With the Boston Bruins now in the Stanley Cup Finals, it's probably a good time to revisit some of the moves that GM Peter Chiarelli made involving the first three rounds of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
One thing Chiarelli has not gotten enough credit for is how he improved his pick position in each of the first three rounds this year even though he dealt away his own draft choices in the process.
1st round- 9th, he gives up 29 or 30 to Toronto (for Tomas Kaberle)
2nd round- 40th (from Minnesota), he gives up 60 or 61 to Ottawa (for Chris Kelly)
3rd round- 81st (from Phoenix), he gives up 90 or 91 to Florida (to complete Nathan Horton deal).
From a Bruins perspective it would be nice to have six picks in the top-90 instead of three, but given the way the team is constructed, and the amount of prospects currently in the system, stocking up in the here and now does not require a real sense of urgency. And given the way Horton and Kelly have played this post season, who is really complaining about the loss of the second and thirds? Kaberle is a different story, but even if he has failed to make the offensive impact expected, who is to say that if the Bruins had not traded for him, they still would have advanced to within four wins of a Stanley Cup without his presence inside the team's top-six? If you've read this blog, then you know we were no fans of any trade scenario involving Kaberle, but what's done is done and he still has a chance to be a hero in the most important round.
Furthermore, unlike Philadelphia, who sacrificed its early draft position to reach the finals a year ago (and continued that trend by dealing another 2011 1st-rounder for Kris Versteeg this spring), the Bruins have the best of both worlds. They are poised to win an NHL championship and still have the kind of draft position reserved for non-contenders. If the scouts prove their worth with these picks, they could set the organization up for years of stability and success.
In getting back to how we arrived at this point, Chiarelli incurred some risk and was criticized for some of those moves on this blog in the process. Yet, he's upgraded his first two picks to non-playoff, top-10 territory and allowed his team to continue to build for the future. The Bruins are in the kind of situation that makes opposing teams and their fans highly envious.
Now it's up to the front office and scouting staff to go out and make the strategic moves Chiarelli made in advance pay off.