It's a nervous time in Beantown recently.
With their team on a five-game losing skid and falling out of a playoff spot last week, some Boston fans are already, just in case, starting to prepare for something that would probably have been unthinkable the last few seasons - missing the playoffs. With Bruins sitting a point out of the wild-card spot in the east after being passed by Ottawa, and with nine games left, people were beginning to think of the worst.
Obviously, recent form has put the Bruins back into PO contention, but there's still a chance they could fall out of it, so it never hurts to plan for the worst, right? After all, this Bruins team has been in and out of the PO race like a person lost in a revolving door.
Of course, the benefit of losing and bad play is that, when it comes to draft pick collection, worse is better. Missing the playoffs means that at worst you get the 13th pick, and with that climb in draft ranking also comes a slight rise in the lottery chances. The dream of Eichel is still out there, folks! But don't start reserving those jerseys yet.
However, we wouldn't be doing our job properly if we didn't at least look at how this fall in the standings affects the prospect crop. We kicked off our coverage by looking at some names the Bruins could realistically target in the first round, but now, just for a little while, we're letting ourselves aim a little higher and taking a look at a player who could, if the stars align and Bobby Orr is working some sort of voodoo doll on draft day, end up in Boston, though it would take a committed move by a front office looking for an elite NHL-ready player off the bat.
That player is OHL top scorer Dylan Strome of the Erie Otters.
The 6'3 190lb centre has well and truly lit up the OHL in his draft year in Erie, defeating all comers for the scoring title (including team-mate Connor McDavid, though McDavid played 21 less games and ended the season only nine points behind). He's ranked around 6th by most services in the prospect pool - fifth among NA skaters, so the Bruins would have to fall another five spots in the standings and have a truly horrendous end to the season to have a realistic shot at him. An incredibly strong, skilled player, he'd probably be the answer to the Bruins' prayers to add production on the third line, or possibly higher still as the foil to Brett Connolly or Reilly Smith. 41 goals and 82 assists this season tells you all you need to know about how he's equally comfortable scoring or assisting - so simply put, if the Bruins could find a way to trade up for him, they'd probably give it a long, hard look.
That, however, is the problem.
Strome is an elite talent, and there's no doubt he could help the Bruins immediately, but could he help them more than the players currently likely to be sat available round about the 13th pick - enough to trade up? I think that a bold GM might go for it - but Peter Chiarelli or indeed anyone else doing so is a sign that maybe there's a full-scale retooling beginning in Boston, and there's been no sign that the organisation are even considering that as yet. However, if the Bruins do miss the playoffs, then Strome could at least enter the picture. He's worth watching, Bruins fans. Just in case.