Andersson among core of youthful Bruins defensemen
Prospect fourth straight top Boston draft pick at positionby Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent
BOSTON -- Axel Andersson continued a tradition, or at least a trend, when the Boston Bruins selected him in the second round (No. 57) of the 2018 NHL Draft.
The 18-year-old became the fourth straight defenseman chosen by the Bruins with their first pick in the draft, following Jakub Zboril (No. 13) in 2015, Charlie McAvoy (No. 14) in 2016 and Urho Vaakanainen (No. 18) in 2017.
Boston did not have a first-round pick in the 2018 Draft, having sent it to the New York Rangers in the trade for forward Rick Nash.
The Bruins look to be subscribing to the philosophy that a team never can have enough defensemen, and captain Zdeno Chara, 41, won't play forever.
"Looks like a smart player," Bruins player development coordinator Jamie Langenbrunner said during Boston's development camp last month. "Give him the 'hockey player' designation. Finds ways to make plays in traffic. Skating looks definitely above average. He's got some strength to him."
The 6-foot, 179-pound right-handed shot has room to grow, and he'll try to continue to do that with Djurgarden of the Swedish Hockey League after thriving for their club in Sweden's junior league last season. He was third among defensemen in the league with 31 points (five goals, 25 assists) in 42 games.
"My past season was pretty good," he said. "There were some ups and downs but it turned out in a very good way in Sweden and so on."
Defenseman Victor Berglund, a seventh-round pick (No. 195) by the Bruins in 2017, got to see Anderssonl up close when Modo and Djurgarden played last season.
Video: Bruins draft D Axel Andersson No. 57
"He moves the puck very well, so when he gets to pucks he always finds someone to pass to and he also brings the puck forward," Berglund said.
Andersson's draft stock rose along with his point total, but he may have flown under the radar heading into the draft because of a lack of playing time during Sweden's run to the bronze medal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. Andersson was Sweden's seventh defenseman and had two assists in seven games.
"Yeah, a little bit [disappointing] of course," he said. "But I just take it and be glad to be there."
Andersson didn't have high hopes for the draft and stayed home. When he got the call from his agent after being selected by the Bruins, the delayed TV broadcast then hammered home the point.
This season Andersson wants to round out his game, which is strong at each end of the rink. He's hoping to find more ways to get shots on net and be creative. If he can do that and maintain his high level of play without the puck, he'll be in the mix for the Bruins in a couple seasons and could be part of a strong group of youthful defensemen in Boston.