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Did You Feel a Draft? A Columbus Wrap-Up

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
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Sitting back and reflecting on my three days in Columbus following a really hectic day on Thursday covering the Claude Julien press conference and B's logo Launch Party, I can't help but feel a "little" bit of a brain drain.

However, considering the chances are good that there will be at least a few more notable changes before the development camp in July, and that I might be even busier come this weekend, I figure that I better get my draft "wrap-up" out of the way while there is still time.

First off, I want to thank GM Peter Chiarelli and Director of Amateur Scouting Scott Bradley for the unprecedented access afforded me at this draft. Kudos and thanks also to Manager of Hockey Administration Ryan Nadeau for his invaluable help in keeping me on the right track throughout the draft process during the weeks leading up to the event.

And last, but not least, thanks also to Dale Hamilton-Powers, the Bruins Director of Administration, for actually getting me to Ohio.

This was a very important trip for me.

Not only was I able to see and begin to comprehend just how much work and preparation goes into a NHL Entry Draft (those of you who read the baseball book, "Moneyball," may apply those meetings around a draft board to hockey in this case), but I made some new friends as well.

By the way, these scouting guys really know their stuff.

I guess going into the weekend my impression of a scout was that of a  -- well, let's just say that it was not what I encountered.

Sitting in front of computer screens and watching cutting edge video and democratically debating the relative merits and demerits of a particular prospect brought the B's to the draft table ready to take Columbus by storm. Interviews and time spent with the candidates solidified each determination and made sure that the B's were picking, not only for strength and skill, but for character as well.

I guess this is borne out by the last several B's drafts where names like Andrew Alberts, Hannu Toivonen, Mark Stuart, Patrice Bergeron, Nate Thompson, David Krejci, Martins Karsums, Ben Walter, Matt Lashoff, Petr Kalus and, this year's Masterton Trophy winner, Phil Kessel jump off the page.

Each of the above young gentlemen made important contributions to the Boston organization -- at either the AHL or NHL level -- and have a significant chance of making extreme contributions in the show (just like Bergeron, Alberts and Kessel).

Zach Hamill
Beyond that, several of the players taken in Ohio (whether it be Zach Hamill, Tommy Cross, Denis Reul, Alain Goulet, Radim Ostrcil, Jordan Knackstedt) will certainly join names like Milan Lucic, Wacey Rabbit, Mikko Lehtonen and Vladimir Sobotka as players who will excel in their last games as juniors.

I can't wait to see these guys at the Bruins development camp next month.

And by the way, in case your are wondering, here is your Boston Bruins scouting staff:

Adam Creighton is in his sixth season in the Bruins organization. Based out of Ontario, he scouts professional leagues after five years of scouting amateur prospects in Canada.

Scott Fitzgerald is in his first season in the Bruins organization. Based out of Boston, he scouts amateur prospects at New England high schools and colleges.
Tommy Cross

Don Matheson is in his tenth season in the Bruins organization. Based out of Nova Scotia, he scouts amateur prospects in the Canadian Maritimes.

Mike McGraw is in his fifth season in the Bruins organization. Based out of Minnesota, he scouts high school and college prospects in the Midwest U.S.

Tom McVie is in his 13th season in the Bruins organization, his ninth in a scouting capacity. He has also served the team as an assistant coach for three years from 1992-95 and as their head coach of their AHL affiliate in Providence in 1997-98. Based out of Washington state, he scouts professional leagues on the West coast.

Wayne Smith is in his first season in the Bruins organization following seven seasons as a regional scout for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Based out of Ontario, he scouts amateur prospects throughout Ontario and Quebec.

Denis Reul
Tom Songin is in his seventh season in the Bruins organization as a scout and also played for the team from 1978-81. Based out of Boston, he scouts professional leagues.

Svenake Svensson is in his 16th season in the Bruins organization. Based in Sweden, he scouts in Europe.

Alexei Dementiev is in his first season in the Bruins organization. Based in Russia, he scouts amateur and professional prospects in Russia.

Grant Sonier is in his first season in the Bruins organization. Based in Michigan, he scouts amateur prospects throughout North America and Europe.

John Weisbrod is in his first season in the Bruins organization. Based in Tampa, he scouts professional leagues.

Shockingly, nearly every player who was drafted over the weekend was familiar to the above scouts at the B's table. And chances are that each player had been seen in person several times and on tape several more times.

What I am trying to say is this: As your embedded reporter at the entry draft, rest assured that EACH of the B's picks this weekend was an informed response to a great deal of research and hard work.

So, thanks to all the Bruins scouting personnel who were in Ohio, not only for not freaking out when I came up to you recorder in hand, but also for having endeavored to help me understand this complicated process.

