Now in its 18th season of publication, Red Line Report has kept tabs on a large number of the players who comprise the 2011 Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins.
We have access to every draft guide the independent scouting review has put out since 1999, so with the exception of fossils like Mark Recchi, Tim Thomas,Zdeno Chara, Tomas Kaberle and Andrew Ference we thought we'd take you through what the scouts at RLR were saying about the Boston roster back when they were 18 and draft eligible.
It's always interesting to go back and see what scouts got right and wrong when it comes to the NHL draft. Plus, we have some time to kill before Game 1 on Wednesday and the 2011 MasterCard Memorial Cup championship game tomorrow between Saint John and Mississauga. Remember, B2011DW predicted a Sea Dogs victory. However, the St. Mike's have done it the hard way and are on a roll- they are primed to do what the Vancouver Giants did in 2007 and win the big prize after missing out on their league championship. The OHL's Robertson Cup champs Owen Sound Attack got bounced by Kootenay, who then fell to Missy in the semifinal.
Tuukka Rask- 14/302 Drafted 21st overall (1st round) by Toronto in 2005
Bit of an enigma all year- very inconsistent. The old Rask we know and love plays with confidence and swagger. Squares up to shooters very well. Goes down into butterfly early but still manages to cover top corners due to great size and flexibility. Exceptionally athletic and acrobatic. Covers a lot of net and moves smoothly side-to-side. But there were times throughout the season when he came unraveled a bit and couldn't make big saves to keep team in game. Still a top talent, but there are chinks in the armour. When confidence was down, he fought the puck and gave up several soft goals, didn't control rebounds. Uncharacteristically overcommitted and made the first move several times. Still, he shows outstanding glove, natural quickness, great leg speed and uncanny balance.
Projection: Solid #1 netminder
Style compares to: Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Johnny Boychuk- 32/240 Drafted 61st overall by Colorado (2nd round) in 2002
Worked hard this year to show there's more to his game than just hitting, but that's still his calling card. He's big, strong and a vicious hitter who can alter games with huge open ice hits but tends to chase after the big hit and take himself out of position. Has a very hard slapshot which he uses well from the point. Did a better job as the year progressed at finding shooting lanes. Hockey sense is the aspect of his game that is most troublesome and will likely cause him to drop come draft day. Questionable decision maker who makes at least one play a game that makes you shake your head.
Projection: #4 d-man who provides physical presence
Style compares to: Denis Gauthier
Adam McQuaid- 68/302 Drafted 55th overall (2nd round) by Columbus in 2005
Solid, steady dependable blue-liner is at his best when he punches the clock and goes to work unnoticed. Has excellent combination of size and mobility with good footwork and lateral movement for a big man. Has strength to pin men down low along the walls and plays it strong in front of the net on PK. Keeps crease clear and plays with a nasty edge. Good physical presence- willing to get involved and will drop gloves and stand up for teammates. Didn't produce many points, but shows a hard, low point shot on the PP and looks to have some offensive capacity. Efficient puck mover and throws a good first pass. Gets in trouble when he tries to do too much. Doesn't get the attention of his more noteworthy Sudbury teammates (Benoit) Pouliot and (Marc) Staal but should be considered a safe pick.
Projection: #5 defenseman with physical presence
Style compares to: Ossi Vaananen
Chris Kelly- 78/260 Drafted 94th overall by Ottawa (3rd round) in 1999
Kelly broke through with the Knights this year, netting 36 goals in helping his club to the OHL finals, where they lost in seven games to Belleville. His problem lies in the fact that he's not very big- in fact he's quite slight. He gets pushed off the puck frequently, though he is tenacious and relentless on the ice. He's an excellent checker and penalty killer and might find a niche in the pro game as such. He lacks top speed but is an adequate skater with decent quickness and mobility.
Dan Paille- 16/240 Drafted 20th overall by Buffalo (1st round) in 2002
Crash and bang winger loves contact. Dominant forechecker punishes opposition defensemen and controls the play along the walls and down low in the offensive zone. Decent hands makes him a valuable PP contributor. Good team player with real leadership potential. Underrated and has better offensive skills than he's given credit for. Has strong, powerful stride with great balance and is very strong on his skates; difficult to separate him from the puck. He's hungry to get to net and will drag defenders on his back. Hits hard and often and creates lots of turnovers and offence off the forecheck. Not fancy, but has decent moves and a knack for getting to open ice at the right moment. Needs to focus better on d-zone responsibilities but is coachable and puts in the effort. Coach's dream: heart, grit, character and mental toughness. A winner.
