After two years of picking near the top of the NHL draft — thanks to the generosity and general incompetence of the Toronto Maple Leafs — the Bruins will be back in more familiar territory for this year's first round Friday night in Pittsburgh.
Barring a trade to move up, the Bruins will have to wait until the 24th selection before making their first trip to the podium. But even though Boston won't be making its first pick as early as when they nabbed Tyler Seguin second overall in 2010 and Dougie Hamilton ninth in 2011 with picks culled from the Leafs in the Phil Kessel trade, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is still confident there will be some solid options at the back end of the opening round.
"Sometimes it's not bad to pick at the end of the draft and see what happens," Chiarelli said in a conference call Monday. "You just don't control your own destiny as much."
Chiarelli sees a separation in prospects coming at around the midway point of the first round and wouldn't rule out trying to move up into that higher tier, but also thinks there will be players the Bruins have targeted available at 24.
"The draft, in general, I think is going to go in different paths after 15 or 16," Chiarelli said. "There seems to be a drop-off around there, and I think teams are going to different directions. So I think we're going to get guys that we have fairly high on our lists."
Still, it requires a different approach when picking so late in the round, with so many variables affecting which prospects may still be available.
"You have to really go into more different combinations and scenarios for the later pick," Chiarelli said. "If this player goes there, what if this player goes there, what about moving down because we can get that player? There's a lot more scenarios to discuss, and then your quality of player, while still good, is obviously not as good at this point than those players higher up."
That requires extra work not only on the scenarios that could unfold, but on unearthing everything they can find out about the prospects who could be available when the Bruins pick.
"So you really drill down more," Chiarelli said. "There's been more meetings and discussions over more minute detail in these players to try and drill down to get the right player."
The Bruins believe the right player should be there at 24, but they have contingencies in place if they want to move around the draft board.
"We identify a cluster of players that we feel that probably at least two or three of them will be there when we pick," Chiarelli said. "At the table we'll have five or six trade-down scenarios, five or six trade-up scenarios, and I'll have tried to cue up or at least plant the seeds leading into Friday, then on Friday I'll flesh them out as the draft progresses."
The Bruins didn't have to worry about moving anywhere to get the players they coveted the last two years. They may have to be a little more proactive this year if they are determined to land a specific prospect, but they should be able to come away with a quality selection even if they opt to stand pat at 24.