The Bruins hold two picks in this years 2016 NHL Draft, the 14th and 29th overall selections, and will be looking to add premier talent to a squad that doesn’t have much to brag about as of late. Much like last years draft, this class of eligible players is highlighted by multiple elite names at the top, including presumptive number one selection Auston Matthews, as well as forwards Patrick Laine, and Jesse Puljujarvi. By the time the B’s select at 14, there won’t be a franchise player like Matthews available, however there will be numerous players that could prove to be valuable assets in the near-future. Here are seven skaters that could end up donning the spoked-B Friday evening.
- Jake Bean (Defenseman): Arguably the most offensively gifted defenseman in the entire draft, Bean left nobody questioning his talent level after he recorded the most goals for a defenseman in the Western Hockey League this past season with 24. Bean’s smooth skating ability and wicked wrist-shot are his best attributes and is regarded as a pure offensive D-man, but his defensive ability is suspect. This has me wondering if he is the best option for the Bruins as they need a defenseman who can actually play defense, and not another Torey Krug-esque player on the back-end.
- Clayton Keller (Center): Keller, the Swansea, ILL native and former U.S National Team Development Program standout is one of a few forwards on the smaller side in this draft. At 5’10”, Keller does everything you want as a center but teams are concerned his small stature will hinder his NHL play. He had a tremendous season earning 107 overall points and is committed to Boston University next fall. While I would approve of this pick, the Bruins are stockpiled with centers, therefore he simply might not have a spot on the club.
- Dante Fabbro (Defenseman): Regarded as a natural leader and shutdown defender, Fabbro may be the safest pick available for the B’s. His keen offensive instincts combined with his impressive D-zone coverage skills make him a perfect target for the Bruins desperate for solid two-way defenseman. My only knock towards Fabbro is that the competition he faced these past couple years has been sub-par. Instead of playing major junior hockey he played a tier below in Jr. A. This might end up being a non-factor but it I wouldn’t overlook it too much.
- Logan Brown (Forward): Brown isn’t a popular name popping up regarding this pick, however I have a feeling the obsession with big, intimidating players B’s management has may make him an option here. Brown is a 6’6″ center who plays a heavy game and has great vision. He posted respectable numbers in the Ontario Hockey League netting 74 total points and projects to be an all-around center in the NHL. I would keep an eye-out on this guy being an out-of-the-box selection for the Bruins.
- Charlie McAvoy (Defenseman): Another rearguard with high offensive capabilities, McAvoy completed his freshman season playing for the Terriers of B.U. and the 18 year old may not have to travel far after his college days are over. He didn’t have the eye-popping numbers like Bean did but he isn’t that far below Bean’s overall game either. Obviously, McAvoy’s local roots make him an automatic favorite as the B’s love drafting close to home, yet I’m not certain McAvoy has enough defensive responsibility in his game to make this a home-run selection.
- Kieffer Bellows (Forward): Keller’s teammate on the U.S Under-18 team, Bellows didn’t accumulate as many points as Keller, but he did rack up 50 goals and was a constant scoring threat for the American squad. Bellows has a bit more size at 6’1″ however he doesn’t have as complete of a game as Keller. Also committed to B.U, Bellows could be the best available player for the Bruins at 14 and I’d have a hard time passing on a 50 goal man in the middle of the first round, especially since the B’s are starved for goal scoring forwards.
Player to Watch = Alex DeBrincat (Forward): The small, speedy winger was at the top of draft boards last year but injuries and worries about his 5’7″ frame pushed his stock to the end of the first round. If the B’s keep their 29th pick and nobody takes the undersized scorer, the Bruins should jump all over this guy.
The draft begins Friday night at 7pm at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY.