Going into the 2005 entry draft, the Boston Bruins’ obvious strengths in their prospect pool were defense and goaltending. Missing from the mix was depth in the attacking position.
The uncertainty of the draft order didn’t prevent the Bruins from operating as usual as they compiled their list of potential draftees. While they didn’t get to select until No. 22, Boston had eight picks to spend, and walked away with a couple solid defenders, and some high-potential forwards. European players made up half of this year’s draftees, and no goaltenders were chosen.
With their first round pick coming in at 22, it may just be that another defender was too good to pass up. Lashoff, a native of Albany, NY, began playing for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL during the 2003-04 season, and finished with 24 points and 97 penalty minutes in 62 games. Though he missed a significant amount of ice time during the 2004-05 season due to illness, his offensive production increased, and he nearly matched his rookie record with 22 points and 44 penalty minutes in only 44 games. Lashoff was also part of the 2003-04 OHL second All-Rookie Team, and the 2005 CHL Top Prospects game.
Despite his 6’2 205 lbs size, Lashoff isn’t known for his physical play, but he makes up for that with mobility. Scouts describe Lashoff as an exceptional skater who exudes confidence on the ice and strong offensive instincts, while successfully fulfilling his defensive role. There’s no doubt the bout of mono in 2004 pulled him off of the radar for many, including a missed chance at making the US team for the 2005 WJC, but if he goes into the 2005-06 healthy the young offensive defenseman has strong potential for the breakout year many are predicting.
Petr Kalus, RW
2nd Round (39th overall), 6’1 189 lbs, Vitkovice Jr. (Czech)
Czech forward Petr Kalus has spent the majority of his junior career with HC Vitkovice. He played for a combined 50 games during 2003-04 with 28 points and 127 penalty minutes after sharing time with the U18 and U20 teams. He continued playing for the U20 team during 2004-05 and increased his output to 31 points and 161 penalty minutes in 39 games, finishing with a +1 rating. Kalus also represented the Czech Republic in the 2005 WJC with 3 points, 12 penalty minutes and a +4 rating in seven games. He was chosen by the Regina Pats of the WHL during the 2005 import draft.
Kalus looks to be a strong offensive choice and is said to be a quick and agile skater with good mobility. Also described a hard-working and determined young player, he brings strength to the power play, demonstrates solid puck control and an accurate shot. A tough competitor with good technical skills and natural ability, Kalus could be an effective power forward.
Mikko Lehtonen, RW
3rd Round (83rd overall), 6’3 191 lbs, Espoo Blues (Fin)
Lehtonen is a good sized forward from the Espoo Blues of the Finland junior league. He split the 2003-04 season between junior A and B level teams, for a combined 18 points and 23 penalty minutes. During 2004-05 he continued with Espoo at the junior A level and finished 15 points and 38 penalty minutes in 37 games.
Lehtonen is a good skater for his size who has exceptional stick handling ability and a good reach. Scouts place him as more of an offensive-minded, finesse type player, though he has also demonstrated the ability to use his size, especially along the boards. Lehtonen has been projected as a top line forward, but he has yet to play to that potential.
Jonathan Sigalet, D
4th Round (100th overall), 6’1 185 lbs, Bowling Green University (CCHA)
Sigalet completed two seasons at Bowling Green State University and will enter his junior year drafted by the same team as his older brother Jordan. He played in 37 games during his freshman season in 2003-04, and quickly established himself on the team 15 points and 26 penalty minutes. The following season, Sigalet saw a slight improvement in his stats with 16 points and 36 penalty minutes in 35 games, and at the end of the year was recognized by the Falcons for both his athletic and academic accomplishments.
One of Sigalet’s greatest assets is a phenomenal skating ability. Combined with a thorough understanding of the game and his role within it, he has an enormous upside as an offensive defenseman. Sigalet is able to read and anticipate plays well and generally makes good decisions with the puck. His biggest weakness is that he will need to continue to add strength and fill out his tall, lanky frame.
