July 11, 2014

2014 Bruins Entry Draft selections at a glance

By Andrew Merritt

Overall Bruins draft grade

B

The Hockey Journal is giving the Bruins a wait-and-see grade of B for the second straight year, but there’s good reason. Just like 2013, this wasn’t a draft full of “generational talents,” and the Bruins’ top pick came late in the first round. So it’s all about long-term perspective, but the offensive output of the first four players selected is certainly a promising sign.

Offense, offense, offense.

It’s pretty clear that with the five picks the Bruins had in the 2014 NHL draft, the attack was the focus. While the team took defensive defenseman Emil Johansson in the seventh round, the Bruins’ first four picks all have pretty sizable offensive numbers on their résumés.

That offensive mindset is a bit of a departure from what the Bruins — and really just about every other NHL team — used to look for. Instead of targeting big, strong athletes who theoretically could be molded into elite hockey players, GM Peter Chiarelli and his staff clearly sought out skilled, offensively gifted skaters. If anything, they’re all a little undersized — all five picks are listed as 6-feet tall, well below the league and team average — but on a team that has gotten some of its best offensive production from smaller players like David Krejci and Brad Marchand, they all fit the mold.

The Bruins also added some local flavor in Ryan Donato, a Scituate, Mass., native whose father, Ted, played nine seasons in Boston and now coaches Harvard’s men’s team. But Donato was no charity case — after first-round pick David Pastrnak, the Harvard-bound younger Donato is the team’s most promising prospect coming out of the draft, and after tearing up the prep school circuit last year, could become the next great New England-born player.

Pastrnak, of course, is the player most expected to someday become a Bruin — though at 18 years old, he’s still a long way off and will return to his Swedish team this fall. The youngster from the Czech Republic hopes to emulate his countryman and idol, David Krejci, and the Bruins have indicated that they think he can. If that’s true, then the offense-first draft of 2014 could be a real boon for the Boston Bruins.

Boston Bruins 2014 Entry Draft selections

David Pastrnak

1st round, 25th pick | 6-0, 198 | Havirov, Czech Republic | Forward/Södertälje (Swedish Allsvenskan)

Scouting report: Fifth on final Central Scouting European Skaters list … moved away from home after 2012 season to play at higher level in Sweden … touted by Hockey’s Future as “an exciting offensive player hailing from the Czech Republic who has flair and loves to be dangerous. He thrives in situations where he can carry the puck and dish it off when he feels fit. Also tends to be strongest when incorporating an east-west game while on the attack.” ... has drawn comparisons to Czech countryman David Krejci, and says he aims to play like the Bruins’ crafty top-line center … has some growing to do before playing with larger bodies in North America.

In his own words: “I think (the Bruins are) a pretty talented team. They play good offensively and they have a really good defense and a goalie, so I think that’s the perfect team, and I really hope that I can be part of this team.”

What the Bruins think: “He competes and he’s got skill and we thought we needed some more skill. He handles the puck real well, he protects the puck real well and he’s full of energy. You gravitate to him.” — Keith Gretzky, director of amateur scouting

Ryan Donato

2nd round, 56th pick | 6-0, 176 | Scituate, Mass. | Forward/Dexter School (NEPSIHA)

Scouting report: 58th on final Central Scouting North American Skaters list … Smart, playmaking forward who emulates his dad’s defensive ability and work ethic … 78 points (30 goals, 48 assists) in 30 games for Dexter in 2013-14 ... will play for the USHL’s Omaha Lancers in 2014-15, and should find plenty of comfort playing for dad at Harvard the following winter … projects as a center … Bruins won’t expect him to come into the franchise for at least several years.

In his own words: “My favorite player is Patrice Bergeron, hands down. I try to copy some of what he does. He’s the player I try to model my game after.”

What the Bruins think: “He is highly skilled and he’s so smooth with the puck and he’s got a rocket of a shot. His conditioning has come a long way —  I mean that’s one thing that we wanted to talk to him about, and when he came into the combine, he was a different … he’s really put in a lot of time and his nutrition is a lot better. He’s still got a long ways to go, they’re all young kids and if they stay focused and stick to the plan, they’ll be fine.” — GM Peter Chiarelli

Danton Heinen

4th round, 116th pick | 6-0, 170 | Langley, B.C. | Forward/Surrey (BCHL)

Scouting report: Attack-oriented player who led Surrey with 29 goals and 61 points last year and added seven points in six playoff games, en route to winning BCHL’s Rookie of the Year Award … will attend the University of Denver in the fall … turned 19 on July 5, which might put him closer to joining the Bruins than other picks ... Denver coach Jim Montgomery has praised Heinen’s leadership skills.

In his own words: “I like to think of myself as an offensive guy, a guy that can help out on the power play. I feel my vision and playmaking ability are my best attributes.”

What the Bruins think: "Offensive player, real high-skilled player. He has to gain some strength, that’s his one concern right now. There’s a lot of kids that have to get stronger, and he has to get stronger.” — Keith Gretzky

Anders Bjork

5th round, 146th pick | 6-0, 183 | Mequon, Wis. | Forward/U.S. National Team Development Program

Scouting report: Very young — won’t turn 18 until Aug. 5 this year — so Bjork is a way-down-the-road prospect for the Bruins. Has shown some scoring pop with each team he’s played on, and with the U.S. NTDP last year, he combined for 30 goals and 33 assists in 87 games across the USHL and national team schedule … Will be seen in Hockey East rinks this fall, as he’s headed to Notre Dame to start his college career … cousin of former NHLer Eric Condra.

In his own words: “I think I’m a two-way, hard-working forward who’s responsible in all areas of the ice, but also able to produce offensively.”

What the Bruins think: “We like what he brings. He’s well-liked by his teammates, he seems to have a lot of character by what we hear, and we’ve seen it on the ice and we’re excited to have him.” — Keith Gretzky

Emil Johansson

7th round, 206th pick | 6-0, 194 | Vaxjo, Sweden | Defenseman/HV71 (Swedish SuperElite)

Scouting report: Solid-sized defenseman who likely projects to be more of a stay-at-home type, after scoring four goals and 10 assists in 48 games for the HV71 J20 team last year. He also had a goal and an assist for Sweden’s U18 team in international competition … per Hockey’s Future, “Generally has decent puck-possession instincts and can make a solid first pass. In the defensive zone, he looks to cut off oncoming forwards along the boards and in the corners. He’s also not shy to use his weight to dish out checks in front of his own goal. When Johansson is playing cool and collective, he’s a heady player who shows a good understanding for the game.”

What the Bruins think: “He’s a good skating D-man, moves the puck really well. He didn’t play in April — he had a broken hand — so he is almost ready to be cleared, and he’s working out now.” — Keith Gretzky 

This article originally appeared in the July edition of the New England Hockey Journal. Click here to read the digital edition for free.

Twitter: @A_Merritt

Email: amerritt@hockeyjournal.com