A major component to winning in the salary cap era is surrounding veterans with young, talented players on cheap entry-level contracts.
It’s difficult to keep a veteran core intact long-term because eventually players are due raises that force teams to make tough decisions to fit under the salary cap. This makes building through the draft extremely important.
The Bruins, since the cap was introduced in the 2005-06 season, have endured their share of highs and lows at the draft.
The 2006 draft was a great one for Boston. The Original Six club chose Phil Kessel fifth overall, then found future top-six forwards Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand in the second and third rounds, respectively.
The 2007 draft, however, began a stretch of swing-and-misses for the B’s. First-round picks Zach Hamill (No. 8, 2007), Joe Colborne (No. 16, 2008) and Jordan Caron (No. 25, 2009) didn’t meet expectations. Colborne never played for the Bruins and Hamill appeared in just four NHL games.
Here’s a look at the scoring production Boston received from all 17 draft picks from 2007 through 2009.
A lot of teams who competed in the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs were led by players from these three drafts. Patrick Kane, Kevin Shattenkirk, Steven Stamkos, Erik Karlsson, Chris Kreider and Nick Leddy are among the best examples.
Luckily for the Bruins, better drafts were on the horizon.
The 2010 draft is shaping up to be a plentiful one for Boston. Tyler Seguin was selected second overall and played a key part in the 2010-11 championship season. Ryan Spooner, picked in Round 2, and has a promising future after a successful end to the 2014-15 campaign. The Bruins’ late selections of goaltender Zane McIntyre (Round 6) and defenseman Zach Trotman (Round 7) have provided solid value. Trotman was a bright spot for Boston this past season and could be a full-time NHLer in 2015-16.
The 2011 draft produced Dougie Hamilton, who shined in a top-pairing role this season and has the potential to be an elite defenseman. In 2012, the Bruins selected one of the better goaltender prospects in Malcolm Subban in Round 1, and then added solid depth with Boston University defenseman Matt Grzelcyk in Round 3 and forward Seth Griffith in Round 5.
The 2013 draft class isn’t ready to be fairly assessed yet, although Swedish defenseman Linus Arnesson has shown plenty of promise.
Boston’s 2014 class has been a real success so far. David Pastrnak, the 25th overall pick, was one of two players from his draft to play more than 40 games last season. It wasn’t a large sample size, but the speed, skill and work ethic Pastrnak showed as a rookie were encouraging.
In addition to Pastrnak, a few other of Boston’s 2014 draft choices played well this season. Fourth-round pick and University of Denver forward Danton Heinen earned All-Rookie Team and All-Conference Second Team honors as a freshman. Second-round pick Ryan Donato finished the season strongly with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers and fifth-round selection Anders Bjork was recently invited to Team USA’s World Junior camp.
The 2015 NHL Draft begins Friday, and this year’s class is among the best in recent memory with extraordinary talent and depth at each position. The Bruins are in a good spot to grab two quality players with a pair of selections in the top 40, including the 14th overall pick.
The B’s aren’t too far away from contending for the Stanley Cup despite missing the playoffs last season, and another good first-round pick would go a long way in helping this team return to a championship level as soon as next season and maintain that success long term.
Based on recent results, the chances of the Bruins making a quality pick at No. 14 are pretty good.
Thumbnail photo via Sergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports Images