That happened to the Bruins on Friday night at the BB&T Center after General Manager Don Sweeney and his staff had a busy lead-up to the draft, making trades that sent Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings and Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames.
Boston made selections with the 13th, 14th and 15th overall picks.
Defenseman Jakub Zboril was chosen 13th with the pick acquired from Los Angeles. Forward Jake DeBrusk was chosen as the Bruins’ second selection, 14th overall, and forward Zachary Senyshyn was selected 15th with the pick acquired from Calgary.
“It’s unique that we had three in a row. Certainly had a lot of talk to try to get further up in the draft and wasn’t able to do that,” Sweeney said following the first round. “You know, we certainly identified three players that we wanted to take and that’s why I didn’t move back - I had opportunities to move back and collect more picks later in the draft, but we worked awfully hard as a group to get those three selections, and we feel good.”
“We knew we were going to take, at the very least, one defenseman in the first round and so we feel good about all three players - I think they addressed some needs that we want to have going forward. And it was a long day, and it’s exciting day in the same way.”
As Sweeney had voiced heading into the draft, the Bruins kept exploring opportunities to make moves both on Friday and Saturday.
“It’s a lot harder to move up in the draft at that particular time, than it is to move back - I knew that going in because of the amount of time I had spent to try to get into that top grouping,” said Sweeney, who tried to get the Bruins into the top grouping to try and nab one of the top three blueliners in the draft. “But again you’ve got have a dance partner in that regard. But we feel good, and we’ve got three really exciting players.”
With the Czech native Zboril at No.13, the Bruins got a strong two-way defenseman who plays with jam to his game.
“I thought there was a position of need in the defensemen and we were excited that Jakub was there and he’s that type of player that all teams want moving forward with the puck-moving flavor,” Sweeney said. “The other two guys [DeBrusk and Senyshyn] are guys that we really liked and they fell on the list and that’s what we didn’t move off of taking all three players in a row.”
DeBrusk and Senyshyn will need more time to develop, but will add speed and scoring to the lineup in the future.
“Shensyhn, we targeted him, he’s a guy that is a ways out he’s maybe two or three or four years out, but I mean, his speed - aside from anything else, he has unique speed, he has that world-class speed,” said Assistant General Manager Scott Bradley. “And that’s what attracted us.”
“There’s a lot of upside with this player.”
The Bruins turned right around and continued a busy draft on Saturday during Rounds 2-7, making seven more selections for a total of 10 picks on the weekend. The players included three defensemen, six forwards and a goalie.
In the second round, Boston drafted defenseman Brandon Carlo with the 37th overall pick, forward Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson with the 45th pick and defenseman Jeremy Lauzon with the 52nd pick.
“I think this year’s draft was a little different than the past - they’re all unique, but a lot of depth in this year’s draft in the first three rounds, anyways, quality depth,” said Assistant General Manager Scott Bradley.
The Bruins were surprised to be able to pick up the 6-foot-5 Carlo at No. 37 with their first pick in the second round.
“That was one guy that we thought would be gone,” said Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky. “We had a bunch of guys, but we were very surprised that he was there. He’s a big, mobile defenseman, a stay at home defenseman, so we’re excited about him.”
The Bruins chose 6-foot-5 goaltender Daniel Vladar with the 75th pick (third round), a potential No. 1 goalie in the future who has a similar build to Pekka Rinne. Combined with the acquisition of goaltender Martin Jones in the trade that sent Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings, the Bruins significantly increased their goalie depth.
“We’ve certainly got as strong a depth at that position as anyone in the League and I don’t think anyone’s deeper,” said Executive Director Player Personnel John Ferguson.
Boston next selected gritty, Brad Marchand-type agitator Jesse Gabrielle with the 105th selection in the fourth round, then added forward Cameron Hughes out of the University of Wisconsin with a steal at No. 165 in the sixth round.
Boston’s final pick was forward Jack Becker at No. 195 (seventh round). Boston flipped its fifth rounder at 135 to Minnesota in exchange for the team’s 2016 fifth rounder.
With so many selections, possibility existed at different times for the Bruins to flip picks, maybe for roster players.
“That [was] one of many options - at that point in time, you’re trying to make the best trade relative to what’s available,” said Sweeney. “You’ve just got to go make what you’re very comfortable making relative to what the market may [dictate], and then if you had the opportunity as it presents itself to you in a different fashion, then you explore it.”
“Clearly a draft to build going forward,” said Ferguson. “It’s probably a two-plus year process, but those are assets that can be used as currency and used in other deals, and 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.”
“I think you make the deals with a goal in mind, but you understand with the preparation that’s in place, you take the picks and you turn them into future assets, and we’re very pleased with the talent and the depth of what we’ve accumulated,” said Ferguson. “Whether it’s up front - great skill and talent and you’ve got some grit, real good size and puck movers on the blueline and Vladar a potential No. 1 down the line and you can never have too much depth at that position.”
“So we feel really good about the 10 picks and the assets and the flexibility it yielded.”
“We work together as a staff and the last couple of years we’ve been doing that and were were looking for the best players,” said Gretzky. “And you want somebody today to help your hockey club and we tried. But we were ready if Don couldn’t move the picks, we were ready to make the pick and get the guy that we wanted.”
When the dust settled in Sunrise, the Bruins wrapped up one of their busiest drafts.
“It’s probably that busiest that I’ve been and I’ve been here a while,” said Bradley, who has been in the Bruins’ front office for 22 years. “A lot of fun. We had long meetings deep into the nights and today was long, we had a lot of things going on with roster players, so it was a big combination of a lot of things.”
“I think we accomplished a lot. We lost two great players in Dougie and Looch, but the future looks good. What we’ve done the last two days, we’re excited and we’re looking forward to the future here.”
There is still work to be done, as the Bruins now prepare for free agency opening on July 1.
“There were a number of things discussed here about players on other teams’ rosters,” said Ferguson. “There’s going to be teams that are really going to make decisions on whether or not they want to go to arbitration with players, whether or not they fit the salary cap and there’s seeds of those that are going to be picked up in the next few days that were planted here the last couple of days.”
Unlike before the draft, the Bruins now have more flexibility to exercise options, both now and in the future.
They would have liked to re-sign Hamilton, but contract negotiations didn’t pan out from Hamilton’s camp. That is a hole to fill moving forward. Young defensemen like Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow will push for the spot, along with newcomer Colin Miller acquired in the trade with LA. The puck-moving defenseman had a breakout year with Manchester, helping them to the Calder Cup.
Up front, Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak will get an opportunity to solidify their roles.
“At some point in time, you have to gain the experience. You have to be provided that opportunity and take advantage of it,” said Sweeney. “And we’re at that crossroads, where our younger players are going to have to do that. That being said, I’m not going to stop trying to improve the roster of our club.”
“When I took this job I indicated that I thought we needed to have some flexibility going forward and now, we’re at that spot, and will I utilize that [for] one player [in free agency], that remains to be seen - it depends on what’s available.”
“We’re going to look at ways to improve our roster right now.”