With 2019 winding down and a new decade right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to discuss some of the very best draft picks the Boston Bruins made during the 2010s.
It isn’t easy to acknowledge some of the most recent picks for the Bruins who have a lot of potential for future success
Included in this group are 2016 first-round pick Trent Frederic, 2017 first and second-round picks Urho Vaakanainen and Jack Studnicka, 2018 second and third-round picks Axel Andersson and Jakub Lauko as well as 2019 first-round pick John Beecher, as those six players have combined for just 26 games, 17 of which being played by Frederic alone.
Instead, this list will be ranked on quantifiable success and what the players have done in the NHL thus far in their careers. The only real criteria for this is that the player must have been drafted by the Bruins between 2010 and 2019.
With that said, let’s get to the list.
8. Danton Heinen
Starting the list off with a controversial name, nobody receives more heat from select portions of the Bruins’ fanbase (outside of Tuukka Rask) than Danton Heinen.
Similarly to Rask, Heinen has continually quieted his critics with his elite-level defense and ability to contribute on all four lines for the Bruins despite being selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft class.
Even more confusing is the fact that so many have unreasonably high expectations for Heinen to become an elite point-producer and blame him for any and all of the team’s lack of scoring when he’s signed to a team-friendly deal worth $2.8 million annually.
To put that in perspective, Heinen is only the seventh-highest paid forward on the team (for those keeping count, that means he isn’t a top-six paid player on the roster) and only the 11th highest-paid player overall.
Heinen is one of the Bruins most productive players in all situations as well, playing on the power play, penalty kill and being a swiss-army knife while at even strength.
His 15 points rank him seventh among Bruins forwards and eighth on the team as a whole. His six goals also have him tied for seventh on the team as of this writing.
All-in-all, the value he brings for the draft pick used on him and the cap space allocated to having him on the roster makes him an essential part of this team’s current makeup.
7. Matt Grzelcyk
Matt Grzelcyk is simultaneously one of the most appreciated players on the Bruins roster as well as one of the most underrated pieces the team has.
While it may not be evident from his offensive output each season, Grzelcyk is one of the Bruins best young defenders and he should be firmly entrenched in the team’s lineup every single night for the rest of his time in Boston.
If things work out for both parties, that could end up being a very long time.
His ability to move the puck with either with his excellent skating or great vision and passing ability is very valuable to the Bruins, especially considering his usage has come primarily on the team’s third-pairing throughout his career thus far.
Zone exits and zone entries are some of Grzelcyk’s strong-suits and in the modern-day NHL, that’s huge.
Though he’s a third-pairing defender for the Bruins, he averaged 19:08 of ice time last season through 66 games and is hovering around that mark again this season at 18:36.
The real kicker for Grzelcyk is the fact that the Bruins were able to find such an effective player in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
There’s also a distinct possibility he finds himself in an increased role in the future if he remains in Boston, especially given his experience (and success) playing alongside Charlie McAvoy both at Boston University and with the Bruins.
6. Jake DeBrusk
The best of the Bruins three consecutive picks in 2015, Don Sweeney’s first Draft class as the general manager of the Bruins, DeBrusk has become a fan-favorite in Boston.
Taken 14th overall and proving to be a spark-plug for the Bruins throughout each of their last two postseason runs, DeBrusk has quickly grown from often-critiqued prospect to univerally-cheered top-six player in just a few years.
DeBrusk would score 16 goals and 43 points in 70 games as a rookie before scoring an impressive 27 goals and 42 points in 68 games as a sophomore in 2018-19.
He’s been off to a relatively slow start through the first 35 games this season to close out the decade, scoring just 11 goals and 20 points and finding himself on the wrong end of coaching decisions a few times this season with the intention being to get him going, often working.
Related: DeBrusk Scores 2 Power Play Goals, Bruins Top Sabres 3-2
Still, DeBrusk has had a slow start in each of his first three seasons, often picking up steam in the second half of the year and postseason. Ideally, DeBrusk can start 2020 on a high note and prove that he really is one of the best draft picks of the 2010s for the Bruins.
5. Brandon Carlo
Taken in the same draft class as DeBrusk, Carlo has quickly become one of the best picks of the entire 2015 Draft despite being taken 37th overall.
A true shutdown defender who’s really come into his own over the last two seasons, Carlo is the model NHL player.
At 6 foot 5 and 212 pounds, Carlo may not fit the mold of the typical modern-day NHL defender which often emphasizes mobility and offensive ability more than shutdown play with limited offensive prowess.
Still, Carlo has stepped up offensively in his fourth season in the NHL, scoring four goals and 12 points already, nearing his career-highs of six-goals and 16-points in 82 games from his rookie season.
He’s also more mobile than many would expect given his size, but his real strength comes from his sound positioning, excellent decision-making and his ability to keep his stick active at all times.
