How Swede It Is–Bruins 2000 Draft Recap

By pbadmin
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.

Going into ’99-’00, many thought that Martin Samuelsson would be a top-5 pick, but injuries and some inconsistent play play caused his stock to fall. When the Bruins saw he was still on the board at #27, they did not hesitate to make the call. Samuelsson is another terrific skater who can play the two way game. At 6-2, 189 pounds, he has size, but could stand to add some weight to his frame. However, he will have some time to develop in Sweden, as the Bruins will not rush him over to North America. One decision Samuelsson
has already made is to play for Division 2 Hammarby next season, where he is sure to get a lion’s share of playing time as opposed to what he might have faced on a deep and talented MoDo SEL hockey club.

With the 37th pick in the second round, Boston used it to choose University of Michigan center Andy Hilbert. Hilbert, a solid two-way forward with very good face-off skills, was the 29th-ranked skater among North Americans. Hilbert has not gotten many kudos from scouts, but the Bruins see him as having something in common with John Madden, and they hope he can bring the skill and grit to Boston that enabled Madden to play a prominent role in the New Jersey Devils’ Stanley Cup Championship in 2000. Also selected by Boston in the second with the pick acquired from Toronto in the deal for Dmitri Khristich, was RW Ivan Huml of the Langley Hornets in the BCHL. Huml put up some huge numbers in that league, scoring 53 goals in 49 contests and has game-breaking puck skills. He has some upside, but like Samuelsson needs to get stronger in order to handle the much more physical demands of the NHL.

Boston had the first pick of the third round, awarded them as compensation for not being able to sign 1997 second rounder Ben Clymer. With it, the Bruins took defenseman Tuukka Makela, a hard-hitting stay-at-homer out of IFK of the Finnish League. Makela
is not flashy, nor does he handle or move the puck very well, but he is strong and plays a very physical style. His poised play in his own end is just what the Bruins need. With their 73rd overall choice, Boston threw its fans a curveball. In drafting RW Sergei Zinovjev, they took a player who at 20 years of age, could come to camp this fall and compete for a
roster spot. Jeff Gorton, Bruins Assistant GM, compared the 5’11 180-pound Russian to Boston winger Sergei Samsonov. Is Zinovjev the ultimate darkhorse? Or did
the Bruins blow it big-time with this one? It may take some time to tell, but they passed on some known commodities in Ramzi Abid and Justin Papineau to take the native of Novokuznetsk. If he turns out to be a bust, then the Bruins wasted a pick that might have brought in an excellent player and under the circumstances, that is inexcusable.

The Bruins took a player close to home with the selection of Harvard University and New Haven, CT native Brett Nowak with the 103rd overall pick in the 4th round. Nowak, a physical, but skilled power forward, did not put up the points expected of him in his first collegiate season, but expect to see him improve his offensive output in the coming years.
The 22nd-ranked North American skater by the CSB is a great value for Boston in the 4th round. In the 6th round(after trading their 5th rounder to Columbus as part of a deal made during the expansion draft)Boston brought Finland’s Jarno Kultanen on board. Kultanen, a 27 year old veteran defenseman of IFK Helsinki in the Finnish Elite League could make
an appearance at training camp in the fall just as Peter Nordstrom and Mikko Eloranta have done the past few seasons. With their ninth pick(204th) the Bruins selected Sarnia Sting forward Chris Berti. Berti, a 6-5 205 pound forward is the 116th-ranked North American skater by the CSB and had 8-11-19 totals in 62 OHL games including 131 penalty minutes.
Defenseman Zdenek Kutlak out of Budejovice (Czech) was taken in the 8th round (237th). Kutlak, the 74th-best Euro skater according to the CSB has nice size(6’3, 207) and plays a stay-at-home game. In the 9th round, Czech defenseman Pavel Kolarik,
another 27 year old veteran player, he of Slavia Praha in the Czech Republic Elite League was the Bruins’11th choice, 268th overall. Kolarik is another defenseman who plays a steady, stay-at-home style and 8 points in 52 games this season. Like Kultanen, he was drafted with the intention of getting a chance to vie for a spot on the Bruins’ roster this year. Boston’s final pick to close out the 2000 Draft was LW Andreas Lindstrom, selected by virtue of the Bruins’ deal with the Edmonton Oilers for the 279th choice in
exchange for Boston’s 9th-round pick in 2001. Lindstrom, a 6-5 210 pound forward played for his Lulea Junior Team in Sweden and might move up to the SEL team next season. His size and aggressive play made him an attractive pick for the Bruins, although he does need considerable work on his skating.

In all, the Bruins took 3 Swedes, 3 Czechs, 2 Finns, 2 Americans, 1 Russian and a Canadian for a total of 12 players. Of those 12 chosen, four (Kultanen, Zinovjev, Kutlak, Kolarnik) have a shot at making the team next season. If they do not succeed, all of them can be assigned to Boston’s farm system providing they are signed to contracts. Boston is
attempting to capitalize on a strategy that worked well for them with Eloranta last season. By spending these late-round picks on experienced European players who are much more likely to break into the NHL than a raw 18 year old draftee would, the Bruins hope that they have found a late-bloomer or three who have developed in the years since they were eligible, but went undrafted by NHL teams. With a blueline depleted by trades, expansion and free agency, it is a strategy that makes sense and it will be interesting to see if any of these dark horses can make a splash with the Bruins next fall. As for the rest, they will
return to their respective countries and teams and continue to develop. In Jonsson and Samuelsson, the Bruins have two very skilled players that could add some genuine excitement to the Fleetcenter. It is a matter of time before we will know for sure, but if inital impressions count for anything, the Boston Bruins have walked away from a successful draft.