2015 BOSTON BRUINS NHL ENTRY DRAFT
The Bruins had a total of ten picks, six in the first two rounds. GM Don Sweeney purposely collected draft choices on this draft day in hope of trading up to grab the highly touted and local defensive standout Noah Hanifin. It was of course too good to be true. How close Sweeney was to the deal with Arizona we don’t know, but, if it was as rumored, it was really too bad it didn’t go through as Hanifin stepped right in NHL action and is everything anybody could ask for.
A quick history of the Bruins search for defensemen in the NHL Entry Draft over the years.
Looking back it’s been remarkably hard for the Bruins to draft and develop a real good allround defenseman. There are exceptions like the draft in 1979, of course, when the Bruins really struck gold drafting not only Raymond Bourque who is the second best allround defensemen ever to play in the NHL second only to Bobby Orr. Bruins were also able to find Brad McCrimmon at #15 in that 79 draft.
Bourque and McCrimmon were often on the ice together as a defense pair even in their rookie season. They were that good. Unfortunately McCrimmon only played three seasons in Boston. The Bruins needed a first string goalie however and to get that goalie, Pete Peeters, they had to send a first class player, McCrimmon, to Philadelphia Flyers, where McCrimmon played all star defense for many years.
In the summer of 1981 the Bruins made a deal with the Colorado Rockies sending C-RW Dwight Foster to the Rockies for a second round pick in 1982. They also switched first round draft choices for the 1982 NHL Entry Draft. The incredible thing that happened was Colorado dropped to last place and the Bruins near top as usual. Thanks to that the Bruins suddenly had the first pick in 1982 NHL entry draft.
The Bruins needed a replacement for an aging Brad Park and found just that in 6’4″ 210 lbs defenseman Gord Kluzak playing in the WHL. Kluzak had also starred for Canada as they won their first ever World Junior tournament in 1982, played in USA.
Gord Kluzak was not only named to the World Juniors All Star team. He was named best defenseman in the tournament. Kluzak was 1-2 with Bellows. Bruins then GM Harry Sinden took a lot of heat for not drafting RW Brian Bellows who later would become a 50 goal scorer. At the time I was all along in with Sinden doing the right thing. Especially great was that in agreeing not to take Bellows first. He recieved top prospects Brad Palmer, 21 and had just made his NHL debut in the playoffs. Looked very good. He was a fast skating left winger with a tremendous canon of a shot, a goalscorer and seemed perfect for the Bruins. They also acquired Dave Donnelly. A 19 year old promising winger skating for the Canadian Olympic Team. It was like getting a first and a second round draft pick extra. They were not going to succeed unfortunately.
In hindsight, Sinden should have gone off the board and drafted #5 Scott Stevens. Stevens wasn’t at all considered in the same class as Brian Bellows or Gord Kluzak. #3 was another injury prone big defenseman out from WHL named Gary Nylund.
Kluzak could have been the great defenseman as he was at times. When he was healthy. He was superb in his second season and fourth not to mention his 1987-88 season when he teamed up with Ray Bourque to become the best defensepair in the 1988 Stanley Cup playoffs. It was tough to see Gordie trying but, tragically, his knee’s couldn’t take it. Just as tragic as the Bruins lost a future all star in left winger Normand Leveille and just as tragically the career of Bruins great Bobby Orr and Cam Neely’s career were cut short by severe injuries.
I have thought alot about what would have been had Leveille and Kluzak been able to continue to develop into real star players which was almost certain. There could have been a Stanley Cup in Boston for Ray Bourque and Cam Neely.
Three more defensemen deserve being mentioned as successful draftees. They are Glen Wesley drafted #3 in 1987. Kyle McLaren as #9 in 1995 and then Dougie Hamilton as #9 in 2011. The Bruins did try to find defensemen but they couldn’t get the right one. Harry Sinden loved a great defenseman as much as anybody. Just never succeeded drafting that star until he struck gold or rather won the jackpot in 1979 taking Raymond Bourque #8.
