The Boston Bruins spent the entire NHL Entry Draft adding skill, size, and toughness to their system, all 3 of which were absolutely necessary. They also added two little-known goaltenders who both appear to have some potential for the future.
The Draft Preview Article stated the Bruins needed to increase depth in goal, improve defensive prospects, and add wings to the organization. The Bruins met all those goals despite not meeting the goals with the best players available.
The Bruins used their 19th overall pick on defenseman Shaone Morrisonn. Many consider Morrisonn’s selection the first surprise pick of the draft. The CSB had Morrisonn ranked 41st among North American Skaters. Even Shaone thought he was a second round pick, “I was rated, 41st, I think, and I expected to go in the second round.”
The Bruins felt otherwise about the 6’ 3” 185 lbs. defenseman from Vancouver, BC and made him their top choice.
“He was high on our list, and made our top ten. We were waiting to see if he was still there, and fortunately he was,” said Bruins Director of Scouting, Scott Bradley.
The 18-year old reportedly made huge improvements as the Western Hockey League season reached its mid-point and Morrisonn, the Kamloops Blazers, and even the Bruins hope he can build on those improvements to become even better. Shaone climbed 17 spots from his mid-season ranking of 58 to his final ranking of 41 on the CSB list.
“It was a surprise that Morrisonn was taken so early in the draft, but I can see where Boston was coming from; he showed a great deal of improvement this year. He just needs to keep doing the same to justify such a high pick,” noted Jeff Arnim, Hockey’s Future WHL contributor.
Morrisonn’s improvements earned him invites to participate for Team Orr at the 2001 CHL Top Prospects game and to Canada’s national junior team’s development camp.
Morrisonn had an interesting off-season last summer. He spent the summer training with the HV-71 team in the Swedish Elite league, skating alongside NHLers such as Mats Sundin and Patric Kjellberg.
One of the knocks on Morrisonn is his weight. At only 185 lbs. many feel to be effective in the NHL he’s got to at least weigh in at 210. Another knock is his lack of getting physical. A player like Morrisonn needs to use his size to his advantage and he doesn’t which he must learn to do if he wishes to make it in the National Hockey League.
The Bruins showed faith in Bradley and the scouting staff by taking his recommendation and selecting Morrisonn over other highly touted players such as Jeff Woywitka and Colby Armstrong.
The Bruins had to sit around and wait after Morrisonn’s selection because they did not have a second round draft choice. The pick went to the Edmonton Oilers as part of the Bill Guerin trade in November.
The Bruins added toughness to the wings with their third round pick in the form of left-winger, Darren McLachlan.
McLachlan, rated 32nd on the CSB and 71st by THN, reminds former Boston Bruin and current Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) head coach Dean Chynoweth, of a young Darren McCarty.
“Darren reminds me of a young Darren McCarty of the Detroit Red Wings – he’s a very promising tough 17-year old who has battled the injury bug. He’s a player who has a real physical dimension to his game, but can also hurt you offensively. Darren has very good hands for a big guy; he needs to continue to learn how to use his size to his advantage in the corners and in front of the opponents net. He’s a 17-year-old who has earned respect in the WHL through his physical tough play. Needs to improve on his skating and fitness level. He can be very effective when determined and committed, the type of player who can make a difference,” Chynoweth commented on the Thunderbirds web site.
Nobody questions the fact that the Bruins could use a sparkplug on the team like McCarty and Bruins fans are hoping McLachlan is that sparkplug in the future.
McLachlan was also selected to play in the CHL Top Prospects game but was unable to attend due to injury.
He is expected to see increased ice time in Seattle next season, probably second line, with the departure of top line winger Barrett Heistein. Increased ice time is expected to help the often-undisciplined winger become a lot more disciplined.
“If he keeps working hard and becomes more disciplined, he could turn out to be a solid third round pick,” said Arnim.
