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Prospect Visits Useful, Successful

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
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.
Many have written in asking how the process of choosing draft prospects to bring in to visit Boston last weekend came about.

So I went back to the horse's mouth -- Ryan Nadeau, the Bruins Manager of Hockey Administration.

Nadeau, who walked The Bear Essentials through the B's process of narrowing down the field of potential draft choices in an article last month, said that last weekend's visit -- with some of the players the Bruins think might be available when their number eight is called next Friday -- was very successful and useful.

"We targeted a bunch of players," said Nadeau. "Some couldn't come due to conflicts with their own schedules. So we ended up bringing in five players."

As you've read previously, those five players were:

Keaton Ellerby, defenseman, Kamloops Blazers
Angelo Esposito, forward, Quebec Remparts
Zach Hamill, forward, Everett Silvertips
Tom Hickey, defenseman, Seattle Thunderbirds
Kevin Shattenkirk, defenseman, entering Boston University

"The reason we had them in was to show them Boston and for us to get to know them a little bit better," said Ryan. "Obviously we have seen them play all year and we interviewed them at the combine.

"But that's an atmosphere where they are interviewing with as many as 30 teams."

So this visit to the TD Banknorth Garden was a way to become more familiar with the players.

"It was a chance to spend a little more time with each skater," said Nadeau. "At the combine you only have about 15 or 20 minutes."

Like most of their 29 counterparts around the tables in Columbus next week, the B's are not necessarily looking to fill a particular position via the draft.

"We're going in looking to pick the best available player," explained Nadeau. "Especially early in the draft, we're not saying, 'We need a defenseman or we need a goalie or we need a forward.'"

Why is that?

"In hockey there are very few instances where a player can come into (the NHL) right away," said Nadeau. "We may have a 'need' at the NHL level, but these players are not necessarily going to fulfill that role for a few years.

"So, it's very difficult to target a set position."

Nadeau likened the National Hockey League Entry Draft to the Major League Baseball draft rather than the NFL or NBA drafts. In the latter two exercises, teams can often target a player at a particular position who might possible be able to plug into the pro roster immediately.

"You go with the best player," continued Nadeau. "And you hope that they develop in time and can fill a role on your NHL team."

Getting back to the players who visited last weekend, Nadeau said that the visit was a kind of orientation and recruiting trip rolled into one.

"We flew them in and they were here for roughly 24-hours -- with the exception of Shattenkirk who is an NCAA student athlete -- he flew himself in on Monday and left later that day," said Nadeau. "The other guys, however, we picked them up at the airport, brought them out for a nice dinner and showed them Boston a little bit. We brought them downtown, over to Fenway Park and things like that.

"We're obviously proud of the city and want to show it off."

In terms of the 'recruiting' process Ryan said," We'd like this to be a place where these kids want to play."

But there was also work involved, too.
Angelo Esposito

"They tested with John Whitesides (the Bruins Strength and Conditioning Coach)," said Nadeau. "We wanted John, who went out to the combine to see these players, to get a better look at them here in Boston.

"We wanted them to perform his kind of tests under his supervision.

"So they tested with him for about an hour and a half," he said.

Thanks to Coach Whitesides' testing, now the Bruins have a very good idea about where each player stands in terms of conditioning.

"All in all, it was a great chance for us to know these guys better," said Nadeau. "It was a great chance for them to get to know us better.

"They got to look at our locker room, all our facilities in Wilmington, the Garden and the city of Boston. They sat down with Peter Chiarelli for a meeting and for some questions. They met with Jeff Gorton and Don Sweeney.

"So it was a good process. They all really seemed to enjoy having the chance to come in and see our organization, and for us it was good to get to know them better because this pick is a big investment for us."
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