(Photo Credit: WBUR News)
By Mike Cratty Twitter: @Mike_Cratty
The 2017 NHL Draft is approaching quickly with a different feel to it than in year’s past. This year there isn’t really that is anyone considered to be a franchise player like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Jack Eichel in years past. It’s also not considered to be as deep of a draft as year’s past, where the depth of talent has been considered to be pretty deep. But, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any talent for the Bruins’ staff to scavenge.
With the likely possibility of some left-handed forwards making the jump to the NHL, the Bruins may take some more to restock the cupboard. Names that come to mind that could make the jump are Peter Cehlarik, Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, and Sean Kuraly. Some 2017 draft prospect names that come to mind are; Kristian Vesalainen of the SHL’s Frölunda HC, Isaac Ratcliffe of the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Maxime Comtois of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres, Lias Andersson of the SHL’s HV71 and Klim Kostin of the KHL’s Dynamo Moskva. All left-handed forwards that bring their own skill sets and varying physical frames to the table. These are also guys that are expected to possibly be available when the Bruins pick 18th overall.
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The Bruins right wing prospect core is really weak. Outside of Zachary Senyshyn, they really don’t have much. Senyshyn may need a year of AHL seasoning before he is ready for the rigors of the NHL. Kole Lind and Kailer Yamamoto are two skilled right wingers that come to mind. It’s pretty simple, the Bruins need help here, and if they choose to use their first-round pick and not trade it, these guys are their best bets. Both saw great growth and success in the CHL. Lind with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets and Yamamoto with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.
The 2017 draft is stacked with intriguing goalie prospects. Boston University’s freshman stud, Jake Oettinger, future Quinnipiac Bobcat, Keith Petruzzelli, Michael DiPietro of the Memorial Cup Champion Windsor Spitfires, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, a junior hockey goaltender from Finland, and Maxim Zhukov of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. There is no telling whether these studs will be elite NHL goaltenders, it’s far too early, and goalie potential is tricky to pin. With the possibility of Subban departing, via free agency or the expansion draft, the Bruins need a potentially elite prospect. Nothing against Zane McIntyre and Daniel Vladar, but I don’t think they fall into that category. The Bruins do not have a third-round pick thanks to the Zac Rinaldo trade, but it’s reasonable to say the Bruins’ second-round pick could be used on one of these promising goalies.
Daniel Vladar was drafted recently and hasn’t seen a ton of AHL time. Sure, McIntyre spent four years at the University of North Dakota., but he was drafted in 2010 and hasn’t been able to secure a backup role yet. The verdict here is that the draft class may not be this good for a while and the Bruins should take advantage.
Defensive help is something that isn’t as desperately need as in the past. With the growth of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril, on top of the additions of Ryan Lindgren and Cameron Clarke. Maybe a late-round pick or two will be used for defensive help.
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Don Sweeney has said that he would be willing to move the 18th overall pick. The Bruins have made nine picks in the first two rounds in the last two drafts. Anaheim Ducks left-handed defender, Cam Fowler is a player that many Bruins fans would love to see. The one caveat with Fowler is that he would cost a pretty penny to acquire. He is 25-years-old and is coming off the best season of his career. The 2010 Ducks first-rounder played 80 games last year and tallied 11 goals, 28 assists. He broke out in the playoffs as well with two goals and seven assists in 13 games before being eliminated by the Western Conference Champion Nashville Predators.
Guys like Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano could factor into a trade with the 18th overall pick. Ryan Spooner, a restricted free-agent, will likely be traded separately for something like a third-round pick. A team like the Anaheim Ducks, for example, need a left-handed scorer. Frank Vatrano is a guy that will need to fight for ice time and could fit the mold. He saw amazing AHL scoring success and some moderate scoring success at the NHL. He wields speed, a bulldog mentality, as well as a powerful and quick wrist shot. Swapping him and Fowler, with other pieces would give Anaheim some cap flexibility. CapFriendly says that Anaheim’s projected cap space is just $2,315,000. This would likely rule out a Drew Stafford return, as Cam Fowler is set to make $4 million and David Pastrnak will command some good money. Fowler is set to be an unrestricted free-agent next summer.
Young defenders like Jeremy Lauzon, Colin Miller, Jakub Zboril could factor into deals for a high-end defenseman as well.
Minnesota Wild left-handed defenseman Jonas Brodin is another option for the Bruins. The Wild lack a 2017 first-round pick thanks to the Martin Hanzal deadline deal. Therefore, the 18th overall pick could be of great interest to them. Hanzal was likely a rental, so Ryan Spooner also heading to Minnesota could replace him. The Wild do have some talented center prospects that they could call up, like former NCAA standouts Sam Anas, of Quinnipiac University and Luke Kunin, of the University of Wisconsin. Minnesota’s projected cap space, according to CapFriendly, is $11,441,409, without much to do regarding free agency within their organization. So accommodating someone like Spooner shouldn’t be a huge problem while moving Brodin’s contract out.
Like Cam Fowler, Brodin won’t be cheap to acquire. The Swedish defenseman was selected in the first-round of the 2011 draft by the Wild and is now 23-years-old. He will carry a $4,166,667 cap hit through the 2020-2021 season, just slightly more than Cam Fowler ($4 million). Brodin is also coming off the best season of his young NHL career. In 68 games he scored three goals and added 22 assists, with an additional assist in 5 playoff games. It’s fair to say that Fowler and Brodin might fetch similar returns if traded. Fowler could fetch slightly more because he is more established as a top-four NHL defenseman than Brodin.
New York Islanders defenseman, Calvin De Haan is another option. He and Jonas Brodin share something in common, they could both very well be snatched up by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft. This fuels the fire that leads to trade rumors surrounding the players. De Haan’s situation is different than Fowler and Brodin’s. De Haan is a restricted free-agent this summer and plays in the Eastern Conference, while Fowler and Brodin have term left on their current contracts and play in the Western Conference. De Haan was taken in the first-round of the 2009 draft. De Haan goes in the first round one year, Fowler the next, and Brodin after Fowler the following year. De Haan and Brodin were both the 10th overall picks in their drafts, Fowler went 12th. The correlation between the three is interesting.
De Haan’s situation is different than Fowler and Brodin’s. De Haan is a restricted free-agent this summer and plays in the Eastern Conference, while Fowler and Brodin have term left on their current contracts and play in the Western Conference. De Haan was taken in the first-round of the 2009 draft. De Haan goes in the first round one year, Fowler the next, and Brodin after Fowler the following year. De Haan and Brodin were both the 10th overall picks in their drafts, Fowler went 12th. The correlation between the three is interesting.
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De Haan was taken in the first-round of the 2009 draft. De Haan goes in the first round one year, Fowler the next, and Brodin after Fowler the following year. De Haan and Brodin were both the 10th overall picks in their drafts, Fowler went 12th. All very close in age as well, with De Haan just turning 26 in May. The correlation between the three is interesting.
A first-round pick and then some sound reasonable for Fowler and Brodin, but not as much for De Haan. De Haan really just broke out this past year, with five goals and 20 assists while playing all 82 regular season games. Also, the first-round pick for an RFA would be a big overpayment. There is a chance that De Haan signs for less money than Fowler and Brodin’s $4 million+ cap hits. That is something worth taking into consideration for a team that has to sign a budding star in David Pastrnak. A third-round pick sounds more plausible for someone of Calvin De Haan’s current status.
When all is said and done, there is plenty of potential for activity and all around exciting draft for Bruins fans. The draft and trade options with the 18th overall pick are the storylines worth following the most in the future.