Entering the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in Montreal, there was one need that Boston Bruins general manager (GM) Don Sweeney needed to address and that was adding center depth to his prospect pool. He added multiple players up the middle for the future and some are having a tremendous season as property of the Black and Gold.
Here is a midseason check-in for the Bruins 2022 Draft class that did not include a first-round pick after it was traded to the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline to acquire Hampus Lindholm.
Selected in the second round and 54th overall, Matthew Poitras was the first center selected by Sweeney. The Ontario native had a good 2021-22 season with the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), but this season, he’s playing some impressive hockey.
A year after he had 21 goals and 29 assists for Guelph in 62 games, the 18-year-old has 12 goals and 50 assists in just 46 games in 2022-23 and is averaging 1.35 points per game. When he was drafted, the Bruins were impressed by his all-around offensive game, but this season, he has become one of the top playmakers in the OHL. The 5-foot-11 right shot is strong on the forecheck and makes a lot of plays around the net. He has been the Storm’s best power play producer and half of his 50 assists have come on the man advantage.
The Bruins have one of the weakest prospect pools in the NHL, but they have had some of their prospects raise their value this season and aside from Brett Harrison, Poitras is a quickly rising prospect (from ‘Boston Bruins are No. 30 in 2023 NHL prospect pool rankings,’ The Athletic, Jan. 11, 2023).
With their second pick at Bell Centre, the Bruins took Cole Spicer, a center from the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP). He had 20 goals and 39 points in 2021-22 before making his way to Minnesota-Duluth for his freshman season.
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In his first season with the Bulldogs, the 5-foot-10 and 178-pound Grand Forks, North Dakota native has two goals and five points in 26 games. The 117th overall pick in the fourth round is an aggressive forward that does a lot of the little things and should make strides in his development at Minnesota-Duluth.
Like Poitras, Dans Locmelis is quickly making a name for himself this season. Selected two picks after Spicer at 119th, Locmeils is having a good season with Lulea HF in Sweden’s J20 Nationell with 17 goals and 30 assists in 35 games. The Latvia-born forward has played well in the last two World Junior Championships (WJC).
In the rescheduled 2022 WJC in Edmonton last summer, he had a goal and an assist for Latvia in five games, but at the 2023 WJC, he was one of Latvia’s better offensive players. He had three goals, two in the WJC relegation series they won in two games over Austria. The Bruins front office will get to have many up-close looks at Locmelis starting next season when he attends the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Hockey East.
After selecting three consecutive forwards, the Bruins drafted their first defenseman with the 132nd overall pick in the fifth round when they picked Frederic Brunet. The offensive defenseman is having a good 2022-23 season with two different teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).
In 36 games with Rimouski Oceanic this season, he had 29 assists and 35 points. He was traded to the Victoriaville Tigers and in 14 games, he has picked up where he left off in Rimouski offensively with five goals and 17 assists. The left-shot from Quebec, who recently earned QMJHL Player of the Week honors, is becoming a player that could end up being a late-round draft steal if his offensive game continues to improve.
If there is one area that Sweeney has been adding depth over the last year, it’s in goal. He signed Brandon Bussi last March after his senior season at Western Michigan University as an undrafted free agent, then took Reid Dyck in the sixth-round and 183rd overall.
Last season in 19 games for the Swift Current Broncos in the Western Hockey League (WHL), the Manitoba native went 6-12-1 with a 4.26 goals against average (GAA) and a .884 save percentage (SV%). This season, he has become the top goaltender for Swift Current and has a 10-15-1 record with a 3.86 GAA and a .878 SV%. What the future holds for Dyck with Boston remains to be seen, but an organization can never have enough depth between the pipes.
With their last pick, the Bruins selected another defenseman in Jackson Edward. Picked 200th overall in the seventh round, the Ontario native has been having a good season for the London Knights in the OHL. The 6-foot-2, 194-pound left-shot had seven assists in 54 games last season, but his offensive game has taken major strides this season. In 48 games, he has four goals and 19 assists, but he plays a physical game and the 18-year-old has made a big progression in his game. In a game on Jan. 4 against Guelph, he showed his physical style by delivering a big hit on Poitras.
Overall, there are still a lot of questions about the 2022 Draft class, but the early returns are good. Sweeney addressed the need for center depth in the future and added some defensemen to a pool that does not need to be pushed along to Boston quickly. It’s been less than a year since the draft, but the early returns have been positive for a prospect pool that is not considered a great one.