Bruins draft: Grading all five picks from the 2019 NHL Draft
By and large it was a by-the-book kind of NHL Draft weekend for the Bruins in Vancouver. They came, they saw and they drafted some young players, but that was about it while the action got a little interesting with some bigger picture trades getting executed on Saturday’s second day of the draft in Vancouver.
The New Jersey Devils landed defenseman P.K. Subban and drafted the No. 1 overall pick in Jack Hughes to markedly improve their situation, and there were other secondary deals like the Canucks landing top-9 Lightning forward J.T. Miller for a first-round pick. For the Bruins, it was about replenishing their forward and defensemen group with a new class of prospects, and attempting to add some size and strength up front with a first-round pick who’s got both of those in large amounts.
"I think we got some depth," said Bruins assistant general manager Scott Bradley. "You know, we spread it out pretty good. We got a couple good forwards, got the D-man from Russia, so we're excited… we hit on a lot of guys on our list."
Here are grades and breakdowns for each of the five Bruins prospects selected over the weekend:
First-round pick (30th overall) — John Beecher, C (USNDTP)
The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Beecher totaled 15 goals and 45 points in 61 games for the US National Development Team Program over the last two seasons as a bottom-6 center playing behind top-5 picks like Jack Hughes and Alex Turcotte. He’s big, strong and willing to battle in front of the net and even better, he’s got a big, powerful skating stride that makes him quick along with being a strong presence in the middle. Clearly the Bruins felt like they needed some size, strength and skill among their group of center prospects, and they need some bodies getting ready over the next few seasons as David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron hit their mid-30’s. The real question is how much offensive development remains for Beecher after playing a secondary role for the US program. Beecher will get a chance to develop at the University of Michigan over the next couple of years, and the Bruins will hope it’s enough to turn him into a top-6 center prospect before it’s all said and done. Will they regret not pulling the trigger on higher skill guys like Arthur Kaliyev or Raphael Lavoie after they dropped to them with the 30th overall pick? Impossible to tell right now, but Beecher feels like an excellent fit for a Bruins team that was far too small among their top-6 this season.
Third-round pick (92nd overall) — Quinn Olson, LW (Okotoks Oilers)
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Olson is a playmaking, versatile forward that can play wing or center, and isn’t afraid to mix it up based on his penalty minutes during his career in the AJHL. Olson had 20 goals and 66 points in 54 games last season while stepping up in the playoffs, and is slated to take his talent to the University of Minnesota Duluth in a couple of seasons. He could be the next Brad Marchand or Jesse Gabrielle based on the luck Boston has had with these kinds of players. What the Bruins say: "Two-way center, has a great pair of legs, has got deceptive speed, plays… he has excellent vision… a little undersized at this time," said assistant GM Scott Bradley. "He hasn't been through some development there physically, but we're excited about this player. If he can develop and put some weight on him, he's got some jam." Many draft publications had him ranked much lower than the third round, so this was a gamble pick. Those aren’t always necessarily great in the third round.
Fifth-round pick (154th overall) — Roman Bychkov, D (Yaroslaval Loko)
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound defenseman had two goals, 15 points and a plus-17 in 40 games played in the MHL last season and had one assist in six games for Team Russia during the 2019 U18 World Junior Championships. Bychkov is a puck-mover with good hands and good skating ability according to the scouts that have seen him, but he clearly isn’t going to bring a ton of size to the table as a defenseman prospect. As always it will be interesting to see if/when he comes to Boston for prospect camps or training camps, but it certainly sounds like there’s talent there. He’s a left shot as well, so perhaps he’s being groomed as a potential long-term replacement for Torey Krug or Matt Grzelcyk as an undersized puck mover as a player who's years away from potentially battling for a roster spot in Boston. Based on where he was ranked on a number of draft boards, this would appear to be a quality fifth-round pick based on his skill level.
Sixth-round pick (185th overall) — Matias Mantykivi, LW (SaiPa)
The 5-foot-11, 161-pound Mantykivi posted 12 goals and 36 points in 34 games for the SaiPa U20 team and posted one goal and five points in 17 Liiga games along with six points in 13 playoff games. Obviously Mantykivi needs to get bigger and stronger at 161 pounds, but the opportunity and performance at the men’s league level in Finland is impressive for an undersized 18-year-old kid. The Bruins raved about his playmaking and hockey smarts on the ice, and his brief comments after being drafted showed a Finnish kid with a pretty good head on his shoulders. He captained the U20 SaiPa team and that is also something the Bruins prospects value quite a bit in their evaluation of amateur players. What the Bruins say: “Mantykivi got a championship in the Finnish first division," said Bradley. “Very smart player… his hockey sense stood out."
Seventh-round pick (192nd overall) — Jake Schmaltz, C (Chicago Steel)
The 6-foot-1, 167-pound Schmaltz had five goals and 18 points in 60 games for the Steel during the regular season, and two assists in 11 games during the playoffs. Schmaltz is committed to the University of North Dakota in a couple of years and projects to be a big, bottom-6 center that can do a lot of different things well. Schmaltz also had the added benefit of NHL bloodlines as he’s the younger brother of former first-rounders Jordan Schmaltz and Chicago Blackhawks center Nick Schmaltz. He may turn out to be a solid bottom-6 player for the Bruins, but he also just as easily could have been an undrafted free agent signing too. What the Bruins say: "He's got a lot of upside, committed to North Dakota," said Scott Bradley. "He's got a two-way element to his game as well that we can see is kind of a trend in the last couple of years. We look heavily at the centers that we know can play two positions. We're excited about a lot of these players.”
Photo courtesy Chicago Steel