Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College (Hockey East)

With the Bruins trying to shake up their roster, and Subban being their best asset to help acquire an impact player, Boston could look to replace him with the top ranked North American goaltender. Demko backstopped BC all the way to the Frozen Four in an impressive freshman season. The California native is the real deal and it would take him several seasons to develop to be ready for the pro game.

"Thatcher has matured a lot, he has a great attitude and wants to learn," Boston College assistant coach Mike Ayers said in March. "He is always trying to learn, which is something you don't always see. I've been very happy with his play so far. He and I know that he can be better. However, him being the youngest kid in college hockey and doing what he has done is pretty special."

With Johnny Gaudreau (CAL), Kevin Hayes (CHI), and Bill Arnold (CAL) all departed from BC, Demko will have to be even better if the Eagles want to return to the Frozen Four next season.

Follow Rich Murray on Twitter via @Richie_Murray