(Photo Credit: Terry Wilson, OHL Images (Left) Jason Kirk, Windsor Star (Right)
By Court Lalonde @courtlalonde
It’s that time of the year again when teams get to start with a clean slate and think about their future. The National Hockey League entry draft is today, and the excitement around the league seems to be about what trades are going to be made more than who teams are going to select in the entry draft this year. I can understand some of this excitement because we had an expansion draft this year and the Las Vegas Golden Knights decided to accumulate more draft picks over taking the best player available. I’m intrigued because this draft is being pegged as a weak draft compared to previous years and that we don’t have any superstars available.
I have been looking into who the Boston Bruins might be able to take, and I think this draft might surprise people down the road. I don’t believe that they will be Connor McDavid type players, but this draft seems to have players that will play in the NHL. This draft is full of potential role players and second line players; some have the ability to become first line players. We also seem to have a healthy crop of goaltenders in this year’s draft, which is good because (spoilers) I’m going to suggest the Bruins take a goalie with their second round pick. I stated on the Black N’ Gold podcast last week that I think the Bruins should take Isaac Ratcliffe from the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League with the 18th overall pick and Michael Dipietro from the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL with the 53rd overall pick. I still think the Bruins should choose Dipietro, but I have changed my mind on Ratcliffe. I feel now that the Bruins should go with Robert Thomas from the London Knights of the OHL.
Boston Bruins 18th pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft is Robert Thomas from the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League
(Photo Credit: CHL Images)
When you look at Thomas at first, you see 6-0 centermen, 188 pounds that only played second line minutes last year in the OHL. What you need to realize is, he is a second line center that played on one of the offensive juggernauts of the OHL. He was able to have 16 goals, 50 assists, 66 points, with a plus 44 rating with only second line minutes. He thinks defense first and worries about the offense later and is known as an unselfish player by his teammates.
“Robert is a good 200-foot player, he’s intelligent,” Matt Ryan of NHL Central Scouting said. “He’s an excellent passer and has a good vision of the ice. He can create in traffic, doesn’t panic and makes smart decisions with the puck, He’s a natural playmaker.”
His hockey IQ is off the charts and was touted as one of the best playmakers in the OHL last year. I went looking back into what scouts said about current Bruins Patrice Bergeron, and it’s uncanny how similar the scouting reports are. I’m not saying he is the next Bergeron, but he plays a similar style of game. Thomas knows how to win and won a Memorial Cup with the London Knights in 2016 and will get a chance to play for team Canada this year as he has been invited to camp for the Canadian World Junior team. He seems to me to be the prototypical Bruins, and if he is available when Don Sweeney steps up to the podium for the 18th pick, I hope they take him.
Boston Bruins 53rd pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft is Michael Dipietro from the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League
(Photo Credit: Adrian Wyld, The Canadian Press)
The knock on Dipietro is that he is short and at 6-0 for a goalie, I guess you can say that with the goaltenders nowadays in the league. I have never believed a goalie has to be tall to succeed in the NHL, and the Bruins own Tim Thomas who backstopped us to a Stanley Cup Championship is a prime example of that. Thomas came in a 5’11 but played like he was Zdeno Chara’s size. Dipietro knows how to win big games as well, his Spitfires won the Memorial Cup Championship this year and he was 4-0 with a 2.00 GAA and a .932 SV%. His coach Rocky Thomspon said, “When we make mistakes we have a great goaltender who can make a save for us.” This season he tied a Spitfires franchise record with a GAA of 2.35 for the season and set the shutout record with six. Three of the shutouts were in a row, and he stood on his head all three games. He has a strong mental focus and plays big for his size. He grew up idolizing Johnathan Quick from the Los Angeles Kings and has quick reflexes like him as well. Boston is a hard city to play in for some players, and the pressure can get to some.
” I like that I can be a game changer, a factor, I love the pressure,” said Dipietro.
He played for team Canada at the Ivan Hilinka Tournament this year and had a .920 SV%. He has been invited to camp as well for the Canadian World Junior team, and if the NHL players don’t go to the Olympics, he might represent his country there. I want the Bruins to select a goalie in the second round because it’s a strong draft for goaltenders this year and goaltending prospect haven’t worked out lately, and it’s time to refill the cupboard. My hope when Don Sweeney announces their second round pick, he calls the name of Michael Dipietro.