Pleased in Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH -- When asked if he was surprised where the Black & Gold found their selections during the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, Bruins Director of Amateur Scouting Wayne Smith joked, "I think if you ask every NHL scout [they'll say], ‘I couldn’t believe he was there when we picked.’"
But in all seriousness, the Bruins were very happy with their take in Pittsburgh.
"I think we accomplished everything we set out initially to do," said Smith. "We wanted to get some depth in goal; we believe we got a potential starting goaltender.
"We wanted to add some size and some toughness; we added that down the stretch. And we got some character players, so I think, all-in-all, it was a complete success for us as far as the scouting staff and the management went towards our plan.
"I really believe we were able…without having a second round pick, to come away with the players that we [wanted]," added Smith. "They were all players that we had ranked highly on our list that fit into the Bruins style of play as far as character goes and commitment to winning," he said.
As Smith recounted the B's 2012 draft class, you could sense the satisfaction.
"You know, certainly Malcolm Subban would be the biggest surprise," said Smith of the weekend. "You know, his upside is so high and the quality kid and the person he is, is tremendous.
"So any time you can obtain an asset like that it’s very exciting. It’s the same as when you get a Doug Hamilton, I mean, these are the kind of people that you want in your organization, they're winners."
On Saturday, the B's started with local boy, and future Boston University defenseman, Matthew Grzelcyk.
"Well he’s the type of kid that plays much bigger than he is. He’s got a Bruin mentality. He plays to win; he plays hard; he’s hard to play against; he plays a virtually mistake-free game," said Smith. "His decision-making and his ability to move the puck is second-to-none in this draft.
"Obviously, it’s a great story that his father has worked at the Garden for  years. We brought him in to Boston in particular because we had keen interest in him.
"After meeting with him, we just feel that he could be a part of helping us win another Stanley Cup," he said.
And with forwards Cody Payne, Seth Griffith and Colton Hargrove, as well as defenseman Matt Benning, Boston believes they've filled their coffers.
"Payne is a big, strong kid that played on a very deep team," said Smith. "He didn’t have a lot of ice time this year, but we were fortunate enough to catch him when his teammates were gone to the World Juniors and saw him play in a top two-line role. He’s as tough as they come.
"Seth Griffith is – he’s second in the Ontario Hockey League in goals for with 47 - timely goals. He’s a big-time player. He rises to the occasion," added Smith. "Dale and Mark Hunter both were preaching his game, they both feel that he brings that quality that they shared when they played – it’s that ability to win pucks, to win races. You know, he’s not going to bull you over, he’s not a big guy, but he has a high hockey IQ and he’s got an NHL shot and an NHL release.
"Certainly Colton Hargrove is a similar type player [to Payne]. He played on a deep team in Fargo. He’s also a big, strong kid. He’s going to be going to Western Michigan. He’s there now at school already started -- very physical, very tough.
"I’m sure the Bruins fans will get to know them and enjoy them when their day comes."
Similar to Grzelcyk, Benning offers another nice storyline.
"Matt Benning is a big, strong kid," said Smith of Assistant GM Jim Benning's nephew. "He’s very raw right now. His father [Brian] obviously played in the National Hockey League. 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, on the way to the bench, gives you a shot in the head just because you looked at him. Real good puck mover. He hasn’t decided on his school yet, but he will be playing in Dubuque next year. He’s got a number of schools after him."
Coming out of this year's draft, the B's feel lucky to have reloaded with some outstanding prospects.
"I think this was a year where, universally through the league, that they felt it was a little bit of a down year, whereas next year is projected to be the strongest draft in 20 years," said Smith. "I think any time you have a draft like this year, you go off of your gut. You go off of the work of your scouts and sometimes maybe you go off the board and I think some teams did that. You know, they had feelings on players and that maybe we didn’t agree with and I’m sure there were probably players that we picked that some other teams might have shook their head at.
"So, we’re really comfortable and confident with what we’ve done, and really excited about it."
And Smith and the rest of the Bruins scouting staff are also excited to see those players in action next week at Development Camp.
"You get an opportunity just to see how they fit in with the mix and get them comfortable," said Smith. "We know these guys are going to be part of our organization. We didn’t draft anyone today that we feel by Thursday we’re gonna say 'This guys not gonna fit.'
"They’re great kids and they’re great players. So that’s what we’re looking for."
Looking for Space
The B's were also looking for a little space on Saturday, when they acquired the fifth round pick (which would garner Griffith) from the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with forward Michel Ouellet, in exchange for the rights to Benoit Pouliot.
Pouliot posted 16 goals and 32 total points in 74 games with the Bruins this season, after being signed by Boston on July 1, 2011.
"We want to leave some flexibility, space and that’s not cap space or anything, it’s just I call it development space for [Jordan] Caron to kind of blossom and grow a little bit more as a player," explained B's GM Peter Chiarelli on Saturday.
"Now if we add a player down the line the rest of the summer, we still feel, had we kept Ben [Benoit Pouliot] and added another player, it really would’ve boxed out Caron, so that’s reason one. And then the primary reason – the details of the trade is that with [Michel] Ouellet coming back, is that they [Tampa Bay] had too many contracts so that’s a UFA we just took and after June 30, that contract will expire.
"Nothing more than just contract numbers maneuvering there. So, we took a UFA back in Ouellet, just for them to be able to take on another contract."
However, the B's wish Pouliot well.
"Ben was good for us and he had some inconsistent swings, but I had no complaints with how he played, and especially down closer to the end of the year," said Chiarelli. "We had always been preaching to play in straight lines and he was doing that and I still think he’s got a good career ahead of him."
But Boston obviously thinks very highly of Caron.
"He’s a bigger body. He’s come on towards the end of last year. He’s put some time in the minors," said Chiarelli. "He knows what’s important in his game and what he has to focus on. So you know, it’s about the latter stages of development for Jordan and he really knows what we want him to work on and he started doing that.
"You see that promise, you see that development, and you know he’s a younger guy and you have to give him a chance."