The Boston Bruins have been one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference for quite some time now. Last season they missed the playoffs for their second-consecutive year after head coach Claude Julien took them to the playoffs in his first 7 seasons with the club. They did not miss by much though.
The Bruins were tied in points (93) with 3rd place in the Atlantic Division Detroit Red Wings, and even had 1 more win than the wings in the season. The tie-breaker being regulation and overtime wins however, the Wings were 1 better, and the Bruins were sent to the golf course a little earlier than they would have liked.
The Bruins are loaded with talent as well. With David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand powering the Bruins front lines, and a monster like Zdeno Chara and soon-to-be RFA Torrey Krug bolstering a solid blue line, it's not out of line to assume this is a team that will be back in the mix sooner rather than later. They are not that far removed from their 2010-11 Stanley Cup winning season.
Chara is pushing 40 though, and while most of their roster is still younger, there are some places the Bruins could use some help and shore up some depth. While their prospect pool thins a bit (a very small bit) on defense, they could also use a high-end right winger coming up the ranks, and you just don't pass up this pick if he's still available at 14.
So, with the 14th pick in the Hockey Wilderness Mock Draft, the Boston Bruins select Julien Gauthier (pronounced: GOH-CHEE-YAY), right wing for the Val d'Or Foreurs of the QMJHL.
Bruins Prospect Pool
Going into last season, Hockey's Future had the Bruins prospect pool ranked 5th in the NHL thanks in part to a furious summer on the trade market and a treasure trove of draft selections last June (6 picks in the first 2 rounds). They listed their weaknesses as "too many centers, and not enough wingers." This is certainly not a bad position to be in when looking into the deep end of the prospect pool.
The Bruins have solid depth in goal and players at both forward and defensive positions that are developing nicely on their way to the big club. But with David Pastrnak becoming a regular in the NHL, their next top RW prospect would probably fall to Zachary Senyshyn, with not too much to gloat about following him up. Gauthier immediately solidifies their needs at this position.
About Julien Gauthier
David Prendergast, a scout for the Buffalo Sabres dubbed Julien "a man-child", and he's very much spot on in that assertion. Julien Gauthier is a monster folks. Standing at 6'4" and tipping the scales over 220 pounds, this kid has an NHL ready body today. With his frame, opposition forces struggle to dislodge him from the puck. He can win battles in the corners and is like an immovable object in front of the net. Which comes in extremely handy as he spends a lot of time driving that direction anyway.
He finished tied for 6th in the Q this past season with 41 goals in 54 games, 8 less games than his 6th-placed counterpart Francis Perron. He's a kid who has elevated his play this season, and it shows he's open to criticism and learning from his mistakes. He's got great speed for his size, and extremely agile hands which you wouldn't expect to see in a moster power forward type player.
One of the knocks on the guy however is he seems to have started to develop a shoot-first mentality, despite being in a situation that might call for a pass to a teammate in a better position. His head coach for the Val d'Or Foreurs, Mario Durocher has also said he needs some polishing on the PK, but has reaffirmed his ability and willingness to learn and develop into an all around player.
With size, speed, and a physicality that has been one of the staples of Bruins hockey, Gauthier would fit in to the Bruins nicely after another season or two marinading and honing his craft. There's not a whole lot to not like about this kid. He truly is the most Boston Bruins pick in the top end of this years NHL draft.
Wild about Julien
Personally, I'd be pretty stoked if the Wild were able to snag this guy. He might not fill a need, but with his size and willingness to win battles I find it difficult to let this one slide by. He would of course draw comparisons to recent signed draft pick Alex Tuch, but I'm of the mind you can't really have enough Alex Tuch's in the lineup.
Also, this shoot-first mentality he has developed. Well I have to believe the Wild fanbase would be salivating over a guy who likes to shoot the puck at any given moment. He's tenacious, he doesn't quit and he's a coachable character. They guy has everything you could possibly want, don't let the fact that he plays in the Q sway your opinion on Gauthier. He's a guy that has huge potential to be a fan favorite and find great success at any level of hockey.