Bruins 2006 draft preview

By Janine Pilkington

Bruins Top 10 Prospects

1. Hannu Toivonen, G
2. Mark Stuart, D
3. Matt Lashoff, D
4. Milan Jurcina, D
5. Petr Kalus, C
6. David Krejci, C
7. Martins Karsums, RW
8. Jordan Sigalet, G
9. Ben Walter, C
10. Jonathan Sigalet, D

If there’s any solace to be found in the disappointing 2005-06 season, it’s that the resulting high draft pick, along with changes in the front office, provide rare opportunities to an organization that desperately needs them. The Bruins have a pick in the top five for the first time since 1997, when they selected Joe Thornton at No. 1 overall.

Team Needs

The Bruins need to take advantage of strong draft position and reel in a potential elite level forward. The lack of depth in all forward positions, particularly both wings, is the most obvious area of need, but it is not the only one. As other prospects move on to the NHL or out of the organization, the Bruins will also need to restock their system with a couple big, stay-at-home defenders, and possibly a goaltender.

Organizational Strengths

The Bruins scouting department has become adept at selecting promising talent that other teams may have overlooked. Patrice Bergeron is an example of such a player, who surprised many when he jumped straight to the NHL after he was drafted in the second round (45th overall) in 2003. Players like Andrew Alberts and Milan Jurcina were found in later rounds and are also growing into prominent roles on the Boston blue line.

Defense continues to be their strongest area, which they added to in the 2005 draft with Matt Lashoff and Jonathan Sigalet. The Bruins have a possible future captain in Mark Stuart (2003) and they overcame a terrible track record in drafting goaltenders when they found potential franchise goaltender Hannu Toivonen in 2002.

Organizational Weaknesses

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? The Bruins’ attraction to hard-working, high character forwards has brought a very promising collection of potential third and fourth line players, but not enough offensive punch to balance things out. With the exception of a few recent draftees like Petr Kalus (2005) and Martins Karsums (2004), the Bruins have an abundance of the same type of players in their system, most notably at the center position.

On the left wing, Martin Samuelsson (2000) seems near the end of the line with the Bruins, while Vladislav Evseev (2002) has done little to live up to his potential. That leaves the surprise Swede, Anton Hedman (2004), and Cornell University forward Byron Bitz (2003) as the most promising left wings. Similarly, the right side is stripped down, with Mikko Lehtonen (2005) and Kris Versteeg (2004) the only viable prospects remaining behind Karsums.

The 2000 draft can now officially be called a complete bust, as the Bruins opted not to sign their top pick, Swedish defenseman Lars Jonsson. Long on talent, this offensive blueliner did little to demonstrate his worth as a top draft choice since he was drafted, making him one risk that just didn’t pan out.

Draft Tendencies

The Bruins have drafted well, particularly in recent years. It’s interesting to note that of the past ten draft years, the Bruins have picked a defenseman in the top spot seven times. They have the tendency to take the best player available, and many times it is not the obvious choice. The Bruins generally like players who have a bit of an edge to their game, in most cases, looking past the hype to go for the complete package, and they put a definite emphasis on a player’s character. The 2005 draft yielded four European players, two CHL, one NCAA and one USHL. Six of these players were forwards, and two were defensemen. With a new GM in place and plenty of needs for the current Boston roster, the possibility remains that the Bruins could trade away their top five pick. If they stay where they are, however, they have the opportunity to land an exceptional player.

Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result: Niklas Backstrom, C


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