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Bear Essentials: Chiarelli Speaks

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
9:09 a.m.

First off, congrats to the Celtics for a well earned and well played 17th NBA Championship! JB

John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room.
Lots of questions and a lot of answers
The Boston Bruins General Manager spoke to the media yesterday afternoon and broke down the Black & Gold's plans going into this weekend's NHL Entry Draft.

"I think this draft is the deepest in awhile," said Peter Chiarelli in opening. "We have heard that it would be, and it seems that it is in fact deep.

"Our philosophy is to draft the best player available, and that may be a defenseman, but this might be a draft where we balance between our needs and the best player available because of the depth of real good defensemen that are available.

"And speaking to the depth…our scouts have been clamoring (to acquire) multiple second round picks and that noise has been the most frequent this year, as supposed to last year's," he said.

What makes this year different?

"It seems to our scouts that there is a good group of guys in the second round and maybe even the third round," explained Chiarelli. "So I am excited about the draft.

"There is going to be some activity around it, and I look forward to the weekend."

How do you evaluate the draft in terms of weighing need versus talent?

"Generally in a draft, toward the latter half…you can address some of your needs," said the GM. "You have a sub list of a certain category of players.

"As far as the top half of the draft, like I said, there is a really good group of defensemen...and you always need a defenseman, especially one that might be in your lineup in two to four years.

"And that is the type of thing we are looking for here," he said.

Other factors come into play, as well.

"I have been on record saying that we are looking for size on the wing, whether for a roster player or a player for our organization, and there are some of those players out there, such as (Joe) Colborne and (Kyle) Beach," explained Chiarelli. "These guys are on our list, and I say them in no particular order.

"It is tough at 16, you need to wait to see how it unfolds, but I think this is a draft where you can look to needs." 

One member of the media asked how the organization balances skill against character and work ethic.

"There is character on the ice and character off the ice, and generally, they relate or are synonymous with each other," said the GM. "Off the ice, we have the interviews in the combines and interviews throughout the year, but even with those, I tell our (scouts) that you really have to dig deep.

"And it is hard in a two or three hour interview, but you have to dig deep and try to get to the inner core of these guys and see what they are really all about.

"But as far as finding that character (the club is) hammering the philosophy home to our scouts, so that it becomes second nature when they are reviewing or interviewing these guys," he said.

Certainly character is also important when evaluating free agents -- and also when free agents evaluate the Bruins. Clearly, Blake Wheeler's announced intent to sign with the Bruins speaks volumes about what people around the NHL think of the B's.

"Blake told us (Monday) that we are his number one choice and he intends to sign with us come July 1st," said Chiarelli. "He is a big guy.  He played center last year, but I think he is a natural winger. He is strong on the puck; protects the puck very well. He is a character kid. He is close to playing. You have to get your feet wet first so we will see how it goes in camp. But he is a big strong kid who was very enthusiastic, and we are excited to have him."

Having traded for Matt Marquardt and armed with the news that Wheeler intends to sign, have the B's changed what they might be looking for in this draft.

"It (changes our philosophy) a little bit because we had to address size and skill on the wing, and that is certainly what Blake has," said the B's boss. "But the (players in this draft) are (born in the) 90's…so there is a gap there as far as a development stage -- especially if we stay at (pick number) 16. 

"A guy that you get at 16 isn't likely to be a player that is ready to play any time soon, so you still have to fill in that gap in that four years...(It changes our philosophy) in terms of needs, but you still have to pay attention to the development schedule of the 90's (birthdays)."

"That was the goal with Marquardt -- a big 6-4 left winger who can really shoot the puck. He is a project, but we wanted to get some size, and we have done that. He is an '87 birthday though, and wheeler is '86, so they are a little older than the drafted players, but it certainly goes a long way in filling the need of what we are looking for.  It does change our perspective a little bit, probably at the first round level too, but we will see what players become available."

And even as the draft approaches, Chiarelli is still negotiating with players who were on last year's big league roster.

"We are proceeding," said the GM. "We are getting closer on (Denis) Wideman, and we are still further apart with (Glen Metropolit)."

Chiarelli has also seen the speculation in the media about possible roster moves and he attempted to put things in perspective for his audience.

"I know everyone keeps asking me about Glen Murray," said Chiarelli. "I can't state it enough, Glen has been a tremendous Bruin, and still is a tremendous Bruin.

"He had a frustrating season last year, and he will be the first to admit it…he is a shooter, first and foremost, and you can't go out and get guys that can shoot like him. He realizes he has to play better.

What about the buyout option that has been discussed in the news? Is that something that the B's are thinking about employing?

"There is a tool that we have, and I have to look at it in terms of team building," said Chiarelli. "There is a period now where we can exercise a buyout and it is not something I am going to ignore. We will see how things unfold until July 1st."

It's going to be an interesting summer, folks. Hang on to your swim trunks.

Blake Wheeler (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
10:34 a.m.
For those of you who might be wondering about Blake Wheeler, here is a quick bio...

Blake Wheeler
  • Born: August 31, 1986 (Age 21)
  • Plymouth, Minnesota
  • Height: 6’4”
  • Weight: 215 lb
  • NHL: Drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round, 5th overall, in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
  • Position: Forward
  • Shoots: Right
  • College: University of Minnesota
  • 2007-08: Led the team in scoring with 15 goals and 20 assists for 35 points while playing in 44 games…Named third-team All-WCHA…Concluded career with 96 points (42 goals, 54 assists)…Will forgo Senior season to pursue a career in the NHL.
  • 2006-07: Ranked fifth on the Gophers in scoring with 18-20=38…Earned the Tom Mohr Playoff MVP award after tallying four goals and an assist in the postseason.
  • 2005-06: Posted totals of 9-14=23 for Minnesota…Played for the U.S. at the IIHF World Junior Championships in Vancouver…Skated in all seven games, scoring two goals in the contest vs. Finland…Recorded a +3 rating for the tournament.

Season   Team                                      Lge       GP    G    A      Pts    PIM
2004-05  Green Bay Gamblers          USHL    58    19   28    47     43 
2005-06  U. of Minnesota                    WCHA   39     9    14    23     41
2006-07  U. of Minnesota                    WCHA   44    18   20    38     42
2007-08  U. of Minnesota                    WCHA   44    15   20    35     72

Zach Hamill at the 2007 Draft.
1:00 p.m.
Don't miss an opportunity to chat with the Boston Bruins top draft pick in 2007 -- Zach Hamill.
This year, Hamill, just 19, made his way to the Providence Bruins after completing his fifth and final season with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League.
Everett's all-time leading-scorer and alternate captain, the forward recorded 262 points, including 87 goals and 175 assists, in 250 career games for the Tips, along with another 37 points in 62 playoff games.
A native of Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, Hamill had 75 points during the 2007-08 season, including 26 goals. His best year came in 2006-07, putting up career-highs in games (69), goals (32), assists (61), points (93) and penalty minutes (90).
After that same campaign, Hamill won the league's Bob Clarke Trophy as the WHL's leading-scorer, was named a WHL First Team West All-Star and was also tabbed as Everett's Most Valuable Player.
This season, while with the P-Bruins following the end of his junior season, Hamill had five points in seven regular season games and added a goal and three assists in nine AHL Playoff Games.
Boston drafted Hamill with the eighth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

2:27 p.m.
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