MONTREAL — Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara has been one of the premier blueliners in the NHL for a number of years, but his 2009 Norris Trophy win truly solidified himself among the game’s elite performers.

Chara is no longer just known as the tallest player in NHL history. And never was that more evident than at today’s luncheon with the top prospects for this weekends 2009 NHL Entry Draft. More than once Chara’s name was dropped as a standout a couple first-round hopefuls might be able to match someday as far as on-ice production.

Both 6-foot-6 defenseman Victor Hedman, the top-ranked European skater according to CSS, and 6-5 Jared Cowen, the CSS No. 9 skater among North Americans, still look up at the 6-9 Bruins’ captain. But they’re both left-handed shots, they could both grow a couple more inches, and they’ve love to be able to model their game after the Boston backliner.

“He’s bigger than me and he’s such a great player,” said Hedman, who has been skating for Modo in his native Sweden. “He’s good on his skates and has a very good shot. He seems to be a great leader and obviously it would be great to be compared to him. He’s a Norris Trophy winner and it would be great to have the same career as he’s having.”

Cowen, who skated for Spokane of the Western Hockey League last season, also embraces being compared to Chara.

“It’s nice to know that’s how people think about you when you play,” he said. “Hopefully I can kind of live up to that. He’s a little bit bigger than me. But that’s a good comparison I think.”