After having a top ten selection in the 2007 draft, the Boston Bruins headed to the 2008 NHL Entry Draft with the 16th overall pick and slightly lower expectations. Beyond Zach Hamill, the Bruins focused primarily on defensemen in 2007. This time around, however, they would shift gears and target talent up-front. Despite the weakness of the 2007 draft class, the 2007-2008 version of the Bruins managed to find their way into the playoffs for the first time since before the lockout. The 2008 draft results weren’t quite as bad as the previous year, but once again, they were largely disappointing. Every player drafted by the Bruins in 2008 has left the organization in one way or another. Where did they go wrong?
Joe Colborne (C)
1st Round, 16th Overall Pick
With their first selection, the Bruins chose Joe Colborne, a towering center from Calgary. Known for his size and offensive potential, Colborne put up 90 points in his draft year for the Camrose Kodiaks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. At the time, he was viewed as a longer-term project with very high upside. He had committed to the University of Denver, and the Bruins seemed to be on board with letting him continue his development there for at least a few years. Colborne spent two seasons in Denver, showing decent improvement from year to year, before joining the Providence Bruins in 2010. Before the 2010-2011, Colborne attended his third development camp with the Bruins, making him one of the camps’ elder-statesmen. Between his offensive skills and the leadership role he had embraced, things were looking very good for Colborne. If there was one thing Colborne needed to improve, it was his physicality and his willingness to use his size to his advantage. Unfortunately, during his first season with the Providence Bruins, Colborne was traded, along with multiple draft picks, to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for defenseman Tomas Kaberle. It was a steep price to pay, especially given Colborne’s value as a prospect, but it paid off for Peter Chiarelli and Co., as Kaberle ended up contributing to the Bruins Stanley Cup Championship. In Toronto, Colborne was higher on the depth chart, and later that season, he made his NHL debut. He only played in one NHL game that season, and a total of 16 over the last three years, spending a majority of his time in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Despite a number of opportunities, Colborne has yet to earn himself a permanent spot in the NHL. He was traded to the Calgary Flames this summer in exchange for a fourth round pick in the 2014 NHL draft. Calgary gives Colborne the greatest opportunity to exceed in the NHL now and long-term, so this will be a real make-or-break season for his career. He is only 23 years old, so he could still come into his own, and justify his first round status, but for now, the Bruins are more than happy that they were able to trade him when his value was at an all-time high.
Maxime Sauve (C)
2nd Round, 47th Overall Pick
In the second round, the Bruins selected French centreman Max Sauve, the son of former Sabres forward Jean-Francois Sauve. After beginning his draft year with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, Sauve was traded to the Val d’Or Foreurs midway through the season. Sauve’s offensive production improved after the trade, and so too did his draft stock. He would spend the next two seasons with Val d’Or, posting his best numbers in the 2008-2009. His 2009-2010 season began what would become an unfortunate string of injuries. Despite playing in only 25 games in his final season in the QMJHL, Sauve remained extremely productive, as he racked up 35 points. After that campaign, he joined Providence to begin his professional career. In his first season in Providence, he fought the injury bug for more than a quarter of the season. His 21 goals and 38 points were all the more impressive, when you consider that he missed time and had next to no support on offense. Rather than taking the next step forward in his development, Sauve was hampered by injuries again in the 2011-2012 season, missing more than 50% of Providence’s games. When he was on the ice, it was clear why the Bruins selected him so high in the draft, but unfortunately, he couldn’t build on that because of his inability to stay healthy. The Bruins ran out of patience with Sauve last season, resulting in a trade that would send him to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for center Rob Flick. As an unrestricted free agent this summer, Sauve earned an invitation to training camp with the Anaheim Ducks. He is currently a member of the Ducks AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals.
Michael Hutchinson (G)
3rd Round, 77th Overall Pick
In the third round, the Bruins nabbed goaltender Michael Hutchinson from the Barrie Colts of the OHL. The Barrie Native became the Colts starter in his draft year, helping to lead the team to the playoffs and finishing second in the league in save percentage. That performance went a long way in improving his draft stock, convincing the Bruins to draft him in the third round. In his first season after being drafted, Hutchinson returned to Barrie, re-claiming the starting job, and once again leading the Colts to the playoffs. Prior to his final season in the OHL, Hutch was shipped to the London Knights. As the starter for the Knights, he would post career bests in goals against average and save percentage, to go along with 32 wins. With his OHL career coming to a close, Hutchinson would begin his professional career with the Providence Bruins. He would split his first two pro seasons between the AHL and the ECHL, struggling to find consistency and failing to grab a hold of the full-time starting role in Providence. Entering the 2012-2013 campaign, Hutch seemed poised to take over the reins for the Baby B’s. Unfortunately, he quickly lost playing time to rookie Niklas Svedberg, and found himself relegated to backup duties. After the end of the season, the Bruins did not tender Hutchinson a contract, allowing him to become a free agent. He signed a two-way deal with the Winnipeg Jets and is currently playing for their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps.