Finding a steal in the second round, the Bruins have been very happy with Carlo as he’s risen through the ranks, averaging about 20-minutes of ice time per game throughout his young career.
4. Dougie Hamilton
Dougie Hamilton isn’t very popular in the city of Boston.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand why that may be as Hamilton seemingly burned bridges on his way out of town before being traded to the Calgary Flames in 2015.
Despite the ill-will felt from the Bruins’ faithful towards the 6-foot-5 defender, however, there’s no denying his ability and status as one of the better defenders in the NHL. If Hamilton wasn’t good, fans wouldn’t care as much. There’d still be a bad taste left in their mouth but those feelings fade over time if players don’t pan out as expected.
A prime example of this would be Jacoby Ellsbury signing a $153 million contract with the New York Yankees following his 2013 World Series victory with the Boston Red Sox. At the time and for a few years after the fact, fans in Boston hated Ellsbury and would make their displeasure known with regularity.
With Ellsbury dealing with multiple injuries and becoming a shell of his former self to close out the decade, however, Red Sox fans have come to forgive Ellsbury, not because they felt differently about his decision, but because his contract would have been disastrous in Boston.
With that said, Ellsbury was already 30 at the time of the signing with the Yankees. He’d established himself as a fan-favorite in Boston, too. Hamilton, on the other hand, was 22-years-old and still had a lot to give in his career.
He’s scored 95 goals and 295 points in 544 NHL games throughout his career, including 73 goals and 212 points since leaving the Bruins. He’s scored at least 10 goals in each of the last six seasons despite playing for three teams in that time span.
Taken with the ninth pick in 2011, Hamilton could have been the heir-apparent to Zdeno Chara, but it wasn’t meant to be.
3. Charlie McAvoy
This one should come as no surprise. Charlie McAvoy has been an absolute workhorse defender for the Bruins since he was drafted with the 14th overall selection in 2016.
Averaging over 22 minutes in each of his first two seasons in the NHL and over 23 minutes this season, McAvoy has been a rock for the Bruins despite some rocky stretches of health.
When the playoffs roll around, McAvoy has been even better for the team as he averaged 26:12 of ice time through six games as a 19-year-old – his first six games in the NHL as a whole. He’d average 24 minutes in 12 games in his second season at 20 years old and would average 24:30 in 23 games just last season.
While Hamilton ultimately didn’t want to become the next great Bruins’ defender, joining the likes of so many all-time greats before him who made a career for themselves in Boston, McAvoy has the potential to be that and then some.
While his offensive potential hasn’t yet been reached, there’s very little to dislike about McAvoy’s all-around game and as just 22-years-old, he should be a franchise cornerstone for the Bruins for the next decade-plus.
2. Tyler Seguin
The second-best draft pick of the Bruins in the 2010s has to be Tyler Seguin, who was coincidentally taken second-overall in 2010.
Dating back to the 2013-14 season, Seguin’s first year as a member of the Stars, he’s scored an impressive 212 goals and 487 points in 501 games. He’s also scored at least 30 goals in five of his last six seasons, missing the mark in 2016-17 when he’d score 26 goals and 72 points in 82 games, and even recording 40 goals during the 2017-18 season.
In his first few seasons, Seguin was a forward who showed a lot of potential (and actual output) as a member of the Bruins, scoring 29 goals and 67 points in his just his sophomore season before scoring 16 goals and 32 points in 48 games in his final season in Boston (a season shortened due to the lockout).
When joining the Stars, however, Seguin would elevate his game and score at an elite rate while even playing more responsible 200-foot hockey.
Playing almost exclusively center these days, Seguin has amassed 268 goals and 608 points in 704 games.
Related: Bruins 50-Goal Scorers
While he was expected to be a sure-thing and a definite franchise cornerstone, the No. 1 spot on this list has to be reserved for a player who has become that franchise cornerstone despite being taken late in the first round.
1. David Pastrnak
Who else could No. 1 on this list possibly have been?
David Pastrnak is one of the best hockey players not only on the Bruins but on the entire planet.
Scoring 29 goals and 58 points through just 40 games to close out the decade, Pastrnak will go down as one of the biggest steals in NHL Entry Draft history after being taken 25th overall back in 2014.
Pastrnak has scored at least 30 goals and 70 points in each of the last three seasons, including 80 points and 81 points in the last two seasons respectively. He’s well on his way to crushing all of his previous career-highs and he’s still got room to grow at only 23 years old.
It isn’t just his on-ice ability that makes him so likable and important to the Bruins, though.
His optimistic attitude and general cheer is contagious, spreading to his teammates, the media that deal with him on a daily basis and the fans who get to follow along at home.
Pastrnak isn’t just the Bruins best draft pick of the last decade, he’s quickly becoming one of their best draft picks in franchise history.