The Boston Bruins handed out ceremonial sweaters to two 18-year-olds Friday night, selecting defenseman Charlie McAvoy with the 14th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and scooping up center Trent Frederic with the 29th overall selection.
The first of those picks was a step toward shoring up the Bruins’ greatest weakness: the blue line. Boston was a mess in its own zone for much of this season, and its only bona fide top-pairing defenseman, Zdeno Chara, will turn 40 next spring.
In McAvoy, who is coming off a productive freshman season at Boston University that saw him earn Hockey East All-Rookie honors, the Bruins will be getting a hard-skating, puck-moving defenseman who likens his own game to that 2016 Norris Trophy winner Drew Doughty.
“He’s got all the traits that I feel I have,’’ McAvoy, who tallied 25 points in 37 games as a freshman, told reporters in his post-draft news conference, via The Boston Globe. “I want to continue to grow in (Doughty’s style). If at my peak I can be (like Doughty), I’m not complaining.’’
While McAvoy, the youngest player in college hockey in 2015-16, is expected to return to BU for his sophomore season and likely is at least a year or two away from making an impact at the NHL level, he joins a growing crop of promising young Bruins blue-line prospects.
BU is well-represented in that group, which also includes rising Terriers sophomore Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and McAvoy’s former D-partner, Matt Grzelcyk, who signed a two-year entry-level deal with Boston in April after finishing his season season.
“It’s crazy,” McAvoy told reporters. “I was joking with (Bruins general manager Don Sweeney) … Grizzy and JFK, they can’t get rid of me now. They are stuck with me. They are unbelievable players and they are great people and it is going to be exciting to go through all this stuff with them.’’
The McAvoy pick was a safe one for Boston. The Long Beach, N.Y., native was part of a quartet of D-man prospects –along with Jake Bean, Dante Fabbro and Jakob Chychrun — whom most assumed would be nabbed somewhere in the middle of the first round. With the B’s needing help on the back end, it was an obvious match.
Their second first-round selection, however, was a different story. Frederic was ranked 47th in NHL Central Scouting’s final listing of North American skaters and was nowhere to be found on most — if not all — first-round mock drafts.
Even he admitted to being “a little surprised” to hear his name called so early.
“If you could hear my whole family’s reaction then you get the gist of it,” Frederic, who will begin his collegiate career at Wisconsin this fall, told reporters, via CSNNE.com. “They were pumped, and I am pumped. As a player, I’m a two-way, physical player that’s good with the puck.”
Two-way player? Physical? That sounds like the type of guy the Bruins love. And with the end of first round always being a bit of a crapshoot anyway — of the previous 10 players picked 29th overall, only one (Emerson Etem) has played in more than 100 NHL games — an outside-the-box pick isn’t anything to get too worked up over.
Thumbnail photo via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports Images