Jamie Arniel (C)
4th Round, 97th Overall Pick
As the draft moved to the fourth round, the Bruins added their third center, selecting Jamie Arniel from the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. After lighting up the OHL as a 17 year old and earning himself a spot on Team Canada for the Under 18 World Junior Championships, Arniel’s draft year was a bit of a disappointment. His draft stock took a hit as he struggled to produce early on in the season, and he wound up getting dealt from the Guelph Storm to the Sarnia Sting in the middle of the season. The trade successfully jumpstarted Arniel’s offensive production, but not enough to re-establish his value, and he fell to the fourth round. As an overager, Arniel returned to Sarnia and picked up where he left off for the Sting prior to being drafted, posting more than a point per game on average. He left the OHL after that season and began his pro career with the Providence Bruins. Arniel posted decent numbers in his first season in Providence, but with the team struggling, it was a down year for just about everyone. He really made his mark on the league in 2010-2011, as he scored 23 goals and totaled 50 points, despite the Baby B’s missing the playoffs. Many had Arniel at the top of the list of potential call-ups at the start of 2011-2012, but things did not go according to plan. He struggled mightily, posted his worst stat line since joining the AHL. That would be his last season with the Bruins organization, as the team did not tender him a contract that summer. He spent last season playing in the DEL for Eisbaren Berlin, further regressing and decreasing the likelihood that he would ever play in the NHL. This season, he is playing for Rauman Lukko of the SM-Liiga in Finland. At one point, he seemed like a lock to be a bottom six forward on a good team, but his play became inconsistent and his ability to find the net completely disappeared, and now, it is all but a foregone conclusion that he will never make it to the NHL.
(Note: Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie was selected seventeen picks after the Bruins chose Arniel)
Nicholas Tremblay (C)
6th Round, 173rd Overall Pick
Without their fifth round selection, the Bruins next pick came in the sixth round, where they chose Nicholas Tremblay, a center from the Smith Falls Bears of the Central Canada Hockey League. Tremblay put up monster numbers in the CCHL, tallying 51 goals and 59 assists in his draft year. He committed to Clarkson University, entering his first year of eligibility shortly after being drafted by the Bruins. Tremblay spent the full four years at Clarkson, posting moderate numbers that improved each season, highlighted in his senior year, where he was named an alternate captain while posting career bests in goals (17) and assists (19). After his senior year, he joined the Providence Bruins on an amateur tryout with hopes of beginning his pro career. Unfortunately, his play didn’t solicit a qualifying offer from the Boston Bruins, and he became an unrestricted free agent. He spent most of last season in the ECHL with the Bakersfield Condors, averaging a point per game on the season. He signed an AHL contract with the Oklahoma City Barons this summer, which represents slight progress, but at 25, he does not appear to have a future in the NHL.
(Note: Current Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski was selected by the Florida Panthers seventeen picks after the Bruins chose Tremblay)
Mark Goggin (C)
7th Round, 197th Overall Pick
With their last pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Bruins selected Mark Goggin, a center from Connecticut. Goggin attended prep school at Choate Rosemary Hall, where he was at or near the top of the team in scoring for both his junior and senior year. During his senior year, in addition to playing for his school, he spent time with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. At the end of the season, he committed to Dartmouth University and prepared to begin his collegiate career. He faced a bit of a learning curve in his freshman year, struggling to find his offensive touch, totaling only six points over the course of 21 games. Unfortunately, that season would look great in comparison to what the future would hold for Goggin. He sustained a serious wrist injury in his sophomore year that caused him to miss the entire season, as well as a decent chunk of his junior year. Once he returned, he managed to pick up where he left off, but the lengthy layoff and the limited amount of playing time prevented him from making significant progress. Injuries got in his way again last season, as he did not suit up for Dartmouth at all. At this point, Goggin’s shot at making it to the NHL has passed by and any type of professional career may soon follow suit.
Based on the results, the Bruins have slightly more to show for this draft than the 2007 draft. They were able to trade Joe Colborne while his value was high, acquiring Tomas Kaberle and winning the Stanley Cup in the process. The rest of this draft class is far less than what the organization had anticipated. While they made slight progress from 2007 to 2008, they managed to also improve slightly from 2008 to 2009. Be sure to keep an eye out for the final piece in this series, where the focus will be on the 2009 draft class, headlined by Jordan Caron.