Happy June, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying this lovely weather we’re having, and since we now officially have 21 days before the draft, I’m going to try and make 21 draft profiles of players Boston could pick in 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
But before we go anywhere, It should be noted that I did end up writing this just a little before during the Stanley Cup finals kicked off on top of the fact that the Draft is still a ways away from actually being a thing, and while Boston can always move up through trades or what have you, right now we’re running under the assumption that they’re going to sit the first round out, waiting until deep into the second round to draft. I wouldn’t know what team they’d even consider trading with to get into the first round to begin with, so it’s easier this way.
So, with that in mind, here are some things to remember while we do our draft profiles.
Every player Boston picks will be a project, first and foremost:
In most drafts you’re gonna hear the phrase “project” a lot. Since Boston does not have a first round pick, this has never been more true in the 2018 second round.
The vast majority of players available to the Bruins around their 2nd-round pick will probably be 17 years old, probably still figuring their games out for their teams, committed to junior teams, colleges or to the rip-roaring world of European hockey where you can be up and down a team’s U20 teams by the day, and their last few growth spurts are still ahead of them before they can start packing on some real athlete man-muscle onto themselves and fine tune everything for NHL competition. With specific exceptions and maybe a strong 2018-19, some of them could end up playing in Providence for a bit, but even that seems a bit unlikely.
Patience will be key when it comes to anyone picked in the late 2nd simply by the nature of the talent left on the board. Of which the general consensus is “Good, but needs work to become NHL-good”. Which is fine! This is why Boston pays so many scouts and coaches to be affiliated with them. To help get these players to the best version of themselves. And that takes more than just a couple years bouncing around Providence and especially if that player is still in their formative years.
Boston has done pretty well in Rounds 2 and 3:
Rounds 2 and 3, going back as far as 2014 has had a real, tangible impact on the Bruins both from the prospect system and on the mainline team and if they have a feeling on a player? Chances are things are gonna pan out and you can see that all over the lineup and in the system.
Ryan Donato looks like he’s gonna be a real star for the B’s once he’s acclimated to the NHL full-time, JFK was one of the premiere playmakers in Providence, Jack Studnicka appears to be making the Oshawa Generals happy and every new piece of news for him seems to indicate he’ll be a real fun player to watch in the very near future, Joona Koppanen just finished up a pretty decent season as a freshman forward of the mainline Ilves squad in Finland and as a member of the Finnish world junior team, with an opportunity to be in Providence or maybe the main club coming very quickly up over the horizon.
To say nothing of course about Brandon Carlo of the 2015 draft, who, while still going through growing pains of his own, still has made some huge strides in showing himself to be as valuable as any other player on the Bruins. Or..y’know...Two-thirds of the first line, who were picked in the 2nd (Bergeron) and 3rd (Marchand) round respectively.
Point is, if the B’s are liking what a player brings to the table in the 2nd or 3rd round? There’s a good chance he might end up panning out.
This is an opportunity for Boston to think about the long-term future of their depth:
Boston still has some places in their depth that, unless addressed with free agency (which would have to be a great deal in order to be worth it due to the number of RFAs by the end of next year), could best be filled by making smart picks in this draft.
Namely, their Right-Wing slots are still looking pretty bare, having 5 from the NHL and AHL leave as free agents and the team essentially confirming they won’t go after three of them, leaving the next big prospect at Right-Wing...being Peter Cehlarik and Zach Senyshyn. And that’s about it in terms of signed players. Not bad, but you’re definitely going to need more than that in case someone gets hurt.
An underreported area of need for Boston is that the drop off after Adam McQuaid of right-handed defensemen even close to ready for the AHL, let alone NHL is pretty significant in comparison to the lefties, who have Vaakanainen, Zboril, Lauzon, and outside candidates Wiley Sherman and Arnesson all clamoring for a shot or an opportunity at the NHL next year.
Yeah. Feels like it could be made slightly deeper than that, don’t you think?.
And of course, the goaltending depth, which while having 4 able-bodied individuals, is still kind of up in the air as to where everyone fits in the grand scheme of “4-5 years down the road.”
These players can help alleviate these concerns in the long term, which works out to their advantage in letting these players grow and allowing slots all over the AHL/NHL lineup to open up.
And with that all in mind, you’re ready to start looking for gems across the junior, college, and european systems with us! Starting with one of the greatest names in the entire draft and that is a strong thing to say regarding the same draft that holds Nando Eggenberger in it.
Stay tuned...AFTER this weekend!