Bruins 2007 draft preview

By Janine Pilkington

Bruins Top 10 prospects

1. Tuukka Rask, G
2. Matt Lashoff, D
3. Petr Kalus, RW
4. Mark Stuart, D
5. David Krejci, C
6. Hannu Toivonen, G
7. Martins Karsums, RW
8. Jonathan Sigalet, D
9. Yuri Alexandrov, D
10. Vladimir Sobotka, C

It seems that the list of things the Bruins need to improve upon hasn’t grown any smaller in recent seasons. Under the reign of a rookie GM for the 2006-07 campaign, the team had many new faces, both on the ice and behind the bench. They landed big-name free agents like Zdeno Chara and Marc Savard, while their top pick from the 2006 draft, Phil Kessel, make the jump from college hockey to the NHL. The enthusiasm for a new beginning evaporated by the end of the season, however, as the team unraveled, with results that were inconsistent at best. Now, a handful of trades later and once again in the market for a new head coach, the organization needs to find a new direction, and eventually, some semblance of stability.

Team Needs

Where to start? When your goals for and goals against are among the worst in the league, it’s safe to say there is plenty of work to be done. The biggest need up front is in the goal-scoring department. The Bruins have a solid collection of centers, headlined by Marc Savard and Patrice Bergeron, but both are more adept in the playmaking department. Right wing Glen Murray had an injury-riddled season that cut him down to 59 games, but what doesn’t bode well for the team, however, is that he was also their leading goal scorer. With only four players that scored more than 20 goals, and none that broke the 30-goal mark, it’s safe to say this is an area that needs to be addressed on the wings.

GM Peter Chiarelli attempted to patch up the holes in his blueline with a handful of trades, bringing in Aaron Ward, Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman, but it wasn’t enough to right the ship. The result is that Chara spent the majority of his first season with the Bruins trying to carry the team on his shoulders, and while he may be the tallest player in the NHL, he is still only one man. The Bruins have retained the services of Andrew Alberts, one of the few players who provided a physical presence, but going into the future, consistency on defense is something that definitely needs to be addressed. With the departure of Brad Stuart, a quick, puck-moving defenseman who can quarterback the power play may be a good place to start. Additional toughness on the blueline is also in order.

Goaltending had its ups and downs as well in the 2006-07, however, the Bruins allowed the most shots of the 30 NHL teams, and one has to wonder how even an elite caliber goaltender would have fared under those circumstances. Tim Thomas may not fit into the elite category, but he held up reasonably well and possible trades aside, the position is not likely to be a priority going into the draft.

Organizational Strengths

The Bruins have a strong scouting staff in place, drafting some very promising players in recent years as well as making some free agent finds. David Krejci (C) and Petr Kalus (RW) are the top forward prospects in the system, with Krejci in particular coming off a fantastic rookie campaign in Providence. Likewise, they have a number of viable defensive prospects in the organization, topped by 2005 draft pick Matt Lashoff, as well as Mark Stuart and recent acquisition Adam McQuaid.  Not to be forgotten are goaltending prospects Tuukka Rask and Hannu Toivonen, both of whom could be NHL starters in the future.

Organizational Weaknesses

While they’ve worked towards improving their pool of forward prospects, the Bruins have very little in the way of future top line NHL players and no elite prospects among any of their skaters. At the center position they have reasonable depth, but the talent pool drops off after Krejci and Sobotka. Beyond Petr Kalus, there are few potential goal scorers at either wing, an area where they have the least depth. In recent drafts they have picked up a number of small, quick skating forwards, but very few big checking forwards to balance things out. Size and strength on the blueline is something that may need to be addressed in the near future as well.

Draft Tendencies

In the past, the Bruins have always taken the best available player, but just like the other 29 teams, the players on their list of potential picks may be completely different from the next. Of utmost importance has been character and work ethic, and in recent drafts, they’ve found many players that fit this mold. They are equally as likely to look towards European players as they are American or Canadian players, and it is a rarity that a draft will go by where the Bruins don’t pick at least one defenseman.

Hockey’s Future Staff Mock Draft Result:  Mikael Backlund, C

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