The Boston Bruins own the luxury of having a top-three pick and a playoff calibre-team; and in spite of the historic collapse which took place this past spring, they have the ability to regain their status as an upper-echelon team in the NHL. A solid haul of prospects in LA will put them up with the likes of Chicago and Washington as the best franchises in the league.
Although the Bruins have a chance to select two offensive forwards in either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin, I expect the Bruins to go off the board and take Cam Fowler with the first of their two first-round selections and focus primarily on defense during this draft.
The reason for this is that right now the Bruins have three top-six centers on their roster in Marc Savard, David Krejl, and Patrice Bergeron. Zach Hamill, the Bruins' 2007 first-round selection, is also waiting in the wings, having just completed his first pro season with Providence in the AHL. Another thing to know is that at the 2008 Entry Draft, six of the Bruins' seven draft picks were centers.
This group included Joe Colbourne (currently ranked the 23rd best prospect according to The Hockey News), Jamie Arniel, and Maxime Sauve, all projected to be future NHL players.
Something else to consider is that Carl Soderberg is expected to come to North America next season. Soderberg is a 24-year-old center who played in the SEL this season and was amongst the league leaders in points.
With the depth the Bruins have at center, Seguin would have to supplant five to seven players on the depth chart, a near impossible task.
The one thing to remember is that hockey players, prospects, and draft picks are commodities that can be sold at any time. Therefore the only way I see the Bruins selecting Seguin is if they have the intention of trading him.
In Fowler, the Bruins will be getting an offensive defenseman who projects to be in the top D pairing. One thing to know is that the Bruins do not rush players into the NHL under Pete Chiarelli. Of their past three drafts the Bruins have selected 17 players and those 17 players have combined to play just one NHL game.
By contrast, Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers has played 224 NHL games. Therefore the timeline for when Fowler (or any Bruins draft choice) will become an NHL regular will play little significance in making the selection.
With the 15th overall selection, I again expect the Bruins to go defense with Mark Pysyk being the player they choose. Pysyk projects as a solid second pairing defenseman who should forge a steady career in the pros. At just 174 lbs., Pysyk is a few years away from challenging for a roster spot in Boston.
The first round will go a long way to ensure a solid blue line for Boston for many years to come.
With the first of their two second-round picks, I believe the Bruins will take Dylan McIlrath, a rugged stay at home defender currently playing in the WHL. Currently the Bruins have no defenders in their system, with McIlrath's ability to play an intimidating style of hockey. His path to the NHL should be quicker than either Fowler's or Pysyk's, mainly because he already has an NHL-caliber body (6'4", 212 lbs.).
If Kirill Kabanov is still available when the Bruins pick again in the second round, I think they will take him. Having multiple selections in the first two rounds affords Boston the ability to gamble a bit more than they normally would, and Kabanov is the ultimate risk/reward selection.
With the same talent as Hall or Seguin, there have been questions about Kabanov's dedication to the game and whether or not he will play the "Russian card" and bolt to the KHL à la Alexander Radulov.
With the rest of their selections, I think Pete Chiarelli will focus on adding character forwards and steady defensemen.
This draft is a huge opportunity for Chiarelli to form the Bruins into perennial Stanley Cup contenders.
Salim's Picks for Boston: No. 2—Cam Fowler
No. 15—Mark Pysyk