An increase in points is also a highly likely possibility considering he recorded just 19 points in 42 games. Look for that total to be around 40 next season and if he stays healthy, 50. That would put him ahead of the “Kyle Wanvig pace”.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the two players:
Draft Eligible Year:
Wanvig: .45 Points/Game
McLachlan: .45 Points/Game
Year following Draft:
Wanvig: .66 Points/Game
McLachlan: .71 Points/Game (Assuming 50 points in 70 games)
2 Years following Draft:
Wanvig: 1.46 Points/Game
If McLachlan plays on the first line in 2002-03 in Seattle, the winger could net close to 80 points, if not more which would put him close to Wanvig’s total in his last junior season.
The similarities are there between Wanvig and McLachlan although Darren appears more physical while Wanvig appeared to have more of a scoring touch and more potential but nobody can deny both players appear to be have power forward potential in the National Hockey League. Now one player (Wanvig for example) may turn out to be a lot better than the other (McLachlan for example) but they are both taking the same paths it appears to the pro ranks.
“McLachlan’s game is all about toughness right now. He’s very strong and won’t back down from anyone at any time. He’s got good hands and his skating and overall offensive game is improving,” added Arnim.
The 6’1” 215 lbs. winger is a solid third round pick with a lot of potential. He definitely has areas he needs to improve on but everyone does when they get selected. Good coaching and a strong work ethic contribute to the player’s improvements and McLachlan appears to have both of those attributes.
The Bruins fourth round pick, Matti Kaltiainen, came out of nowhere although it appears the Bruins found themselves a pretty good goaltender out of the Espoo Blues in the Finnish Junior League.
Un-rated by the Central Scouting Bureau, the 6’2” 218 lbs. goaltender impressed Bruins Assistant General Manager Jeff Gorton in the Five Nations tournament.
“He’s very confident and polished. We saw him play at the St. Petersburg [Russia] tournament in April (the Five Nations Tournament for players born in 1982) and he played very well, three or four solid games. We just like the way he challenges, he’s got a good glove and the fact that he’s 6’2 and aggressive,” Gorton stated in the team’s press release announcing the pick.
Not much is known about the goaltender except for the fact he has several options next year one of which includes playing Division I college next season.
“There are people who think he could play in college next year and there are a couple of schools looking at him,” said Gorton. “If he doesn’t go the college route, he will either move up with Espoo to be a backup in the Elite League or be the number one with their junior team,” added Gorton.
The pick appears to be a decent pick but the Bruins did pass on a few other touted prospects by the names of Drew MacIntyre, Tomas Surovy, Egor Shastin, and Jeff Lucky so hopefully for the Bruins, Kaltiainen will turn out to be a good goaltender while the others don’t amount to much. The Bruins continued their risk picking with this pick so down the road, we will see if the pick turns out. For him to come to North America to play college hockey would be a big boost for the Bruins and their fans as both will be able to follow his development a lot more closely then if he stays in Finland.
The Bruins fifth round pick appears for now to be a steal based on this player’s rankings. Still on the board despite being ranked 43rd by the CSB was Brandon (WHL) winger Jiri Jakes. The Bruins quickly changed that by selecting the big and talented winger 147th overall.
The Czech winger had decent statistics for the Wheat Kings this past year, recording 22-16-38 totals along with 71 penalty-minutes in 64 games. An odd statistic for a Czech is his penalty minute total. Playing in the rough and tough Western League is a rarity for the often, soft Czech’s.
“Coming over to North America has been a good experience,” he said in the team’s press release announcing his signing. “It’s a lot more physical [than in the Czech League], I’ve had a couple of fights.”
He started off hot for Brandon in his first season in North America but his offensive production declined as the season progressed.
Both Jakes and Bradley believe Jakes needs to improve his overall speed. “I think I need to improve my skating,” said Jakes. Bradley noted, “His first step and quickness needs to improve.”
He has shown the willingness to play defensive hockey, which helped him earn playing time while struggling offensively mid-season. His physical play improved as the season went on but for a player of his size (6’ 4” 225 lbs.) some expect more physical play out of him. He grinds hard in the corners and shows a willingness to stand in front of the net for a scoring chance. He is slowly developing into a power forward role, which is a rarity for Czech’s but still needs to work heavily on a few areas while rounding out the rest of his game. Another aspect many say he needs to improve on is his play with the puck, which caused a few turnovers this past season.
