Bruins Take Balanced Approach to Draft, Come Away Pleased with Prospects Added at Each Position


Bruins Take Balanced Approach to Draft, Come Away Pleased with Prospects Added at Each PositionEvery team loves their draft on the day they make their picks. No one can believe these guys actually fell to them. Every player they picked was ranked so much higher on their draft board.

For the Bruins, there is some merit to their annual optimism. For a team that came into what was generally considered a weak draft with a late first-round pick and no selections at all in the second and fourth because of trades, Boston came away with some hope for the future.

"We believe we got a potential starting goaltender [on Friday]," Director of amateur scouting Wayne Smith told reporters in Pittsburgh, where the 2012 NHL Entry Draft wrapped up Saturday with Rounds 2-7. "We wanted to add some size and some toughness and we added that down the stretch, and we added some character players. I think all in all it was a complete success for us."

The Bruins made their big splash on Friday, using their first-round pick on goalie Malcolm Subban. The brother of Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban is determined to make a name for himself and has the skill to potentially do just that, but is several years away from being ready for the NHL.

The players picked in the remaining six rounds on Saturday won't jump right to the NHL either, but they also possess some traits that the Bruins were happy to add to their organization.

After picking up an extra pick in a deal with Tampa Bay that sent the Lightning the rights to restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot, Boston had five picks in the second day of the draft. The Bruins ended up putting together a complete starting lineup, adding two defensemen, a left wing, a center and a right wing to the netminder they grabbed on Friday.

It's unlikely all six will make it to the NHL, let alone ever start together in Boston, but it was a balanced draft that adds some depth to every position.

Bruins bullish on local product

The Bruins didn't have to look far to find their first pick of the day. All they had to do was head over to Charlestown to find defenseman Matt Grzelcyk. Actually, they probably didn't have had to go even that far. They could have just stayed inside and asked his father all about him. John Grzelcyk has been a member of the Garden bull gang for decades. Now in a few years his son could be skating on the ice his father used to set up.

"It's kind of a shock, but I couldn't be happier," said Matt Grzelcyk, who will be attending Boston University next year. "Being a hometown kid, this is exactly what you dream of. I'm just happy it came true."

Grzelcyk wasn't sure he would be drafted at all because of his lack of size at 5-foot-9, 171 pounds, but the Bruins used their third-round pick (85th overall) for the slick-skating blueliner who has spent the past two years in Ann Arbor with the U.S. Development Program.

"He's the type of kid that plays much bigger than he is," Smith said. "He's got a Bruins mentality. I mean, he plays to win. He plays hard. He's tough to play against. He plays a virtually mistake-free game. His decision-making and ability to move the puck are second to none in this draft."

Small center has knack for coming up big

The Bruins stayed small with their next pick, but moved up front and took center Sean Griffith with the fifth-round pick (131st overall) acquired in the Pouliot trade. Griffith is also 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, but was third in the Ontario Hockey League in goals with 45-40-85 totals in 68 games with London, where he teamed with current Bruins prospect Jared Knight.

"They were timely goals," Smith said. "He's a big-time player. He rises to the occasion. [London owners and coaches] Dale and Mark Hunter both were preaching his game. They both feel he brings that quality that they shared when they played, that ability to win pucks, to win races. He's not going to bowl you over. He's not a real big guy, but he has a real high hockey IQ and an NHL shot and an NHL release."

Rugged forwards ready to bring the Payne

After drafting a kid from London's entry in the OHL, the Bruins added a forward who was actually born in London, England with their own fifth-rounder (145th overall). Cody Payne is aptly named as he used his 6-foot-2, 201-pound frame to bring plenty of pain to opponents, racking up 107 penalty minutes and 13 fighting majors in 60 games split between Oshawa and Plymouth in the OHL. The Bruins think he can do more than just brawl though.

"He showed that he can play," Smith said. "There's no question he can fight. You can pull them up on youtube and enjoy. He's as tough a customer as there comes, but in our system we play four lines and you have to be able to play. And he showed there's potential for him to be a National Hockey League player."

Seventh-rounder Colton Hargrove plays a similar style, and also hails from an unlikely hotbed, having been born in Dallas. The 205th overall pick is headed to Western Michigan University after playing in Fargo (USHL), where the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder had 16-22-38 totals and 140 penalty minutes last year.

"He's also a big, strong kid," Smith said. "He's very physical and very tough. I'm sure Bruins fans will get a chance to know and enjoy them when their day comes."

Family affair on the blue line

Between those picks, the Bruins selected a defenseman who should be familiar to at least one member of the Boston front office. Boston's sixth-round pick (175th overall) was Matthew Benning, the nephew of Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning, who played nine seasons as a defenseman in the NHL.

Matthew Benning's father, Brian, also enjoyed a long NHL career. Matthew Benning was initially hesitant about joining the family business, but has emerged as a hard-nosed defenseman with a bright future of his own. The 6-foot, 218-pounder had 4-14-18 totals with 87 penalty minutes in 44 games with Spruce Grove (AJHL). He plans to play for Dubuque (USHL) next year, and already has a number of colleges interested in him.

"Benning is a big, strong kid," Smith said. "He's very raw right now. He moves the puck extremely well. He has a chip on his shoulder. When he's on the ice people know. He's the kind of guy that when you're on the way to the bench he'll give you a shot to the head just because you looked at him at him."

"We were really excited about this pick because he's a late-bloomer and wasn't sure he wanted to play hockey because of the pressure of the family legacy," Smith added. "But now he's fully committed to playing and I believe he's a National Hockey League player."

The Bruins believe they have added a few future NHLers in this year's draft.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

Photo via Twitter / @NaokoFunayama

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