At the 2018 National Hockey League Entry Draft at the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, Texas, the Boston Bruins did not have a first-round pick after trading it to the New York Rangers that February in a deal for Rick Nash. That left general manager Don Sweeney selecting in rounds two through seven.
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During those rounds, the Bruins selected three forwards and two defensemen. Not all five will see success in the Boston organization going forward, but some do have high ceilings for the future.
The Bruins’ first selection in the draft in the second round was Swedish defenseman Axel Andersson with the 57th pick. He was in the Canadian major junior league with the Moncton Wildcats most recently.
Sweeney delt the 6-foot, 179-pound 20-year-old blueliner to the Anaheim Ducks in February at the trade deadline along with their first-round pick and David Backes for forward Ondrej Kase. Moving on from Andersson won’t hurt the club – there is a logjam of young blueliners in Boston that would have blocked him for years to come.
In the third round, the Bruins chose Jakub Lauko, a center from the Czech Republic. The 2019-20 season has been a rough one for the 6-foot, 190-pound forward.
In an American Hockey League for the Providence Bruins, Lauko collided with Utica Comets forward Justin Bailey and was carted off the ice on a stretcher in December. He escaped a serious injury but sat out the next three weeks before playing in the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championships. Things were not better for him there as he suffered a knee injury on his first shift which knocked him out of the tournament.
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That injury kept him out two months for the P-Bruins. He returned to the lineup on Feb. 25 for coach Jay Leech in Providence, but joined the rest of the AHL two weeks later in shutting down due to the coronavirus outbreak. He had just five goals and four assists in 25 games this season.
The second forward selected by Sweeney and the Bruins, Curtis Hall, had a breakout season in his sophomore year at Yale this winter. Selected 119th overall in the fourth round, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound physical sniper and the Bulldogs had their season cut short before their ECAC Conference quarterfinal-round series with Quinnipiac because of the coronavirus.
After scoring just six goals as a freshman, Hall finished his sophomore season with a team-leading 17 goals and 6 assists. Six of his goals were game-winning goals and he had three on the power play. He played for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic over winter break, but failed to register a point in the tournament.
Selected 181st overall in the sixth round, Dustyn McFaul just finished a solid freshman season at Clarkson. He played in 31 of the 34 games for the Golden Knights, who went 23-8-5 before their season was cut short prior to the ECAC Tournament and NCAA tournament.
The 6-foot-2, 191-pound physical defensemen scored one goal against Arizona State University in January and had six assists with a plus-seven rating for the season. He blocked 25 shots and showed that he is a solid two-way defenseman as his puck-moving skills got better as the season went on. Bigger things are expected for him next season at Clarkson and the Bruins hope beyond.
After spending the last two seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League, Pavel Shen made his AHL debut this season with the Providence Bruins. Selected 212th overall by Sweeney in the seventh round, the Russian forward has bounced in and out of the lineup this season.
In 35 games, Shen has four goals and five assists, with one of his goals coming shorthanded. The left-handed shot at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds will need more seasoning next season in the minors but is strong on the puck and a slick skater.
Time will tell how this draft ends up working out for the Bruins, but so far, the returns are mixed with the team already trading one away for a need with the big club.