With the sports world on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the remainder of the National Hockey League season in doubt, it is time to look back and thus forward; recapping last year’s Boston Bruins draft picks. The B’s have been known to both make great picks as well as fairly questionable ones, so it is always important to look back on the progression of these prospects.
The Bruins had five picks in the 2019 draft and addressed multiple areas through these picks. The team selected four forwards, three being natural centers, along with one defenseman. Obviously forwards were a big need for the Bruins who are filled with organizational depth at defenseman from previous drafts.
First-Round: John Beecher
John Beecher, now at the University of Michigan, was a seemingly surprising pick by the Bruins at No. 30 overall. Multiple forwards ranked ahead of him remained on the board at the time including Arthur Kaliyiev, one of the top scorers in the entire draft.
Ultimately, Beecher seemed to fit the mold of what it means to be a Bruin – a young, physical center that can open up the middle of the ice, with a keen ability to lead, something that is a common trait among Bruins players past and present.
As for production, Beecher had tallied nine goals and seven assists in 31 games for the University of Michigan before the COVID-19 stoppage. While his scoring ability is still not his strong suit, it continues to improve.
Third-Round: Quinn Olson
Without a second-round pick, the Bruins turned to Quinn Olson, a forward who has played mostly left-wing for the University of Minnesota-Duluth this season, in Round 3. Olson is a natural two-way center; another common trait of prospects drafted by the Bruins.
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Olson scored seven goals and added eight assists this season in 31 games for Minnesota-Duluth. While this is a somewhat modest year, this was Olson’s first year of collegiate hockey. He did score 66 points for the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL last season, evidence of his scoring ability.
Fifth-Round: Roman Bychkov
Roman Bychkov is an example of another smaller defenseman added by the Bruins in the draft. Standing at just 5-foot-11 and weighing 170 pounds, Bychkov is an eerily reminiscent pick to those of Torey Krug and Matt Grzcelcyk. Krug (undrafted) and Gryzelcyk (third round) weren’t first-round pedigrees either, just as Bychkov was scooped up by the Bruins in the fifth.
The Russian-born defenseman had 7 goals and 19 assists totaling 26 points over 62 games in the MHL this season. This was a slight improvement from the previous season in which Bychkov had 15 points in 40 games.
Sixth-Round: Matias Mantykivi
With their sixth-round pick, the Bruins added Finnish centerman Matias Mantykivi. He’s currently playing in Finland and had tallied just three goals and three assists in 42 games played so far this season.
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While these are certainly not numbers that jump out at you, Mantykivi was not added for his scoring ability. He is known for being a smart player despite his lack of production and development so far. Mantykivi is still just 18 years old and has much to learn despite his high hockey IQ.
Seventh-Round: Jake Schmaltz
Jake Schmaltz, who is committed to the University of North Dakota for next season, is mainly a left-winger. He scored 13 goals and added 19 assists in the USHL for the Green Bay Gamblers in 47 games played last season.
The Bruins will definitely keep an eye on the 18-year-old as he continues to put up points and develop along his road to the NHL. His next stop will be collegiate hockey where he will truly get a chance to shine and show off his skills and scoring ability. Schmaltz is yet another example of a two-way forward taken by the Bruins over the past few years.
What to Expect
While this was a somewhat modest draft for the Bruins, they added talent to an already loaded prospect pool that needed some refreshing at forward. Beecher is a player with high expectations from the organization and is someone who could slot in as a top-six centerman when his day in the NHL comes.
Olson and Schmaltz are both two-way forwards with a lot of talent and high upside. They no doubt will need to fight for spots in the NHL in the coming years, however, these are borderline players that represent a low-risk/high reward type scenario.
Mantykivi and Bychkov are players that will both need to improve in order to get to the NHL level. However, they have specific things that they do well: Mantykivi has a high hockey I.Q. and while Bychkov is smaller he is also skilled and could develop even further offensively.
Like any draft class, it will be interesting to continue to watch the development of these players and see who will truly have an impact at the NHL level.