PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 23: Matthew Grzelcyk, 85th overall pick by the Boston Bruins, walks on the draft floor during day two of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 23, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The obvious story for the Bruins at the 2012 NHL Draft this weekend was Malcolm Subban. The Belleville Bulls goalie and younger brother of PK Subban has been all over twitter the last few days, gleefully chirping away about donning the Black and Gold in the future. The reaction from the crowd at Consol on Friday night was great, and the amusement echoed online - not only Canadiens and Bruins fans, but the entire hockey world was laughing at the audacity of Peter Chiarelli's amazing draft choice. To be sure, this is one brotherly rivalry that should get a really good amount of mileage in Boston and Montreal, enemy cities who both love a good hockey narrative.
The greatness of this draft pick overshadowed the stories of Boston's other draftees, who, as it turns out, each have a Boston-connected narrative of their own. While it'll be a while until we see any of these kids in Black and Gold - NHL, AHL, or otherwise - outside of development and rookie camps, it will still be fun to follow the stories of Matthew Grzelcyk, Seth Griffith, Cody Payne, Matt Benning, and Colton Hargrove as they continue their junior careers. So let's look at the details.
#85: Matt Grzelcyk (US NTDP)
Grzelcyk, a defenseman from Charlestown, MA, comes to the Bruins from the United States National Team Development Program in the USHL, and Bruins fans eager to watch this kid develop are in luck - he's committed to Boston University for next year, where he'll provide the Terriers a much-needed boost on the blueline. He's a fast, albeit undersized, defenseman with an early 1994 birthday, and had 21 points (2-19-21) in 60 games played for the USNTDP last year.
"I try to play my best when I'm more aggressive, jump in the play as much as I can as it happens...I think [the Bruins] kinda build themselves on toughness, so maybe they might need someone to be able to break the puck out and get the puck to the forwards," Grzelcyk said about how he thinks he'll fit into the team.
The future Terrier's connection to the Bruins has been talked about a bit - Grzelcyk's dad, John, has been a member of the TD Garden's highly-touted "Bull Gang" for over 40 years. The Bull Gang was featured in an episode of Sports Jobs with Junior Seau a few years ago, where the process for converting the ice to parquet floor was explained. Grzelcyk is pretty familiar with the behind-the-scenes goings-on at the Garden, too.
"When I was about 2 years old, my dad had the opportunity to take me skating over at the Garden, so I remember skating at the Old Garden more than I remember my actual first game."
It goes without saying that Grzelcyk has more ties than most to the black and gold - including ties to their fans. If and when Grzelcyk breaks the roster in a few years, he should become a fast fan favorite.
#131 Seth Griffith (London Knights)
Griffith, a center from Wallaceburg, Ontario, is a smallish forward at 5'11 and 185 pounds. His connection to Boston is through his teammate in London, Jared Knight, who will likely start the season in Providence barring an excellent training camp.
The 19-year-old center scored 22 goals for London in 2010-2011, but was passed over at last year's NHL draft by all 30 teams. He attended Tampa Bay's development camp last summer (ironic, since Boston drafted him with the pick acquired from Tampa) and went on to score 45 goals for London this year, including one goal in the Memorial Cup, where his team lost in overtime in the finals. His Knights are expected to contend pretty well next year under coach Dale Hunter.
Fun fact about Griffith: he's somewhat of a lacrosse star. From Dominic Tiano:
He captained Team Ontario in the National Lacrosse Championships. A lot of players seem to play lacrosse these days, and that prepared him for "tough" hockey and I think once he matures physically, he will use that to his advantage.
#145: Cody Payne (Plymouth Whalers)
Payne's narrative is the only one not linked to Boston, but he's got a good one nonetheless. A 6'2, 202-pound right wing who plays a tough game and has underrated puck skills, Payne is said to fit the Bruins' playing style, and is projected to have a breakout season in scoring next year. He's currently a Plymouth Whaler, Tyler Seguin's old team in the OHL, and was traded there from the Oshawa Generals earlier this year. Payne put up 5-11-16 totals this year with 107 PIMs in 60 games. (Here is his hockeyfights page.) Payne, who turned 18 in January, was in his first year of eligibility for the draft this year.
It's not often you get hockey players who were born in the UK, or players from Florida clubs, but Payne is both - after moving to Florida from London, England when he was very young, Payne played hockey for the Junior Panthers before being drafted by the Oshawa Generals. He played in the Ivan Hlinka U-18 Tournament for Team USA in 2011. Payne joins Cornell sophomore Brian Ferlin in the Floridians-drafted-by-Boston club.
While Payne is nothing if not a long shot, he should be entertaining to watch at the upcoming development camp. From The Prospect Blog:
He brings a high complete level, and always is willing to do what it takes to win. He can drop the gloves, deliver a big hit or block a shot. He has under rated puck skills, and when given the opportunity, can make some skilled plays with the puck in the offensive zone. He has some work to do with his mobility and agility, specifically his first steps.
#175: Matthew Benning (Spruce Grove Saints, AJHL)
Benning, the nephew of Bruins' Assistant GM Jim Benning, is NCAA eligible, though he hasn't committed anywhere yet. The 6-foot, 205-pound defenseman from St. Albert, Alberta had 4-14-18 totals with 87 penalty minutes in 44 games with Spruce Grove last year. Benning was ranked #176 by Central Scouting, so although it seems like a "nepotism pick," if you subscribe to the "take the best player available" theory, the Bruins were fairly spot-on here.
#206: Colton Hargrove (Fargo Force, USHL)
With their last pick in the draft, the Bruins went for another Bruins prospect's teammate - 20-year-old Colton Hargrove, teammate of goalie prospect Zane Gothberg. At 6'3, 208 pounds, Hargrove and Payne seem to play a similar hard-nosed game; according to Ryan Clark, "If he puts it all together he can provide offense, strength and stand up for his teammates. Lot of potential there."
Hargrove also comes from a nontraditional background, as his hometown is Dallas, Texas. He had 38 points and 140 PIMs in 54 games for Fargo last year. Hargrove will attend Western Michigan University this coming fall.
BONUS: TWITTER HANDLES
Malcolm Subban - @Subbzero30
Matt Grzelcyk - @m_grzelcyk7
Cody Payne - @paynercjc
Colton Hargrove - @c_hargrove7