The Boston Bruins have a checkered history when it comes to a sustained track record in the NHL Entry Draft, but 2006 is the most productive year the team has ever had.
Held in Vancouver, the Carolina Hurricanes had just won the first Stanley Cup after the lockout canceled the 2004-05 NHL season. The B’s were picking fifth by virtue of nearly bottoming-out after losing key players in their primes to free agency like Brian Rolston, Mike Knuble, Sergei Gonchar and Michael Nylander. What the club thought would be a surplus of talent available after the lockout imposed a salary cap, failed to be the case when the NHLPA agreed to rollback player salaries as part of the new CBA.
As a result, the Bruins stumbled in the post-lockout NHL. Joe Thornton’s trade to San Jose in late Nov. signaled a seismic shift for the team. Things were far from settled: former GM Mike O’Connell (Cohasset, Mass.) was let go in early spring, and his replacement, Peter Chiarelli, was still employed by the Ottawa Senators as assistant GM and obligated to them until after the draft and free agency.
The Bruins, led by interim GM and Melrose, Mass. native Jeff Gorton and head amateur scout Scott Bradley, faced a significant crossroads, and had to get it right. Little did anyone realize it at the time, but one weekend in Vancouver would set the tone and establish conditions for the organization's total turnaround, capped by an eventual championship five years later.
This is the story of that franchise-altering Bruins draft class.