Normally around this time, I would be doing my yearly draft profiles. Walking you through prospects, where they’re from, what their deal is, how they play, why they need a massive influx of cheeseburgers and weights, that sort of thing. I do like doing them!
The Boston Bruins on the other hand...not been given me much of a reason to consider doing that.
With five picks in the upcoming draft, and the first one coming at pick 92, one could be forgiven that the draft is mostly just a write-off for the B’s this year; the second firing of the starting gun to potentially one of the most painful free agencies in recent memory for the team.
...Does it have to be?
I like the draft! This is ultimately a very silly way to get into the league, I like it when guys who are bright-eyed and bushy tailed wander their way to the stage and get their first jersey and hat, and I do like looking through the entire draft class of a team to see what the team values overall. The pageantry of it? I could take it or leave it. But this is still fun!
For me. I understand if you need a little more of a hook to it. So lemme give you some.
How does [NEW GM HERE] handle their first real draft?
In a rare moment, quite a few teams decided to axe their GM after some playoff mishaps and organizational disfunction, and are now walking into their first draft live at the helm of a new team, with new expectations, new goals, new needs, and new wants.
Toronto now teeters on the edge of becoming what maybe they’ve secretly always been, Arizona desperately needs any kind of win to keep their fans invested (or at least any kind of news to keep them relevant to hockey fans so that they’re not thinking about the actually embarrassing things plaguing the league.), Pittsburgh needs to find talent and fast, Calgary needs to right their ship, Philly needs to give their fans a reason to care...
A lot of these guys might be trusting their A-GMs for it, and that’s fine...but they need to make a splash now to keep fans from turning on them early.
Hey! No pressure, guys!
Where does David Reinbacher end up?
For as good as this draft class is, the big reason why it’s considered so good is because of the absolute glut of quality forward talent. These young guys can shoot and score with the best of ‘em.
Defense? Eh. There’s a lot of big boys with interesting upside, but not a whole lot of gamebreaking talent. The exception? Austrian blueliner David Reinbacher.
Reinbacher has been playing in the Swiss League for EHC Kloten, and playing like a certified veteran at the ripe age of 18; wowing pretty much everybody he comes into contact with from his time in the World Juniors on. Initial draft prognostication had him going as a respectable middle of the draft kind of pick: anywhere from 15-20. Now, Reinbacher is generating the kind of buzz that suggests he could not just go Top Ten, but certain places are really thinking about picking him Top 5. With all that forward talent that could get you set for a good long while! Some kid from Hohenems could end up one of the highest drafted Austrian since Thomas Vanek or Marco Kasper. That’s really fun!
It would also mean a forward has taken a hilarious tumble. Kind of liiiike...
The (maybe necessary) Galaxy Braining of Matvei Michkov
Matvei Michkov is probably one of the best players in terms of pure ability in this draft. He is the #1 European skater. He is going to be in Nashville so you can shake his hand and tell him you’re an NHLer now. You would be an absolute fool to lose out on a player this talented.
Couple of minor problems: Where he plays, and who he plays for.
Michkov has been playing for the KHL’s premiere squad; SKA St. Petersburg, as well as HK Sochi on loan. He’s been a great player for St. Petersburgh and Sochi, but recently he re-upped with SKA into the 2025-26 season. KHL contracts are famously extremely difficult to break if you want him back over in the states early, and often require the team or the player actively paying out the team he’s signed with. He’s also reeling from the extremely suspicious death of his father, which will go unremarked upon, beyond being a terrible tragedy in a young man’s life.
Of course, for all the parts of this deck that are stacked against him, Michkov isn’t exactly making this easier on himself; according to scouts, he’s been actually fairly difficult to get ahold of unless you’re in the building, and very few have actively been able to interview him. A lot of people will focus on the fact that he wasn’t able to make the combine, but as a russian national right now...that was difficult even for guys expecting to get picked on Day 2.
Oh yeah and did I mention that he’s a Russian national playing in Russia in 2023? Namely a Russia that has been using hockey as the “Circensus” of Pacem et Circensus of their war effort? Meaning that everything I just said might be completely manufactured horses#!t to keep him in Russia? Or at the very least going to a team he might want to go to?
It’s a super awkward situation for any young Russian prospect, is what I’m getting at. Doubly so if you’re a good one, and Michkov looks to be one of the better ones.
There is some risk, but it’s been made abundantly clear that if he goes to the big show, he will thrive. It’s up to general managers to do something they sometimes have a little trouble with and have patience with a guy like him.
Does Boston suddenly get on the board via trade?
An unspoken part of why people are so high on this draft is not just the sheer number of can’t-miss prospects that litter the first round, it’s that scouts are very wishy-washy on whether or not they know anything about the next three or four years of draft picks thanks to the Thing What Ended The World For A Few Months.
Boston, regardless of how they finished their season, just had several best-of seasons for a number of their movable contracts. Some of these teams could “get better” by trading for some of these B’s on their roster through trades, and that could get Boston into the 1st round.
From there? The next few years of NHL hockey might be written for the team.
Hey, you never know.
The NHL Draft begins tomorrow at 7pm EST. The telecast is on ESPN, SportsNet, and TVAS. We’ll see how things unfold.