Checking in on every Don Sweeney draft pick
Checking in on every Don Sweeney draft pick
One thing Don Sweeney vowed to prioritize when he took over as Bruins general manager was a commitment to drafting and developing, and so far he’s kept that promise. He’s made 16 picks over two drafts, including five first-round picks, all three extra selections of which he acquired via trade.
Thus far, three of his selections have made it to the NHL in Brandon Carlo, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Charlie McAvoy. None have been traded, though teams would certainly love to pry quite a few of them from Boston’s stable of developing prospects.
Heading into Sweeney’s third draft as Boston’s GM, here’s an update on each of his selections so far.
Jakub Zboril, LD
2016-17 stats: 50 GP, 9 G, 32 A, 41 P (QMJHL)
There was a hefty dropoff after the first three defensemen in the 2015 draft (Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski), but Zboril led the next tier. Though he didn’t blow anyone’s doors off in the season following his selection (his points dropped from 33 in his draft year to 20), his third year with with the St. Johns Sea Dogs saw him explode for 41 while playing alongside Senators 2015 first-rounder Thomas Chabot. Expect the well-rounded two-way defender to begin his first professional season in Providence in the fall.
Jake DeBrusk, LW
14th overall, 2015
2016-17 stats: 74 GP, 19 G, 30 A, 49 P (AHL)
The first of Don Sweeney’s first-round picks to go pro, DeBrusk had a mostly encouraging first season in Providence. He never got the call to Boston despite its questions at left wing as the season wore on, but he should push for an NHL at some point in 2017-18, especially if the B’s are able to move Matt Beleskey’s contract.
Zach Senyshyn, RW
15th overall, 2015
2016-17 stats: 59 GP, 42 G, 23 A, 65 P (OHL); 4 GP, 0 P (AHL)
After wrapping up his third full OHL season, the surprise pick of the 2015 draft went to Providence for the Baby B’s playoff run. The skilled winger put up as many points in 59 games for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds as he did in 66 games the previous season, and though he leaves the OHL with multiple 40-goal seasons under his belt, he’ll probably need AHL seasoning before making the jump to the NHL.
Brandon Carlo, RD
Second round (37th overall), 2015
2016-17 stats: 82 GP, 6 G, 10 A, 16 P (NHL)
A slam-dunk so far. Selected with one of the two second-rounders the B’s acquired in the Johnny Boychuk trade, the Carlo pick delivered the B’s their first homegrown NHLer of the Sweeney era, and it only took him a year before he was beginning his pro career in the NHL. Carlo started strong before running into some of the challenges typical for a young defenseman. Second-year blueliners can tend to take a step back, most recently with Shayne Gostisbehere, but the Carlo figures to be a steady second-pairing defender for the B’s for many years.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, C
Second round (45th overall), 2015
2016-17 stats: 39 GP, 14 G, 19 A, 33 P (Hockey East); 1 GP, 0 P (NHL)
Forsbacka Karlsson’s tremendously boring NHL debut (zero shots on goal in 8:25 of ice time) doesn’t change the fact that he is a very good prospect. So good, in fact, that Ryan Spooner could be made expendable via trade. The 20-year-old two-way center should be a good fit as Boston’s third-line center with the ability to become a top-sixer down the road if and when David Krejci moves on.
Jeremy Lauzon, LD
Second round (52nd overall), 2015
2016-17 stats: 39 GP, 5 G, 23 A, 28 P (QMJHL)
A more offensive player than Carlo, Lauzon boosted his profile in the season following his draft year, posting 50 points in 46 games for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2015-16 before being selected for Team Canada in the 2017 World Juniors, where he posted three points in five games. Upon returning to the Q, Lauzon added to his regular-season numbers with 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 15 playoff games for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Daniel Vladar, G
Third round (75th overall), 2015
2016-17 stats: 18 GP, .887 sv. % (ECHL); 8 GP, .921 (AHL)
Vladar is 6-foot-5, which would have made him tied with Pekka Rinne for the second-tallest goalie in the league this past season, one inch behind the 6-foot-6 Devan Dubnyk. The Czech netminder spent most of last season with Atlanta of the ECHL, but he could end up spending more time in Providence this season if Malcolm Subban is lost in the expansion draft.
