The 2000 NHL entry draft saw the Boston Bruins select a Swedish-born player with their top pick for the first time in franchise history. They didn’t stop there. Using a second first-rounder acquired from the Colorado Avalanche, they drafted another Swedish player. The selections of Lars Jonsson and Martin Samuelsson were merely the tip of the iceberg, as the Bruins took a total of nine Europeans of twelve skaters drafted. Of those nine, five hailed from the countries of Finland and Sweden. Boston’s strategy marks a new direction for the team, as it clearly demonstrates an attempt to stock the organization with skill players rather than the traditional method of going after North American character types with less finesse.
For Boston, the Euro invasion didn’t really begin in earnest until the 1992 draft, when Boston chose a multitude of Russian players, beginning with its first-ever draft pick from the former Soviet Union, Dmitri Kvartalnov. Since that year, the Bruins have chosen a total of 34 Europeans. By contrast, between 1983 and 1991, covering the same amount of draft years, the total count of European players selected by Boston numbers just seven. The full integration of skaters across the Atlantic into the NHL has dictated a necessity for teams to capitalize on that premier talent, or be swept aside in the standings. The Bruins seem to have taken an active interest in recruiting players from Europe, but in particular those competing in the Swedish and Finnish Elite and Junior Leagues.
by Derek Cheng
Despite having an all-star future Hall of Fame defenseman and a Vezina Trophy finalist, the Bruins still
had a very tough time keeping the puck out of their own net last season. They really need to improve their
defense if they want to start winning hockey games.
The promise of a free agent spending spree this summer has brought in limited help on defense with regards to some
of the higher-profile names available on the open market. The only signing thus far has been 33 year old Peter Popovic.
The Bruins did manage to re-sign Don Sweeney, which was deemed vital, since he is the most experienced Bruin and one of the few who played well last season.
But, with Popovic aboard and Sweeney back in the fold, there is only one difference between the 00-01 blueline and the 99-00 blueline.
Four defenseman remain from last year (Kyle McLaren,Darren Van Impe,Hal Gill, Sweeney) and the new face, Popovic,
replaces the legendary face of Ray Bourque. Popovic doesn’t even come close to comparing with Bourque offensively,
but he may be able to give Boston a steady stay-at-home defenseman the Bruins were sorely lacking last season.
Although the defense unit may prove to be adequate, if McLaren stays healthy and consistent and Gill learns to use his size,
there is still one more hole that needs to be plugged. The Bruins need another regular to fill out the top 6 on defense. Read more»
When each of Rick DiPietro, Raffi Torres and Scott Hartnell were taken by the teams choosing ahead of the Boston Bruins in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, it seemed as if Brooks Orpik would be the logical and popular choice to have his name called next. Instead, Boston GM Mike O’Connell announced the selection of Swedish offensive
defenseman Lars Jonsson, the first of two Bruins first round picks to come from that Scandanvian nation. When the 27th choice rolled around, Boston, by virtue of acquiring it from Colorado in the Ray Bourque trade, stepped up and called left wing Martin Samuelsson’s name, making it the first time Boston had ever drafted a Swedish player so high, let alone the top TWO prospects of that country in Jonsson and Samuelsson.
Lars Jonsson’s selection with the 7th overall pick is a risk, but one the Bruins will gladly take. He put up some great numbers for his Leksand Jr. Team, but did not make Sweden’s World Junior Championship Team. A player of Jonsson’s raw talent and skills package is hard to pass up, however. He is a tremendous skater who loves to attack. Scouts questioned his defensive zone play and grit, but not much else, as there is no denying the young man has talent. It will be interesting to see how young Jonsson does next season as he makes the jump to the Swedish Elitserien, where he will compete against the best players his country has to offer.
by Derek Cheng
Boston Bruins defenseman Hal Gill stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighs in at 240 pounds. Penguins superstar Jaromir Jagr once proclaimed him to be the toughest one-on-one rearguard in the National Hockey League.
Martin Grenier stands 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs in at 245 pounds. He has yet to make his first appearance in a Bruins’ uniform, but fans and management can already feel the impact he could make.
Now imagine these two young giants (Gill, 25 and Grenier 20) standing across Boston’s blueline. It is enough to make every Bruins fan smile and any opponents fearful.
Martin Grenier was orginally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche (45th overall) in the ’99 Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Bruins along with Swedish prospect Samuel Pahlsson and veteran forward Brian Rolston on March 6, 2000. Grenier has some big skates to fill, as he was the only defenseman acquired for Bruins legend Ray Bourque. Grenier had been pegged as a first round pick in ’99, but some scouts felt he lacked discipline and that his skating was sub-par. He improved his game considerably in ’99-’00, but many feel that he is still a wildcard in the trade for the future Hall of Fame defenseman.
There are few benefits to a losing season, but one of them happens to be a high draft position. Clearly, Boston’s strong teams hurt many of the Bruins’ drafts in the 1980s and early 1990s. Other than Glen Wesley (#3 in 1987), Joe Thornton, and the Hartford trifecta
of choices(Kyle McLaren 9/95, John Aitken 8/96, Sergei Samsonov 8/97) acquired for,ironically enough, Wesley, Boston has not had many opportunities to select a player in the top 10 of any given draft year. As a result, bombs such as Dave Pasin, Rob Cimetta,
Shayne Stevenson, Kevyn Adams and Evgeni Ryabchikov hurt Boston’s chances of developing an outstanding crop of younger players to augment its aging superstars. As for this season, don’t be fooled. Despite the Bruins’ no-show in the 1999-2000, they have some excellent prospects in the system and with the 7th overall pick in this year’s draft , they could land a superb player. This year promises to be intriguing because of the large amount of European influence predicted. What does this mean? Well, for starters the field could be wide open with some big surprises in the early going come draft day. Of course, with this season’s pool being labeled as weak by many in the scouting business, a top 10 selection is never a guarantee of landing an impact player, but the Bruins will gladly take their chances. Read more»