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Bruins Welcome Six New Prospects

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BostonBruins.com — The Bruins welcomed six new prospects this past weekend at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo, N.Y., including two in the first round and a second round selection.

Combined with the 2015 draft in Florida, the Bruins have added 16 new prospects to their system in the span of a year.

“We’re really excited about the depth now, where we’re at,” General Manager Don Sweeney said following the draft in Buffalo. “So we’re excited about where we’re at with where we come out of the draft. We’ll move forward [to free agency] and address some of the other things that we’ve spoken about previously.”

NHL Free Agency begins on Friday, July 1 at noon ET, with Sweeney and his staff pursuing all options to improve the club. BostonBruins.com will certainly provide full coverage of any news that comes up.

Charlie McAvoyBut, first, let’s recap the draft and take a look at the new members of the Black & Gold.

“We addressed the defensive part of our game. We addressed centermen, got some speed and compete [level],” Bruins Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky said of the organization's focus.

In addition to addressing the D-corps and center ice position in the last couple of drafts, the Bruins acquired speed in 2015 with a first rounder like Zach Senyshyn, and a scoring touch with Jake DeBrusk and Jakub Zboril. It’s about balancing the skills, and building up the depth at every position.

In 2016, they acquired two more first round picks in defenseman Charlie McAvoy and center Trent Frederic, along with second round pick, defenseman Ryan Lindgren.

“Charlie’s going to be a good defenseman for us for a long time,” said Gretzky. “With picking him — and he’s a right shot — so it was not just what we were looking for, but he was the best available player for us; also filled a need.”

With three more selections in later rounds, the Bruins picked up forwards Joona Koppanen and Oskar Steen, and defenseman Cam Clarke.

“And then after [Charlie], as you could tell, we went a little heavy,” said Gretzky. “We got some guys down the middle that are big and strong that are going to take some time to develop, but they’re going to be big, solid type of players that we were looking for. We’re really happy with what we addressed this year, especially because we still got, even with our fifth round pick, we got some speed. We took a good defenseman that we believe in, and the [scouts] are out there working and those are the things that we addressed.”

Charlie McAvoy: No. 14

McAvoy, 18, completed his first college season at Boston University in 2015-16, posting three goals and 22 assists for 25 points with 56 penalty minutes in 37 games. He was the youngest player in college hockey, and was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team. He spent two seasons with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program in 2013-15 and captured bronze with Team USA at the 2016 World Juniors.

“Charlie likes to get up and give the big hits,” said Gretzky. “He makes play with the pucks, he’s a young kid that played in an older league. You’ve got to have the ability to do that. His game got better as the year went along. Right in our backyard, we always have guys there, so we’re really fortunate on that.”

“Obviously a familiarity piece for us,” said Sweeney. “We had some interest and knowledge from our [BU] guys Jakob [Forsbacka-Karlsson] and Matt [Grzelcyk] about the quality of the person and his upside and skill set on the ice. We utilized that as well. Our [scouts] liked what they saw. We scratched below the surface for Charlie. He’s physically developed, he’s playing in a great program. We’ll see, take it year by year and see where he is.”

“We’ve got special qualities in Charlie, both on and off the ice, so we’re excited he’s a part of it.”

Trent Frederic: No. 29

The Bruins utilized their pick acquired from the San Jose Sharks on 6-2, 203-pound centerman Trent Frederic out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. He had 25 goals and 29 assists for 54 points with 115 penalty minutes in 116 games during his two seasons with the program (2014-16). Forty of those points (20 goals, 20 assists) came in 2015-16. He’ll be suiting up for the University of Wisconsin — and new coaching tandem Tony and Don Granato — in 2016-17.

“Real strong player, penalty killing, takes pride in the 200-foot game,” said Sweeney. “Might not have been put in all the offensive situations as some other players, but still produced. I think you can’t have enough strength up the middle in any sport, to tell you the truth. But I think in hockey, it’s an area that we needed to continue to address and provide depth overall. We’re in a good place with that.”

