It’s rare that a team can get three first-round draft picks, but to get them consecutively is even rarer. That is what Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had in 2015. He used those picks to select two forwards and a defenseman, and one of those picks has already paid off. That year, Sweeney had 10 picks total, the most in one draft by any team since the draft went from nine rounds to seven rounds in 2005.
While Sweeney hit it big with one first-round pick, he looks to have hit it bigger in the second round with defenseman Brandon Carlo.
Sweeney selected Jakub Zboril, a defenseman, with his first of three picks, at 13th overall. He has spent two-plus seasons with the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins, where he has been a steady presence. In his first two seasons, he played in 68 and 56 games, respectively, scoring four goals and dishing out 15 assists each season.
A left shot, Zboril got the call to Boston last season and appeared in two games when the Bruins’ defensive corps was hit with injuries. Back in Providence he tallied 19 points in 58 games. At 6-feet and 200 pounds, he gives the Bruins options down in Providence and can come in and make an impact should another injury occur.
One pick that has already made a major impact is Jake DeBrusk, who Sweeney selected 14th overall. DeBrusk broke into the Bruins lineup during the 2017-18 season and immediately was a presence. He scored 16 goals in the regular season, but had six playoff goals in 12 games.
In his second season, DeBrusk scored 27 goals in the regular season, but only scored four playoff goals in 24 games on the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup Final. This season, he has been paired on the second and third lines, but a move by coach Bruce Cassidy that had DeBrusk with David Pastrnak and David Krejci has resulted in 19 goals and 16 assists. In 244 career regular-season games, DeBrusk had 67 goals and 67 assists. He had a disappointing five goals and nine assists 41 games in the shortened 2020-21 season.
At 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds, Zach Senyshyn has been a force for two seasons in Providence at right wing. Drafted 15th overall, he played in 132 games with Providence in his first two seasons, and scored 26 goals and 24 assists. Playing in 42 AHL games this season, he has seven goals and nine assists, but has received time in Boston as well, tallying two assists in four games.
Currently behind Pastrnak and Craig Smith on the Bruins’ depth chart at right wing, Senyshyn is looking for his break-through chance to prove he was worth a first-round pick by Sweeney.
Brandon Carlo was a projected first-round pick, but when everyone passed on him, Sweeney selected Carlo with the 37th pick. It did not take him long to find himself in Boston, breaking into the lineup in his draft year. Being paired with captain Zdeno Chara, Carlo quickly established himself in the NHL.
Carlo is a top-four defenseman and a valuable member of the penalty kill and power play. In his first three years in the league, he has proven to be dependable by playing at least 72 games each season. in the shortened 2019-20 season he played in 67 games and played over 20 minutes a night. In the 56-game 2020-21 season, he played just 27 games as he dealt with numerous injuries, including a concussion on a hit from Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson on March 5. Carlo will be a restricted free agent this summer.
Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson played two years at Boston University before leaving after his sophomore year to sign his entry-level contract with the Bruins. After spending the majority of his time in Providence, Forsbacka-Karlsson made it to Boston last year and appeared in 28 games, with three goals and six assists.
Forsbacka-Karlsson never suited up during the Stanley Cup Final run last spring, but made news in May when he announced he’s putting his NHL career on hold to return home to Sweden for family reasons. He signed a two-year contract with the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL.
Defenseman Jeremy Lauzon was drafted 52nd overall, in the second round, and after 35 games the last two seasons, he was a big part of the Bruins defense in 2020-21. He played in 41 regular-season games with one goal and seven assists and an impressive plus/minus of plus-8. He is certainly in the future on the blueline for the Black and Gold.
Goaltender Daniel Vladar was drafted 75th overall, in the third round, and is currently 4-2 with a 1.56 goals-against average in Providence. In the 2020-21 season, Vladar made his NHL debut and went 2-2 in five games with a 3.40 goals-against average (GAA) and a .886 save percentage (SV%).
Left-wing Jesse Gabrielle was selected 105th overall in the fourth round. He currently is playing for HK Nitra in the Slovak League. Jack Becker was selected 195th overall, in the seventh round, and just completed his senior year at the University of Michigan. In the sixth round, Cameron Hughes was selected 165th and made his NHL debut this season at center before going back to Providence. He spent the 2020-21 season with the P-Bruins.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.