“Jakes is a project player, and the Bruins are aware of that. At 6-4 and 225 pounds he’s got the size, and he’s not afraid to use it. He also has a tremendous wrist shot, and plays the game both ways. But his quickness leaves something to be desired, and he struggled to put up points late in the year after a fast start. As a 19-year-old with a full WHL season under his belt, his output should improve considerably this year,” said Arnim.
Jakes is expected to be in the Bruins training camp this fall but no pressure is going to be put on the promising winger and in all likelihood will return to Brandon.
“I think I can bring offense but also some defense,” he said when asked to assess his game. “But I know I have to work on my skating and get stronger.”
The Bruins continued to add size and grit with their sixth round selection. This time they dipped into the United States Hockey League taking stay-at-home defenseman Andrew Alberts with the 179th overall pick.
No question in anybodies mind that Alberts has limited offensive abilities (4-10-16 totals in 00-01) and his main asset is solid defensive play.
“He’s a big kid who plays big,” said Bradley of the 6’ 4” 218 lbs. defenseman.
The CSB had him ranked 86th among North American skaters while the Red Line Report ranked him in their top-50 so for Andrew to be available in the sixth round appears to be a steal for the Bruins.
He will be turning 19 over the weekend and will be attending Boston College next season as one of Jerry York’s top recruits.
Bradley and the Bruins are happy he will be attending BC, “With Alberts going to BC, we’ll be able to get a good look at him.”
He may never be more than a #5 defenseman in the National Hockey League but he appears to have the tools to be a solid #5 defenseman in the NHL. The are no glaring weaknesses in this defensive minded defenseman but he will be expected to improve at BC and needs to in order to make it in the NHL.
Don’t expect Alberts to be patrolling the Boston blue line anytime soon even if he leaves college early he may need a little seasoning in the American Hockey League.
He has improved over the past two seasons due to a strong work ethic and good coaching according to Bruins scout Don Saatzer. “The thing I like the most about him is that he has improved immeasurably over the last two years,” continued Saatzer. “He’s got a good work ethic and comes from good coaching and had a pretty good year this past year.”
Boston took goaltender number two with their seventh round selection. This time dipping into the now highly scout BCHL. They took 20-year old Jordan Sigalet with the 209th overall pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
Sigalet has been tending the nets for the Victoria Salsa the past two seasons. He reportedly carried the Salsa almost single handedly through the BCHL playoffs this past year.
He has outstanding reflexes and a great catching hand. One thing he does need to work on according to reports is his hockey sense. He seems to want to attack the puck far too often, which often leaves his net empty or vulnerable. Some say he did improve this aspect as the season went on but needs to be consistent with his decisions to attack otherwise it could create chaos in his own defensive zone. In a recent interview Bradley compared some of Sigalet’s game to New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur but did clarify he does not think he is the next Brodeur but just has the same style.
Sigalet will work on his game next season at Bowling Green (CCHA) where he has a chance to be a starting goaltender a move welcomed by the Bruins.
“I think he can step in and be a starter at Bowling Green,” said Bradley. “We’ll have four years to study him, rather than him going to major juniors where we would only have two years to evaluate him.”
The two other goaltenders on the Bowling Green Falcons roster are junior Tyler Masters and senior Jason Gural. Masters was last year’s starter for the Falcons but Sigalet appears to be slotted for the back-up role but he could easily overtake the starting role with strong outings early in the season or strong pre-season practices.
Sigalet is a long way from the NHL if at all. His progress will be interesting to follow at Bowling Green as he appears to have the potential to be a very good NHL back-up or a decent starter but any more than that would be surprising.
The B’s added another big defenseman with their 8th round selection (241st overall). They took a player from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this time, their first player from the “Q” this draft. Slovakian Milan Jurcina was the man this time.
The 6’ 4” 190 lbs. defenseman has decent tools but figures to be a long-term project. The Bruins are obviously praising the big stay-at-homer saying he’s 4 or 5 years away from the NHL. He may never make the show or he may, nobody knows but I’m taking an educated guess here saying he won’t.
