For the second straight day, the Boston Bruins opted to remain relatively quiet during the 2012 NHL Draft at the CONSOL Energy Center, home of the NHL's Pittsburgh Penguins, selecting a total of five players -- six if you count round one choice Malcolm Subban -- to add to their prospect pool.
Early on Saturday morning, the team traded away the rights to pending restricted free agent Benoit Pouliot to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for forward Michel Ouellet and a fifth-round draft choice. Pouliot scored sixteen goals and added sixteen assists in 74 games last year, his only season with the Bruins. Ouellet is a 30-year-old AHLer who took home the Calder Cup while skating with the Norfolk Admirals earlier this month. From there, general manager Peter Chiarelli turned his complete attention to the task at hand: the 2012 draft.
The B's first pick off the draft board didn't come until the tail end of the third round (number 85 overall) when they selected Charlestown, MA native Matt Grzelcyk. The 18-year-old blueliner is an undersized skater (5-foot-9, 170 pounds) with tremendous speed and the potential to become a puck-moving defenseman at the NHL level. Grzelcyk spent the last two seasons with the U.S. National Development team, picking up 21 points (2G/19A) in 60 games played. Grzelcyk is still a long way off from making an appearance with the big club, and expects to attend Boston University in the fall of 2012 to skate under the tutelage of legendary head coach Jack Parker.
In the fifth round, the Bruins opted to increase their depth up front, selecting two forwards from the Ontario Hockey League. The first of which came in the form of 5'11" center Seth Griffith, who had been previously eligible for the 2011 draft, but was not selected. This pick provides great value for the Bruins, as they pick up a player with an exceptional skill set, who most certainly knows how to put the puck in the net. Griffith posted an 85-point (45G/40A) season in 2011-‘12 while skating alongside fellow Bruins' prospect Jared Knight for the London Knights on a team that advanced all the way to the Memorial Cup final.
Next, the Bruins went from a forward who plays his junior hockey in London, Ontario, to a man who was born inLondon, England! With the 145th overall selection, Boston chose six-foot, 200-pound right winger Cody Payne. The 18-year-old grinder has spent the past seven months -- after being traded from Oshawa -- donning the same sweater Tyler Seguin once wore, that of the OHL's Plymouth Whalers. In 110 games played, Payne has scored six goals and added 23 assists while picking up 142 penalty minutes.
Boston's sixth round selection (number 175) came with a player that many in the Bruins' organization are likely quite familiar with, defenseman Matthew Benning. The 18-year-old rearguard is the son of former NHLer Brian Benning and the nephew of Boston's assistant general manager Jim Benning. Skating in 44 games last season, the youngest Benning posted four goals and fourteen assists for the Alberta Junior Hockey League's Spruce Grove Saints.
With their final selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the Bruins selected 6'3" power forward Colton Hargrove from the United States Hockey League's Fargo Force. The Rockwall, Texas native - and future Western Michigan Bronco - possesses an impressive scoring touch for a player of his size, posting 16-22-38 totals in 54 games last season.
I believe the Bruins did quite well for themselves at the 2012 NHL draft, in picking up some talented prospects that could eventually become key pieces to the Boston puzzle. This was without a doubt a long term draft for the B's, as none of the players that the team selected on day two of the draft - or even their first round pick Malcolm Subban - are expected to make any kind of impact at the NHL level for many years to come. In this scribe's opinion, general manager Peter Chiarelli and his crew deserve nothing less than an "A-" grade for their work this weekend in Pittsburgh.