Saturday was no different.
After making three selections in the first round of the NHL Draft on June 26, Boston’s brain trust woke up the next morning and did it all over again, making a total of seven selections in Rounds 2 through 7.
Three of those selections came bright and early in the second round, during which the Bruins acquired defensemen Brandon Carlo (37th overall) and Jeremy Lauzon (52nd overall), as well as Swedish forward Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson.
“[This was] clearly a draft to build, going forward,” said Assistant General Manager John Ferguson Jr. “It’s probably a two-plus year process, but those are assets that can be used as currency and used in other deals.
“There’s a great number of assets we’ve collected these last two days, and a lot of skill at different positions, and frankly, some good future depth, up and down the lineup.”
Last year, the Bruins’ first overall draft pick blossomed into a player that was able to have an immediate and exciting impact on the big club, right out of the gates. This year, that might not be the case, but as Ferguson indicated, the players the Bruins acquired in a busy second round will serve them well down the road.
That was the benefit of having a stockpile of picks in one of the deepest drafts in years.
“I think this year’s draft was a little different than the past,” said Assistant GM Scott Bradley. “They’re all unique, but a lot of depth in this year’s draft — in the first three rounds, anyways. Quality depth.”
Carlo, though just 18 years old, is already eliciting excitement, given his size at 6’5” and his pedigree as a defensive defenseman who has excelled over the last two seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans.
“I feel like I pride myself on [my work in] the D-zone, and I do a good job handling that,” Carlo said on Saturday. “[I’m] a good shutdown guy. I can be relied on on the penalty kill. Overall, I think there are some things I need to work on in my game, but overall, I look forward to getting better at those aspects of my game and hopefully being in the Bruins lineup in the next couple of years.”
In particular, there is one notable Bruin Carlo is hoping to eventually emulate. Hint: They’re both very tall.
“[Zdeno Chara] has had an unbelievable career, and obviously, he’s the captain and a great leader as well,” Carlo said. “I look forward to seeing him and being around him, I feel like I can really take a lot of notes off of that guy.”
Of course, Carlo has a long way to go before he is in the same ballpark as Boston’s resident Norris Trophy winner. He is still a kid, and one who admitted he is still figuring out how to use his size and his strength to his advantage on the ice.
But he is looking forward to learning on the fly, just as he did when he was selected to be a part of the U.S.’s World Juniors team at the ripe old age of 17.
“That was an unbelievable experience, and a huge honor for me,” he said. “I felt like going through that tournament, I just kind of came in and I wasn’t very well-known overall, but I just kind of came in and played my role.”
And as he grew into his role with the U.S. team, his confidence grew in tandem.
“Once I made the tournament, I felt very confident afterward with my style of play,” he said. “That was an unbelievable experience, and I can’t thank USA Hockey enough for that.”
Carlo, who said he tries to model his game after Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, does not know exactly what the immediate future holds. He plans to return to the Americans for the upcoming 2015-16 season, and after that, he hopes to make the leap in the AHL and kickstart his professional career.
Bradley certainly hopes that is the case, indicating that the Bruins believe Carlo’s potential puts him right behind the “Big Three” defensemen in this year’s draft class: Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski.
“I think we needed to add a defenseman with his traits,” Bradley said. “He’s a transitional defenseman, but high-end talent and played the first-unit power play, quarterbacks the power play, walks the blueline. He has that little bit of grit, pushback, nastiness that comes with his game. And he’s really good — he’s a puck-moving defenseman that can carry it and lug it.
“I think we got somebody that our guys — our coaches and our development guys — are going to really like following and helping out along the way because he’s got so much untapped potential that our whole staff is very excited about this player.”
Fifteen picks later, the Bruins added to their defensive depth, drafting Lauzon of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. In 2014-15, the blueliner — who describes himself as an “energy defenseman” — registered 15 goals and 21 assists in 60 games, best among all Huskies defensemen, with a plus-12 rating.
“I think he’s a character player,” Bradley said after the draft. “He’s a transitional defenseman who has the capability of producing offensively. Our scouts really, really liked him.”
Lauzon said he was not aware the Bruins were going to select him in the second round, but when his name was called, he could not have been happier.
“I didn’t know that they were interested in me,” he said, “so being drafted by them is a real privilege.”
In between those two picks, the Bruins took Stockholm native Forsbacka-Karlsson, who has spent the last two seasons with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Last season, he led the team with 53 points in 50 games, and this fall, he will begin his first season at Boston University, which certainly adds some intrigue to the acquisition.
“That’s just a great thing that happened,” Forsbacka-Karlsson said after being drafted. “I think it’s awesome that they picked me, and I’m going to BU, and just the city of Boston — I’ve been there a couple of times. It’s just an unbelievable city, and the organization of Boston is just a classic team and a classic organization, so it’s pretty unbelievable.”
From the way he describes his style of play, it seems like he already is a perfect fit for the B’s.
“I’d say I’m probably a two-way forward; I can probably produce a little points but also take responsibility in my own zone and win faceoffs and do all those things,” he said. “I think it’s funny — one of the other players that I watch the most is Patrice Bergeron, so he’s just one of the guys I try to learn a lot from and just one of the guys that’s doing the right things on the ice.”
From the way the he spoke on Saturday, it is clear that Forsbacka-Karlsson truly has learned plenty from studying the way Bergeron is able to leave his mark on a game, with and without the puck.
“[It’s] just the way he impacts the game,” he said. “Whether he scores or not, he can just make a difference for his team. He can help his team win in so many ways — he can win faceoffs, he can set up his own teammates, he can score goals.
“It’s just everything he does.”
Bradley did not want to overstate with regards to Forsbacka-Karlsson, but he did not deny the fact that he sees some of the perennial Selke candidate in the young Swede.
Hopefully, a few years down the line, Forsbacka-Karlsson will have the opportunity to show it himself on the ice.
“He’s got a little — I use this lightly — Bergeron,” Bradley said. “He’s got a very smart IQ, great in the faceoff circle. [He’s] another player that when our guys went in and saw him, they came away impressed, and so he was on our radar most of the year. He had little injury problems down the stretch and in the playoffs, but I think we got real good, high quality here.”