The best Boston Bruins teams were led by excellent defensemen, whether it was Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque or Zdeno Chara.
Building from the back always has been the Bruins way, and the team has built an impressive group of young, talented defensemen with several of their recent draft picks. That process continued Friday night when Boston selected Finnish D-man Urho Vaakanainen with the No. 18 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
ESPN Insider writer Corey Pronman tweeted a few observations on Vaakanainen.
Vaakanainen also compared his game to that of Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi.
Here’s a look at the Bruins’ best young defensemen. McAvoy and Carlo already are part of the NHL roster as top-four D-men.
2017, Round 1: Urho Vaakanainen
2016, Round 1: Charlie McAvoy
2016, Round 2: Ryan Lindberg
2015, Round 1: Jakob Zboril
2015, Round 2: Brandon Carlo
2015, Round 2: Jeremy Lauzon
McAvoy was very impressive in his NHL debut, which came in the B’s first-round playoff series against the Ottawa Senators. In fact, Bruins legend Bobby Orr didn’t think McAvoy looked out of place at all. McAvoy is a two-way D-man with first-pairing ability, and the best-case scenario with him is he takes over for Chara as the team’s No. 1 defenseman at some point.
But you need more than one reliable defenseman to win a Stanley Cup, and one of Vaakanainen’s biggest strengths is dependability in the defensive zone. He’s also a tremendous skater.
Today’s NHL is a game of speed and skill, not physicality. Two of the league’s smallest, least physical teams — the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators — made the Stanley Cup Final. All six of the defensemen listed above skate well and have offensive upside. Credit the Bruins for identifying the trends in the game and adapting to them when it comes to the draft.
No. 1 defensemen are incredibly tough to find, and rarely are they traded. The draft is the best place to find one, and the Bruins have given themselves several chances to develop one with their recent draft picks.
Thumbnail photo via David Banks/USA TODAY Sports Images