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A Look Back: B's Draft History

by Joe Beare / Boston Bruins
It's June 22nd and the hockey world is abuzz with the usual glut of trade rumors and speculation that always seem to accompany the NHL Entry Draft. General managers and fans alike analyze the strengths and weaknesses of their clubs to determine what kind of draft day they should have.

Trade up, or trade down? Use a high pick to fill needs with a proven player, or build toward the future? No matter the answer, sparks will undoubtedly fly this weekend in Columbus.

The Bruins currently hold the 8th overall pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, the same pick with which they took Sergei Samsonov in 1997 and the legendary Ray Bourque in 1979. A deep draft in which there is no real consensus top ten, several talented youngsters could see themselves wearing Black & Gold on the podium very soon.

Drafting serviceable young players has always been a staple of successful hockey teams in Boston. Though the Boston teams of the 1980s and early 1990s dominated the draft table, it wasn’t the first time that the Bruins found some gems by way of the amateur selection process.

The Bruins draft history begins with the inception of the selection process in 1963. They held the 3rd overall pick, which they used to select left-winger Orest Romashyna. Three years later, the Bruins held the first overall pick for the first time in their history, selecting defenseman Barry Gibbs.

The Bruins struck gold at Number 14 in the 1971 Draft with the selection of Terry O'Reilly
Just a few years later, in 1971, the Bruins would strike gold at lucky number 14 by selecting future captain and notorious Boston legend Terry O’Reilly with their second pick in that draft.

In 1979, the Bruins used that familiar 8th pick to begin a run of phenomenal success when Boston selected Raymond Bourque. He would not only break the rookie record for points by a defenseman, but would become one of the most renowned and successful captains and players not just in Boston history, but in the history of the National Hockey League.

With Bourque’s selection in 1979 came a run of highly successful drafting by the organization, through which a core of talented, gritty players was built that would make the late 1980s and early 1990s some of the most exciting and fondly remembered times in Bruins history.

In 1980, the Bruins used the 18th overall pick to nab Barry Pederson. Two rounds later, with their 81st pick, the Bruins selected Steve Kasper. Two years later, the Bruins would use their first number one pick since 1966 to select defenseman Gord Kluzak. And in 1986 and 1987, Boston selected slick centerman Craig Janney and defensive stalwart Glen Wesley with the 13th and 3rd overall picks respectively.

However, many pundits proclaim that it is how a team drafts in the later rounds, where there is less certainty, that sets the successful teams apart from also-rans. This was certainly the story of the Bruins success, who added essential pieces to their already talented core through stellar late round drafting.

In 1982, the Bruins used their 6th pick to pluck Bob Sweeney with the 123rd overall pick. A year later, the Bruins would select Allen Pederson at number 102 with their 5th pick of the draft. In 1984, Boston shrewdly nabbed rock-solid defenseman Don Sweeney with their 8th pick, at an astounding 166th overall, before coming up winners once again with Bob Beers, their 10th pick of the 1985 Entry Draft, 210th overall.

Since 1990, the B’s draft record has not dropped off when it comes to NHL level talent.

That year, the Bruins selected two-way center Bryan Smolinski, who is still lighting up NHL goaltenders with his wicked wrister. In 1991, current Bruins sniper Glen Murray and centerman Jozef Stumpel went to Boston in the first and second round respectively.

In 1993, future cup winner Kevyn Adams was selected with the 25th overall pick, followed by gritty Shawn Bates at 103 and big Hal Gill at an astonishing 207th overall. 1994 boasted current NHL tough-guy Andre Roy and goaltender John Grahame, while 1995 supplied the B’s with big Kyle McLaren and perennial Selke candidate P.J. Axelsson.

In 1997, the Bruins once again proved that their late round drafting was still a priority in selecting solid defensive forward Antti Laaksonen at 191st overall after using their 1st and 8th overall picks to select the dynamic offensive tandem of Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov.

In 1998, the Bruins would use their second round pick to select homegrown Bobby Allen, who made his way on to the Bruins roster just this past season. At 135th overall in the same year, Boston nabbed future Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft in another late-round score.

1999’s first overall pick was punishing defenseman Nick Boynton at 21st overall, followed by a pair of current Bruins in 2001 with the selections of Andrew Alberts and 2002’s Hannu Toivonen.

Patrice Bergeron was Boston's second pick, 45th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft
In 2003 the trend of drafting success continued with the selection of current alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, who took the league by storm the following season after an impressive training camp. A second rounder who won an unlikely roster spot in his first professional camp, the 18-year old Bergeron began a career that has since blossomed in to fully-fledged NHL stardom.

Between 2001 and 2005 the Bruins would select 10 players who either spent time with the big club this past season, or who played major roles with the Baby B’s in Providence. Draft picks Hannu Toivonen, Jordan Sigalet, Andrew Alberts, Yan Statsny, Mark Stuart, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Matt Lashoff, Jonathan Sigalet and late season hero Petr Kalus were all selected within a four year span, a drafting record reminiscent of that which made Boston so successful in the era of Ray Bourque.

Just last year the Bruins used their 5th overall pick to select Phil Kessel, who, like his teammate Bergeron, needed just one training camp to wow the Bruins coaching staff and get his name on the opening night roster. His successful rookie season continued when he was awarded the Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to the game of hockey. 

A speedy forward whose rising confidence and slick skill with the puck really began to shine in the second half of the 2006-07 campaign, Kessel no doubt hopes that the Bruins can use another high pick this year to compliment their already talented core of young players.

With a bit of luck and a lot of hard work by the Bruins scouting team, Kessel could find himself paired with a new linemate this fall, courtesy of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
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