While this was a little off the chart, but, an interesting topic and important issue on Bruins hockey in general. You need solid defensemen to win. We saw this of course during the Bobby Orr years, he lead the Bruins to two Stanley Cup wins. Ray Bourque lead the defense for two decades, while not winning hockey’s ultimate prize, he won everything else. Kept the Bruins at or near the top. Had Bourque had a little more or better support on defense a Cup win could have been a fact and not only a close runner up. Likewise in the Brad Park years. It proved very clearly in 2011 when the Bruins top two, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, dominated the opponent players. Backed up by a formidable second pairing in Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk. I still think the key to the Bruins Cup win lies in thet defense pair. Further more it proves how you keep a contending team every year.
There are always an indication. It is clearly evident the Bruins defense, the last two years, have not been up to par and the prize paid, not addressing the needs was missing the playoffs two years in a row. This is per Boston Bruins standard “extremely disappointing” as President Cam Neely correctly put it. The status of the Bruins defense could change in a not too far distant future. It is more than a few hopefuls. Several very good defensemen has been drafted and while it’s still early, Jeremy Lauzon could be one of the best allround defensive prospect along with Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril and Brandon Carlo. You could probably add the names of Rob O’Gara, Matt Grzelcyk and Ryan Lindgren to the list of competitors.
2015 BRUINS NHL ENTRY DRAFT SELECTIONS
1st round – #13 overall
Jakub Zboril D
Brno, Chech Republic
Feb 22, 1997
6’2″ 200 lbs – shoots left
2015-16 Saint John’s QMJHL
Jakub Zboril is a world of hockey talent. He can do it all with seemingly ease. A smooth skater, with a booming slapshot, can make quick transition plays and superb outlet passes. Quite advanced defensively for a young player. Tough as nails and willing to fight. Plays with an edge. Good size at 6’2″ 200 pounds, the left shooting Zboril from Chech Republic seems to have it all going for him and should be challenging for big league job with the Boston Bruins.
However there are a few issues and question marks concerning this kid. What is a bit remarkable is, Zboril, seems to lose all his natural tools or forget them on the bench sometimes. As good as Zboril can be most of the time, he can be quite the opposite. Either he starts thinking to much or not at all. He loses focus on what he’s doing, leaving it up his teammates to cover for his erratic play. He is even aware of this himself. It is confusing, Zboril, seems to make most hockey analyst confused. This of course must also be of concern for the Bruins management.
Now, maybe it’s just a maturing process. His teammate and sometimes partner, Thomas Chabot, had a superb season and was heralded as a genuine top rearguard prospect for Ottawa Senators. His play at this year’s development camp was so disappointing it made big headlines. It is an up and down world, a lot of pressure to handle for 18-19 year old kids. It’s no wonder so many fails making it to the NHL. They are all different personalities and if you come this far being drafted. Perhaps signed your first NHL contract and it’s for three years. A bonus near $100.000 may have come with it directly deposited into your bank account. You’re able to buy a fancy car and it’s easy to think you are safe for three years.
When it comes to being an NHL player you’re never really safe. To have continued success you have to have that will and strong desire for as long as you play. Discipline.
Always come to think of Raymond Bourque when seeing or hearing about young top prospects like Zboril and Chabot.
Bourque was on NHL First All Star Team and Rookie of the Year in his first NHL season. No other rookie defenseman has ever made the first all star team, before or since Bourque did it in 1979-80 season. Bourque is the most well conditioned hockey player I have ever seen. So very dedicated. No wonder he could maintain such high standard longer than anybody else.
Hopefully guys like Zboril and Chabot will realize this before it’s too. Dedication and discipline is tough when young and the whole world waiting for you. But, it is also the difference between the Bourque’s and the Chara’s and a promising prospect, becoming nothing more than just a prospect. I like Zboril very much and he has played very well when I have seen him play. I’m just trying to analyse why all the conflicting reports. My guess is that Jakub Zboril will be a very good solid NHL defenseman.
