The Bruins didn’t have a first-round pick at the NHL draft last weekend in Dallas, but they did make five selections on Day 2 Saturday to add new talent to their ranks. While the overall grade for any draft with no first-rounder is going to be in the B-/C+ range at best, here are some individual grades for each of the five picks:
AXEL ANDERSSON (2nd round, 57th overall)
The 6-foot, 181-pound Andersson is a strong skater who has posted good offensive numbers in junior hockey in Sweden. He finished with six goals and 31 points in 42 games last season and has shown strong puck-moving skills and a willingness to aggressively step up into the play. By most accounts, Andersson seems a strong, safe pick at the end of the second round that will augment the B's defensemen prospect ranks, but it also remains to be seen if there is any particular higher ceiling to his game.
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What the Bruins say: “The staff was really high on him and we had him targeted where we were picking at the end of the second round. We positioned him on the list that if he slipped that far then we’d be really happy. He can really skate. He’s real mobile up the ice. He didn’t have great numbers on the national team, but he was a different player on his junior club.” –Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley.
Haggs' Grade: B.
JAKUB LAUKO (third round, 77th overall)
The 6-foot, 179-pound center/left wing is another speedy player who said he models his game after flashy Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin. The skating speed is certainly what sets him apart from his peers, but he also plays with energy and tenacity while bringing the requisite offense to the table. Lauko was initially thought to be a higher pick and the Bruins actually had him pegged as a first-round talent, so landing him in the third is the kind of choice that could someday make everybody forget that Boston didn’t have a first-rounder this year. Lauko played 42 games for Primati Chomutov in the Czech Elite League, and posted three goals and nine points while playing with, and against, bigger, stronger grown men as a teenager. He certainly carries himself with the confidence of a top prospect and could be a steal based on the talent level.
What the Bruins say: “On our list, we had him as a first-round pick, so we’re ecstatic to get a player like this at that point in the draft. He plays fast, with energy and a lot of character. This player can really shoot the puck. His best asset might be his speed. We’re excited about this player, and look forward to bringing him into development camp where he can hopefully turn some heads.” –Bradley.
Haggs' Grade: A.
CURTIS HALL (fourth round, 119th overall)
The 6-3, 201-pound Hall is a big, strong center committed to Yale. The Bruins project he might someday develop into a power forward on the wing. Either way, it was good to mix things up and take a US college kid with some projectable qualities after taking a couple of European prospects in the first few rounds. Hall finished his USHL season with 13 goals and 31 points in 54 games for the Youngstown Phantoms and had a very strong showing with three goals and four points in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament. His offense is not explosive, but it looks as if it’s going to translate very well to the professional game a few years from now. Much of Hall’s game is predicated on using his size and strength around the net and that’s something you simply can’t teach as the Bruins could always get a little bigger and stronger up front.
What the Bruins say: “He’s a big boy. We followed him all year and closely watched him. He’s got a lot of power in his game. I think he’ll have the ability to play wing and center. He had a strong playoff. We think there’s a lot of upside and development where he can turn into a power forward.” –Bradley.
Rank at HockeyProspect.com: 119th.
Haggs' Grade: B.
DUSTYN McFAUL (sixth round, 181st overall)
The 6-2, 185-pound defenseman had four goals and 19 points in 38 games for the Pickering Panthers of the OJHL last season. He certainly has some good D-man tools between his size and competitive spirit. The Bruins are banking on him really making some noise next season in his final year of junior hockey before heading to Clarkson, and perhaps growing his game more into his size and skill level. McFaul sounds like one of those players that some of Boston’s scouts were really pushing for at the table, so now it’s up to the player to justify that faith.
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Between next year at the junior level and some college years at Clarkson, however, this pick is one that the Bruins can really afford to be patient with as he goes through several development phases as a late-blooming player. There’s no telling what McFaul will look like when he comes through the other side of a long, gradual development path, but the Bruins are banking that he’s going to look like an NHL defenseman.
What the Bruins say: “He’s interesting because he’s a late bloomer. We think he’ll end up playing in the USHL or the BC League. He’s a two-way defenseman that can move the puck, the guys that saw him talked about the way he really competes for the puck and moves the puck. His skating is pretty good. He still needs to fill out and put on 10 or 15 pounds for sure, but we’re excited to meet him.” –Bradley.
Rank at HockeyProspect.com: 191st.
Haggs' Grade: C.
PAVEL SHEN (seventh round, 212th overall)
The Bruins dipped into Russian waters for the first time since selecting second-round disappointment Alex Khokhlachev almost 10 years ago and took a flier on a young, playmaking center with good production overseas. Shen bounced between the KHL and the MHL this past season while manning the center position and had only two goals for 29 games in the KHL’s Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk. Clearly, he’s more playmaker than scorer based on his numbers at the lower levels of Russian junior hockey and the mere fact he played 29 games in the KHL last season speaks to the overall maturity level of his game at 18. There’s no telling how difficult it will be for the 6-1, 183-pound Russian prospect to eventually settle into a pro hockey career in North America, but that’s part of the dice roll when it comes to drafting Russians.
What the Bruins say: “He played both center and wing, and I think he can play both. I didn’t think he played big minutes in the KHL, but in his junior days he played a lot of minutes and was good distributing the puck.” –Bradley.
Rank at HockeyProspect.com: 198th.
Haggs' Grade: B+
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