Trades with the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames saw Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton heading elsewhere for the 2015-16 season. With 10 selections in the draft, including six in the first two rounds, Boston added prospects at every position.
While fans and media have weighed in and will continue to do so, 10 players now find themselves as a part of the Bruins’ organization and are one step closer to one day achieving their dreams of playing in the NHL.
The players have been closely watched and they have been interviewed by scouts and management, with a spectrum of their talent and character assessed. Their development trajectory is projected as best as possible. Ultimately, though, it’s up to the players to determine whether or not they’re going to establish themselves at the NHL level.
With that, here’s a look at the Bruins’ three first round picks, their skill sets and their thoughts on joining the organization.
Jakub Zboril - 13th Overall
With the 13th overall pick (acquired from LA), the Bruins selected defenseman Jakub Zboril from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Saint John Sea Dogs. The 6”1”, 184 lb. native of the Czech Republic finished third among QMJHL rookie defensemen in scoring with 13 goals and 20 assists for 30 points, along with 73 penalty minutes.
He also set a club record for most goals by a rookie blueliner and was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team at the end of the season.
“Zboril’s a two-way guy who moves the puck,” General Manager Don Sweeney said at the draft in Sunrise, Fla. “He’s got skating ability, first pass guy right away and I think that is so important now - for guys to identify that as early as possible.”
“There’s just very few defensemen that have the ability to carry the puck through the neutral zone and the guys who go back and get the puck in the forwards’ hands while they’re in motion is so beneficial to your transition game.”
“He’s got poise on the offensive blueline, he can shoot the puck, he’s got that new wave of what’s successful as a defenseman in the National Hockey League.”
“Simply awesome,” the soft-spoken Zboril said through his Czech accent with a smile.
Spending the 2014-15 season with the Sea Dogs helped him adjust to the North American game and lifestyle. Zboril considers himself physical, and think he’ll fit into the Bruins’ style of play. In the same fashion, Director of Amateur Scouting Keith Gretzky sees “jam” to his game.
A solid skater, Zboril has offensive upside. As for when he’ll be ready, he needs to get stronger - “We’ll see…it’s all in the stars,” he said.
Jake DeBrusk - 14th Overall
With the 14th overall pick, the Bruins called out the name of winger Jake DeBrusk, who spent the 2014-15 season with the Western Hockey League’s Swift Current Broncos.
The Edmonton native has played the past two seasons with the Broncos and led his team this past season with 42 goals (good for sixth overall in the WHL), adding 39 assists for 81 points in 72 games.
The 6”0”, 174 lb. forward is a left shot who has 57 goals and 63 assists for 120 points with 61 penalty minutes in 144 career regular season games and added 3-1=4 totals with 10 PIM in nine career playoff games.
DeBrusk’s father, Louie, played 401 NHL games with Edmonton, Tampa Bay, Phoenix and Chicago in a 12-year career from 1991-2003 - and ironically, was coached by Claude Julien with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2001-02.
“DeBrusk is a guy that scores goals, he goes to the net, scores them in bunches and we had a little bit of insight on him playing with [Providence Bruins forward] Colby Cave,” said Sweeney. “He spent some time down in Providence and he’s a player that’s going to go to the areas of the ice and wants to score.”
“He’s a good two-way player, he’s a hard worker and he scores his goals in front of the net,” said Gretzky. “And we talk about 42 goals in junior and especially in the Western League is something that we like and he’s great at stripping pucks - he works, he wants to be a hockey player.”
“All of those kids, including Zboril, all need to get stronger. We don’t see them where we did with David [Pastrnak] last year at development camp, saying ‘wow.’ We know it’s going to take some time for these guys, they need to get stronger and develop.”
DeBrusk entertained a stream of reporters for quite some time after being drafted.
“It means a lot, an Original Six team,” smiled DeBrusk. “The way that they play, they’ve always been a solid good team, good defensive team, and I think that’s what I’ve kind of been playing in at Swift Current, a defensive style game. Just an awesome team to go to and I’m so happy I was chosen by the Bruins.”
The Bruins’ newcomer was asked if he had any added pressure now, knowing he was chosen with a pick the team acquired via trade.
“A little bit, but you know what I haven’t really looked at it like that, but the real work starts now and I’m just looking forward to the offseason I’m about to have,” said DeBrusk.
With the forward, his development curve starts with getting stronger.
“My overall strength is probably my biggest thing, I’ve been kind of a late bloomer growing up, so I think that this the last two years have been really big for me in strength,” he said. “My last offseason I really worked out hard and really took it seriously and I saw a big improvement so I really know what it takes in the gym. I know that to get to the NHL level, just hearing stories from my dad, it takes a lot and I’m ready to do it.”
Zachary Senyshyn - 15th Overall
With the 15th overall pick and third straight first-round pick (acquired from Calgary), the Bruins selected winger Zach Senyshyn from the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The Nepean, Ontario native put up 26 goals and 19 assists for 45 points in 66 games on one of the deepest teams in the OHL.
The 6”1”, 192 lb. forward is a right shot who played most of the 2013-14 season with the Smiths Falls Bears of the CJHL where he had 22 goals and 10 assists for 32 points in 57 games. He also played four games in Sault Ste. Marie that season with 1-1=2 totals for the Greyhounds before playing with them full-time in 2014-15.
“Senysyhn, 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, and that’s what attracted us,” said Assistant General Manager Scott Bradley.
“His numbers might reflect what kind of year he might have next year, could be big numbers. There’s a lot of upside with this player.”
“Senyshyn, we all like - we took him early, we all know that,” said Gretzky. “We believe that if we like a player, take him, and I think for a guy that played on the fourth line, he’s got a lot of speed and that’s one thing that we needed coming down the wing, so we were happy with that.”
“He’s got size, he plays right wing, he can fly down the wing,” Gretzky added. “And he scored 26 goals for a fourth line guy and they tried to find room with him for his team there - that’s a stacked team in the OHL and we’ve heard nothing but great things and we think the potential’s there and we didn’t want to sit back to wait and see.”
“That’s one guy that we liked as a whole staff so we’re really excited.”
“Our guys had really gone to work on this player,” said Sweeney. “We felt that was one point where we thought about moving back, but there were a couple of teams that had been doing the same type of due diligence and you just don’t know where that breaks and if he’s not there.”
“You’ve got to give a little leeway to your scouts that really have a twinkle in their eye about a player - and I think all three players have that. In reference to what people have identified that maybe we jumped on Senyshyn, to me, it speaks to [the faith] you’ve got to have in your scouts.”
Speaking with reporters after being drafted, Senyshyn likened his game to that of the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider - a very explosive player who can play with a lot of pace and a lot of speed and take the puck hard to the net to score goals.
“I think I’m a player who’s really growing right now,” said the excited winger. “It was my rookie season in the OHL and I’m really just scratching the surface of my potential - and I think I have a ways to go, but I’m really passionate and really driven to get there as quick as possible.”
He knows that since the Bruins acquired the 15th pick in a trade that sent Dougie Hamilton to Calgary, he’ll have pressure on him to someday be worth it. Zboril and DeBrusk feel the same way.
“I really believe in my abilities and really working hard, motivating myself” said Senyshyn. “And I think I can prove this team right for taking me.”
“I love the pressure and I think that it’s going to be a big jump for me, and I’m really ready to take on the challenge.”