With a mid-first round pick and then a series of mid-to-late picks in the other rounds, it was never likely that the Bruins were going to make a big splash.
Most fans didn’t count on coming out of this draft with an NHL-ready player, nor with a player who was going to immediately go out and snag some headlines.
Instead, the fans got what they probably expected: a steady, modest approach to continuing to stock the farm system with kids who play the game the way the Bruins want it played.
This isn’t to say that none of these kids is talented, or that none has the potential to be a flashy, headline-making player; rather that as they have in the past, the Bruins chose to go with steady over flashy, two-way over specialized.
Defense was the theme of this draft for the Bruins, as three of their six picks were blueliners.
Here’s a look at each player the B’s selected:
1st round, 18th overall - Urho Vaakanainen, defense, JYP
The closest to being NHL-ready (and even that’s likely to be a few years away), Vaakanainen played against men in the SM-Liiga last year, Finland’s top-tier league. He also played for the Espoo Blues in that same league the previous year. Next season, he’ll be playing for SaiPa, a team that finished dead last in the league this past season.
Vaakanainen won’t be 19 until January 1st, making it all the more impressive that he’s playing against guys 10 years his senior. He’s a left shot, which the Bruins probably liked, and was scouted as a defenseman’s defenseman; that’s to say that he’s more Zdeno Chara than Torey Krug.
The fact that he already plays a sound defensive game against men is encouraging. Sure, he’ll have a learning curve adjusting to NHL talent, but the fundamentals are there. His shot can be coached, and increased offensive-mindedness can be encouraged.
However, he appears to have the defensive foundation down pat. He’s likely at least a couple years away from being on the Bruins’ NHL radar, but stranger things have happened.
2nd round, 53rd overall - Jack Studnicka, center, Oshawa
The 18-year-old center is just 6’ 1” and 174 pounds, but remember: he’s 18. Growth spurts continue and muscle can be added, so that’s not really a concern.
The good thing about Studnicka is that while he’s known as a sound, solid two-way player, he ramped up his offensive output this past season.
After just 26 points in 67 games last year, Studnicka bumped it up to 67 points in 75 games this year, including 15 points in 11 playoff games.
Perhaps the Bruins see some JFK in him: a reliable, two-way forward who won’t win the scoring title but can chip in on offense.
Expect him to take the usual “age out of juniors, go to Providence” route, barring another surge in production this season.
4th round, 111th overall - Jeremy Swayman, goalie, Sioux Falls
Come on, you knew the Bruins were going to pick a goalie.
Swayman comes from Anchorage, Alaska, which is about as far away from Boston as you can get without going to another country.
He’ll turn 19 later this year, and is expected to remain in the USHL through the end of the 2018 season.
After that, he’ll head to Orono to attend the University of Maine, meaning Bruins fans should see plenty of him in Hockey East action around the area.
Playing in one of the best conferences in college hockey will allow Swayman to face some real talent on a regular basis.
6th round, 173rd overall - Cedric Pare, center, Saint John
A heady, sensible, two-way centerman. Sound familiar?
Like Studnicka, Pare isn’t a flashy offensive talent, but does a lot of little things well.
From Hockey Now:
A big-bodied centreman with skill, Cédric Paré will play in all situations and plays a solid 200-foot game covering all areas of the ice. Not afraid to go into the corners and crash and bang. Also, pretty tough customer in front of the net. Played in 64 games this season and scored five times including a game winning goal. It remains to be seen the impact he may have at the next level but his compete level is noticeable and well as his determination to jump on loose pucks. Skating is average for a big kid and his presence is always felt on the ice. Good mature level and understands the game.
7th round, 195th overall - Victor Berglund, D, Modo Jr.
Just 17 years old, the diminutive defenseman is just 6 feet tall and weighs 165 pounds.
He’s currently playing for Modo Jr, the youth team of the famed Swedish hockey league club. Modo and Modo Jr have produced NHLers like Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund and the Sedin twins.
The major league team plays in the second-tier Hockey Allsvenskan in Sweden, while Berglund and the under-20 team plays in the SuperElit league, Sweden’s version of the Canadian Hockey League.
Berglund has 16 points in 49 games last year, split between the SuperElit (37 games) and Allsvenskan (12 games).
He’ll be an interesting one to keep an eye on, as the Swedish leagues tend to be top-flight competition, and he’s already holding his own as a teenager.
7th round, 204th overall - Daniel Bukac, D, Brandon
Already standing 6’ 5” tall at just 18 years old, had a pretty decent season for the Wheat Kings last year.
He 17 points in 72 games, not bad for a young defenseman in his first season in Canadian junior.
He’s a longshot, but it’ll be interesting to watch him develop in the rough-and-tumble Western Hockey League.
7th-round picks don’t often amount to much, but any time you can take a shot on a 6’ 5” and growing defenseman, why not do it?