It’s not often you select the best player in a draft at pick No. 25, but that was the case, at least so far, for the Boston Bruins in 2014.
They selected Czech forward David Pastrnak, and he has become one of the NHL’s best young players at 21 years old.
He now has 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) through 68 games, making him a point-per-game player. Pastrnak ranks second in his draft class in points with 191 in 240 games. He’s seven points behind Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl for the lead in the 2014 class, but the B’s winger does lead all of those players with 86 goals. Draisaitl ranks second among 2014 draftees in goals with 72.
Pastrnak wasn’t the only NHL-caliber player the Bruins took in the 2014 draft.
Danton Heinen, who has made himself a regular at the NHL level on the third line this season, has tallied 40 points (13 goals, 27 assists) in 63 games. He ranks eighth among rookies in scoring this season despite playing less time per game than eight of the top 10 first-year scorers.
Heinen was Boston’s fourth-round pick in 2014. He’s one of three fourth-rounders from this class who’ve played in the NHL, and only Heinen and Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson have tallied double-digit points in their careers.
Anders Bjork, another forward, was Boston’s fifth-round selection. He posted 12 points in 30 games this season, even playing as a top-six forward at times before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery. Bjork is one of two 2014 fifth rounders who’ve made the NHL.
Ryan Donato was Boston’s second-round pick, and he could make his NHL debut as soon as this season, but he wouldn’t come until Harvard’s season concludes. Donato led the United States men’s hockey team in goals at the 2018 Winter Olympics and has tallied 41 points (26 goals, 15 assists) for the Crimson during the 2017-18 campaign.
“As for the Olympics, obviously, he scored a lot of nice goals and offensively I think was dynamic in the tournament at times,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said about Donato on trade deadline day. “So we’re excited about his overall development path. He has indicated that he is excited about playing for the Boston Bruins when and if he makes that decision.”
Doing well in the draft is critical in the salary cap era of the NHL. Teams hoping to contend for the Stanley Cup long term must surround high-priced veterans with young, skilled players on entry-level contracts. It’s one reason why the Chicago Blackhawks won three Stanley Cup titles and went deep into the playoffs for most of the last decade.
The Bruins have drafted very well over the last four years, and it all got started with the exceptional 2014 class, one that should turn into an even better group over the next five years.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports