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NHL Mock Draft: Who’s No. 3? 06.14.10 at 5:01 pm ET
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If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I live for draft projections. We had some moderate success mocking the NFL draft this season (the good: called Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Spikes to Patriots; the bad: had Ricky Sapp about 100 picks too high), so after years of doing NHL mocks elsewhere, it’s time I bring my projections to the Big Bad Blog. There’s been enough chatter about this draft (what the first two picks mean, whether the Bruins will move around with all their picks, etc.) that Bruins fans should be as prepared as possible before the 25th day of the month rolls around.

1. Edmonton Oilers (62 points) Taylor Hall, LW, Windsor (OHL)

The Oilers can’t lose with this pick and quite frankly, neither can the Bruins in the No. 2 slot. Both guys are can’t-miss prospects with no visible flaws in their game and measure/weigh in the . They both figure to be up their among the league leaders in goals by the time they hit their prime, and they’ll at least be difference-makers at rookies. The fans in Edmonton prefer Hall, so it could be the difference in a remarkably close race.

2. Boston Bruins [from Toronto (74 points)] Tyler Seguin, C, Plymouth (OHL)

Boo hoo, the Bruins don’t get the guy at the position at which they need the most help. Isn’t their biggest need a goal-scorer? Just because they’re loaded up the middle and don’t have impact scorers on the wing, doesn’t mean they won’t gladly take the guy who scored eight more goals than Hall this past season (48 G). As for the talk of trading up, the difference between these two guys isn’t big enough to warrant moving the 15th or 32nd pick.

3. Florida Panthers (77 points) Cam Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL)

Much like the top two forwards in this draft, there is a bit of uncertainty as to who the first defenseman off the board will be. Many feel that Erik Gudbranson will be the guy who goes third, but the Panthers might prefer the American-born goal-scoring blue-liner in Fowler.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets (79 points) Brett Connolly, LW, Prince George (WHL)

The Blue Jackets are one of the teams rumored to be interested in trading for Senators center Jason Spezza, and unlike many of the other teams reportedly involved in talks, they actually make sense as a landing spot. As a result, don’t be surprised if Columbus doesn’t end up selecting with this pick. If they stay put, however, they’ll try to add offense after recently signing 2009 first-round defenseman David Savard.

5. New York Islanders (79 points) Erik Gudbranson, D, Kingston (OHL)

Gudbranson would be a beyond solid pick for the Islanders because he, along with Blake Kessel once he signs, will help build a versatile stable of young defensemen. Gudbranson uses what size he has (6-foot-3,  195 pounds) and is your more hard-nosed defenseman, while Kessel is more offensive-minded and will help on the power play.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (80 points) Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton (QMJHL)

The bad news for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is that he won’t be able to get Seguin, who has been compared to the Hall of Famer by many, with the sixth pick. The good news is that the Lightning can’t get much worse than they were in ’09-’10 and that adding Gormley to a good young nucleus can only help. Gormley, who is more like Fowler than Gudbranson, is a good puck-moving defenseman who figures to be a top-four defenseman for years to come.

7. Carolina Hurricanes (80 points) Nino Niederreiter, LW, Portland (WHL)

The team could very well be on the verge of losing left wing Ray Whitney to free agency, and while the NHL is different from the NBA and NFL in that teams generally can’t plug in draft picks to replace lost talent, Niederreiter is the best left winger in this draft not named Hall or Connolly.

8. Atlanta Thrashers (83 points) Ryan Johansen, C, Portland (WHL)

Don’t be surprised if four of the first eight picks are Windsor Spitfires and Portland Winterhawks, as is the case here. Windsor’s Hall isn’t the only one to boost his stock with an outstanding showing in the playoffs, as Johansen racked up 18 points in 13 games in the postseason for Portland.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2010 NHL Draft, Brett Connolly, Cam Fowler, Erik Gudbranson
Oilers GM: Bruins haven’t made offer for top pick 06.10.10 at 4:31 pm ET
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As rumors swirl regarding what the Bruins may or may not be offering Steve Tambellini in exchange for the first overall pick in this month’s NHL draft, the Oilers general manager confirmed Thursday that he has spoken to his Boston counterpart in Peter Chiarelli — just not about the pick.

‘€œLast time I talked to Peter was the general managers’€™ meetings in Philly [between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals]. Peter hasn’€™t thrown any names at me. No proposals. But I’€™m all ears,’€ Tambellini told the Edmonton Journal.

