McNeill

We’re still more than two months away from the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, but the aftermath of the lottery drawing is always a good time to project which prospects will go to which teams.

Over at ESPN, Gare Joyce has posted his mock draft for the teams that failed to make the playoffs. The Bruins, of course, start their first-round series with Montreal tonight, but they will still pick ninth thanks to the Phil Kessel trade with Toronto.

Joyce has the Bruins picking Prince Albert (WHL) center Mark McNeill. Here’s what Joyce writes about McNeill:

A feisty competitor in the Bruins’ profile, his upside is an NHL second-line center. Even if Marc Savard comes back, Boston needs a back-up plan. Five years from now, Tyler Seguin and McNeill would look great at a key position on the depth chart.

Joyce obviously has his finger on the pulse of the Bruins’ draft record during the reign of general manager Peter Chiarelli. When in doubt, pick a center.

McNeill stands 6-foot-1, 201 pounds. He would easily fit into the “future center” role vacated by ’08 No. 1 pick Joe Colborne after the Tomas Kaberle trade and never really embraced by ’07 No. 1 pick Zach Hamill, who’s a restricted free agent this summer.

The Bruins since Chiarelli came in have yet to draft and develop a defenseman that’s reached the NHL.