OTTAWA -- After two seasons in which they finished out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins bounced back last year under new head coach Claude Julien. Playing a much more aggressive style, the Bruins qualified for the playoffs with a 41-29-12 record.
While that was good for eighth place in the Eastern Conference, only one other Eastern playoff qualifier scored fewer goals than the Bruins. Third-year General Manager Peter Chiarelli knows the team was one of the most motivated in the NHL, but that the club requires more talent. Chiarelli came to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft with the idea of getting fresh young talent.
Forward Phil Kessel and defenseman Mark Stuart are the only first-round draft picks in this decade who are playing regularly for the Boston Bruins, although they are hoping defenseman Matt Lashoff can break through this season.
No. 16 Joe Colborne, C, Camrose (AJHL) -- Chiarelli said he received offers to trade his first-round draft pick, but in the end he wanted a top prospect. So the Bruins used the pick to select Joe Colborne, a center from the Kodiaks who will attend the University of Denver this fall.
Colborne was the first Junior A player taken in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He's a 6-foot-5, 190-pound left-handed shot who had 33 goals and 57 assists this season. Scouts were impressed with Colborne's above-average skating and quick hands. He's an excellent passer and shooter who makes good decisions in the offensive zone.
While Colborne hasn't faced the quality of competition that most of the other first-round selections did, his skills were quite apparent, leading to his ranking as the No. 28 North American skater. The Bruins, obviously, felt that he was better than his ranking.
Given his height, weight and skill set, Bruins fans will likely be reminded of the team's first-round pick 11 years ago, Joe Thornton. But where Thornton spent the season after his draft mostly watching from the press box at the NHL level while he added weight and muscle, Colborne will get a chance to grow along with players closer to his age in NCAA hockey.
"This kid can really fire the puck," said Chiarelli. "He's a good skater … very smart, with offensive acumen. He's a big, strong, focused kid."
No. 47 Maxime Sauve, C, Val D'Or (QMJHL) -- Sauve relies on his speed and stickhandling. He's a bit light at 6-foot, 170 pounds, but he's a lot bigger than his 5-9 dad, Jean-Francois Sauve, who played 290 games for the Buffalo Sabres and Quebec Nordiques in the 1980s. The father concluded his career with a year in Tours, France, where Maxime was born. Sauve's uncle, Bob, was an outstanding NHL goaltender and his cousin, Philippe, now plays in the German Elite League.
No. 77 Michael Hutchinson, G, Barrie (OHL) -- Hutchinson made great progress this season and played very well when the Colts upset the Brampton Battalion in the first round of the OHL playoffs. Hutchinson's .941 save percentage was second-best in the OHL playoffs. He moves quickly, sets up well and challenges shooters.
No. 97 Jamie Arniel, C, Sarnia (OHL) -- Arniel is one of the best faceoff men in the OHL and a very gritty player with a deceptive shot. He is considered an excellent two-way player who is very effective on the forecheck. Not surprisingly, he admires Mike Fisher.
No. 173 Nicholas Tremblay, C, Smiths Falls (CJHL) -- Tremblay is an impressive young man in determination, hockey ability and intelligence. A Quebec native, he dedicated this season to perfecting his English while leading his league in scoring. Tremblay is a clutch performer as evidenced by his 12 power-play goals, 19 power-play assists and six game-winning goals. He will attend Clarkson University this fall.
No. 197 Mark Goggin, C, Choate-Rosemary H.S. (USHS) -- Goggin had 15 goals and 36 points in 21 games this season. Obviously, he has played at a lower level than many of the other draftees, but he will be attending Dartmouth University where his father and grandfather played hockey.