It was always going to be a limited ceiling for the Bruins and their 2018 NHL Draft class after Boston shipped their first round pick to the New York Rangers for a Rick Nash trade that didn’t end up working out.
Without one of the top 31 picks in the draft, the Bruins still managed to add a couple of prospects including explosive Czech winger Jakub Lauko.
It’s also pretty telling that the top player selected in that draft, Swedish defenseman Axel Andersson, is already gone from the B’s ranks after being moved for Anaheim’s Ondrej Kase at the trade deadline just a couple of months ago. At this point it looks like this draft class will rest on how Lauko and Curtis Hall develop over the next few years, but it’s clearly not going to be a franchise-altering draft no matter what happens.
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Here’s a look at the 2018 Bruins draft class a couple of years removed from the amateur draft:
Axel Andersson (2nd round, 57th overall)
The puck-moving Swedish defenseman showed some flashes at development camp and training camp for the Bruins, but it’s fair to say he never really lived up to his standing as the top pick in this draft. He wasn’t physical much at all and the offensive skills were raw rather than fine-tuned. Perhaps because of that and more, Andersson is no longer in the Bruins organization after being part of the package sent to the Anaheim Ducks for Ondrej Kase.
Andersson posted three goals and 24 points in 43 games for the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL after coming over from Sweden this past season, and could still develop into a solid defenseman given his skating, size overall tools.
Here’s a look at Andersson doing his thing on the power play for the Wildcats this past season where the on-ice vision and passing clearly stand out. But it also feels like Andersson pretty clearly became a young prospect they could part with at the trade deadline. Grade: C
Jakub Lauko (3rd round, 77th overall)
The real home run of this draft is the speedy, scrappy and explosive Lauko, who has looked like NHL material from the time he arrived at his first Bruins development camp as an 18-year-old kid. The 20-year-old Lauko was in and out of the lineup for the Providence Bruins in the AHL this past season as an underaged European prospect, but still posted five goals and nine points in 22 games along with 24 penalty minutes.
Lauko is fast, tenacious and skilled as a left winger with decent size at 6-feet and 170-pounds and was coming off a year as a point-per-game player in the QMJHL with six goals and 13 points in 19 games on the way to the Memorial Cup Final. Lauko had some clutch moments during that postseason experience and continues to look like a player who's going to be in Boston within the next couple of seasons.
Here’s the first goal Lauko scored for the Providence Bruins this past season that shows pretty clearly his willingness to get to the dirty areas for offense in addition to his clear skill set. He’s a keeper and a potentially great pick as a third rounder. Grade: A
Curtis Hall (4th round, 119th overall)
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Hall really developed this year in his sophomore season at Yale, where he posted 17 goals and 27 points in 28 games along with a plus-14 rating. He was named Second Team ALL-ECAC and Second Team All-Ivy League in his sophomore season and was ninth in all of Division I with .61 points per game. Hall was also a part of Team USA at last winter’s World Juniors where he finished with one goal in the five games he played for USA Hockey.
Still, there’s no denying that Hall is a big-bodied center prospect in a place where the Bruins have done really well at the NCAA level with their talent evaluation. It remains to be seen where he’s going to project at the NHL, but with his size, offensive ability and solid two-way play he could turn into a bottom-6 center prospect for the Black and Gold.
In this series of highlights vs. RPI, you see Hall turning his hustling back-check into a dangling assist at the other end of the ice in a nice little summation of his talent. Grade: B
Dustyn McFaul (6th round, 181st overall)
The 6-foot-2, 191-pound McFaul is a good-sized, strong left-shot two-way defenseman and that’s exactly what he looked like as a freshman at Clarkson University this past season with a goal and seven points in 31 games.
McFaul projects to be a big, strong and physical stay-at-home defenseman type of player who got off to a pretty good start as a 19-year-old in the NCAA, but it also feels like he’s going to take some time to develop at that level after coming from the Ontario Junior Hockey League prior to the college ranks. McFaul is a good depth prospect and Clarkson is a good program, but thus far there hasn’t been a lot that’s made him stand out from the other D-men Boston has hosted in their development camps. Grade: C-
Pavel Shen (7th round, 212th overall)
The 20-year-old Russian center was playing in his first season of pro hockey this past year with four goals and nine points in 35 games for Providence along with a plus-2 rating. The 6-foot-1, 183-pounder has shown playmaking instincts and some good two-way play tools during his appearances at Bruins development camp and showed flashes this season in the AHL as a young 20-year-old in a very competitive league.
Certainly, he didn’t look out of place after logging 49 games in the KHL over the previous two seasons. The fact he’s already in the AHL one step away from Boston tells you how highly the Bruins view him as a young prospect coming out of Russia. Next year will be a big one for him.
Here Shen shows a pretty good one-on-one scoring touch in Providence on the first AHL goal of his career. Grade: B