Two days after the draft when looking at the Bruins board there isn’t a single name that will jump out at you, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
1st round 18th overall- Urho Vaakanainen, defense JYP
The 18 year old defenseman is probably the closest player the Bruins drafted to being NHL ready but even he has a ways to go.
“A very complete two-way defenceman who does not have a lot of flaws in his game…very good puck mover, has great poise and makes crisp, accurate passes. He’s a very mobile skater with impressive edge work and fluid strides. Has a high Hockey IQ and makes a lot of correct decisions with and without the puck.”
“He has above average hockey intelligence, which is seen in his defensive plays like his gap control and stick checking. He is strong enough to efficiently box out forwards while not overly aggressive. Once he has the puck he is mobile enough to skate it out, but will often default to a quick breakout pass with high efficiency.
While he won’t wow a team with his offensive prowess, there is some upside there with his high hockey IQ and solid wrist shot.
Offensively or defensively Vaakanainen won’t take risks, but he limits the opposition, gains the puck, and moves it forward quickly… cutting him in a somewhat similar stylistic mould of recent Finnish defenders like Olli Maata and Olli Juolevi.”
2nd round 53rd overall- Jack Studnicka, center, Oshawa
Jack will need a few more seasons of development in juniors before making the jump to pro hockey but he does have good potential of becoming a reliable two-way forward that won’t light up the scoreboard but will chip in efficiently.
“Jack Studnicka is a taller Canadian centerman hailing from Tecumseh, Ontario. Elite Prospects has him standing at 6’1” and weighing only 170 pounds. Given his height, and that he is not a major top prospect, most likely he will want to bulk up and use his size to his advantage in the upcoming years. At this point, however, he is certainly a prospect with some room to grow, both in terms of his game and his size.”
“Studnicka is a strong two way player but doesn’t have as much offensive upside compared to some who were still remaining on the board at this point in the draft; his skill set makes him more suitable for a role as a third-line center rather than a top-line forward. He was rated as high as #42 by ISS Hockey and as low as #120 by NHL Central Scouting, Jack Studnicka’s”
4th round 111th overall- Jeremy Swayman, goalie, Sioux Falls
The 19 year old goaltender is expected to play one more season in the USHL prior to playing at University of Maine, which means Bruins fans will get to see him quite a bit in Hockey East.
“High-end athlete with good size who probably isn’t finished growing (his dad is 6-6) checks all the boxes for a developmental project goalie. Excellent quickness and great hands- glove and blocker are effective at catching pucks or directing them away from danger areas. Gets a good lateral push and tracks pucks well. Put up very good save percentage and GAA numbers (.914, 2.90) on a non-playoff USHL club, and was often lost in the spotlight of other bigger-name goalies playing in that league. Needs to be more patient at times- gets caught trying to do too much and will have to put in the work to refine his game and keep getting better. Says all the right things, but the proof will be in the continued progression and body of work.”
6th round 173rd overall- Cedric Pare, center, St. Johns
Once again the Bruins draft another two-way forward who won’t put up great offensive numbers but will be reliable in both zones.
“Big-bodied, toolsy center who didn’t see a lot of playing time on a stacked, veteran team that won the QMJHL championship and played for the 2017 Memorial Cup. Strong below the dots and in the corners, but skating needs to improve mainly in the first steps and lateral agility to boost an effective short-area game. Hard shot, but needs to get it off faster. Grinds for pucks and does well to shield them in possession but not overly skilled or creative. At his best when driving the net and using his size to box out defenders.”
7th round 195th overall- Victor Berglund, defenseman, Modo Jr.
At just 17 years old Berglund is an interesting player who lacks the ideal defenseman size with him being 6’0 165lbs. Berglund had 16 points in 49 games playing in the Swedish Elite leagues.
“Small, skilled defender was a total stealth/under the radar pick, as no one we were with at the draft knew who he was. We’ll let Bradley describe him thus: “Our Swedish guys were on top of him. They think he’s a mobile D. He’s skilled, ultra-skilled, and he skates well. Small. Six-footer, but [European scouts] P.J. [Axelsson] and Sven [Svensson] and Victor [Nybladh], they were pounding the table for him and we went along with it and I think we might have something there.” Talking to his strength coach after the pick, he’s got him working on putting some muscle and weight on so we look forward to seeing him, too, at development camp.”
7th round 204th overall- Daniel Bukac, defenseman, Wheat Kings
The 18 year old defenseman is already 6’5 and he had a pretty good 1st season in Brandon putting up 17 points in 72 games.
“Big, rangy Czech defender is raw and needs a lot of development, but could have a decent payoff down the road. Good skater for his size who will get better and more powerful in his stride as he adds lower leg strength. Long stick- terrific reach. Didn’t put up many points, but had a tough transition to North America with the Wheaties and came on strong at the end. More from Bradley: “He’s raw. He’s a project. Kid from the Czech Republic that played in the Western Hockey League. At the start of the year – he’s come leaps and bounds with his development.” Talking to the people – the coaches, the management, and the GM in Brandon, they’re very excited about him coming back to Brandon. They’re expecting big things from him. We look forward to seeing him in camp.”
Grading the Bruins draft: B, Could’ve been better could’ve been worse. The Bruins decided to go with the safe path rather than the flashy picks that come with risks which is completely fine.