(Photo credit: Nathan Denette/CP)

By: Zach Carlone | Follow me on Twitter! @zcarlone21

Gearing up for the offseason is always a daunting task for any general manager in the NHL, but this offseason is even more difficult. Two days after the NHL Expansion Draft to welcome the Seattle Kraken, teams will partake in the NHL Entry Draft on Friday, and soon after that will be the start of free agency. The Boston Bruins own the 21st overall pick in this year’s draft, a place where they’ll still be able to fetch a talented and skilled player with the potential to play in the NHL.

The Bruins have truly endured a roller coaster of picks throughout the last seven years of drafting. In 2014, the Bruins used their 25th overall pick on David Pastrnak, who already has 427 career points. The Bruins owned three consecutive picks in the stacked 2015 draft class, owning the 13th, 14th, and 15th overall selections. They used those picks on Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zach Senyshyn, respectively, while selecting Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Lauzon in the second round. The Bruins had three chances to get it right, and many look back to that draft as a true failure for Sweeney. Names like Matthew Barzal (16th overall, New York Islanders), Kyle Connor (17th overall, Winnipeg Jets), and Thomas Chabot (18th overall, Ottawa Senators) were selected shortly after the Bruins picks.

The Bruins made up for that so-called mistake at the 2016 draft, selecting then-Boston University stand-out defenseman Charlie McAvoy with the 14th overall pick. McAvoy has already grown into a number one defenseman for the Bruins, and they even picked up Trent Frederic with the 29th pick in the first round of that draft. The last first-round pick the Bruins have used to select a player in the draft was in 2019, when they selected American-born John Beecher with the 30th overall pick. With the 21st overall pick at their disposal, the Bruins have the chance to add some real talent to their relatively thin prospect pool.

Brennan Othmann

A left-winger from the Flint Firebirds of the OHL, Othmann checks all the boxes for becoming an NHL regular. Many consider him to have one of the best shot releases in the draft class, and he has the ability to do a little bit of everything. At 5’11” and 170 lbs., the left-handed shot would need time to develop and put on strength and size before making the jump. In 55 games with Flint in 2019-20, he collected 17 goals and 33 points.

Matthew Coronato

The New York native has been praised early for his work ethic and the energy he brings to the ice, and he’d bring a lot to a Bruins team in desperate need of fueling prospects. Coronato has spent the last two seasons playing with the Chicago Steel of the USHL, collecting 40 goals and 88 points over 70 games. He averaged nearly two points per game last season and is committed to playing at Harvard University this upcoming season.

Zachary Bolduc

A two-way center who plays a complete 200-foot game, Bolduc has heavy strengths when it comes to making his teammates around him better. He’s not as offensively gifted as other first-round talents, but he could be a steady center for the Bruins prospect pool if he’s able to make the jump to the NHL. He fits the mold of Patrice Bergeron when talking about the Bruins, but he’d need to develop his game much greater in order to make it to the NHL. In 15 games with Rimouski Océanic of the QMJHL last season, Bolduc collected 11 points.

Zach Dean

The Canadian product could fill a gaping hole if and when David Krejci decides to leave the Bruins. Dean is one of the best playmakers in the class and could be a steal, having fallen a bit due to missing part of last season with an injury. It would take time for Dean to develop into an NHL-ready center, as most players on the bubble of an NHL roster transform to play wing to start their careers. In 11 games with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL last season, the 6-foot center collected three goals and seven points.

Xavier Bourgault

Sticking with centers to potentially replace 35-year-olds Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci down the road, Bourgault could bring a lot of aggressiveness to the Bruins middle. He’s known to be an aggressive attacker and an offensive dynamo, and if he makes the leap with further development, he could be dangerous down the middle for the Bruins. His defensive awareness is a weakness, but his offensive flare could prove big dividends for the Bruins prospect pool. In 13 games with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL last season, the right-handed center collected 11 goals and 17 points.

I think the Bruins best bet with the 21st overall pick is to continue building on a thin young forward group. The Bruins will take another crack at the Stanley Cup this season but should still try and build below the NHL. That being said, I think they’ll go with a forward for this pick, as their centers’ futures beyond this upcoming season are anything but guaranteed. If the team stays here, this is where the Bruins should look for their pick. General manager Don Sweeney has the ability, however, to trade the pick higher or lower in the draft order or even trade it for an NHL-rostered player. No matter what, Bruins fans should be excited about the potential that comes with the 21st overall pick in Friday’s draft.