What is essentially the beginning of the 2016-17 NHL season took place over a two-day period in Buffalo, New York. The NHL Entry Draft is a time of renewal for all 30 teams, their management staffs, and their fans, and when it is all said and done every general manager will tell the media that they chose the exact players they had targeted and that they leave town with deeper organizations than when they arrived.
Boston general manager Don Sweeney was one who echoed that refrain after he and his scouting staff selected six new Bruins.
“We’re excited about the depth now,” Sweeney said after the draft proceedings. “Our core guys want to be surrounded with players that are driven like themselves and that’s what we tried to identify and we have players coming in that are going to get the chance in this organization because they’re good enough to play and they continue to grow and be Stanley Cup champions. That’s what they want to be.”
It is no secret that Boston is getting thin on the blue line and with their first selection, the Bruins went for need and chose Boston University defenseman Charlie McAvoy (1st round, 14th overall).
McAvoy, 18, completed his first season of college hockey at Boston University posting 3 goals, 22 assists for 25 points with 56 penalty minutes in 37 games. He was the youngest player in the NCAA in 2015-16 and was named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team during his freshman campaign. He also competed for Team USA at the 2016 World Junior Championships, where his Bronze medal-winning teammates included Bruins prospects Ryan Donato and Brandon Carlo.
The 6’1”, 200 lbs., native of Long Beach, New York spent two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program from 2013-2015, with 14-38=52 totals in 108 games in that program.
“I couldn’t be happier,” McAvoy said about being drafted by the Bruins.
Boston used their second pick of the first round (29th overall) to select forward Trent Frederic.
Frederic is a native of St. Louis, Missouri and has played the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program and recorded 25-29=54 totals and 115 penalty minutes in 116 games over that span. During the 2014-2015 season, he acquired five goals and nine assists for 14 total points and 42 penalty minutes in 55 games.
The 6’2”, 203 lbs., center had 20-20=40 totals and 73 penalty minutes in 61 games in the 2015-16 season. He has committed to play at the University of Wisconsin in the fall.
“I’m pumped,” said Frederic. “Boston’s one of my favorite cities and I’m not just saying that.”
The third player the Bruins chose was Ryan Lindgren (2nd round, 49th overall).
Lindgren, 18, is a native of Burnsville, Minnesota and has played the last two seasons with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He recorded nine goals and 35 assists for 44 points and 145 penalty minutes in 116 games over that span. Last season, he registered 6 goals and 19 assists for 25 points and 60 penalty minutes in 61 games. During the 2014-2015 season, Lindgren had 3 goals and 16 assists for 19 points in 55 games played with 85 penalty minutes.
The 6’0”, 198 lbs., defenseman took home a bronze medal in the World Junior Championships in 2016 with the U-18 team, which he captained. The left-shot has committed to play at the University of Minnesota (NCAA) in the fall.
“I honestly could not be more excited,” Lindgren said during his meeting with the media after being drafted.
Due to previous trades, Boston’s management and scouts had to patiently wait until the fifth round before selecting forward Joona Koppanen with the 135th overall pick.
Koppanen, 18, is a native of Tampere, Finland and played last season for Ilves U-20 in Jr. A SM-liiga in Finland. Last season, Koppanen recorded nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 40 games with 14 penalty minutes. During the 2014-2015 season, he recorded 25 goals and 32 assists for 57 points and 20 penalty minutes in 38 games played with the U-18 team in Jr. B SM-Sarja.
The 6’5”, 194 lbs., center played at the 2016 World Junior Championships on Finland’s U-18 Team, which took home the gold medal.
“I think that the draft was awesome and I’m really excited for the draft to Boston,” Koppanen said. “My strength is my skating and I’m good two-way forward.”
In the sixth round, the Black and Gold chose defenseman Cameron Clark 135th overall.
Clarke, 18, is a native of Tecumseh, Michigan and played last season for the Lone Star Brahmas of the North American Hockey League (NAHL). He registered nine goals and 41 assists for 50 total points and 29 penalty minutes in 59 games during the 2015-2016 season.
Prior to joining the Lone Star Brahmas, the 6’1”, 170 lbs., defenseman played for the Sarnia Legionnaires of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) in 2014-2015, where he registered 10 goals and 25 assists for 35 points and 26 penalty minutes in 49 games played. Clarke is committed to play at Ferris State University (NCAA) in the fall.
“Well, it’s a feeling like no other,” Clarke said of being chosen by the Bruins. “I was just sitting in there with my family and when it happened, it was just pure excitement, and to go to Boston, they’re an Original Six organization. It’s just — it’s something you dream of growing up and it’s a great feeling. I talked to Mr. Sullivan (Bruins Scout Keith Sullivan) I believe it was in December and I knew that they had come watch me play a couple of times so I knew that they were interested. I knew that they were a team that could be a possibility that could be picking me and I’ve always watched hockey and my dad used to be a Bruins fan growing up when he was little (he grew up in Ottawa and was a big Bobby Orr fan), so it’s a great feeling. Boston’s an Original Six franchise. It’s very special, for sure.“
Boston’s final selection of the draft was forward Oskar Steen (sixth round, 165th overall).
Steen, 18, has played for Farjestad BK J20 of the SuperElit League for the past two years, amassing 15-30=45 total points across 69 games. In 2015-16 he also competed in 17 games with Farjestad of the Swedish Hockey League.
The 5’9”, 187 lb. forward also competed in the World Junior Championships for the Sweden U-18 team in 2016.
“It’s really fun to be drafted,” Steen said. “I always been dreaming about that and I’m really like excited now and to be drafted by Boston Bruins, it’s nice club and yeah, it’s really fun. I was a little bit surprised that I was taken by a team I haven’t spoke with. I wasn’t really expecting that but it was fun and nice team, so I’m happy to be drafted by Boston.”
Boston traded its seventh-round pick to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Florida’s seventh-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Ironically, the Panthers used the pick to draft 18-Under Boston Jr. Bruins (and Avon Old Farms) defenseman Benjamin Finkelstein.
“We’re excited about the depth now, where we’re at,” Sweeney said after the draft.
The players selected in this year’s draft cannot be expected to step into the NHL lineup this coming season. Each player needs to continue their development in the college and junior ranks and is at least two to three years away from challenging for an NHL job.
Don Sweeney can now turn his attention to the upcoming free agency period. He has begun to speak with players the organization is interested in signing and will be able to sign players on July 1.
“That process has begun and it will play out over the next few days and we have to be aggressive about it,” said Sweeney. “We want to improve. We’ll continue to make some calls (to players and agents) and see if things can shape up. Being competitive, being a winning team, hopefully, it’s year in and year out for the next ten years. I don’t know that but that’s my ultimate goal. That’s all I want to do, is to have a team that can win, compete, and play the right way.”
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.