The Bruins have been very successful under Peter Chiarelli, with a President's Trophy, two Cup Final appearances and a Cup in the last five years.
If there was one area the Bruins could improve upon, though, it would be their draft record. And that might already be happening.
We saw a huge influx of prospects last season as some of the borderline players got their feet wet. With some spots open in the Bruins roster, there's no shortage of competition among those in the B's system for playing time.
Three of those players - David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner and Alex Khokhlachev managed to crack Corey Pronman's top 100 NHL prospects. Let's take a look:
David Pastrnak - #36 (last year: not eligible)
Commentary: Pronman praised Pastrnak's past season, which he called "one of the most productive under-18 seasons in the league's [Swedish second tier] history." He likes Pastrnak's IQ & skating, but doesn't anticipate him bringing much energy to games.
Season Outlook: The B's first round draft pick signed an entry level deal following development camp and could be in line to replace Loui Eriksson on the third line when Eriksson moves up to Krejci's line. Depending on your level of cynicism, this was something born out of an impressive performance by Pastrnak, a need to fill a roster spot following Iginla's departure or a combination of both. Like most 18-year-olds, Pastrnak could find the NHL challenging due to the level of physicality it requires. If the Bruins feel he needs more time to develop after 10 games, they could send him the OHL to season as he was drafted by the Belleville Bulls in the CHL Import Draft this year.
Ryan Spooner - #50 (last year: #36) *note - 20 previously ineligible players, including Pastrnak, appeared ahead of Spooner, (22 in the case of Koko) so don't read too much into that rank change*
Commentary: Pronman isn't sure about Spooner's size or defense or where he fits in the Bruins' lineup but does acknowledge his skill, skating and production as a pro (121 points in 143 games - mostly AHL, of course).
Season Outlook: Spooner got a 23 game run last year in which he posted 11 points (all assists AND more than Shawn Thornton) and a 52.2 cf%. A case could easily have been made that he belonged on the team last year (ninth on the team in points per 60 minutes) and with roster spots open and a new philosophy on the fourth line's composition, you better believe he should be there this season. After posting nearly a point per game in his AHL tenure, he deserves a run with the Bruins.
Alex Khokhlachev - #55 (last year #40)
Commentary: Pronman likes his speed and his puckhandling, but worries about his size.
Season Outlook: I remember not too long ago there was questions whether or not Koko would ever come over to America to play pro hockey and then in his first full pro season, he was third in AHL rookie scoring (with a better points per game than anyone around him, as well). Koko received a one game trial at the end of the regular season and it wasn't spectacular - though that was team-wide...remember this one? As far as the '14-'15 season is concerned, smart money is on him getting more time in the AHL to develop (he turns 21 next month). Guys like Florek, Fraser, Cunningham and Lindblad probably stand ahead of him in the call-up pecking order, but he presents an intriguing offensive option on that fourth line, especially if he plays with Spooner.
*No goalies were ranked in case you were wondering where Malcolm Subban was ranked*
As a side note, the Bruins were one of nine teams with three prospects in the top 100. Buffalo led the way with eight and the Islanders weren't far behind with seven. Five teams had five prospects, five teams had four prospects and four teams had two. New Jersey, New York Rangers, Carolina, San Jose and Colorado each had just one.
If you'd like to see the player analysis in full as well as the complete list, I recommend you check out his work on ESPN here. It does require an Insider account, though.
Hopefully this got everyone fired up because this year's 25 Under 25 is coming up soon...