Bruins preparing for draft

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Boston Bruins assistant general manager Jim Benning recently returned from the NHL combine in Toronto, where the organization interviewed a total of 60 amateur players in preparation for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft on June 24-25 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“The top kids were really impressive,” Benning said. “They’re all solid kids. I don’t know that right now there’s a clear-cut top two guys like there was in last year’s draft.”

Benning admitted there are four top players who have the ability to be taken as the top overall pick. A year ago, Taylor Hall was the No. 1 selection by the Edmonton Oilers before the Bruins drafted Tyler Seguin at No. 2.

The Bruins have the No. 9 overall pick this year.

“I feel confident at nine we’re going to get a good solid kid,” Benning said. “I don’t know if the ninth pick overall will be ready to step in and play [in the NHL] next season. It would depend on who we drafted and if they had a good summer, got stronger and put on weight -- all those variables. Whoever we get will turn out to be a very good player.”

And if you’re wondering if the Bruins will attempt to trade up, Benning said that’s nearly impossible.

“It would be nice, but it’s near impossible to get into the top five. It would be nice, though, if we could,” he said.

Benning also said the Bruins are not looking for a specific need and Peter Chiarelli’s philosophy is to draft the best possible player no matter which position he plays.

When the Bruins return from Vancouver, the organization will hold its amateur scouting meetings on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Boston.