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Bruins can keep looking to the future (and thank the Maple Leafs) as Central Scouting releases midterm rankings 01.10.11 at 4:55 pm ET
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NHL Central Scouting has released its midterm rankings for players in the 2011 NHL Draft. A year ago, Plymouth Whalers (OHL) center Tyler Seguin was the No. 2 prospect at the midway point before surpassing fellow Windsor Spitfires winger Taylor Hall in the final rankings. The rest, as they say, is history, as the Oilers went for Hall over Seguin at with the top pick, and the B’s grabbed Seguin second overall.

The Bruins had that pick of course, from the Maple Leafs, who gave the B’s a pair of first round picks as part of their package for Phil Kessel.

Now, as the midterm rankings are released, the Bruins and their fans can think a bit more about the next major piece they’ll get to add thanks to the Kessel deal. The Leafs were expected to be an improved team this season, and they are — two whole spots.

If the draft lottery were to take place today, the B’s would be fourth in line given that the Leafs’ 36 points ranks 26th in the NHL. Who might their prize be? Judging by Central Scouting Director E.J. McGuire’s comments to NHL.com, the Bruins wouldn’t be in bad shape if the Leafs’ pick wound up being the fourth overall choice.

McGuire suggested that this will not be a draft class like last year, which featured two concrete elite players in Hall and Seguin and then a bit of a dropoff.

“I would say at this point, with the number of viewings our scouts have had, as many as eight players could be taken first,” McGuire told NHL.com in the story. “The depth goes right through this draft. A cynic or somebody who’s characterizing this as a non-Sidney Crosby draft year only needs to know that whoever emerges in April at No. 5 on our list (Central Scouting’s final rankings), and in St. Paul as the No. 5 pick, could eventually be a better NHL player than No. 1. That said, this isn’t a Crosby draft year.”

Here are the best of both the North American and European skaters:

NORTH AMERICAN

1. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL), 6-foot-0, 207 pounds
– 25 goals in 32 OHL games this season; currently out with a high ankle sprain
2. Sean Couterier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL), 6-foor-4, 195 pounds
– Has 16+37=53 totals this season at Drummondville
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL), 6-foot-0, 170 pounds
– Has 50 points in 39 games after totaling 65 in 67 contests last season
4. Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL), 6-foot-1, 168 pounds
– Has nearly doubled his 35 points from last season, as he has 65 in 40 games this year.
5. Tyler Biggs, RW, USA U-18 (USHL), 6-foot-2, 210 pounds
– Cincinnati native has four goals in 11 games
6. Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL), 5-foot-10, 175 pounds
7. Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL), 6-foot-1, 6-foot-4, 193 pounds
8. Brandon Saad, LW, Saginaw (OHL), 6-foot-1, 208 pounds
9. Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John (QMJHL), 6-foot-2, 185 pounds
10. Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener, 5-foot-10, 176 pounds

EUROPEAN

1. Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden), 6-foot-3, 200 pounds
– Believed by one scout to be a better prospect now than Victor Hedman was two years ago
2. Joel Armia, RW, Assat (Finland), 6-foot-3, 191 pounds
3. Mike Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden Jr. (Sweden Jr.) 6-foot-1, 191 pounds
4. Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden), 6-foot-1, 165 pounds
5. Dmitri Jaskin, F, Slavia Jr. (Czech Jr.), 6-foot-1, 196 pounds

Read More: 2011 NHL Draft, Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin
Patrice Bergeron has Bruins leading Maple Leafs after one 10.28.10 at 8:03 pm ET
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After an awesome ceremony to honor the 92-years-young Milt Schmidt, the Bruins and Leafs skated to a competitive first period, with the B’s jumping out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Patrice Bergeron‘s first goal of the season. Bergeron picked up the goal, a power play tally, on a slap shot off Jonas Gustavsson, at 19:19. The goal was the 100th of Bergeron’s career.

Phil Kessel predictably was booed heavily by the Garden crowd, though he certainly expected it coming in.

– The Bruins tinkered with the defensive pairings they opened the game with, as Matt Hunwick saw time with Dennis Seidenberg (remember the season-opener?) and Andrew Ference skated alongside Mark Stuart.

Tim Thomas stopped all eight shots he faced, and got some help when a Luca Caputi shot rang off the right post.

And now for a D2: The Mighty Ducks are Back reference:

Move over, Dwayne Robertston: Brad Marchand laughs at your two minutes for roping. The B’s fourth-line winger took the always interesting two-minute minor for “shooting a stick to a teammate” at 8:46. As rule 10.3 states, “a player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides, or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice. … A minor penalty shall be imposed for an infraction of this rule.”