1st round – #14 overall
Jake Debrusk LW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Oct 17, 1996
6’1″ 190 lbs – shoots left
2015-16 Red Deer WHL
Jake DeBrusk is a very good NHL prospect. His start as a top prospect hasn’t been without bumps and disappoinments and bad luck. He had a very unfortunate injury which hindered quicker progress. Have to admit I haven’t seen as much of DeBrusk as the other Bruins prospects and therefore I can only tell what other’s say. However I watched him play at the Memorial Cup tournament played in Reed Deer last May.
I thought DeBrusk played very well. He is a player that doesn’t really stand out much to make you notice him. However he does the little things well and is pretty smooth with the puck so he make it look easy. He has a very accurate shot, he’s very adapt at passing the puck too. It’s hard to predict where he ends up as a player as with other.
It wouldn’t surprise me to see Jake DeBrusk having a very good rookie year in Providence. Should he end up for the overage year in WHL, I think he could score 40 goals again. Don’t think he will be such a big point producer in the pros but more like a good allround player. It will be very interesting to follow DeBrusk this season. It is a very important season for this Bruins prospect.
1st round – #15 overall
Zach Senyshyn – RW
Ottawa, ON, Canada
March 30, 1997
6’2″ 200 lbs – shoots right
2015-16 Sault Ste. Marie OHL
A controversial pick at the draft, but, Senyshyn really showed he was a good choice by the Bruins. The big right winger with explosive skating scored 45 goals in the OHL last season. Many of them highlight goals where Senyshyn simply blew past the defender on the outside. An exciting player with star power.
Wish he could be more aggressive and involved in plays more with or without the puck. Now he does it in spurts and to think he could deliver this continously is a scary thought of how good Senyshyn could be.
He and defenseman Jeremy Lauzon were the only Bruins prospects to be selected go Canada World Jrs first training camp sessions and a pre tournament in August in USA. The bad news is Senyshyn couldn’t be at the Bruins development camp because a bout with mono. How much that has affected Senyshyn is of concern. At least to be in shape for the Jr Nationals camp. It will certainly hurt his chances in August.
Hopefully he will be in better shape for the Bruins Rookie Camp in mid September. If continuing his rapid progress Senyshyn is perhaps the brightest Bruins prospect of them all.
2nd round – #37 overall.
Brandon Carlo Defense
Colorado Springs, CO, USA
Nov 26, 1996
6’5″ 215 lbs – shoots right
2015-16 Tri-City – WHL
Brandon Carlo was a fan favorite in Boston even before donning the jersey with the spoked B. At 6’5″ he is an imposing precence. But, I have followed the huge defenseman for three years. I can tell you two things. First I was really surprised how mobile and really good skater this big guy was.
Secondly he was so cool calm collected in every move, every thing he did with the puck. He moved it pretty smooth and always made a good pass. He is smart in that he makes a short pass to the teammate closest. Always on the blade. He is not a big hitter although he has stepped up a notch when it comes hits and toughness. No mean streak, but, like showing he is there to check any incoming intruder and either sweep the puck away with long reach or pin the attacker to the boards.
I would say Brandon Carlo will make the Bruins this fall. He is the perfect fit for coach Claude Julien. He won’t wow you with anything spectacular, but, more importantly. He won’t hurt his team being out there. If there ever was a rookie defenseman Claude Julien would fall in love with it must be Brandon Carlo or he doesn’t exist.
A good guy all around. He has played very well in two straight world jrs tournament. In Finland last year it was more common that not Carlo and his defense partner Zach Werenski played 30+ minutes a game. They were easily the best defense pair in the tournament.
2nd round – #45 overall
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson Center
Oct. 31, 1996
6’1″ 190 lbs – shoots right
2015-16 Boston University NCAA
2016-17 Boston University NCAA
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson is not a typical Bruins type. The first thing you notice is he’s got the longest name in hockey. Remarkably he’s been compared to Bruins great center Patrice Bergeron. Not because Patrice also had a double name when drafted. Remember Bergeron-Cleary?
