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B’s ready for Draft Drawing

by Jeremy Lemoine / Boston Bruins
On Thursday, April 20, the NHL will hold a Draft Drawing to determine the order of the first 14 picks in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. The Draft Drawing only involves clubs that did not qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the only clubs that can win the first overall selection are the five teams with the lowest regular-season point totals. The Columbus Blue Jackets won on Tuesday night and pulled into a tie for the fifth spot with the Bruins. The B’s won the tiebreaker by virtue of owning the least amount of wins and gained the opportunity to win the coveted No. 1 pick.

Boston has an 8.1 percent chance to move from the No. 5 spot to the No. 1 spot and the worst position they can possibly pick from is the No. 6 spot. Interim General Manager Jeff Gorton likes the lottery system and feels that it is the most equitable way to determine who gets that sought after first pick.

“We can either pick from the number one, five, or six spot, depending on how (Thursday’s) lottery works out,” said Gorton. “If we win, we lock up the number one spot. If a team behind us wins, we will move to the number six spot. If everything stays in order, we will pick from the number five spot.

“I think the idea of doing it this way works. If there wasn’t a lottery and say there was a (Sidney) Crosby available to pick, there might be some suspicion about how teams are finishing and losing down the stretch. I think it removes all doubt. It is a good idea.”

Gorton spoke about the positives and negatives from picking this high. The Bruins wanted to make the playoffs first and foremost, but at the same time, they are happy with where they stand in the upcoming draft.

“We’re thankful that we’re going to have a chance (at a strong pick),” he said. “Obviously, we would like to have had a better season and made the playoffs, but if we’re going to miss the playoffs and have a chance at the first pick overall, it’s good for the organization.”

The top six players entering this summer’s draft are Erik Johnson (U.S. National U-18), Phil Kessel (U of Minn., WCHA), Jonathon Toews (U of N. Dakota, WCHA), Jordan Staal (Peterborough, OHL), Peter Mueller (Everett, WHL), and Niklas Backstrom (Brynas, SWE). Gorton believes that two of those top six could be NHL ready for next season, but still needs to consult with his scouts.

“We’ll know more when we have our scouting meetings at the end of May or the first week of June,” he said. “The scouts know more than anybody on whether or not any of these guys are ready, so it’s probably unfair for me to say right now. Our sense is that, probably out of those top five or six, there might be two that are ready.”

Gorton also believes that there are some players in Providence that will compete for a spot, as well as prospects from recent drafts such as David Krejci, Petr Kalus, and Martin Karsums.

“There are still some prospects we need to sign, such as the Krejci’s, Kalus’, and Karsums’ of the world,” said Gorton. “There certainly is some talent coming up.”

Gorton is excited about the young nucleus of players on the Bruins right now. With a strong draft pick and promising talent already in the system, the Bruins can add to that core. Gorton wants to turn the page on this season and start building for next year. He did not rule out trading the first round pick to a team that can provide a player who could be a key cog in the rebuilding wheel.

“At this point, we would have to look at anything to get our team ready for next year, and we will. First, we will sit down with our scouts and have our meetings. We will get our list together and identify whom our guy is or couple guys are and then have them in here for a meeting. Then we will make our decision. There is nothing we will rule out, let’s put it that way.”

One primary focus is the need for a forward right now. Gorton compared it to someone on the outside looking in and evaluating what the team has or does not have. Gorton is pleased with the goaltending depth and thinks that a couple of defensemen in Providence, such as Matt Lashoff and Jonathon Sigalet, will compete for spots on the team in training camp.

“If you look at the forward position, there is some uncertainty there,” Gorton stated. “By the nature of having 12 positions available on every roster at forward, we do not have 12 NHL forwards. It’s fair to say that forward is a need. Our scouting staff has always been under the philosophy to take the best player and we will continue to do so because that’s where you get your best assets, even if it is a defenseman or goalie. We can always trade that player afterwards if we need to.

“It’s not like football where you have 11 positions to fill on both sides of the ball. We’re talking about forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders. Hockey is a little bit simpler.”

Gorton made it clear that he is not looking for his top draft pick to come right into the NHL and make a difference. His first priority is to look around the league and get the best player possible for the team.

“If the player we draft is ready and turns out to be an 18 year old that can play in the league, great,” he added. “That’s great for us, but I think we would be in trouble to look at a player and draft him in hopes that we can plug him in right away. I think a lot of things have to happen if we think like that.”

For complete coverage of Thursday's NHL Draft Drawing, please click here.
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