Most NHL teams say they subscribe strictly to the "best player available" theory. In my experience, some are being honest, some do that in the first round (and incorporate their depth charts beyond), and some take position into account from the beginning. If I were running a team, I'd fall somewhere in the middle, due to the very marginal differences in prospect value outside the very top.
Team strategies in the draft should be slightly more complex than simply, "draft the best player." Teams should try to balance their depth chart if the option is within a reasonable talent range, or they can make trades to either address the need or trade to a spot where the player they want would be a better value. In this series, I'll recommend the best strategies for every NHL team going into this year's draft, division by division. For more on the draft prospects mentioned here (and many more), be sure to check in on our Top 100 NHL draft prospects list.
For the purposes of this column, team strengths and weaknesses generally refer to a team's under-23 NHLers, or players who have not lost rookie eligibility. Players not specifically mentioned are included in the evaluation.
Strengths: Boston's pipeline is pretty solid in the goal prevention area. Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton are the big NHL names, but the Bruins have some fine prospects in Linus Arnesson, Matt Grzelcyk, Joe Morrow and others. Their centers are pretty good, as well, highlighted by Ryan Spooner and Alex Khokhlachev. Given the strength of the NHL roster, they might have trouble finding room, but Khokhlachev moved off to the wing this season in the AHL. 2012 first-rounder Malcolm Subban is an above-average goalie prospect.
Weaknesses: Scoring punch isn't a weak spot in the system, due to the aforementioned Spooner and Khokhlachev, but it isn't a strong spot, either. They dealt Tyler Seguin, but Reilly Smith has proven to be promising. Seth Griffith, Peter Cehlarik and Ryan Fitzgerald are interesting prospects, but another good prospect, preferably a winger, would really help to balance the organization.
Recommended strategy: In a draft that is very forward-heavy and light on defenders, this is a good season for the Bruins to add a scorer with their first pick. They don't need to get too crazy in addressing that need -- it's not a dire situation -- but that's the preferable option in the late first. The Bruins should likely just target the best player available from there on out.