3 Boston Bruins Takeaways from the 2014 NHL Draft Weekend
The Boston Bruins added five prospects and a new director of player personnel over the 2014 NHL draft weekend. They also received and relayed league-wide news that could presage a few momentous moves in the coming months.
As is often the case over the two-day draft, Friday and Saturday yielded a mere centerpiece in the various picks. The notable developments stretched beyond the namesake event.
By convening with their 29 competitors at Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center, the Bruins partook in the annual reminder that the buildup to 2014-15 is underway.
Sure, next season marks the opportunity to start monitoring the five fresh selections with new eyes. But Boston’s brass now knows it will literally have a new observer to help them watch over those prospects.
Furthermore, the front office is facing harder decisions than most of its counterparts in molding its immediate depth chart ahead of the coming campaign. The draft marked an exceptional chance to initiate potential transactions, which could become more apparent in the coming weeks.
As far as the public knows, things have started small on that front. Dan Cagen of the Fall River Herald News noted Saturday that Jordan Caron is the lone pending restricted free agent who still lacks a qualifying offer.
Cagen went on to elaborate that “The deadline to qualify restricted free agents is Monday at 5 p.m. General manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters in Philadelphia that they may look to move Caron before then.”
There are, and will continue to be, bigger names rotating in the rumor mill for the foreseeable future. One of those names and the developments driving his saga shall lead off the top three Bruins-related takeaways from draft weekend.
Snug Salary Cap
The weekend of the draft can function as the de facto start of the NHL’s new league year. It was thus appropriate that the league chose the occasion to divulge its new salary cap for the 2014-15 season.
The ceiling lowered to $69 million, exacerbating the congestion confronting the Bruins ahead of free agency.
Reflecting that revelation, the authoritative CapGeek lists a mere $1,670,357 in free space at Boston’s disposal. Based on the current NHL-level payroll, the club still needs to fill an entire forward line and add a couple of spare skaters.
One of their preferred re-signees, veteran forward Jarome Iginla, may find thicker ice elsewhere given these constraints. Joe Haggerty of csnne.com led off a Saturday afternoon report by opining that “it appears more and more likely that the 36-year-old will hit the open market this Tuesday, July 1.”
Chiarelli was going to need to execute some crafty maneuvers no matter what. But Iginla or not, reduced salary cap or not, compromises are a must at this point. The most ideal roster for this autumn is now nothing more than idealistic.
In another write-up, Haggerty offers a reminder that placing Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve can offset some cap space. But with openings for four forwards and a defenseman, at least one, if not multiple, salary-dumping swaps are officially inescapable.
To ensure Boston’s viability in the Iginla derby, Chiarelli will need to make one of those moves without delay. Anything less might as well be tantamount to letting that alliance expire.
Krejci Carbon Copy?
Another decade, another draftee named David out of the Czech Republic.
When the Bruins selected David Pastrnak with their first-round choice, the New England hockey press corps wasted little time underscoring the concrete comparisons with David Krejci. Per the team’s official Twitter feed, Pastrnak himself declared Krejci “the right guy for me to look up to.”
As quoted by the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa, Chiarelli said of the 25th overall pick, “For me, the biggest thing is puck protection, vision, and two-way play—that package.”
That assessment of Pastrnak is, at the most, a few doors down the street from Krejci’s scouting report on The Hockey News’ website. The seasoned first-line center’s THN profile offers acclaim for “excellent vision” as well as “great hockey sense and two-way instincts.”
As is typical of a draftee lower than the single digits on the selection board, Pastrnak could stand to refine several aspects of his game. But given his skill set and resume so far, the long-term eagerness is easy to justify.
Pastrnak left his native country to skate with mature competition in Allsvenskan, Sweden’s top professional circuit. He has also become a staple at every age-appropriate level of his country’s national team, including last year’s World Junior squad.
Although Pastrnak’s Elite Prospects profile pencils him in for another season in Sweden, Shinzawa noted in his aforementioned write-up that “The Bruins have also discussed the possibility of Pastrnak playing major junior in the CHL.”
For what it’s worth, that was what they did with Krejci after he went late in the second round of the 2004 draft. Krejci spent 2004-05 and 2005-06 with the Gatineau Olympiques before bridging his way to Boston via Providence circa 2007-08.
Ferguson in the Front Office
Hours prior to the draft on Friday morning, the Bruins finished filling their front office by announcing the import of John Ferguson Jr.
Ferguson, a Providence College alum and Rhode Island resident, brings two decades of executive experience. He has served in a variety of capacities for Ottawa, St. Louis, Toronto and, most recently, San Jose.
As it happens, he will assume a brand new job title as Boston’s executive director of player personnel. He has previously been a scout, an assistant general manager, a director of hockey operations, a GM and a director of professional scouting.
Per the Providence Journal’s Mark Divver, Chiarelli offered the following as to Ferguson’s assets and tasks:
He’s got a real good eye. He knows both the game, the players and the business of the game…He’ll stay in Providence, but again, he’ll be involved in the strategic planning also. He’s there a lot anyway, but he’ll be scouting all over the place and he’ll be doing some amateur scouting, too.
Ferguson’s history in higher positions is not so radiant, particularly his three-plus years as Toronto’s GM. He oversaw the infamous deal that saw Tuukka Rask’s rights go to the Bruins in exchange for Andrew Raycroft.
On the other hand, the Sharks remained perennial playoff participants through his six years as director of pro scouting. With his new base in Providence, he will have a chance to more or less recreate his days as the Worcester IceCats’ president and GM when that team was St. Louis’ AHL partner.