Slowly But Surely, The Pieces Are Aligning

Returning to a place of prominence is a long and grueling process. No one ever said that the road to getting back to elite status would happen overnight.

The true fans of the Boston Bruins must be patient. Since the offseason has slowly begun to unfold, several barriers have been cleared.

Last week, the team announced that they fired general manager Peter Chiarelli.

“We are grateful for Peter’s service to the Bruins organization over the last nine seasons,” Bruins president Cam Neely said in a statement issued by the team. “His efforts undoubtedly helped the team achieve great success during his tenure and he helped restore the proud tradition of Boston Bruins hockey. We ultimately feel that this change is necessary in order to ensure sustainable success for the club both in the short term and the long term.”

When it comes down to it, Neely is absolutely accurate. Chiarelli did return the team to a watchable product and quickly turned this city back into a hockey town once again. However, there was no doubt that a change was necessary.

The Bruins missed the playoffs this season, ending a seven-year postseason appearance streak. Boston won a Stanley Cup in 2010-11, made another Cup Final appearance in 2012-13 and posted a 386-233-85 regular-season record during Chiarelli’s tenure with the club, which began in 2006.

As far as Claude Julien, it looks like that the new general manager of the team will be deciding the fate of the coaching staff going forward. We will see how that plays out.

This past weekend, however, the non-playoff teams had something else to hope for while the rest of the league competed in postseason hockey: the NHL Draft Lottery.

The Bruins had a 1% chance (literally) of landing the top overall pick heading into the lottery. With the B’s still tied up financially due to the salary cap, landing a “cannot miss” prospect would have solved a lot of their issues.

With that being said, they ended up with the 14th overall pick and that was the spot that they were originally projected to draft. According to multiple mock drafts and scouts, the Bruins will likely use the pick on Nick Merkley of Kelowna (WHL). He stands 5’10” and weights 175 lbs. He can play both center and right wing, which will come in handy in a system that is currently preached in Boston.

Here is the latest scouting report on the young forward:

“An offensive forward that makes an impact in the game every time he touches the puck…improved skater this season and possess more jump in his step…not big by any stretch but shows a willingness to throw his weight around…impressive hockey sense and ability to think the game…very creative and crafty with the puck…plays a complete 200-foot game…a strong playmaker with impressive vision and touch on his passes…willing to take the puck to the net…has an effective shot that is quick off his stick.”

Only time will tell when it comes to this team. At the end of the day, these are only projections. We will see what happens in two months.