The audience let out a collective laugh of confusion at the penalty’s announcement, but the B’s were able to kill off each of the two penalites on the period. Mark Stuart went off for interference at 1:03.

Read More: Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas,
Expected starter Tim Thomas: Thursday ‘isn’t Boston Bruins vs. Phil Kessel’ at 1:13 pm ET
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Tim Thomas appears set to make his fifth start of the season after being first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate. Thomas is 4-0 on the season with a 0.75 goals against average and a .980 save percentage. Should Thomas be between the pipes on Thursday vs. Toronto, he’ll face an old teammate in Phil Kessel, who was traded to the Leafs prior to last season.

Thomas can understand the hoopla surrounding Kessel, but noted after the morning skate that the B’s have more to worry about than one player.

“It isn’t the Boston Bruins vs. Phil Kessel, it’s the Boston Bruins vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Thomas said. “Phil is definitely a part, and you have to be aware of him. It takes a lot of hard work. You’ve got to be on your toes all the time because he’s so exploise and so fast and he’s got that quick snap shot. As a goalie, I have to be on my toes and try to find it through traffic. That’s how I’m going to deal with it.”

Thomas said that he doesn’t necessarily feel he has an advantage against a former teammate just because he was used to practicing against him.

“I’m sure he’s learning new tricks all the time,” Thomas said of Kessel. “I don’t want to cheat when I get into a game based on what I think he would do in practice. What he does in practice and what he does in the game are two different things.”

Read More: Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin,
Video: Claude Julien after Bruins morning skate Thursday at 12:58 pm ET
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Claude Julien had plenty of media on hand for his press conference Thursday from both the Boston and Toronto outlets. The Maple Leafs are in town as Phil Kessel tries to notch his first goal against his former club, while Tyler Seguin, a player chosen with one of the picks received in the Kessel deal, will play against the team he grew up rooting for. Seguin grew up in Brampton, Ontario, about 40 minutes away from Toronto.

“I am not going to stand back here and deny that this is a pretty special game for Tyler. … I mean his emotions are going to be running high tonight, there is no doubt about that,” Julien said of the second overall pick in June’s draft. “There’s a certain extent that [if] you see that as becoming an issue, you’ve got to address it, but heis a pretty level-headed individual that’s been able to handle situations pretty well so far and I don’t see it being an issue tonight.”

Asked by a Finnish reporter about the team’s goaltending situation, Julien adressed it as such: “Plain and simple, I don’t have a No. 2 goalie. That’s the dilemma I have right now. I don’t have a backup. I have two No. 1’s.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin,
Phil Kessel says he doesn’t want to ‘stick it to’ Bruins at 12:27 pm ET
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Former Bruins fifth overall pick Phil Kessel spoke with the media Thursday as he and the Maple Leafs prepare to take on the B’s at TD Garden. Kessel was traded to the Leafs for a package of draft picks (one of which was spent on Tyler Seguin) and went without a goal in six games against his former club last season.

“I don’t want to stick it to them, I want to obviously play well,” Kessel said. “Last year I had a lot of chances, I just didn’t score. Hopefully I can change it this year and the most important thing is just getting wins.

“They’re a good team over there, so it’s not easy to score against them anyways,” he added. Kessel noted that he isn’t concerned with the reaction given to him by the crowd, who he said can “do whatever they want.”

The Bruins were unable to strike a long-term deal with Kessel prior to the trade, but the way things ended in Boston won’t change the 23-year-old’s view of the city and his experience.

“I loved it here,” Kessel said. “They city was great to me, the fans were great to me. I loved playing here and I had great teammates here. Obviously, it didn’t work out, but that happens.”

Seguin and Kessel met over the summer in Atlantic City for a Bauer promotion they were doing, with Seguin saying Wednesday that the two discussed the cities of Boston and Toronto. Kessel gave Seguin pointers on local dining and other goings on. One topic that was not brought up, as noted by Kessel on Thursday, was that the two will likely be linked to one another for their entire careers because of the trade, which also sent a 2010 second-rounder and a 2011 first-rounder to the B’s.

“No, we never talked about that,” Kessel said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”

If the former 36-goal-scorer truly believes that it isn’t a big deal, he’ll be in for a surprise when Seguin-mania meets Kessel-mania for those on hand at the Garden Thursday night. Kessel has seven goals on the season, good for third-best in the NHL.

——-

Kessel did say on Thursday that he feels for Marc Savard, who the Bruins have been without all season due to post-concussion syndrom symptoms. Kessel kept up with following Savard’s progress as he initially tried coming back from a March 7 hit from the PenguinsMatt Cooke, and hopes his former teammate can overcome his current setback.

“I’ve talked to him a little bit, but not lately,” Kessel said. “Not for a while. When [the concussion] happened, I sent him a text or two. Obviously I followed it. Obviously it’s a tough issue and hopefully he can come through.

