Bruins 2004 draft preview

By Bill Roark

Bruins Top 10 Prospects

1. Hannu Toivonen, G
2. Mark Stuart, D
3. Brad Boyes, C
4. Sergei Zinovjev, RW
5. Martin Samuelsson, LW
6. Lars Jonsson, D
7. Milan Jurcina, D
8. Andy Hilbert, C
9. Vladslav Evseev, LW
10. Zdenek Kutlak, D

Team Needs

Although Patrice Bergeron had an outstanding debut for the Bruins this season, it was quite obvious that there is still a need for high end scoring on the Bruins roster. With the possible loss of veteran wingers in the offseason due to unrestricted free agency, this need is even more apparent. However, due to late season acquisitions, Boston will be severely handicapped by their lack of high draft picks. All hopes will rest on the staff to pull off a great draft with what later picks they do have. Boston’s first round selection, the 27th overall, was traded to Washington. Their first opportunity to select will come at the 60th overall position.

Organizational Strengths

There can be no doubt that the Bruins have found a starting goaltender in Andrew Raycroft. He’s shown his ability over the course of an entire season and displayed that he has clearly matured into what Bruins management was hoping for when they selected him in the fifth round of 1998. Along with Raycroft there is Hannu Toivonen, whose strong play at such a young age has most scouts predicting he will be a starter in the NHL as well. In addition to exceptional talent and youth in net, the Bruins can also boast several potential top end defensive prospects. Also, not to be forgotten is the addition of Brad Boyes via trade with San Jose. The acquisition of Boyes has evened out their prospects a bit and gives them a true NHL offensive prospect that was sorely needed.

Organizational Weaknesses

As in all organizations, there is a want and need for skilled players and snipers within the system. However, this need has been particularly hard to fill in recent years within the Boston draft. The fact that Boston will have its highest choice in the late second round will make adding that type of player a difficult situation in 2004 as well. Another valid concern is the number of young players in the Boston system that have not stepped up and achieved at their current levels. Lars Jonsson, in particular, is a player with outstanding skills and grade “A” talent, but he has not been able to translate that into a dominating season in the SEL. He has recently improved drastically, but has yet to blossom into the dominating offensive force that most scouts agreed he would be from the back line. Several other prospects are following this same path and are in danger of becoming nothing more than call-ups for the Bruins in the future.

Draft Tendencies

In the past Boston has not been afraid to draft players of all nationalities, shapes, and sizes. Expecting to find a sniper laying in wait in the later rounds may be hoping for too much, even with Boston’s knack for finding a gem in the rough. However, it is certainly not beyond the realm of possibility. The tendency of the organization in the past was to select based on necessity and clearly this year all signs are pointing to offense.