‘€œI don’€™t know what it take to give up the first pick overall in this year’€™s draft. I know there will be proposals and I’€™m looking forward to seeing what they might be, but I don’€™t know if I would recommend to [Oilers president of hockey operations] Kevin (Lowe) or our ownership that we should move the first pick,’€ Tambellini told the paper.

Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson of the Journal writes in the report that Tembellini is “almost surely not giving up the first pick.” The Oilers brought highly coveted Windsor Spitfires left wing and anticipated top pick Taylor Hall in on Wednesday and were set to make him available to the media shortly after. If a trade isn’t made, the Bruins, who pick second, will take whomever is left between Hall and Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin. Tambellini insists the team has yet to settle on who they will select.

‘€œI don’€™t think there’€™s a wrong answer here … There’€™s lots of reasons to go either way,’€ Tambellini told the paper. ‘€œBut it’€™s getting clearer as to what may be separating the players. We’€™re not making our final decision until the very end. We’€™ve told both kids we’€™re going to do that.’€

The Bruins have already met with both Hall and Seguin and have ammunition for a trade in the form of the 15th and 32nd overall picks, as well as two picks in each of the first two rounds of the 2011 draft.

Read More: 2010 NHL Draft, Peter Chiarelli, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin
Spezza could doom Bruins in draft 06.08.10 at 3:20 pm ET
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With just over two weeks to go until the NHL Draft, it has become a logical line of thinking to believe the Bruins would be quite risky to assume Windsor Spitfires left wing Taylor Hall will be available with the second overall pick. While either Hall or Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin would be a blessing to the offense, there is no doubt that the Bruins could use a well-rounded winger more than they could use a center. The Edmonton Oilers, who hold the top pick in the draft, have needs all over the ice and will ultimately do what what they feel upgrades their team the most.

Here’s where the irony hits: This draft features the best offensive 1-2 punch since 2001, a class that starred left wing Ilya Kovalchuk and center Jason Spezza. Kovalchuk went first to the Atlanta Thrashers, Spezza went second to the Senators and each embarked upon their careers as NHL All-Stars. If the parallels aren’t apparent yet, recent chatter suggests it could be one of the ’01 stars that messes things up for the Bruins this month.

Spezza, whose contract will see a no-trade clause kick in on July 1, has reportedly grown frustrated with the Ottawa and may want out. While talk that he may have requested a trade could be nothing more than speculation, many have begun guessing where the center could call home next season. Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, who Bruins fans should have bookmarked by now for a Hall of Fame Edmonton writer’s take on this draft, sees a potential gameplan for the Oiler’s offseason that “might solve the Taylor vs. Tyler debate.”

“Draft winger Taylor Hall on June 25 with their No. 1 pick at the NHL entry draft, pass on centre Tyler Seguin and trade for Spezza later.

The Senators would almost assuredly take the same three players that were on the table for winger Dany Heatley last summer ‘€” Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and Ladislav Smid ‘€” in exchange for Spezza, who would become the Oilers’€™ much-needed first-line centre.”

There you have it. Both teams could afford to due that trade, as Matheson stacks the cap numbers against one another and calls the deal a “virtual wash.” The Oilers would see offensive improvement and have a top line that would be among the best in the NHL, while the Bruins would be improved with Seguin, but would enter the 2010-2011 season without a 30-plus-goal-scoring winger — again.

So what should the Bruins do? If Oilers GM Steve Tambellini targets Spezza, an offer of Blake Wheeler and the second pick isn’t exactly going to change his mind. In fact, if Edmonton can get both Spezza and Hall, the Oilers might even prefer that combo to a deal that included the second and 15th overall picks, which the Bruins likely wouldn’t want to do anyway.

The Bruins may have their hands tied. There is no logic in a wing-deprived team trading a wing or a top pick to move up one spot and one can’t assume the Oilers would even be interested in what the Bruins have to say. SensChirp is reporting the Bruins have interest in Spezza themselves and that the second pick “could be in play” but I would take that with an entire mound of salt. The reality is the team may just have to do two things: Hope Spezza is dealt elsewhere so the Oilers have a bigger shot of taking Seguin and convince themselves that potentially landing the Plymouth center is better than giving up a king’s ransom to secure Hall. For now, all anyone else can do is wait.

Read More: 2010 NHL Draft, Jason Spezza, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin
Chiarelli maintains Segiun and Hall are neck-and-neck 06.04.10 at 3:38 pm ET
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What you’re about to read may come as earth-shattering news, so you might want to sit down as you read this: The Boston Bruins like both Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin a lot and claim to not prefer one by a large margin. Deep breaths.

