Success may have eluded the Bruins at the NHL level in recent seasons, but one thing that has been a constant is the strength of their scouting and development of their young talent. Entering the 2007 draft, the organization had needs to fill on both offense and defense, however, it seemed most likely they would spend their top pick on a forward. The Bruins stuck with the No. 8 slot, and in Zach Hamill, they’ve added another talented and highly promising young forward. They spent their next four picks on defensemen and rounded out the draft in the seventh round with another forward from the WHL.
Underrated and receiving little fanfare prior to the draft, nobody predicted that the Bruins would select Hamill at No. 8 overall. One of a handful of players who recently visited Boston for a closer look, he was high on the Bruins’ list of potential picks, and at only 18 years of age, Hamill already has three full seasons in the WHL under his belt.
“Maybe people didn’t respect me,” he said after he was drafted. “But rankings are rankings — no ranking is as good as a team’s ranking, that’s what’s most important.”
Hamill, who was born in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, led the WHL in scoring with a total 93 points (32 goals and 61 assists) in 69 games for 2006-07 season. He also holds the distinction of being the first ever pick for Everett in the WHL Bantam draft. Under the tutelage of Silvertips’ head Coach Kevin Constantine, who by all accounts has a very defensive style game, Hamill still managed to produce offensively, and has shown steady progression with each season.
“That’s one of my key aspects is as an offensive player, but I’ve learned a lot defensively under Kevin Constantine. Hopefully that will help me get to the NHL a little quicker — because I’m not just a one-dimensional player.”
Hamill was a member of Team WHL for the Canada/Russia Challenge in November of 2006, but when he was passed over for an invite Team Canada’s WJC training camp, it didn’t slide by unnoticed by the young forward. If anything, it was added incentive to succeed.
With a smooth stride and powerful acceleration, Hamill is able to create space for himself and his teammates. He has good vision, along with strong puckhandling and playmaking ability. The 5’11, 190-pound forward was considered undersized early in his junior career, but has developed into a solid physical player at the junior level.
Realistically, Hamill may be a couple years from the NHL, but his selection in the top 10 of the entry draft will no doubt cast more attention in his direction. He is expected to return for another season with the Silvertips in the 2007-08 season, under the direction of a new Head Coach John Becanic.
Tommy Cross, D — 2nd round, 35th overall — Westminster High School (NE Prep/Div.I)
The Bruins traded up a couple spots to land 6’3 195 lb defender and Connecticut native Tommy Cross, who spent the 2006-07 season playing prep school hockey. In 25 games with Westminster High (Simsbury, Connecticut), he totaled 20 points and 20 penalty minutes, playing against some of the top prep schools in New England. That he has local ties and grew up watching Boston sports has already piqued interest with fans. For Cross, who had planned to attend college in Boston, being drafted by the Bruins couldn’t be a better situation.
“That’s why I made my college choice, I wanted to be in Boston,” explained Cross. “It came down to BC and BU, and BC seemed like a better fit.”
Cross will have another year to go before he attends Boston College, during which he will play for the Ohio Junior Blue Jackets (USHL). One of the biggest positives with the USHL is the higher level of play, which will not only help his development but should better prepare him for college hockey as well. He is a superb athlete, possessing both the size and strength to be a dominant defenseman, and enough skill to add a more offensive element to his game.
“A couple years ago I could’ve just said I’m a defensive defenseman, but in today’s game you need to be able to skate, and get up ice and contribute to the offense, because it’s such an important part of the game. I think I’ve adapted my game in that way.”
The Bruins didn’t have another pick until the fifth round, where they looked to Europe for 6’4 214 lbs defenseman Denis Reul. Reul has the makings of an intimidating, physical defenseman. He will need work in many areas if he’s to play in the NHL, but he still presents an intriguing mix of skating, shooting, passing and often brutal physical play.
Reul spent considerable time the past two seasons in the Deutsche Nachwuchs-Liga (Junior League), most recently, a 34-game stretch with Mannheim, where he tallied 25 points and 82 penalty minutes. He also moved up to the Oberliga (Germany’s 3rd League) for 16 games during the 2006-07 season with the Heilbron Falcons. Reul represented his country at the 2007 WJC (U18) in Finland, and finished as Germany‘s top scorer among defenseman and second overall on the team with 4 points in 6 games.
Reul said he planned to play in North America for the 2007-08 season, and will get the opportunity, as he was just chosen in the first round of the European Import Draft by the Lewiston MAINEiacs (QMJHL).
Alain Goulet, D — 6th round, 159th overall — Aurora Tigers (OPJRA)
The Bruins added another blueliner with their fourth pick, an 18-year-old out of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League. Alain Goulet is a good sized player, listed at 6’3 195 lbs, and is a quick, puck-moving defenseman with good hockey sense. He’s coming off a championship season with the Aurora Tigers, and averaged nearly a point a game during the regular season. He also finished out the postseason second in scoring among all defensemen with 21 points in 25 games. Goulet will attend the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the fall of 2007.
Radim Ostrcil, D — 6th round, 169th overall — HC Vsetin (CZE)
Eighteen-year-old Ostrcil was the second in a pair of sixth-round picks, a defenseman out of the Czech Republic. Best described as an offensive defenseman, he owns considerable puckhandling, passing and playmaking skills. Though he will be a project who is at best a few years away from the NHL, the 6’0 194 lbs Ostrcil has good vision, and raw skill that can improve if he applies himself. He was recently selected in the CHL’s import draft and he will play for the Ottawa 67’s (OHL) in the upcoming season.
Ostrcil is coming off a career-best season in the Czech Under 20 league with HC Vsetin, posting 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) and 69 penalty minutes in 25 games. He played for Vsetin in the Czech Extraliga as well, the highest level league in the Czech Republic, during which he appeared in 37 games and tallied a total of 2 points during the 2006-07 season. Add to Ostrcil’s resume a strong showing at the 2007 WJC U-18.
Jordan Knackstedt, RW — 7th round, 189th overall — Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
The Bruins added a good sized power forward to the mix in 6’2 195 lbs wing Jordan Knackstedt, who, at 18 years of age, has completed three full seasons in the WHL. He began the 2006-07 season with the Red Deer Rebels, where he’s played the majority of his WHL career, and appeared in 33 games with the team before a mid-December trade sent him to the Moose Jaw Warriors. Knackstedt finished out the season with WHL career-high totals of 56 points (23 goals, 33 assists) and 98 penalty minutes in 72 games. After the trade, he became a key contributor to the Warriors’ offense, and will add some character and grit to the Bruins system.
Ken McKenna, Dustin Nielson and Glen Erickson contributed to this article. Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.