Unlike other years where I normally would be going through about twelve prospects a month, the sheer whirlwind of B’s news means that I ultimately had to make the sacrifice of paring that sort of content to a single massive piece instead of several smaller ones.
So! What do the Bruins have to work with this year?
That is not a lot! But it is something. And that’s important.
So! Let’s go with the earliest pick in the draft and see what the draft prognosticators like at the 54th place in the draft!
Bob McKenzie’s 54th overall: Adam Ingram - F, but biases Center
Even without Bobbert Margarita’s list being generally quite accurate, Ingram checks a lot of the boxes of what I could charitably call the “Sweeney Special”, in that he’s a USHL player for Youngstown that is in fact committed to an NCAA School in the midwest, in his case St. Cloud State. That said, Ingram’s last couple of years (when there’s been no covid to worry about, anyway), are rather interesting: Just a hair above point per game with Youngstown this year with 55 points in 54 games, and then in 2019 he had 33 points in 32 games in U18 AAA hockey. Ingram has received rave reviews for the power and accuracy in his shot, and of course for his gift of being 6’2. He also happens to have quite a playmaking acumen, which that large frame of his can facilitate.
While defense has been a historical concern for him, one could make a good argument that maybe that isn’t a dealbreaker given the way that historically Bruins players seem to get a little better at backchecking in the current system, and St. Cloud was one of the better defensive teams in the NCHC conference, so if you’re looking to develop a more rounded player, outside of him transferring to Denver, he’s in as good a group of hands as you can ask for.
Drafting him is of course a project, but if you can keep him on track, there’s something worth looking for.
DobberProspects 54th overall: Kasper Kulonummi - RHD
Kulonummi is a typical modern european defenseman: a 200-foot player who’s great at defense and could maybe stand to see some extra goals come his way. Kulonummi is the smartest, most sensible choice if you’re looking for a safe defender to try and develop in the 2nd round, because he’s already pretty sensible in his own end. He knows exactly where to be, exactly how to block a shot, and can create strong breakout chances with quick decision-making and excellent passing. His skating is also pretty solid as well!
Where he falters is very simple: He’s the guy who starts a rush, he’s the guy who can pass to create the chance...but he’s not doing much of that himself. Also at 6-foot even, he could stand to find a little more weight to put on, but I imagine getting in touch with north american scouts will find a way to fix that.
Though defense is not necessarily a concern for the Bruins in any way other than health, drafting Kulonummi can net you at the very highest level, a safe, reasonable 2nd pairing player who can distribute pucks at the point in man-advantage situations. Just...don’t get excited for any Norris winning seasons.
Smaht Scouting’s 54th overall: Dylan James - LW
Another USHL boy headed to college, this time North Dakota.
James is an albertan boy who came to Sioux Falls for a hell of a run for the Clark Cup, where he finished his season with 61 points in 62 games, and had a respectable season prior to covid wrecking everything with the Okotoks Oilers. James play as a Musketeer could best be described as “Efforting hard all the time”: for good and for ill. For good, he’s constantly trying to make a play happen whether on offense or defense, and can show himself to be quite the danger to puck carriers who believe themselves to be safe. He has excellent play recognition and, when he’s on his best, truly show some high end, game-changing talent.
But...that effort isn’t all there in places it probably needs to be. For one thing, he skates pretty slowly, and all the effort in the world isn’t going to help you when your decision-making isn’t really up to par with your talent. He has a real problem of trying those high-end plays and then immediately turning the puck over, and it’s caused his draft ranking to rubber band constantly. Drafting him will mean trying to maximize his best traits while trying to limit his more galaxy brain thinking.
DraftProspects Hockey’s 54th Overall: Matyas Sapovaliv - Center
Czechs playing in the OHL? I’m willing to hear them out.
Sapovaliv played in Saginaw this year with the Spirit, and you always knew he was on the ice; he is 6’4 after all, and he knows it. While not a bang-and-crash kind of player, he prefers to use that gigantic frame to peel the puck out of board battles and off of defenders. Further, his offensive instincts are quite honed, he’s an expert playmaker who can dish a puck with the best of the OHL, and that frame means if he’s getting harried on the forecheck trying to create an opening...well, he’s not getting bothered much.
His biggest knock right now is skating; he’s got all the tools to be a dependable two-way player...but his skating speed is not where it should be right now. If he gets drafted, pretty much all of his development has to be hard-wired into getting his ability to skate fast going. I cannot overstate this: he has more or less everything else you’d want in a player. He did pretty good this year in the OHL and was an exemplary talent for the Czech national team, it’s just that one critical piece of development that needs to come...or he’s depth at best.
The Hockey News’ 54th Overall: Ben MacDonald - Center
Even in a draft with some local players around, this might be the most local of local local boys I’ve seen suggested to the Boston Bruins. Maybe ever.
Born in Weston, his most recent experience in the game is at Dedham’s Noble & Greenough prep school, and will be playing a year in Kelowna’s BCHL team...before he comes straight back to New England to play for Harvard. Because the high school level of the game, he’s only really seen some basic scouting. He has decent size and a good shot, and his 29 points in 22 games is pretty good...it’s just...how does that translate when he goes to Harvard?
I gotta admit, I don’t fully understand this one, but that’s a reality of underscouted talent groups; some scouts are just gonna find guys that they value more than others.
FC Hockey’s 54th Overall: Alexander Pelevin - LHD
I’m gonna be real. I don’t think this is happening, and it’s nothing to do with the player, who has been able to make some real strides in becoming a strong mobile defenseman.
It’s been a long time since the Bruins picked any Russians from Russia, and even longer since they got one with any staying power. And given the current situation with Ivan Fedotov of the Flyers and the invasion of Ukraine...I don’t think there’s going to be many Russians picked by any team, let alone the Bruins. Which sucks.
And it does suck, if you know anything about how hard it is to dislodge Russian players from Russian hands; the KHL and Russian Hockey Federation are probably salivating at the idea that they get to create the bread and circuses for the Kremlin while raking in the sweet, sweet dough and keeping all their truly transformative talent.
And dozens of NHL dreams are either about to die permanently, or will now have serious, serious stakes added to them.
It’s just a goddamn shame. The whole thing.
Whatever the case, the Bruins either need to use these picks tomorrow wisely, or trade them.
Bergeron appears to be coming back for one more year, which means that everything is now about Bergy’s second cup. And the Bruins might have to do some heinous, heinous things to both their roster and their draft picks of the near future in order to consider themselves a contender for Bergy. They currently have 6 picks in this draft, and only two in the upper rounds. If they decide they can get a roster player to facilitate getting better or get better position in the NHL draft, then I believe they should do it.
Otherwise, pick the best available, and let the offseason be for fixing everything else.
Let’s get nuts.