“I’ve been quoted as saying they’re really close and I’ll contnue to say that because that’s what they are for us,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday in a conference call with the media. “They were both very good interviews up in Toronto [at the NHL Scouting Combine] and I had a good meeting with the Seguins in Brampton and I certainly would anticipate the same with the Halls in Kingston.”

Chiarelli is planning to visit Hall’s parents in the next two weeks, but a source told WEEI.com this week that Hall will be with the Bruins this weekend meeting with Chiarelli and other front office members. Seguin will also visit Boston, a place he spoke highly of recently with WEEI.com, though it is unknown when he will make the trip.

The Bruins, who also choose 15th overall and have two selections in the second round, have been putting in more work than simply getting caught up in the Taylor/Tyler craze. There are plenty of players, whether they be Hall’s Windsor teammates in defenseman Cam Fowler and forward Austin Watson or whomever, who could fill serious needs with Boston.

“The fact that we have four picks in the first round and a half, you know, we always pay attention to these things but you’ve really got to focus in on your target guys and the guys that you want and where they should be slotted,” Chiarelli said.

“This is a deep draft, and I know you may hear that on a yearly basis but I’m more in touch with it this year because we have so many high picks. We’ll continue to bring some kids in and we’ll probably finish doing that halfway through next week.”

As for the Big Bad Board (had to make it less football-sounding somehow), are the Bruins set in stone on who they want with the second, or even 15th or 32nd picks for that matter? In a word, no.

“You tweak a little bit,” Chiarelli said. “You put the list up, you generate the list and then you reserve the right to change it based on testing interviews and then your smaller group gets together  and you talk about the issues on certain players. It’s not firm until the morning of.”

Read More: Peter Chiarelli, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin,
NHL execs say Hall goes No. 1 06.03.10 at 2:31 pm ET
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To those who voted overwhelmingly in favor of Taylor Hall in our recent poll regarding which OHL star would be best for the Bruins, NHL.com has bad news for you. Adam Kimelman asked personnel executives from both an Eastern Conference team and a Western Conference team and both said that the Windsor left wing will be selected first overall by the Oilers, with Plymouth center Tyler Seguin falling to the Bruins at pick No. 2.

Writes Kimelman:

“Our scout from the East said Hall in Edmonton would evoke memories of the 1980s dynasty teams, while our scout in the West said Hall was just too good to pass on.

With Hall going first, both pegged Seguin going No. 2 to Boston. Our Western scout said Seguin would make Bruins fans forget all about Phil Kessel, who the club had to sacrifice to get this pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

What is just as interesting for fans looking at the draft as more than the first two picks is the fact that both executives have Hall’s teammate, offensive defenseman Cam Fowler going third overall. With the Bruins talking trade with teams, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that they could be considering moving up with the 15th overall pick in order to get potentially their best scoring defenseman since Sergei Gonchar.

NHL Central Scouting ranks Fowler as the fifth best prospect in this draft class, but more projections see him as the third overall pick to the Panthers with each passing day. Fowler had 55 points in in 2009-2010, his first season with the Spitfires.

Read More: Cam Fowler, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin,
Source: Taylor Hall coming to Boston… for visit 06.02.10 at 6:53 pm ET
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A source has told WEEI.com that Windsor Spitfires left wing Taylor Hall will be in Boston this weekend visiting with the Bruins front office. A group of prospects will be making the trip, though Hall, who tied for the OHL with 106 points and won his second consecutive Memorial Cup MVP last month, will certainly be the most interesting of the bunch for the team.

Read More: Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin,
Report: Chiarelli discussing No. 2 pick with teams at 6:00 pm ET
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According to a very brief report by Darren Dreger of TSN.ca, Bruins general manager has fielded phone calls regarding the second overall pick in this month’s NHL Draft.

“Chiarelli says that over the past couple of days, teams have inquired about his interest in trading the second overall pick in this month’s NHL draft,” Dreger writes, adding that Chiarelli also said he and the Oilers have and will continue to discuss a deal that would involve a swap of the top two picks in the draft.

The idea of the Bruins talking with the Oilers isn’t exactly news, though the notion of the team moving down from the second slot is certainly interesting. The team already has the 15th and 32nd overall selections in addition to the Maple Leafs’ first-rounder next year, so common logic would suggest the Bruins should stay put and land Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin rather than stockpiling more premium picks.

Teams discuss picks and players all the time — it’s simply part of due diligence — so the recommendation here is to not get carried away with the report. All things equal, it would be surprising if a GM with Chiarelli’s intelligence moved away from an opportunity at Hall or Seguin without outrageous return (think Lindros deal).

Read More: 2010 NHL Draft, Peter Chiarelli, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin
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