Haggerty's top five Bruins draft misses last 10 years
Swing and a miss!
By Joe Haggerty
FT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Bruins are in a good place with their scouting staff and draft classes these days, but that hasn’t always been the case recently. Nabbing David Pastrnak with the 25th overall pick last season was the first time in a while the Bruins were able to hit on a pick that wasn’t a “can’t-miss” (such as Tyler Seguin with the second overall pick in 2010 and Dougie Hamilton with the ninth overall pick in 2011), and it came under the direction of new amateur scouting director Keith Gretzky. So hopes are again high with the 14th overall pick in tonight’s first round at the BB&T Center in Florida. But things don’t always go according to the best-laid plans.
With that in mind -- and with a real talent drought from the draft classes from 2007-2009 -- here are the worst draft misses in the last 10 years for the Boston Bruins.
1. ZACH HAMILL
The poster boy for Boston’s busted draft classes. The former WHL center never had more than 14 goals or 44 points at the AHL level, was knocked around like a rag doll in his short stints in the NHL, and never came close to living up to being the eighth overall pick in 2007.. What made matters worse: Logan Couture, selected by the San Jose Sharks with the very next pick in the first round, has racked up 139 goals and 287 points in 379 games during five-plus seasons in San Jose. He’s topped 30 goals and 60 points twice in those five years, and is exactly the kind of prolific offense forward that Boston could have used last season. Meanwhile Hamill has bounced around in the KHL and Sweden in the last couple of years, and hasn’t even been a dominant player in Europe. The B’s completely whiffed on that pick in the first draft directed by Peter Chiarelli and former scouting director Wayne Smith.
2. TOMMY CROSS
The 2007 NHL Draft was just rough all around. The Bruins thought they'd picked a cornerstone defenseman in Connecticut native, and Boston College-bound, Tommy Cross in the second round. But a knee injury suffered while playing baseball sapped some of his mobility and athleticism, and he’s become a lifelong member of the Providence Bruins during his stint with the organization. He’s a class individual and a fiery competitor, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be an NHL defenseman at this point in his career. Eight picks later the Montreal Canadiens tapped P.K. Subban with the 43rd overall pick, and he’s become the Norris Trophy-winning cornerstone player of the Habs franchise over the last eight years. It hurts the heart of B’s fans to know the Canadiens left that draft with Max Pacioretty and P.K. Subban in the first two rounds, and Boston came away with Zach Hamill and Tommy Cross. It’s a big reason why the Habs have the upper hand in the rivalry at this point in time.
3. MAX SAUVE
The draft actually wasn’t awful for the Bruins even if they didn’t reap the final rewards for it. They took a big center with the 16th overall pick in Joe Colborne, and he's become a solid third-line center in Calgary; the B's used him to acquire Tomas Kaberle from Toronto at the 2011 trade deadline. Boston also drafted Michael Hutchinson with the 77th overall pick in the third round, and he’s become a pretty good goaltender with the Winnipeg Jets since washing out of the Bruins organization. But the Bruins missed again in the second round when they selected France native Max Sauve with the 47th overall pick. He was simply too small and not skilled enough offensively to make it at the NHL level. He knocked around with a couple of other AHL organizations while never topping 21 goals or 38 points, and spent last season playing in Germany. Meanwhile, four picks later the New York Rangers grabbed a player, Derek Stepan, who's been a staple among their forward group for the last five years. Travis Hamonic, Marco Scandella and Jimmy Hayes were all subsequently picked in the second round after Sauve, and have turned into solid NHL players as well.
4. JORDAN CARON
Let’s start out by saying that the 2009 draft class wasn’t a great one, and the Bruins fit right in with the selection of the very mediocre Jordan Caron with the 25th overall pick. It wasn’t as big a bust as the Canadiens picking hometown kid Louis Leblanc with the 18th overall pick, but Caron was never skilled enough, fast enough or gritty enough to find a niche at the NHL level. Simon Despres, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Clifford and Alex Chiasson all could have been fine picks at that spot -- they were all selected end of the first/beginning of the second round -- but Jakob Silfverberg is probably the player Chiarelli and Co. regretted missing out on at that spot. While Silfverberg hasn’t posted big numbers at the NHL level yet, he plays a Bruins-style game as a good-sized right wing, and appeared to really be coming into his own during the playoff run for the Anaheim Ducks last season. He is once again a player the Bruins really could have used on last season’s roster after the Jarome Iginla bonus-laden contract put them in salary cap jail.
5. MALCOLM SUBBAN
While it’s certainly too early to make a decision on the ultimate NHL future of Malcolm Subban, the choice to select him with the 24th pick in 2012 continues to be a head-scratcher given that Tuukka Rask was already established as the goalie of the future. Goaltending depth was a problem that season when the Bruins were forced into signing Marty Turco at the end of the year once Rask developed groin troubles, but it always seemed like a forced pick. Five picks later the Los Angeles Kings took left winger Tanner Pearson, and he became a driving force behind L.A.'s second run to the Cup in 2014. Meanwhile, the 21-year-old Subban finished with a 2.44 goals against average and a .921 save percentage for the P-Bruins this season, and had a rough NHL debut where he allowed three straight on three straight to start the second period against the St. Louis Blues. Subban and the newly signed Zane McIntyre now figure to compete for the heir apparent goalie slot behind Rask, so there’s still a good chance the athletic, talented Subban will fit prominently in Boston’s future. Looking back in hindsight, however, it doesn’t feel like the Bruins made a choice that was going to have the kind of close-to-immediate impact they could have used with that selection.