Vladimir Sobotka, F
4th Round, (106th overall), 5’10 183 lbs, Slavia (Czech)
Sobotka is a fiery little forward from HC Slavia Praha of the Czech junior league. He pulled off some impressive numbers during the 2003-04 season with the U18 team at 65 points and 109 penalty minutes in just 35 games, and consequently made the U20 team the same year. In 2004-05, Sobotka continued on the U20 team and accumulated 33 points, 93 penalty minutes and improved to a +18 rating in just 27 games. Sobotka then graduated to the big club where he finished with 1 point, 8 penalty minutes and a +2 rating in 18 games. He also participated in the 2005 WJC 18 on the Czech team.
Sobotka may be on the small side, but he’s a tough competitor who plays much bigger than his size. He’s fearless in heavy traffic and seeks out scoring opportunities in many situations. Overall, Sobotka is very skilled. He’s got a mean slap shot, good puck handling skills and a solid forecheck. He’s also very reliable in the face-off circle, and equally as effective on the power play as he is in penalty killing situations. One of the biggest downsides to Sobotka is his size, which, because of the style of game he plays, could pose a problem in the future.
Wacey Rabbit, C
5th Round (154th overall), 5’9 170 lbs, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Rabbit faltered during the 2003-04 season with the Saskatoon Blades, scoring only 17 points in 60 games, a drastic drop from the 45 points in 62 games the season before. He turned things around for the 2004-05 season, scoring 67 points in 70 games, amassing 70 penalty minutes, and finishing the regular season with a +23 rating. He ranked 18th among the twenty top scorers of the league. During the 2005 playoffs, he scored 3 points in 4 games for the Blades, and participated in the 2005 CHL top prospects game in Vancouver.
Rabbit is a fearless competitor with phenomenal skating ability. His speed and seamless maneuverability make him tough to defend, and while he’s small, he can hold his own, and isn’t afraid to assert himself or come to the defense of his teammates. Rabbit’s overall instinct for scoring is also very good, and he demonstrates the ability to make plays at the right time. He’s successful in penalty-killing situations, a dangerous forechecker and has a great overall hockey sense. His obvious downfall is his size. The ability is definitely there, but at 5’9 170 lbs he is at a disadvantage. He is so fast on his skates, however, that his size won’t necessarily be a big issue.
Lukas Vantuch, C/W
6th Round (172nd overall), 6’3 200 lbs, Liberec, Jr (Czech)
Vantuch has had a couple of solid seasons with HC Liberec of the Czech junior League. In 2003-04, he scored 35 points and totaled 75 penalty minutes in 32 games with the U18 team. He was promoted to the U20 team for the 2004-05 season, where he pulled off 36 points in 45 games, with 58 penalty minutes and a +14 rating. Vantuch was selected in the first round of the 2005 WHL import draft by the Calgary Hitmen.
The big Czech forward has a good overall skill level. With an accurate shot and timing for his passes, he’s skilled in the face-off circle has the potential to be a great playmaker. Vantuch has all the tools, but he’s still a very raw talent. One of his biggest areas of weakness is utilizing his size and strength to their maximum level. He tends to shy away from some of the physical aspects of the game, and on a whole, could stand to be more aggressive with his play.
The Bruins used their final pick on a promising young player from the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Brock Bradford had a successful season with the Lancers during 2004-05, finishing with 57 points, 16 penalty minutes, and a +10 rating in 60 games. He scored the game-winning goal for his team in the USHL Prospects/All-Star game and was selected as the game’s most valuable player. Bradford will attend Boston College in the fall of 2005.
Bradford will definitely be a player to watch as he begins his college career with BC. A focused and hard working player, Bradford has great hockey sense and natural ability. He’s a great playmaker and exceptional stick-handler that will get physical only when he has to. Bradford is still very young and will need to work on his size and strength in the coming years, but he certainly appears to have the drive and focus to fulfill his potential.
DJ Powers and Ivana Paulova contributed to this article. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.