The 2002 NHL Entry Draft appears to be the weakest since 1996. There are some players like Jay Bouwmeester, Rick Nash and Kari Lehtonen who will have decent futures in the NHL, but mostly the 2002 draft class is a complete crapshoot; more so this year than in seasons past. It will be interesting to see which players don’t sign and re-enter the draft that could be good potential investments down the road. The Boston Bruins have one possible re-entry; 6’5” Forward Chris Berti of the Erie Otters (OHL). The Bruins will announce their first selection somewhere between 25-30 depending on the outcome of the regular season and the Stanley Cup finals.
The Bruins traded away their 3rd round pick to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim for Winger Marty McInnis. At the trade deadline, Mike O’Connell traded away the Bruins 6th round pick to the Florida Panthers for Defenseman Jeff Norton. The Bruins may also lose a late round pick to the Dallas Stars as part of the future considerations for acquiring the services of Benoit Hogue earlier in the season. The Bruins do pickup the Phoenix Coyotes 5th round pick as part of the Andrei Nazarov trade and any other compensation picks that have yet to be awarded.
The prime question that needs to be answered is what do the Bruins really need most?
The answer is Centers!
Boston will likely choose the best player available on the board when they make their first selection. It’s anyone’s guess as to who that player could be at this point. With drafts such as these, some teams are more likely to take risks instead of opting for the safe selection. In 1996, the Calgary Flames gambled and selected Derek Morris 13th overall despite his much lower CSB ranking. In 2001, the Bruins followed suit and selected Shaone Morrisonn 19th overall despite his consensus second round rating.
Could the Bruins make a shocking pick for a second consecutive year?
They indeed could!
The Bruins did not have a 2nd selection last year and they find themselves with 2 in the top 60. When the time comes for them to announce their selections, they will keep in mind that they don’t have a 3rd round pick. At the same time, one could easily argue that the Bruins will play it safe with their early selections for that exact reason.
On the offense, the Bruins are still looking for the next elusive sniper. Billy Guerin could be lost via free agency come July 1st and Glen Murray is closely approaching UFA status in the coming seasons. Outside of Sergei Samsonov, the Bruins have nobody else who currently fits that description. Some may be quick to point the finger at young Providence sensation Ivan Huml, but is he a sure fire bet to be a sniper at the NHL level?
It’s way to early to tell, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
At one point, the Bruins had some very good depth at Center. Now, it’s an area where the Bruins are very thin. Andy Hilbert, Brett Nowak and Mattias Karlin are currently the top three Bruins prospects at Center Ice. Hilbert is the early favorite of the trio to have a decent career in the NHL. Brett Nowak’s future is still hindered with many questions and Mattias Karlin simply hasn’t lived up to his 1997 draft expectations. Karlin’s status has gone from prospect to suspect. Russian Sergei Zinovjev is versatile in that he can play both Center and Wing. He has yet to see action in North America, but could arrive as early as September.
There are some potential candidates available who could really help the Bruins at Center Ice. Leading the way is talented Fighting Irish Center Rob Globke, who has impressed with his complete level of play. Alexander Semin of Russia is a wizard with the puck, and a real speedster. The knock on Semin is his size. At 5’11”, 175 lbs, he needs to bulk up. Erik Christensen of the Kamloops Blazers could surprise and slip into the first round. The smooth skating creative Center possesses a big shot with a quick release. Sweden’s Alexander Steen is a flashy Center with a blend of speed and skill. He’s not overly physical, but he does play fearlessly. If for some reason the Bruins can select St. Michael’s Major Tim Brent with either a compensatory pick or with a 4th round pick, they should announce his name and run. Brent’s stock is not that high because of his size. But like Mike Comrie and Mike York, sometimes good things come in small packages. Tim Brent is no exception; he has a tremendous skill set and works very hard.
OBTION B: Should the Bruins not be able to acquire a quality Center who can step into Providence fairly quickly, they could always sign free agent Center Zenon Konopka from the Ottawa 67’s. Konopka is a 6’0”,190 lbs, Center who plays bigger than his size. He’s the team Captain and a leader on and off the ice. A faceoff specialist, Konopka is an excellent two-way Forward who excels on the penalty kill. In 61 games, he scored 18 goals with 68 assists for a total of 86 points. He finished with a +/- of +23 and accumulated 100 PIM. He’s currently averaging a point per game in the OHL playoffs.
BRUINS TEN-YEAR DRAFT SKINNY
BEST BRUINS PICK LAST TEN YEARS (Forward): Joe Thornton (1st pick, 1st overall in 1997)
BEST BRUINS PICK LAST TEN YEARS (Defense): Nick Boynton (1st pick, 21st in 1999)
BEST BRUINS PICK LAST TEN YEARS (GOAL): John Grahame (7th pick, 229th overall in 1994)
WORST BRUINS PICK LAST TEN YEARS: Evgeni Ryabchikov (1st pick, 21st overall in 1994)
SLEEPER PICK OF THE LAST TEN YEARS: Hal Gill (8th pick, 207th overall in 1993)