“Freddy is the type of center man that’s got some jam, has got some bite,” said Gretzky. “And he plays hard, he’s really good on his faceoffs.”

“We needed some centermen with some size and heaviness. We really believe that he’s going to a good program [in Wisconsin] that everything’s changing there for him. The coaches, even the teammates all talked highly of him. Character’s a big thing. You want good people and guys that are going to pay the price.”

Ryan Lindgren: Second Round, No. 49

With the Bruins’ second round selection, they added 6-0, 198-pound defenseman Ryan Lindgren, also out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program.

Ryan LindgrenIt was the second of two second-round picks acquired from the New York Islanders in the 2014 trade involving Johnny Boychuk. The other selection came in 2015, when the Bruins selected 6-5, 201-pound defenseman Brandon Carlo, who is poised for a shot at the big club in 2016-17.

Lindgren posted nine goals and 35 assists for 44 points in 116 games from 2014-16, and he captained Team USA’s bronze-medal team at the 2016 U-18 World Championship.

“Ryan Lindgren’s character spoke volumes to us, the compete level he has,” said Sweeney.

“The one thing I know Boston fans aren’t going to get down on is the way [the picks] compete, they work hard; Lindgren will block any type of shot from anywhere. He hits and plays hard,” said Gretzky.

“Lindgren blocks shots. He’s not the most skilled guy, like McAvoy or anybody like that, but he brings an element that we really liked as an organization and I think we believe he’s a leader — and you win with those guys.”

Joona Koppanen: Fifth Round, No. 135

While the Bruins had to wait a few rounds before making the next selection, they picked up solid value.

Tampere, Finland native Koppanen put up nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 40 games in 2015-16 with Finland junior team Ilves U-20. The 6-5, 194-pound center earned gold with the Finland national team at the 2016 World Junior Championship.

“Koppanen, for us, we had him rated very high all year long,” said Bruins Assistant General Manager Scott Bradley. “His offensive production wasn’t quite there, because he came into the national team and was slotted in on the fourth line. But our scouts saw him in Finland in elite games and he showed offensive upside. His biggest strength is his size and skating, and his energy and work component are second to none.”

Cam Clark: Fifth Round, No. 136

The North American Hockey League’s Defenseman of the Year was selected by the Bruins right after Koppanen. The 6-1, Tecumseh, Michigan native earned the honor playing with the Lone Star Brahmas. He registered nine goals and 41 assists — tops for all NAHL defensemen — in 2015-16, and is committed to Ferris State.

“Clarke’s got the offensive upside, the skills,” said Sweeney. “[We’re] moving off the beaten path the type of league that he played in [in Texas].”

“We’ve had our scouts, Ryan Nadeau and Keith Sullivan, go down there a lot. Dean Malkoc’s been down there,” said Gretzky. “You’ve got to rely on your guys. [Cam] was a player that they really liked. This is the type of guy, this is the round we wanted him.”

Oskar Steen: Sixth Round, No. 165

The Bruins capped off the 2016 draft with Sweden native Oskar Steen, who was ranked 18th among international skaters by NHL Central Scouting.

The 5-9, 187-pound forward is considered to have untapped offensive upside. He spent 2015-16 with Farjestad in Sweden, competing in the men’s Swedish Hockey League for 17 games, and was a member of Sweden’s silver-medal squad at the 2016 U-18 World Championship.

“Our European scouts did a real nice job in finding a couple guys,” said Sweeney. “Koppanen is a 6’4” center…real, real responsible player. Played a shutdown role with the [Finland] national team…And Steen, again, smaller, skilled, has some speed.”

“Oskar Steen, somebody compared him to P.J. Axelsson and I thought, ‘Geez, we never talked about it, but he’s kind of got a little bit of P.J. Axelsson in him,” said Bradley. “P.J.’s a little bigger, but Steen might be a little faster and that’s a good thing.”

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