Make no mistake about it, the Boston Bruins did very well at the 2015 draft. They also had seven of their prospects play in the 2016 World Junior Championships. Of those seven prospects at the WJC, one was 2014 first rounder David Pastrnsk. Four others were drafted just a few months prior in 2015. The 2015 draft class was known to be deep and the Bruins took advantage with 6 picks in the first two rounds.
In particular the Bruins got value in the second round. They picked up Brandon Carlo (defense), Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (center), and Jeremy Lauzon (defense). Carlo was a force on team USA at the WJC, JFK played for Sweden and Lauzon was one of the last to be cut by Canada.
The Bruins also possibly got good value in their 5th round selection, Jesse Gabrielle. Gabrielle currently plays for Prince George in the WHL. He is 13th in scoring in the WHL with 69 points. He is 2nd in the WHL in goal scoring with 37. Pretty impressive stuff for a 5th round pick.
Time will tell on how well all these prospects develop including the three consecutive picks in the first round, Jakub Zboril (defense), Jake DeBrusk (LW), and Zach Senyshyn (RW). DeBrusk is having a down year compared to his draft year. Last season in 72 games DeBrusk scored 42 goals and 39 assist for 81 points. This season in 49 games DeBrusk has 17 goals and 34 assists for 51 points. Zach Senyshyn is having a good year with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. In 55 games Senyshyn has 35 goals and 17 assists for 52 points.
With all of this being said, and the apparent success the Bruins had at the 2015 draft, could it have been better? Did they make a mistake on passing on a player? Possibly.
Current University of Michigan freshman Kyle Connor was taken by Winnipeg at 17th overall. He was ranked 7th prior to the draft. This is the player I really wanted the Bruins to draft but as each pick went by they announced a different name. I just thought he was a good fit. He has speed, plays all three zones and led the USHL in scoring. He was compared to Dylan Larkin for the fact that he could go to Michigan for one year, turn pro, and play in the NHL right away.
Now seeing the success that Dylan Larkin is having in the NHL and seeing the state of the Bruins they could use that type of player next year. In 58 NHL games Larkin has 19 goals and 20 assists. Larkin also won the fastest skater contest in the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and he looks like a true star in the making.
Lets compare Larkin’s and Connor’s freshman seasons at Michigan: Larkin played in 35 games and scored 47 points (15 goals and 32 assists). The only freshman in the NCAA to score more points than Larkin was Jack Eichel. The 3rd freshman leading scorer in the NCAA last year was Bruins’ prospect and current Denver University forward, Danton Heinen. Connor has now played 28 games and has 51 points (24 goals and 27 assists). Connor leads the entire NCAA in scoring as a freshman and the Hobey Baker talk is not a whisper but now a real thing. Granted, his two line mates J.T. Compher and Tyler Motte are also 3rd and 4th in NCAA scoring respectively. Compher is a Buffalo prospect and Motte is a Chicago prospect.
TSN just came out with their Top NHL Affiliated Prospects list on February 11th. The only Bruins prospect on this list was Zach Senyshyn, who came in at 46th. Kyle Connor was ranked 5th. Three players that were drafted ahead of Senyshyn are playing in the NHL (Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin). Five players that were picked before Senyshyn, Pavel Zacha (5th), Lawson Crouse (11th), Denis Guryanov (12th), Jakub Zboril (13th), and Jake DeBrusk (14th) are not on TSN’s list. Zboril and DeBrusk as we all know are Bruins’ prospects as well.
Drafting and developing prospects is not an exact science and every player develops at their own pace. What is good for one prospect is not for another. Also it is hard to compare one prospect to another when they all play in different leagues. We are not going to know if the Bruins made a mistake for a few years. Maybe there is a reason why Kyle Connor slipped from being ranked 7th to being picked 17th. Connor did not make Team USA for the WJC. Maybe it was just how the teams were picking, but it is worth keeping an eye on and if Connor turns into a stud and one of the Bruins’ first round picks is a dud we can all live in agony together knowing the Bruins had three straight opportunities to pick him and passed.