Boston Bruins 2012 First Round Pick

The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is set to begin Friday in Pittsburgh. Round 1 will commence at 7 pm EST Friday night, with Rounds 2-7 beginning Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins have the 24th overall pick in the draft, but lack 2nd and 4th round picks. The team appears to be targeting defensemen for the 1st round, but after that drafting goes based on need and the best talent that's available.

Based on information that is available to me and my own personal speculation, I've come up with my own mock draft for the first round for the Bruins.

Round 1: 24th Overall

I spoke to Kirk Leudeke of the New England Hockey Journal, who told me that the Bruins would like to be able to select one of Slater Koekkoek, Matt Finn, or Brendan Gaunce.

Slater Koekkoek, a 6'2 defenseman from the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, probably has the most questions about his game. His 2011-2012 season was cut short due to a shoulder injury (he played just 26 games) and he hasn't yet shown to be a reliable defenseman in 5 on 5 situations. He thrives on the power play, something the Bruins could use, but with the recent experiments with Tomas Kaberle and Joe Corvo, both players brought in to cure the disastrous power play, it seems unlikely the Bruins sign another power play only player, never mind draft one. However,  in the 26 games Koekkoek appeared in, he tallied 5 goals and 13 assists for a total of 18 points, which is pretty good for a mere 26 games. Mark Seidel, chief scout for North American Central Scouting, says of Koekkoek, "He's physical and smart. He's a smooth skater that carries the puck well enough to lead rushes up the ice, but he won't leave his team hanging at the other end." On the other hand, author and amateur scout Shane Malloy says of Koekkoek, "He must be more productive in 5-on-5 situations and not rely solely on the powerplay. He possesses the potential size at 6’2” and 185 lbs and has yet to fully fill out his frame. The skating ability is there as well and everything points that he could develop into a second but most likely a third pairing defenseman at the NHL level."

Matt Finn, a defenseman for Guelph Storm of the OHL, had a breakout year in 2011-2012. The sophomore defenseman put up monster numbers from the blue line, tallying 10 goals and 38 assists to help lead Guelph's surprising charge into the playoffs. Finn is also a beast on the power play, where he tallied 5 goals and 23 assists for the Storm this season. The following is a scouting report from McKeen's Hockey: "Well put together and sturdy on his skates, Finn is not afraid to get physical, as he protects his crease and absorbs hits well… Efficient at carrying the puck, he prides himself more as a pass rusher but he can make a competent first pass. His shot may be one of the best in the draft and he shows poise and creativity not to hurry his decisions with the puck on top of the umbrella as he is especially lethal on the power play at the top of the point." Finn appears to be a great fit for the Bruins, given their style of play and their tendency to draft players with high hockey IQ.

Finally, Brendan Gaunce is a center for the Belleville Bulls of the OHL, standing at 6'2, 207 pounds. The Bruins recently hosted Gaunce for additional interviews and private workouts. Gaunce, who was taken 2nd overall behind Sarnia center Alex Galchenyuk in the 2010 OHL Priority Selection, tallied 28 goals and 40 assists for the Bulls for a total of 68 points. The 18 year old is strong on the faceoff dot, can play either center or wing, and is effective in puck posession. “Gaunce is a big, skilled forward who is strong down low,” an Ontario-based NHL scout told the New England Hockey Journal. “He isn’t a great skater, but is a guy who has the ability to make others around him better.”

With the 24th overall pick, I believe the Bruins will select Matt Finn. His two way play and ability to be a lethal power play weapon make him the ideal prospect for the organization given their lack of depth in the defensive department. I expect Finn to grow into a top 4 defenseman at the NHL level.

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