“He’s a big kid at 17 who played his first year in Halifax after coming from Europe,” said Bruins Eastern Canadian scout, Don Matheson. “He’s a very defensive-minded defenseman who played a very conservative game as a rookie in the Quebec League this year. He usually played as one of the top four or five defenseman, which for a first-year player is unusual. He’s probably pegged as the number two defenseman on the hockey club for next year. He’s very strong physically, but needs to open his game up a little more, and the coaches are going to work on that aspect of his game this year. He’ll be a kid that will probably play junior hockey for two more years and then his likely career path would take him to minor pro for a year or two. He’s probably four or five years away from playing in the NHL.”
With increased ice time he may be able to round out his game and improve his standing as a Bruins prospect but right now in my opinion, the Bruins have another minor leaguer (or long shot) on their hands.
The Bruins may have done a better job with their 9th round pick then they did with their 8th round pick. The Bruins selected 19-year old Marcel Rodman with the 282nd overall pick which was acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for the rights to forward Matt Zultek.
Rodman is expected to hone his game in Providence next season, as he is eligible because of his birth date. He is a late bloomer and hence he was passed over in previous draft years and the Bruins felt he improved enough to be worthy of a draft pick, although a 9th rounder, still a draft pick.
“Marcel is a European kid who’s been in the OHL for three years now,” said Bruins scout Dave McNamara who covers the Ontario League. “He’s gotten better every year. He’s a point guy and he puts lots of points on the board. He’s not an overly physical kid, but he’s not afraid to go in the corners. He has a very good shot, and his sense is very good. He seems to have a nose for the net and he has a knack for getting open in front of the net. He’s got a quick release shot, and we’re hoping that he’s going to play for the Bruins in a couple of years. The big thing about him is that he keeps getting better every year.”
The Bruins hope he could eventually develop into a NHLer and if so the 9th round pick was well worth it. They will be able to get a good look at him while he plays for the P-Bruins next year and hopefully continues to improve at the rate he has been the past two seasons.
The draft may break down to homerun or total failure. Morrisonn is going to be the key because he appears to be a huge stretch at #19. It’s either going to make Mike O’Connell look like a genius or a fool. McLachlan appears to be a good solid pick in the third round and if he continues to improve along the “Wanvig pace” he will be a top prospect in two years. Kaltiainen is an interesting pick. Nobody knows anything about this kid but he appears to have some potential. If he does come to North America for Division I hockey it will be a lot easier to gauge his potential. Jakes has potential but he needs to improve his all around game plus his skating. If he makes it he’s a steal in the 5th round. Alberts does appear to be a steal but playing in the USHL and playing in the NHL is a different game. It’s two different ends of the road and BC is a rest stop for Alberts before he makes the final push for the end of the road, the NHL. Sigalet is another player who will begin Division I hockey next year. He appears to have the tools to turn into an NHL net minder it’s just how good and whether it’s as a starter or a back up. Then again, he never may make it. Jurcina will likely never make it but may be useful for depth and a decent minor leaguer. Rodman could be a huge steal for the Bruins if he keeps improving. He could be a huge steal.
Kyle Wanvig, former Bruins property who re-entered this year’s draft after being unable to come to terms with the Bruins, was the highest picked re-entry. He went 36th to the Minnesota Wild, 53 spots higher then when the B’s picked him in 99… Donald Choukalos, another re-entry from the Bruins, went undrafted… B’s prospect Ivan Huml is also a product of the BCHL like Sigalet… Phillips-Exeter star forward Ed Caron was taken 52nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers… There were rumors the week leading up to the draft that the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning were interested in 30-year old Richard Scechtny who has spent his entire career in Europe refusing to come to the NHL. Reports were the Bruins convinced him to come and were going to draft him but they did not and no other team used a pick on him so he will stay out of the NHL until at least 02-03… A player many were saying the Bruins might take with the 19th overall pick, Jay Harrison, fell all the way to the 3rd round.