With the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal just three days away, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, whose club currently holds the 25th pick overall, isn’t hiding the fact that his organization has a player it’s targeting should he be able to improve his draft position.
“I’ve had a couple of discussion on moving to a couple of slots. It heats up when we all get (to Montreal) and we’re kind of loitering around speaking with each other,” said Chiarelli during a conference call today. “Our guys have our eyes on this one player that is (ranked) higher than where we’re picking. So certainly one of my goals is to try and move up. I don’t know if I’ll succeed, but I will try.”
Assuming the Bruins don’t suddenly have a meteoric rise up the draft board by way of a mega-trade, Chiarelli will most likely be drafting based on a best-player-available philosophy. But that doesn’t mean he’s ignoring his organization’s thinness on defense. The Bruins did not pick a blueliner last year, and of the four from the year before two (Radim Ostrcil and Dennis Reul) are already not part of the organization. Add to that the trade that sent Matt Lashoff to Tampa Bay last season and the Bruins’ blue-line stable looks like it could use some replenishing.
“We’ve got kind of an alternate list that we’ll look at based on kind of a combination of both best player and need,” said Chiarelli, who mentioned that he wouldn’t mind adding a second-round pick (the Bruins’ belongs to the New York Islanders) but he “wouldn’t be devastated” if he did acquire it. “We haven’t drafted a lot of defensemen lately. So I asked our guys to rank our players not based on need, but based on best player. And then maybe when we’re down there we’ll have a look at it. It’s sometimes dangerous when you draft on need, but there are some good defensemen in that first round.”
Chiarelli said that there are probably four players in this draft pool who could step in and play in the NHL in 2009-10 and that the players the Bruins are targeting do not fit in that category.
As for trades, Chiarelli acknowledged that at some point he might have to make a move. However, he noted that just because he’s at the draft with the other 29 NHL GMs doesn’t mean it has to get done this weekend. Some big names are obviously on the market, with Ottawa’s Dany Heatley and the always-coveted Vinny Lecavalier of Tampa Bay, highlighting the rumor mill. Chiarelli said the names he’s hearing have surprised him based on their largesse.
“I think based on what I’m hearing in the general conversations I’ve been having, there seems to be more significant players out there so activity prior to the actual trade probably has increased. I don’t know if there’ll be any more trades than we’ve seen in the past,” said the GM. “You get the sense that there’s more activity, conversations and discussions, but I know a lot of the other managers are thinking conservative like myself. Before you take on something, you have to really think twice about it.”
Chiarelli’s definitely in that think-twice club with three key restricted free agents still looking for new deals and the room under the salary cap getting tighter. By the time this weekend finishes, we’ll know a little more about the direction Chiarelli is taking his recently revitalized franchise.