More seriously, Jakob is the real deal and so highly regarded by the Bruins management there’s been whisper about signing the two way center even before finishing his college career at Boston University. The native of Stockholm Sweden is mature and like Carlo very cool calm on ice. Knows where he is and where his teammates are. Very good defensively and on faceoffs.
I think it’s not a bad choice to compare him to a young Bergeron. Just like Patrice, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson is equally gifted offensively and a player who can run a power play. He is a thinking hockey player and has a very high level of hockey sense which help make him such a good hockey player.
To really appreciate Forsbacka-Karlsson you must do a little thinking yourself remembering all little things he did throughout the game. The play that lead to a scoring chance or he prevented a good scoring chance for the opposing team.
2nd round – #52 overall.
Jeremy Lauzon Defense
Val d’Or, Quebec City, Canada
April 28, 1997
6’2″ 210 lbs – shoots left
2015-16 Rouyn-Noranda QMJHL
Jeremy Lauzon is one of the best prospect in the Bruins entire organisation. Lauzon keeps improving every year. A steady course, a pattern, driven by his will to become better. It’s well known how much the Bruins like him. Hearing this quote from the Bruins GM Don Sweeney, when saying “Jeremy Lauzon’s compete level is off charts”. This must be one of the finest compliments for a young player to hear and a real confidence booster for Jeremy Lauzon.
In fact, last year at the Development Camp Lauzon was told by the Bruins staff to get more involved in the offensive game. He took off like a rocket scoring points like a forward beginning last fall. He was invited to the Canadian World Jrs camp in December and was one of the last cuts from going to Finland. Canada should have kept him on the team as they could have needed some size and toughness on defense.
He also starred for the QMJHL All Stars against Russia. Lauzon scored a goal and assisted on two other to help Quebec win the series.
He suffered a few minor injuries in January missing quite a few games, but, always came back with the same strong play. At the end of the regular season Lauzon was selected to QMJHL second all star team. It was very well deserved after scoring 10 goals and 40 assist. 50 points in only 46 games played. He was also a +40 which was among the best in the entire league.
Lauzon continued his fine play in the playoffs and scored a goal and 7 assist in 9 games. Then something very rare and unfortunate accident happened on ice. As Lauzon fell to ice an enemy skate cut the side of his neck. This required surgery and Jeremy was expected to miss the rest of the season. It could have been worse but fortunately it went well. A strong willed and determined Lauzon announced a day before, the Memorial Cup playoffs were to begin, that he would be back on ice to play for his team Rouyn Noranda.
His comeback is worth to remember. First he ran over a Brandon player and knocked him out with a tremendous open ice hit. He got a minor penalty for being to rough on the play. After serving the two minutes he stepped out of the penalty box. He took the puck and sent a beautiful pass to teammate AJ Greer for a breakaway goal.
He has very good skating skills, good shot and makes good passes. He can carry the puck out of the defensive zone or make a quick outlet pass. He can kill penalties or run a power play. He is used to log 25+ minutes a game. Once in a while he takes off for a rink long rush, but, he’s conservative. He can run you into the boards or run you over in midzone.
Lauzon is skilled enough, big enough and tough enough to become the best allround defenseman in Boston in a couple of years. He will play in Boston, if not this year, he will next year. Anyways he has already signed a three year NHL contract with Boston.
With all the young defensemen the Bruins have, the disadvantage Lauzon and Zboril face, is they probably will be returned to juniors no matter what they do in training camp.
Even though Torey Krug may not return to the lineup until November, the Bruins must play Colin Miller and Joe Morrow cause they are on one way deals. To think any of Adam McQuaid or Kevin Miller will sit in favor of a 19-year old rookie seems unthinkable. I do believe both Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara will be in Boston to start the season or at some point they will.
