Continuing on with the post-draft breakdown of the Boston Bruins' 2010 haul in Los Angeles, I thought that they did a solid job to close out the second day in the last two rounds.
In Round Six, they grabbed the very raw Zane Gothberg, a Minnesota high schooler from the border (with North Dakota) town of Thief River Falls. Opinions are a little divided on this kid, but I like the pick for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is that Gothberg has some very good upside to go with his sterling character and work ethic. Another positive to the selection is that Gothberg is a long-term project, so given Boston's situation right now with Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas with the big team and Mike Hutchinson (third-rounder in '08) on the farm, there is absolutely no sense of urgency to get him in the mix. He'll have all the time to develop in the meantime, and that's looking like one or two years in the USHL with the Fargo Force followed by three, maybe four years at the University of North Dakota (depending on their goalie situation) before he's going to be ready to even be discussed as an option for Boston.
I've been told he's a highly skilled kid who has a great personality. One person went so far as to say the way he (Gothberg) talks reminds him of the William H. Macy character from the 90's movie "Fargo" after slamming a double espresso, and he meant that in a good way; that the youngster is extremely enthusiastic and is brimming with confidence and it shows when you talk to him (that edit was for Bruins fan "Pie O My" who apparently didn't get the meaning of the Macy character reference).
I give the pick a B+. Gothberg has some real potential down the road and was a solid value in the sixth round to boot-- Central Scouting had him as their sixth goalie among North Americans. He's done well enough to get an invite to the Team USA World Jr. Evaluation Camp, and although he's not likely to make the cut, that he's on the roster shows that Gothberg has done well to get himself on USA Hockey's radar.
In the seventh round, the Bruins addressed the defense position, grabbinig a pair of 20-year-olds in Russian Maxim Chudinov and a third Michigander in Zach Trotman of the once-formidable Lake Superior State Lakers on the cold, cold Upper Penninsula town of Sault Ste. Marie.
Chudinov has gotten more than a few thumbs-up from scouts I talked to at the draft who had seen him. Red Line Report's Kyle Woodlief was particularly enthused, saying: "I think he's a really good player. He's got nice skills and also plays a physical game as well. He's not all that tall, but he's got a squat build and has very strong legs which generate a lot of power in his skating and gives him the leverage to get up under guys who are maybe a little taller or wider, but not as strong on their skates."
Peter Chiarelli told us all afterward that although the team normally shies away from Russians (told ya) this was an exception because the team had real discussions with Chudinov and his agent, who are close with B's prospect Yuri Alexandrov on the Cherepovets KHL team. We're still trying to figure out if Chudinov is going to come over on July 6-10 for Bruins development camp, but it looks like he's expected to sign in two more years and after four years of KHL play at 22 by that time, he could be ready to step in and contribute right away.
I give the pick a solid B, with waffling toward a B+ because of his edginess. This is one of those players who very well could be ready to immediately make an impact once he's ready, but at the same time, we need to temper expectations and remember that he's a seventh-rounder and probably doesn't have top-pairing potential, even with some nice numbers in the KHL. Just a good, solid versatile guy who can play it both ways, but is stronger and a little nastier piece of work than most Russians. He might be cut from the similar cloth as former Detroit Red Wings star Vladimir Konstantinov, without the size and higher-end skill, but same kind of player and on-ice mentality.
Trotman has the nice, tall frame (6-3) and expects to fill out the lanky build with about 30 pounds of solid muscle when all is said and done. He's got pretty good feet, but lacks the vision and hands to be much more than a mobile shutdown guy in the pros. At the same time, the Bruins liked his character and drive, and saw some real potential in the kid as a late-bloomer.
Again, we're talking about the very last pick in the 2010 draft here, so while you obviously don't get too high about it, you have to be realistic if you're looking to be critical. I was told he's a solid guy who's going to play a lot of minutes in the next few years and is probably a longshot anyway. The Bruins could have done much worse, and who knows? Maybe Trotman ends up being one of those guys who overachieves and surprises a lot of people in time. Pick grade: C+
Now, as to why the Bruins didn't trade for any defensemen who fell, or grab any early in the second round... I think once again, it illustrates the team's philosophy of Best Player Available. Even though they grabbed Seguin 2nd and then followed up with Knight 32nd when guys like Justin Faulk, Alex Petrovic, Jon Merrill, etc. were there, and then went with Spooner at 45 when they weren't just tells you that they simply do not deviate from the method of stockpiling talent in the early rounds. Although Chiarelli said he was surprised that Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley fell, he didn't entertain the serious notion of trading up for them, which surprised a lot of folks, myself included. But at the end of the day, while WE may think highly of said players, the team evaluated them on- and off the ice and decided the risk-to-benefit simply wasn't there.
Right, wrong, good or indifferent, it looks like 2011 may be the year where the Bruins could try to load up on a real option for the blue line. Or, they've added enough prospects up front in this class, that they could do something similar to what happened with their trading of Vladimir Sobotka for David Warsofsky, whom I've always liked as a great skater and real skill guy who brings great intangibles to the mix. He's the classic overachiever, even though he's yet another undersized defenseman for the Bruins, but try finding someone who has a bad word to say about him, NHL or otherwise, and you'll be looking for a while.
I still remember the way he manhandled Tommy Cross in the BU-BC game at Fenway last January, and this was from a guy who gave away four-to-five inches and about 20 pounds. I don't know exactly what Warsofsky's upside is, but he's better than most of Boston's prospects on 'D' and has that special compete/fiery intangible to his game that coaches will love. I suspect he'll find a way to be a player for the B's sooner than people think.
Well, it's time to start getting ready to head to the airport to wing my way back to the East Coast. I had a nice time here seeing so many people I know and meeting new folks. I thank all who have taken the time to read and post great feedback. I'm probably going to take a little bit of a rest this week unless I get some breaking news, but will be back and then after the July 4th holiday, it'll be off to Boston to see the new guys on the ice.