Tom Stivali has the second part of our 2011 draft discussion up at the New Jersey Devils In Lou We Trust blog.
You can read it by clicking here.
In it, we talked (among other things) the draft combine, which Bruins 2011 Draft Watch will be attending, Rocco Grimaldi, drafting philosophy (BPA vs need), and a prediction of who the Devils will end up with at fourth overall.
When talking about the combine, it was my view that the event itself- interview and physical testing- do not have a profound effect on where a team views a player. By now, they have a pretty good feel for what he is and how much he brings to the table. It does allow them to massage their list, perhaps confirm or rule out players they're unsure about, and get affirmation on those they have the desire to draft.
From the interview:
I've heard that the combine helps with providing discriminators between players that the clubs have ranked closely in terms of talent/performance on the ice. It allows the team's staff to sit down with a kid and establish a basic connection/see if there is a fit and some instant chemistry. In some cases, it allows teams to confirm what they've been hearing about a player. The time they have for the individual interviews is limited, but it does open up a line of communication and gives management and staff the opportunity to look the player in the eye and see how he does depending on the approach they take.
As such, a player like Rocco Grimaldi is probably not going to get a huge bounce. Most teams are well aware of what he can do. They may look harder at his physical testing events, but his character and passion for the game is well documented. Teams are likely to be more than OK with Grimaldi the person, but teams thinking about spending a first- or early second-round pick on him have more than just his interview skills or VO2 Max score to consider.
B2011DW is on the record as being in the pro-Grimaldi camp- he's so dynamic and the kind of kid who will be a real credit to the organization. That said, it's easy for us- we have no stake in said organization and jobs aren't on the line if we're wrong.
As for Grimaldi, skill, hockey sense and character-wise, he's a top-10 pick in my book. However, the reality of the draft and the way NHL teams operate makes it pretty tough to project where he will go. I remember watching him knock the much bigger Travis Ewanyk off the puck behind the Canada net, leading to a Reid Boucher goal during the U18 tourney last month, and that's the kind of hockey player's contribution where you say to yourself that this kid's drive, will and spirit will overcome his serious size deficit (closer to 5-6, with not a lot of room on the frame to add mass). On the flip side, there are times where Grimaldi will turn away from traffic and stay out on the perimeter, which gives reason for pause, as he won't have success at the NHL level trying to make a living on the outside. He's going to have to go to the dirty areas and play in traffic the way guys like Tyler Ennis and Nathan Gerbe do. If he's willing to do that, then he absolutely has the talent to be an impact player at the highest level.
In talking best player available (BPA) versus need when it comes to drafting, I expressed one of my pet peeves with a lot of fans out there who act like authorities when in reality, they have no clear understanding of the draft process or how their favorite NHL operates early on:
Now, it just could happen that a team's BPA also corresponds with a need, but I always get a chuckle out of fans on the internet or radio call-in shows who declare that there is "no way" a team will draft a center in a given year because the team doesn't "need" one or there is "no room" for another pivot in the organization. It's a much more complicated process than that, and the line of thought generally is - get the asset in the fold even at a deep position and if he outperforms someone on the depth chart ahead of him, then you can always trade the other guy for help at another need position. Passing on a superior player who could be a legitimate impact guy in 2 years because you don't "need" him right now is silly and not how NHL teams conduct business. Lots of things can change, and teams/their GMs try to take a deeper view than simply dealing in the here and now like a lot of fans tend to do.
Be sure to read the rest of the interview- Tom did a great job with it and asked some good questions. It was fun to do and a reminder that we're in the last stretch before the big event.
Admittedly, not used to seeing the Bruins still playing hockey at this juncture, so the timelines are all off. That won't stop this blog from going full speed ahead in the coming days and weeks. Watch for the B2011DW top-50 list coming out soon with prospects 41-50 and much, much more.