“I feel terrible for him,” he added. “Obviously, any player that gets hurt like that, it’s not a good thing.”

Read More: Marc Savard, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin,
VIDEO: David Krejci talks about the teeth and the Maple Leafs 10.27.10 at 12:29 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — David Krejci‘s teeth have been popular around Ristuccia Arena recently, as the B’s first-line center missed Monday’s practice after getting his wisdom teeth removed. Here’s the video of him talking about how he feels and how the team is gearing up for Thursday’s game against the Maple Leafs.

Read More: David Krejci, Phil Kessel,
Put Kessel to rest 04.13.10 at 10:56 pm ET
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In every major sport, the draft is the time of year when visions of future glory bounce like through the minds of fans and front offices all across the leagues. It is fun to imagine that sought after prospect blossoming into the next big thing and carrying your team to the championship that has eluded it for so long (because, let’s face it, if you are looking forward to the draft then your team probably was not that good).

For the Bruins, this dream was spawned from a nightmare.

We are talking, of course, about Phil Kessel, who was also once a twinkle of a dream in the corner of Boston’s eye when he was taken with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Now that Boston knows it will end up with either Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin with the No. 2 overall pick, it is time to put the Kessel issue to rest in the Hub.

Yes, he was petulant. Yes, he and coach Claude Julien had their variety of skirmishes. Yes, he was only a lukewarm two-way forward. Yes, he more or less forced himself out of Boston when Toronto general manager Brian Burke orchestrated the trade that brought him to the Leafs.

This is all water under the bridge now. Burke probably did not envision his wager in bringing in Kessel to ending up netting the Bruins No. 2 overall pick.

“This has been an emotional trade for both parties,” Chiarelli said. “I think Toronto has seen Phil and realized that he is a very good, young player. Going into making this trade, trying to project a couple other teams that were in on it, trying to project as far as where draft picks were. In the end finish we make projection that was not this high but we are going to get a very good player out of it and so is Toronto. It is a deal that was emotional for a variety of reasons and there was a lot of thought that goes into it from both sides. We feel we got good consideration for the player that we have up.”

Kessel is gone. Time to get over it. The argument now should move on what the Bruins should do with the pick — Hall of Seguin?

Both are 18-years-old. Both have been playing the in the Ontario Hockey League, where Hall’s Windsor team just knocked Seguin’s Plymouth team out of the playoffs. Both are considered to be natural scorers. Hall is more of a power forward who Chiarelli said has good net drive and physical presence, perhaps like Jerome Iginla whereas Seguin may be more of a mix between Steve Stamkos and Pat LaFontaine.

“Seguin plays for the Plymouth Whalers, he is a right shot center and could play both wings, I have seen him play both wings. He has a got a terrific shot, a terrific release, dynamic speak and playmaking ability. I have said before that is a cross between a Stamkos and a LaFontaine and I understand that is pretty lofty company but he is a pretty special player. Taylor Hall is bigger, heavier. Perhaps 12 or 13 pounds heavier. He plays more of a prototypical power forward type of game. Left shot, can play both sides. Good one-timer. Really like his drive to the net and cycles really well.”

Listening to Chiarelli talk one might come to the suspicion that he likes Seguin a little bit more (he already has a young power forward with Milan Lucic) but the fact of the matter is that both players have what the Bruins organization deeply needs — offense.

“First and foremost their talent is on the offensive side of the puck. [Hall] with the net drive and the strength and Seguin with the playmaking and the shot,” Chiarelli said.

Kessel teamed well with Boston’s top playmaker Marc Savard when he scored 36 goals in the 2008-09 season. Chiarelli said that the he could envision Seguin or Hall on the wing of Savard or paired with any of the other centers on the top three lines.

“You think about it, you put up different lines, I do it all the time,” Chiarelli said. “As far as immediate impact. Both of these players are young and I think the could play in the NHL next year. I don’t know if they are going to be immediately impactful. They have to get their feet wet too, but with the talent and skill that they have I feel that they will contribute very well in the top three lines.”

Outside of the excitement that is inherent in the NHL playoffs, which start Thursday at 7 p.m. ET in Buffalo, the future visions of either Seguin or Hall putting on a Spoked-B will be the biggest buzz the Bruins have going. In dealing Kessel away, necessary if controversial as the trade was, Chiarelli has laid the seeds of hope for a franchise that has seen its fans become jaded and bitter after years of mediocrity and issues with the owners. Kessel? Just another name to pass through town.

Seguin or Hall? Who knows, perhaps one of them will be the force that finally brings Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Boston.

Read More: Peter Chiarelli, Phil Kessel, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin

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