By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The 2018 NHL Draft is complete, and the Boston Bruins ended up standing pat, taking players with all five of their selections on Saturday.
Boston targeted skill and mobility on defense, as well as size and skill at center, as part of their 2018 draft picks. They restocked the cupboard for right-shot defensemen and added some forwards with legitimate upside and the ability to play center.
As far as projecting these players long-term, it’s obviously exceptionally hard to tell how the picks will turn out. Most, maybe all of them will take around 3-5 years to reach the NHL – if they do at all. So there won’t be draft grades here, or hard predictions for the individual prospects. But there will be some analyzing of the picks based on their reported skill sets, and how they could potentially fit into the Bruins’ lineup long-term.
Check out the full Bruins draft class below, with some quick reactions:
Axel Andersson: Second Round (N0. 57)
Height/Weight: 6 feet, 179 pounds
Birthplace: Järna, Sweden
Reaction: With Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo already playing big minutes at the NHL level, the Bruins needed to restock their pipeline with a right-shot defenseman at some point. Andersson’s skill set should translate well to the top level as a smooth-skating blue liner who can shoot and move the puck quickly up the ice. If he can improve the defensive side of his game and dial back the mistakes with the puck, he could go to another level and be a steal of a pick.
Jakub Lauko: Third Round (No. 77)
Position: Center/Left Wing
Height/Weight: 6 feet, 179 pounds
Birthplace: Praha, Czech Republic
Reaction: Lauko told reporters after being drafted that he feels he was one of the best skaters in this year’s class and could have been drafted higher. He sounds motivated to prove to the rest of the league that he’ll be a steal for the B’s. Lauko is billed as a good two-way forward who could play either center or left wing, with a solid (if unspectacular) offensive game and sound defense. Lauko certainly sounds like a Don Sweeney kind of player. Our own Ty Anderson has heard good things about Lauko from a few sources. We can think of some other two-way centermen who have emerged as high-end options for the B’s from the middle rounds…
Curtis Hall: Fourth Round (No. 119)
Height/Weight: 6-foot-3, 201 pounds
Birthplace: Princeton, N.J.
Reaction: Hall’s NHL.com prospect page says he likes to model his game after David Backes. He certainly has the size to be a strong net-front presence and is known as a kid who can use his frame to bury goals from close proximity. He has great potential as a big, two-way center, and those kinds of players don’t necessarily grow on trees – especially ones who can score. He’s also a smart kid who won’t be too far away during his development, either; he’s committed to Yale for the 2018-19 season.
Dustyn McFaul: Sixth Round (No. 181)
Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 185 pounds
Birthplace: Waterdown, Ontario
Reaction: Another left-shot defenseman gets in line behind the likes of Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jeremy Lauzon in the pipeline. McFaul is still just 17 years old and will develop at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. after playing 2017-18 for the Pickering Panthers of the OJHL. That’s where McFaul saw his stock rise as a prospect. Blogger J.B. Knox describes McFaul in a scouting report as a “mobile defenseman with a long reach and an active stick.” While late-round picks are essentially lottery tickets, it’s not the worst idea to have another big, left-shot blue liner among your prospects.
Pavel Shen: Seventh Round (No. 212)
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 183 pounds
Birthplace: Ufa, Russia
Reaction: The B’s round out their 2018 class with a kid from the KHL. Brandon Holmes at Riding Pine Hockey describes Shen as a “competitive and skilled forward that isn’t afraid of the rough stuff.” He’s also described as a confident player with the puck on his stick with good offensive instincts. Central Scouting ranked him 22nd among all European skaters, but for some reason he fell all the way to the end of the draft. The hope for the Bruins is that he realizes his full offensive potential as an NHL-caliber forward within the next several years. Consider him the new Alex Kokhlachev.
It should come as no surprise that the Bruins focused on right-shot defensive depth and size down the middle with their early picks. Center is a spot where they’re going to need kids to step up down the road, and you can never take enough shots at that position. The disappointment of this draft is that the Bruins made no deals in an effort to improve their current defense, and they also lost out on Ilya Kovalchuk, despite three years being a major commitment for a 35-year-old free agent. But it’s fair to wonder where the team goes from here.
So when it comes to the 2018-19 team, Sweeney still has plenty of work to do. And like every draft class, it will be a few years before we have any idea how this year’s crop turns out.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Player information via Elite Prospects