On June 26, 2015, the NHL Entry Draft began at the BB&T Center in Paradise, Florida, with the selection of Connor McDavid, a highly-touted prospect, chosen first overall by the Edmonton Oilers. That draft was arguably one of the deepest in recent memory.
The 3 First-Round Picks
In a rare feat, the Boston Bruins had three consecutive first-round picks in 2015. In 2014-15, they missed the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons despite their 96 points. In April 2015, general manager Peter Chiarelli was fired after nine seasons in Boston. Assistant manager, Don Sweeney, took over the position and has held it ever since.
Related: Reviewing the Bruins’ 2015 Draft
The Bruins were awarded the 14th pick in the draft lottery. Then the team sent long-time Bruin Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Martin Jones, Colin Miller, and their first-round pick which turned into the 13th overall pick. They also sent restricted free agent Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames for their first-round pick (15th overall) and two second-round picks.
With those three picks, the Bruins selected Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk, and Zachary Senyshyn who all had good careers in junior. Zboril made the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s rookie All-Star team and had 33 points in 44 games. DeBrusk was a 40-goal scorer. Senyshyn had 26 goals in 66 games playing for a Sault Marie Greyhounds team that had seven 20-goal scorers.
Five years later, DeBrusk is the only one of the three that has seen NHL success. In 371 games, he has 113 goals and 216 points. Zboril and Senyshyn have had some success in Providence but have yet to find a permanent spot in Boston. Zboril has played 69 NHL games and Senyshyn 16.
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Of the 30 first-round selections in 2015, 25 have played more than 100 games in the NHL. The Bruins had three picks in the first round and despite all the talent in that draft, only one of them has spent a significant amount of time in the NHL. Consider the names taken after the Bruins’ selections.
Selected directly after Senyshyn at pick 16, Mathew Barzal has been phenomenal for the New York Islanders. The center had one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory. In 82 games, he had 22 goals and 85 points, earning him the Calder Trophy. He followed it up with 62 points in 82 games the next season, and 60 points in 68 games in 2019-20.
The Islanders made it to the Eastern Conference Final this season and Barzal was an invaluable asset. He’s led the team in scoring since 2017 and has been a huge part of the franchise’s turnaround.
The Bruins did not select a center with their three first-round picks. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci signed to long-term contracts going into the 2015 Draft, there was no pressing need for a center to be selected that early.
Bergeron and Krejci are getting older (though you wouldn’t believe it from watching Bergeron play), it would be reassuring to have a young, dynamic center like Barzal on the team. It would also have given the Bruins arguably the best center depth in the league. Both Bergeron and Krejci are reaching the end of their careers, and there doesn’t appear to be anyone waiting in the wings to replace them yet.
Kyle Connor, a left winger like DeBrusk, was picked 17th overall by the Winnipeg Jets. The Michigan native had 38 goals in 71 games this season and likely would have hit 40 goals for the first time in his career if the season had not been interrupted due to the pandemic. Connor isn’t talked about enough. He reached over 30 goals in three of the last four seasons and finished fourth in voting for the 2017-18 Calder Trophy.
Going into the draft, Connor, with similar stats to DeBrusk, had 34 goals in 56 games for the Youngstown Phantoms of the United States Hockey League and was named the USHL Player of the Year.
It’s hard to fault the Bruins for not selecting Connor when DeBrusk has been a successful player for the team. However, he is averaging 0.58 points-per-game while Connor is at 0.92. Connor has also had a better NHL career so far, but there is plenty of time for DeBrusk to become a consistent 30-goal scorer.
Thomas Chabot was selected 18th overall by the Ottawa Senators and was one of the few bright spots for the team in recent seasons. In 376 career NHL games, the defenseman has 225 points. He’s already played in an All-Star Game and signed an 8-year, $64 million contract extension in Sep. 2020. He’s one of the building blocks for the Senators’ future.
Chabot and Jakub Zboril were teammates on the Saint John Sea Dogs where Chabot led all defenders on the team in points. He would have looked good on the top defensive pairing alongside Charlie McAvoy.
However, if Chabot had been selected (or any of these players), the Bruins would be in a tricky cap situation today. There would be little to no chance of being able to bring back Torey Krug and a major trade (probably Krejci) would have had to be made. Still, imagine the Bruins’ blue line consisted of Chabot, McAvoy, Zdeno Chara, and Krug in their top four.
Brock Boeser hurts the most. In the last few seasons, the Bruins have been trying to fill a hole on the right wing on the second line. They’ve rotated a variety of players, and have tried to find a solution at the trade deadline acquiring Rick Nash, Marcus Johansson, and Ondrej Kase. Nothing has really stuck.
Despite some injury concerns, Boeser has had a great young NHL career. In 384 games, he has 134 goals and 302 points. He’s an All-Star and placed second in voting for the Calder in 2018.
Boeser was selected 23rd overall by the Vancouver Canucks. If the Bruins had selected him with one of their three picks, he would have brought some much-needed stability to their second line and consistent scoring touch. When the Bruins’ perfection line gets shut down, they struggle to generate goals. Boeser could have taken some of the pressure off of players like Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.
At pick 24, the Philadelphia Flyers selected Travis Konecny from the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League. He’s one of the best even-strength young goal-scorers in the league. In 480 games, he has 325 points. 2019-20 was a breakout year for him and in 66 games, he had 24 goals and 61 points. Previously, he had 49 points in 82 games in 2018-19 and 47 points in 81 games in 2017-18.
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While he’s on the shorter side at 5-foot-10, Konecny embodies the tough, “Big Bad Bruins” mentality. He would instantly have been a crowd favorite, similar to Marchand. Konecny played center in junior but now spends a lot of time on the wing, usually on the right side. He is another player who could have filled the Bruins’ hole on the second line.
There are players who were picked in the later rounds of the 2015 Draft worth mentioning. Sebastian Aho, a terrific center for the Carolina Hurricanes, Roope Hintz, a winger for the Dallas Stars, and Vince Dunn, a defenseman and member of the Stanley Cup-winning St. Louis Blues, were all selected in the second round. Anthony Cirelli, who plays for the Tampa Bay Lightning and caused the Bruins a lot of problems in the playoffs, went in the third.
Every year, there are draft winners and losers, and in hindsight, it looks like the Bruins “lost” the 2015 Draft. In a year with so much talent in the first round alone, the Bruins could have drafted a number of players that would have addressed issues the team has been dealing with for several seasons.
Don’t get me wrong, they selected very talented players in DeBrusk and Brandon Carlo, and Zboril and Senyshyn could still find success in the NHL (they’re only 23); I’d love to see them both play solid NHL minutes. Overall though, the Bruins’ 2015 Draft will mostly be remembered for the players they didn’t select.
Stats throughout the article were pulled from Hockey Reference.com.