27. Tyler Randell, RW—After being picked in the sixth-round of the 2009 draft, the underachieving Randell went to work in becoming one of the toughest, nastiest wingers in the OHL. After beginning 2011-12 in the AHL (30 games, two goals), the B’s returned him to the Kitchener Rangers for his overage season. Coming off a lengthy suspension, Randell tallied a Texas hat trick (4 goals) in his first contest and finished the postseason with seven goals in six games. Although heavy-footed, he has a quick release on a heavy shot, and uses his size effectively to create space for himself and linemates. He’ll be better prepared to take on the enforcer role in Providence this time around. If more seasoned Bruins fans are looking for a similar player, Randell reminds of a young Lyndon Byers.
21. Tommy Cross, D (Simsbury, Conn.)—The last hope (Chris Bourque aside) of salvaging the disastrous 2007 draft for Boston is a solid, but unspectacular player. The Westminster star spent four years at BC, winning a pair of national titles and captaining the team to great heights after overcoming multiple surgeries in his first few years on Chestnut Hill. Turning 23 before the season starts, Cross is still young enough to develop into a solid NHL role player, but the potential that saw Peter Chiarelli and staff move up to take him 35th overall in the second round five years ago despite a knee injury suffered playing baseball before the draft is probably not there. Character matters and Cross has it in spades, but the fragility of his right knee and/or average hockey sense may see him top out as little more than a bottom-pairing NHL defender if he reaches that level.
18. Kevan Miller, D—One of Providence’s unsung heroes in a third-straight non-playoff finish by the team, Miller is an older player (he turns 25 in Nov.) after captaining the University of Vermont Catamounts a few years back. The late-blooming Californian is not spectacular, but brings smarts, positional savvy and toughness to the equation. He had a blistering fight in one of Boston’s prospect games against the Islanders a year ago and is not afraid to get his nose dirty. Like Aaron Miller, another former UVM defenseman with the same last name (no relation) who became a pro amidst low expectations, the B’s prospect could develop into a solid bottom-pairing kind of guy who can do everything that is asked of him. Kevan Miller skates well and is a pretty good player for one who was never drafted. Whether he has enough ability to crack a logjam on defense in Boston to make his mark with this organization is the biggest question and remains to be seen.
14. Seth Griffith, RW—Boston’s best value pick in the 2012 NHL draft in our view (fifth round) will have advocates who say he should be higher than 14th in his Boston prospect list debut, but his lack of size and speed calls for a more conservative outlook right now. Griffith is a great athlete with high-end hockey smarts who also starred in lacrosse, so he could end up being a very good player with a nice scoring upside. However, he was passed over completely in the 2011 NHL draft and fell past pick 130 this time around. He’s poised for a big breakout in his third and final OHL campaign with London, but there are questions about whether he can eventually be a top-six forward in the NHL even with the impressive production. If he can elevate his scoring numbers even more in 2013, watch for him to crack the top-10 on the organizational depth chart.
9. Zach Trotman, D—The 6-foot-4 rearguard continues to develop at an intriguing pace two years after the B’s made him the final selection of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Lured out of Lake Superior State University a year early by Boston, Trotman is one of the organization’s more underrated prospects given his size and skill package. He is fluid and mobile, with the vision and instincts to jump up into the play and assert himself as an effective power play presence and trigger man.
Although he’d likely need a full season in Providence before he’s ready to compete for a primetime slot on Boston’s blue line, Trotman is going into camp with a commitment to try and break into the top-six. Although the B’s veteran situation is pretty well established on defense, a strong camp and start in Providence (he scored a goal in his AHL debut) could see him among the first to be called up. The native of the Hoosier State may have been the last pick of the draft, but his accomplishments in the NCAA since have the look of a top-60—don’t be surprised to see him make an impact in the Boston organization even if he is one or more years off.
Projection: No. 3 or 4 two-way middle-pairing D-man and PP point man.
5. Malcolm Subban, G— Boston’s first-round pick was a surprise and a swing for the fences-type selection given Subban’s natural talent and upside. The native of Rexdale, Ontario is also a gamble for the B’s, who do not have a great track record of drafting and developing NHL goalies, especially those taken in the first round (Evgeni Ryabchikov, Hannu Toivonen). On a positive note, the middle Subban brother (with Jordan eligible for 2013 NHL draft) is one of the most athletic prospects at any position and if he can refine his style and keep developing his promising body of work, he has star potential down the road. With his solid 6-foot-1 height, his lower net coverage is remarkable, with extreme flexibility and explosive lateral movements in his favor.
Unfortunately, Subban’s mechanics are going to require some significant work, and he’s going to take a strong dose of time and patience before he’s ready for primetime. Subban is a top-five prospect for the B’s because he becomes the first potential high-end goalie in Boston’s developmental system since Tuukka Rask joined the organization in 2006. However, the 18-year-old is no slam-dunk and his risk factor is higher than any other player on board.
Projection: Top-echelon NHL starter or bust