By Evan Presement
Let me take you back to June 26th, 2015, just 11 days after the Chicago Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup. Focus has shifted from the postseason to the draft, with teams prepping their boards in anticipation for the big day.
One of those teams, the Boston Bruins, is extra excited about this day. Why? Well, the Bruins own three first round picks, no’s. 13, 14, and 15. Now I know we say this about every draft, but the 2015 draft really is a deep one, and Boston has a chance here to stockpile some really nice, young players.
The draft starts off as expected. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel go number one and two, respectively. Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, and Noah Hanifin round out the top-five. After that, though, things started to get interesting.
“With the sixth pick in the 2015 entry draft, the New Jersey Devils select… Pavel Zacha.”
“Interesting,” I say about Zacha, who I have slated to go in the mid teens.
Then, a few picks later…
“With the ninth pick in the 2015 entry draft, the San Jose Sharks select… Timo Meier.”
Again, another player I have pencilled in to go later on in the draft. Now, I’m starting to get nervous. I don’t really hide it very well – I’m a Leafs fan – and the thought of Boston coming up with three picks in a row and some very, very good players left on the board scares the hell out of me.
We’re now at pick number 12, and two players I had projected to go in the top-nine are still available. C’mon! First Boston gets lucky with the Kessel trade and is able to snag Seguin and Hamilton, and now Matthew Barzal and Kyle Connor are going to fall in to their laps? “God dammit, what a joke,” I’m thinking to myself.
“With the 12th pick of the 2015 entry draft, the Dallas Stars select… Denis Gurianov.”
You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me. I’m not alone…
Oh shit, Boston could get Barzal, Connor, and Kylington here
— Rhys Jessop (@Thats_Offside) June 27, 2015
(That’s my favourite tweet of all time, by the way)
Everyone knows what’s about to happen. The Bruins are about to draft at least two ‘A’ prospects, and ruin the Leafs’ lives for a little while longer. Oh god, Don Sweeney’s walking up the the podium now… Here we go.
“With the 13th pick in the 2015 entry draft, The Boston Bruins select… Jakub Zboril.”
Well alright, that’s an OK pick. I mean I guess it doesn’t really matter what order you draft these guys in, right? I personally wouldn’t have taken Zboril so high, but that’s not the worst pick ever. Dammit, here it comes…
“With the 14th pick in the 2015 entry draft, the Boston Bruins select… Jake DeBrusk.”
Wait, what? The Bruins just took DeBrusk? The guy who was slated to go in the late 20’s? The guy who put up 81 points in 72 games in the freakin’ WHL? No, no, there’s got to be some sort of mista-
“With the 15th pick in the 2015 entry draft, the Boston Bruins select… Zachary Senyshyn.”
LOL WHAT? WHO? THE GUY WHO WAS SUPPOSED TO GO IN THE MID SECOND ROUND? THE GUY WHO SCORED UNDER A POINT PER GAME IN HIS DRAFT YEAR? NO WAY. OH MAN THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER.
I don’t remember a team messing up that badly at a draft. I mean, I watched the Leafs TRADE UP to draft Tyler Biggs. I also watched them draft Luke Schenn fifth overall. I also watched 10 teams pass on Filip Forsberg back in 2011, when he was slated to go fourth overall.
I’ve seen some pretty stupid, incompetent crap at the draft, but nothing, NOTHING, at this level.
In this post, I’m only going to be focusing on DeBrusk, Senyshyn, Connor, and Barzal. This is because I actually think Zboril was a decent pick, and because Oliver Kylington didn’t get chosen until late in the second round for some reason.
So, how are they doing? Did Boston make the right choice?
Kyle Connor is unbelievable. He currently has 54 points in 30 games playing NCAA hockey. To put that number in to perspective, Jack Eichel scored 71 points in 40 college games last year. Connor is on pace to score 72 in that same time span. He’s leading the NCAA as a whole in scoring… as a freshman.
He’s an unbelievably fast and skilled, and seems to dominate in any game he plays. Here’s an example of the kind of skill this guy has:
— USHL (@USHL) February 25, 2016
Connor is easily a top-10 talent who I believe is going to end up being a great NHL player.
If you paid any attention to the World Juniors, then you know what this guy’s about.
He was all over the place, making an impact in all three zones. Again, like Connor, he’s an unbelievably skilled forward who has a great shot that projects to be a good scorer at the next level. Also, at 6’0 and 185 with time to grow in to his body, he’s a decently sized guy.
You may remember this goal, but for those who don’t, here’s a reminder of what great hands and release he has:
What a goal from Matthew Barzal pic.twitter.com/k9E8lamf8v
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) December 28, 2015
Alright, so we know that Boston passed on some pretty good players. Let’s see how their picks are doing.
This was the most puzzling of the three picks. Why take Senyshyn at 15th overall when you can likely grab him in the mid second round?
Senyshyn has never scored at over a point-per-game at any level above triple-A. It’s not a good sign that a guy who is as big and (supposedly) as skilled as he is, is not putting up big points in the OHL.
Here’s an example of some of the skill he does possess:
— Weekend at Bergy's (@weekendatbergys) February 11, 2016
Still, though. At this point, he’s not a top prospect. He wasn’t on anybodies radar that early in the first round. It seems as though the B’s jumped the gun with this guy.
Again, such a questionable and odd pick.
When someone’s scouting report includes ‘willing to go to the dirty areas’ and ‘makes the smart play’, that’s just code for ‘he’s not really skilled’.
Yeah, DeBrusk has put up some decent point totals, but remember – take everything from the WHL with a grain of salt. He’s barely scoring over a PPG this year, which must be concerning to Bruins fans everywhere.
DeBrusk is known mostly as a two-way winger who has an offensive touch. He’s a decent player, don’t get me wrong, but he’s no where near the level that Barzal and Connor are on.
I was able to find one nice goal that he scored, though:
So, yeah. The Bruins passed on a chance at potentially one of the top five point getters in this draft (Connor) and Barzal, who has the skills to go on to have a pretty nice NHL career.
But hey, as a Leafs fan, you won’t hear me complain.