Jesse Gabrielle, LW
Fourth round (105th overall), 2015
2016-17 stats: 61 GP, 35 G, 29 A, 64 P (WHL), 1 GP, 0 pts
A spunky forward who models his game after Brad Marchand, Gabrielle finds himself in a good position to begin his pro career. The Bruins have enough questions at left wing that a terrific camp could help him push for a job in Boston, but the B’s also have enough candidates that they don’t need to rush him.
Jack Becker, C
Seventh round (195th overall), 2015
2016-17 stats: 49 GP, 16 G, 12 A, 28 P (USHL)
The 6-foot-3 forward will attend the University of Michigan in the fall.
Charlie McAvoy, RD
14th overall, 2016
2016-17 stats: 38 GP, 5 G, 21 A, 26 P (Hockey East); 6 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 P (NHL); 4 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P (AHL)
It was an extremely eventful season for McAvoy, who also starred in the World Juniors (six points in seven games) and went on to play for the men’s national team at the IIHF World Championship. For all McAvoy did across multiple teams, the biggest takeaway was that he was able to parachute into the NHL playoffs to begin his NHL career and hold his own. Looks like Sweeney knocked this pick out of the park.
Trent Frederic, C
29th overall, 2016
2016-17 stats: 30 GP, 15 G, 18 A, 33 P (Big-10)
For the second straight year, the choice the Bruins made with a first-round pick yielded outrage. Frederic wasn’t ranked as a top-50 player in the draft, plus then-director of amateur scouting Keith Gretzky said the day after they took Frederic that they didn’t view him as a top-six forward. With more than a point per game as a freshman at Wisconsin, Frederic helped change the perception that he was a reach. It’s definitely too soon to say what he’ll be in the NHL, but at the very least it’s been made apparent that his selection shouldn’t be as lamented as it was at the time.
Ryan Lindgren, LD
Second round (49th overall), 2016
2016-17 stats: 32 GP, 1 G, 6 A, 7 P (Big-10)
Given that he’s an American player of high character, it was a pleasant surprise that the B’s didn’t trade up to take Lindgren first overall. The 6-foot-0 lefty is considered a strong defender who skates well, even if he doesn’t necessarily project to be an offensive force in the NHL. He was one of McAvoy's teammates on the gold-winning World Juniors squad, playing in six of the seven games and posting one assist.
Joona Koppanen, LW
Fifth round (135th overall), 2016
2016-17 stats: 38 GP, 23 G, 31 A, 54 P (Jr. A SM-liiga)
What stands out about Koppnanen is his 6-foot-5 frame. The Bruins said after drafting him that they took him based on size with the hope that he could develop a stronger skill set. For now, he’s an interesting project.
Cameron Clarke, RD
Fifth round (136th overall), 2016
2016-17 stats: 1 G, 10 A, 11 P (WCHA)
Converted from forward to defenseman at 16 years old, Clarke is honing his skills at as a puck-moving blueliner at Ferris State. After finishing third among Bulldog defensemen as a freshman, his opportunity should increase with the team losing Ryan Lowney, one of the team’s top defensemen, to graduation.
Oskar Steen, C/RW
Sixth round (165th overall), 2016
2016-17 stats: 47 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 P (Swedish Hockey League); 4 GP, 0 P (Sweden 1st Division); 8 GP, 5 G, 6 A, 11 P (J20 SuperElit)
The B’s compared him to P.J. Axelsson upon his selection, which would be a fantastic result. Steen had no problem putting up points in the J20 SuperElit league (32 points in 33 games in his draft year), but offensive production was harder to come by against pros in the SHL.