It is not impossible that among the eight best Bruins defensemen this year, four of them could be rookies. Carlo, O’Gara, Lauzon and Zboril. The talent is there for sure. To think the Bruins will play three or even four rookies on defense is not going to happen. I wish the Bruins let the kids come out and play and be joined in a year or two by Charlie McAvoy and the Bruins will be set on defense for the next decade.
My biggest fear here is that the Bruins in lack of patience or out of desparation would deal one of their young defensemen. You don’t need to be an Einstein to figure out who will garner most interest. Anybody in hockey circles couldn’t help notice the impressive play and improvement by Jeremy Lauzon and it would be the last player I would trade. The Bruins would really regret if they were to consider dealing him for almost any defenseman unless the Los Angeles Kings came offering Drew Doughty.
3rd round – #75 overall.
Daniel Vladar Goal
Prague, Czech Republic
Auguste 20, 1997
6’5″ 185 lbs – catches left
2015-16 Chicago USHL
Daniel Vladar is a very promising goalie. Coming off a strong season playing goal for Chicago Steels of the USHL. In a surprising and unexpected move the Bruins signed him to a three year NHL contract.
Vladar became the sixth player from the 2015 NHL Entry Draft to sign with the Boston Bruins. Now we all, including Daniel Vladar himself, wonder where will he play this season?
Providence Bruins are all but set in goal with Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre. Vladar has said he would like to remain in North America and play which is understandable. Don’t he will benefit more from the European game so hopefully he will find a place where he can play a lot of pro games this year. Unless the Bruins have an offer for Subban, which is highly unlikely, the best guess would be Atlanta Gladiators, the Bruins farm team in the ECHL.
4th round – #105 overall.
Jesse Gabrielle LW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
June 17, 1997
6’0″ 200 lbs – shoots left
2015-16 Prince George WHL
There was another player left to pick in the fourth round. If there is one player who was born to be a Bruins player it is Jesse Gabrielle. A real character guy who looks like a body builder and plays like a bigger version of Brad Marchand and fights like a Milan Lucic. If Jesse makes it to Boston he will be a big fan favorite guaranteed. Chances are pretty good he will. Gabrielle was ranked almost a second rounder at times before the draft. He was traded and what not made his stock drop all the way to the Bruins in the fourth round.
Jesse Gabrielle thanked the Bruins organization with a tremendous career year. He scored 40 goals and 76 points while spending almost 100 minutes in the penalty box. Gabrielle was outstanding for Prince George. Whether he was scoring goals and points, fighting the toughest guys or driving opponents crazy with his constant yapping. I bet Jesse who has all the makings of a star character to make the Bruins checking line in two three years making this the most successful draft for the Bruins since 1979.
6th round – #165
Cam Hughes Center
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Oct 9, 1996
6’0″ 175 lbs – shoots left
2015-16 Wisconsin NCAA
2016-17 Wisconsin NCAA
The slim built center will be entering his junior season at the University of Wisconsin. He was a big scorer in junior B. He has steadily improved in college and needs to gain more muscles on his tiny frame.
Hughes was the third pick from Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. Along with friends Jake DeBrusk and Jesse Gabrielle the boys from Alberta seemed to enjoy themselves very well at this year’s Development Camp. Hughes while displaying a knack for scoring goals and setting up plays, will face a much longer road if he is to make the Bruins. Compared to Gabrielle, Cameron Hughes isn’t at all that well trained. You never know, stranger things has happened.
7th round #196 overall.
Jack Becker Center
Duluth, Minnesota, USA
June 24, 1997
6’3″ 200 lbs – shoots right
2015-16—-Sioux Falls USHL
Jack Becker drafted out of high school is a long term project. Playing last season in USHL improved slowly. This year the big center 6’3″ will play at the University of Wisconsin with Cam Hughes and 2016 first round pick Trent Frederic. What make matters worse for Becker is that both friends from Bruins Development Camp also plays center. Maybe Becker will play right wing this year.
The Bruins will leave the guys to honor their skills in college. No need to rush them as they are far behind in development than the first eight players drafted by the Bruins.