The Minnesota Wild pulled it together, winning their last two games of the season to breeze by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the standings, dropping Toronto's draft pick position to ninth overall.
Bruins fans should consider it a moral victory, as the "best" non-playoff club, ie- Carolina and Dallas, who blew win and in scenarios on back-to-back nights and will pick 12th and 14th in a draft that many scouts are saying is about 15-16 deep (Calgary picks 13th with 94 points- three ahead of the 'Canes). Let's face it- 13 and 14 isn't bad, but getting inside that top-10 is bigger for Boston for several reasons.
First, they're going to get a player with a lot of promise there. One NHL scout told me that as far as he's concerned, the kid who possibly goes 11th overall has as much potential to be one of the top three players in this draft as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson or Gabriel Landeskog do- your "consensus" three highest-ranked guys. Will they be the three who hear their names called 1-3 in St. Paul? There is still much time left to decide that.
You have to wonder about the guys who will still be playing deep into the CHL playoffs, such as Jonathan Huberdeau or Sean Couturier and possibly Ryan Strome and Dougie Hamilton or Sven Bartschi and Duncan Siemens out west? What will their extended run bring them in terms of rising on draft day? If you count up those names, that leaves you with nine solid draft options right there. Here are three more: One small but dynamic defender with elite skills in Ryan Murphy, and a pair of power forward bookends Brandon Saad, and Tyler Biggs.
Oh, and there's 2010 CHL Rookie of the Year and two-time 30+ goal guy for Peterborough Matt Puempel. That makes 13. Three players with some size, jam and upside in Mika Zibanejad,Jamie Oleksiak and Nathan Beaulieu round out 16. Big horse with legitimate scoring potential Mark McNeill is 17, but could go inside the top-10 if he has a strong Under-18 tourney next week.
And so, you get the picture. This is not a weak draft. Furthermore, that just happens to be this blog's top-17. Who knows if it actually reflects the guys who will go 1-17 in June? Our best guess is- probably not.
Which leads us to our second point about the value of picking ninth overall: Being inside the top-10 makes a potential move up the board by Boston feasible. Usually, teams sitting at 5 or 6 don't want to leave the top-10 altogether, though it normally comes down to just how many like-ranked players they have on their board. The more there are, the more willing a team is to move down and still get a player they want. If their heart is set on 1 or 2 guys, a team picking fifth probably is not going to move down to nine unless the other GM does some real pot-sweetening.
OK- so it's not second overall. As Mick Jagger once crooned, You can't always get what you want. The ninth pick in 2011, after getting the second and 32nd selections in 2010, is not a bad way to go at all.
Give the Bruins and GM Peter Chiarelli credit, (though we didn't like the Chris Kelly deal when it was made and still don't). The Bruins are picking third from the end in every round (for now- those final four seedings actually go to Stanley Cup champion, finalist, and the two semi-finals teams, and is not based on regular season record as in the old days) but managed to move up 19 slots in the 1st round with Toronto's pick, 18 slots in the second with Minnesota's and 8 slots in the third with Phoenix. Even though the Bruins don't have their own pick in any of rounds 1-3, they effectively moved up the board to non-playoff positions for the first two and upgraded modestly with the third.
That will position the Bruins to add some more legitimate building blocks to the organization just one year after adding some impressive parts in Tyler Seguin, Jared Knight and Ryan Spooner in rounds 1 and 2.
Now, it's up to the scouts to finish their due diligence.
With that, here is the final draft pick update of the season 2010-11 season:
2011 Boston Bruins draft picks 6 total picks plus one pending conditional 7th from FLA)
9th overall- Toronto (85 points; 37-34-11)- Completes Phil Kessel trade.
40th overall- Minnesota (86 points;39-35-8)- Completes Chuck Kobasew trade.
80th overall- Phoenix (99 points; 43-26-13) - Completes Derek Morris trade.
118th* overall- Boston (103 points; 46-25-11)
*Final four pick positions determined by Stanley Cup winner, finalist, and semi-finalists
148th overall- Boston
178th overall- Boston
183rd overall- Florida (conditional 72 pts; 30-40-12)- Jeff LoVecchio, Jordan Knackstedt to Panthers for Sean Zimmerman, cond. 7th
Traded Picks- 2011 (4 Boston 2011 picks traded in Rounds 1-3, 7)
28th overall- Boston pick Traded to Toronto for Tomas Kaberle
58th overall- Boston pick Traded to Ottawa for Chris Kelly
88th overall Boston pick traded to Florida; Completes Nathan Horton deal
208th overall Boston pick traded to Chicago (Zach Trotman)
Boston Bruins 2012 Draft Picks
2nd- Traded to TOR; conditional: If BOS makes Stanley Cup final or Kaberle re-signed, pick goes to Leafs