Moving on
I was most impressed with the three new Black & Gold draftees I encountered, and am very excited to see the three young men finish their junior careers and move forward in their hockey lives. To top that, with Cross at the Heights beginning in September 2008, there is even more reason to keep an eye on the local college hockey action and the Beanpot and Hockey East tournaments.

A big ole tip o' the tuque to the duo of Cam Neely and Don Sweeney -- just two members of the B's alumni who continue to show everyone who encounters the Boston Bruins how classy and personable Black & Gold alumni may be. Neely's appearance on the podium on Friday night was an extraordinary moment, and Don's continued presence in the building and, by extension, the draft reminds everyone that the franchise continues to be in the hands of men who have the best interests of the Spoked-B clearly in mind.

Furthermore, Cam and Don's obvious admiration and devotion, not only to their franchise, but also to GM Chiarelli and his methodical approach to the reanimation of the organization, reinforces a belief, held by many (despite what you might hear or read elsewhere), that the team is in good hands.

And finally, kudos to young Nick Benning, son of B's Director of Player Personnel, who earned every bit of the praise (and tips) he garnered as the B's runner for the weekend.

Enjoy the PSP Nick!

And one more thing
You haven't lived until you have heard Tommy McVie tell stories at the Bruins annual post draft dinner, which, in itself is a memorable experience that I was invited to attend after working in Columbus on Friday and Saturday.

Hunkered down in a private room in Morton's, a very famous steakhouse, on Saturday night the B's entire staff in Ohio, from Charlie Jacobs on down to myself, gathered for an outstanding meal and some fun.

Highlights included the aforementioned stories from Mr. McVie, speeches from Cam, Peter and the first year members of the staff, as well as the terrific camaraderie inspired by such an intense and important event in the Bruins year.

Big thanks to Mr. Matheson who showed me how to hold my wine glass (by the stem, so as to not change the temperature of the drink) and to former Bruin, Tom Songin, who encouraged me to keep pushing the envelope with the Bear Essentials.
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. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.

Heard at the draft:
"It's unbelievable to be standing here right now…it's tough to even say one word that describes it. I was pretty nervous sitting up there and now, standing here, being a Boston Bruin, is something I will remember forever, but it's just step one of many…The way (the Bruins) have treated me professionally, you know I had three or four interviews with them, and they were one of my toughest interviews -- not just because they are tough -- but because of the professionalism they have and the way they treated me. It's going to be a good team…because of the young guys coming up…It's a good organization, with good people in it, so hopefully one day I will be there and be able to wear a Boston Bruins jersey."
Center Zach Hamill, on being selected 8th, the Bruins organization, and the future of the club

"That makes the whole weekend even better…This is great. I was sitting in the stands with my uncle from Arlington and he's a big Boston Bruins fan so he's slowly looking down the board and saying the Bruins weren't even close (and) sure enough they traded up. It was great to be able to grow up watching NESN and then be able to have a Bruins jersey on today…I am going to do the before-and-after deal. I am going to play with Columbus of the USHL before the season and I am still going to class at Westminster, play my prep school season at Westminster, and then come back here (to Columbus) for a playoff run after the season…I look up to (Nik Lidstrom) because of his offensive game, the way he makes passes every time he touches the puck, makes plays and contributes offensively. And I think that's something that I have the capability of doing."
Defenseman Tommy Cross, on having the B's trade up to get him, his plans, and Nik Lidstrom

"It feels good. I am proud to be drafted by the Boston Bruins…I had an interview (with the team) at the combine in Toronto…I am good in one-on-one situations and with breakout passes and I can get the puck to the net…I played in a (German) junior league last year…I want to come over and play in a (North American) junior league…In Germany, hockey is not so popular -- soccer is the most popular…but I think the NHL will be big in a few years. It's growing. It is more (popular now) than it was three or four years ago…The physical nature (of hockey) is my favorite part."
Defenseman, Denis Reul, on being drafted, his hockey skills and hockey in Germany

"It's nice to get it over with, but at the same time, when you are with your scouts who work hard all year it's kind of an exciting time, but, it's nice to get it over with…You hear that every year that 'I couldn't believe that he was there at that slot' but this year it was a little more highlighted because going in everyone knew it was going to be a thin draft, so after a certain number we figured that the picks would be all over the board, so three of the guys we got were fairly high on our list, including Tommy Cross, who we traded up to get because we thought that he might be taken. He's a guy that all of our (scouts) like -- a two way D-man who likes to hit, finish his checks. And then, of course, there was Reul…from Germany. He's a big strong warrior that both intimidated and impressed us at his interview and he's going to come over and play major junior hockey. We were excited to get him."
GM, Peter Chiarelli, on the end of the 2007 draft & his evaluation of his selections
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