Six-foot, 190-pound forward John McFarlane, a projected first-round pick, was still sitting at the Staples Center in Los Angeles waiting to be selected when the Bruins were on the clock at No. 32, the second pick of the second round. More intriguingly, such hot defense prospects as Alexander Petrovic, Justin Faulk and Jonathon Merrill were also there was the taking.
But instead, the Bruins reached for Jared Knight, a 5-foot-11 winger from London (OHL) who’s coming off a rough season that featured him getting his diabetes under control.
To his credit, Knight surged from No. 123 to 82 in the Central Scouting Service rankings from midseason to the end of the year. The Bruins like his instincts and his shot and had Knight as the last of a group of five players they were hoping would fall to them at 32 after they traded away No. 15 in the Nathan Horton deal. It’s great that the Bruins got the player they wanted, but it’d be equally interesting to figure out if they could have gotten him later on in the day and replenished their defense corps a little more than they did by waiting to take two blueliners in the seventh round.
General manager Peter Chiarelli said after the draft that his team has plenty of “D in the hopper” when he was asked about passing up on some blue-chip backliners. And that’s true that numbers-wise his organization should have some healthy competition for jobs in Providence (AHL) this coming season. However, you can never have enough quality defensemen, it remains to be seen how many of Boston’s young D are the type that develop into legit top-four players, who either help your team out in the long run or wind up bringing back something substantial in trade.
You need only count a quarter of the times Chiarelli has uttered the word “puck-mover” in his stint in Boston to know how in-demand such defensemen are. All we know is that while guys like Steve Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski have taken strides in the development, neither was all that coveted in their draft years, going in the fourth and seventh round, respectively. Newly acquired David Warsofsky still has some growing to do at BU and Yuri Alexandrov is going to have to adjust to the North American game. Waiting for Maxim Chudinov and Zach Trotman could be an exercise in futility after they were both taken in the seventh round — not usually a bastion of future stars.
The Bruins have tried to develop Jeff Penner, Andrew Bodnarchuk and Adam McQuaid into NHL defensemen the last few years, to varying results. None did enough to convince Chiarelli not to re-sign Andrew Ference or Johnny Boychuk to contract extensions, and none made much of a positive impact in their NHL stints other than McQuaid’s occasion fight. The point is, it’s hard to develop young D, but it’s easier to do it with a little more raw talent. McQuaid was a second-round pick of Columbus, but Penner was an undrafted free agent and Bodnarchuk joined Boston in the fifth round.
There are obviously reasons Chiarelli and his staff shied away from those available D at 32 and others at 45. You just have to hope that a team that took just one D in previous two drafts (Ryan Button, 3rd round, ’09), doesn’t wind up wanting down the road and regret the missed opportunities to replenish the coffers with guys many scouts projected as NHL-caliber more than the ones the Bruins have added.
Here’s a pick-by-pick report card for the Bruins’ 2010 draft:
2. Tyler Seguin, C, Plymouth (OHL)
The biggest no-brainer for the Bruins in years, the only thing wrong with this kid is he’s not Taylor Hall. However, there are plenty that project him to be the better NHL star, so the Bruins might’ve lucked out on this one. His savvy and his versatility should come in handy in a hurry.
32. Jared Knight, RW, London (OHL)
Chiarelli said the winger tested better than some of the current Bruins when he visited Boston. That’s great news, and his makeup seems destined for at least top-nine status in the NHL someday. But he obviously didn’t have enough confidence he’d go this high if he chose his sister’s driving test over attending the draft. And if he was so under the radar, maybe Boston could’ve brought him out into the open a little later. A couple of those defenseman I mentioned had to be hard to pass up.
45. Ryan Spooner, C, Peterborough (OHL)
An injury this season probably cost Spooner some spots in the selection order. There are scouts that love, and some that aren’t as high on, his ability to score at the next level the way he has up to this point. Still, he’s probably a solid value pick at 45.
97. Craig Cunningham, LW, Vancouver (WHL)
With 97 points in 72 games last year, Cunningham probably wasn’t going to slip much farther than the fourth round. With diminutive forwards (he’s listed at a generous 5-foot-10), it can be hard to tell how they’ll match up against NHL defensemen down the road. Maybe you’d like the Bruins to have gone for some bulk, or a defenseman, at this spot. But if Milan Lucic sings Cunningham’s praises, how could the Bruins pass him up?
135. Justin Florek, LW, Northern Michigan (CCHA)
Maybe a late-bloomer, the 6-foot-4 Florek at least identifies himself as a power forward. So that’s a start. The over-age pick will definitely get plenty of time to keep adding on the weight while in the NCAA and maybe could round into a top-nine guy down the road.
165. Zane Gothberg, G, Thief River High (MN)
The Bruins could use an infusion of goaltending down the road, and we’re looking at at least three or four years before this kid can even be considered a prospects. Young goaltenders can fly or fizzle, so Boston will have to keep a close eye on the USHL and then North Dakota over the next few seasons. But it was wise to add a netminder to the reserve list.
195. Maxim Chudinov, D, Cherepovets (Russia) and
210. Zach Trotman, D, Lake Superior St. (CCHA)
I lump the two seventh-rounders together because they’re in the same boat, outside of their country of origin. Chiarelli said the “Brian Rafalski-like” Chudinov will be here in two years. The Bruins liked Trotman enough to trade up to get the 6-4 blueliner. It’s rare to get even a top-six guy in the seventh round, but Boston obviously had a plan to make such late picks count for something.
Final grade: B-minus
As I stated, I would’ve jumped at the chance to take a D at 32 or tried to move up from 45 to add a D to Knight’s pick in the second round. It would have been quite a coup had Chiarelli parlayed his second-rounders from this year and maybe one of his ton of picks in 2011 into a top-13 pick that could’ve landed a Cam Fowler or Brandon Gormley in the first round.