Projection: Better on LW as a pro with 2nd line potential for lesser teams, 3rd liner for serious contenders
Style compares to: Erik Cole
Greg Campbell- 84/240 Drafted 67th overall by Florida (3rd round) in 2002
Vastly improved from his first year thanks in part to a tireless off-ice program that saw him gain 20-25 pounds of muscle. Very fit player who has impressive work ethic. Excellent PK contributor. Bloodlines (son of NHL Veep Colin) will open doors as will his versatility and team-first attitude. Inadequate hands to be a second-line pro but seems a sure-fire third- or fourth-line energy player. Questionable hockey sense; rather limited in his vision and hangs onto the puck too long in high stress situations. Goes to the net very well and is tough to knock off the puck. Has the heart and desire, but doesn't perform any one aspect well enough to be a fringe pro player.
Projection: 4th line energy guy
Style compares to: Bill Lindsay
Nathan Horton- 2/281 Drafted 3rd overall by Florida (1st round) in 2003
Entered season as top-ranked player, but was maddeningly inconsistent. Terrific size, speed, strength and a bit of a nasty streak all add up to world-class prospect. Outstanding skater for a big man who can make plays at top speed and is adept at giving and receiving passes. Has excellent hands and a shot that he can get off in tight quarters, but sometimes doesn't look like a pure finisher. Very strong on the puck, has a solid work ethic, and understands defensive concepts. Year has been marked by too many highs/lows. Needs to play a physical style but occasionally plays on the perimetre. If he learns to compete hard all the time, Horton has the highest upside (of any '03 prospect). Struggled for quite a while after getting jaw broken by fellow top prospect Anthony Stewart in early season fight, but could be a franchise player. Once he's comfortable with the role of true power forward, he will be a force.
Projection: 1st line power forward
Style compares to: Joe Thornton-lite/Bill Guerin
Patrice Bergeron 71/281 Drafted 45th overall by Boston (2nd round) in 2003
Very polished offensively, stepped up as a rookie this season and immediately put up numbers. Did not miss a beat offensively even after being dropped to the 2nd line with the return of veteran forwards. Looked very poised and confident playing the point on the PP late in the year and has a knack for threading the needle through traffic with great vision. Puck seems to follow him. But has a couple of strikes against him: lacks top speed and first step quickness and has a slightly built frame. Though not fast, he changes directions very well, does a good job finding the open man and possesses very good hands. Needs to add muscle and work on his defensive zone coverage.
Projection: Third liner and PP contributor
Style compares to: Andrew Brunette
David Krejci 130/299 Drafted 64th overall by Boston (2nd round) in 2004
Tiny, but good wheels and great hockey sense (only top-107 players profiled)
Milan Lucic 87/291 Drafted 50th overall by Boston (2nd round) in 2006
Broad-shouldered and ultra-tough winger who plays with a nasty edge. The Giants plucked him out of the BCHL and he instantly became one of the better enforcers in the WHL. Aggressive, angry style and is always looking for the big open ice hit. Punishes and hurts opponents when he hits. Very tough fighter- when he gets hit he just starts punching harder. A lumbering skater, but has decent straight line speed. Slow acceleration and no lateral agility. Likes to dig and muck along the boards and is hard to move from the front of the net. Surprisingly good hands and can finish in close. Can contribute offensively in junior, but agitating play and fighting will be his ticket to the next level.
Projection: Old school enforcer
Style compares to: Darcy Hordichuk
Brad Marchand 115/291 Drafted 71st overall by Boston (3rd round) in 2006
Super skilled little waterbug with some jam. (only top 113 players profiled)
Tyler Seguin 2/300 Drafted 2nd overall by Boston (1st round) in 2010
The premiere two-way talent in this draft. The yang to Taylor Hall's yin. Seguin is much more cerebral, though also highly skilled, dangerous and productive. Tied for the OHL scoring lead with Hall despite having much less talent to work along with him. Tremendous vision and anticipation, deftly moving laterally to create time and space. Has a plus-shot, especially his wrist/snap shots which he can release off either foot at top speed. Isn't nearly as gifted or explosive a skater as Hall, as he lacks the blazing speed, but his quickness and agility are excellent. Can score and distribute the puck with equal aplomb. Isn't overly physical, but competes hard and will compete in the dirty areas. High-end creativity and puck skills. Driven and hard-working off the ice; has come a long way in a short period of time thanks to his determination.
Projection: Star calibre first line pivot
Style compares to: Joe Sakic
Not drafted inside draft guide range (1999-2010): Mark Recchi, Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara, Tomas Kaberle, Shane Hnidy, Shawn Thornton, Andrew Ference, Michael Ryder
Not ranked: Rich Peverley (2000), Dennis Seidenberg (2001)
In retrospect, a lot of the projections aren't too far off from reality. They clearly underrated Krejci and Marchand, but also had those two higher than most did.
Hope you enjoyed going back and seeing the scouting reports. The RLR Draft Guide will be mailed to subscribers and purchasers late next week and should arrive around the 7th or 8th of the month. You can visit the website for more.