The 2022 NHL Entry Draft kicks off Thursday night at the Bell Centre in Montreal with the first round. The Boston Bruins are currently not scheduled to select on opening night after they traded their first-round pick to the Anaheim Ducks at the trade deadline in March to acquire Hampus Lindholm. General manager(GM) Don Sweeney was able to lock up Lindholm, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13, to an eight-year extension to keep him with the Black and Gold as a partner of Charlie McAvoy.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Boston will be sitting and watching the first night unfold as 32 picks are made before having six picks on Friday in rounds two-though-seven. They have picks 54, 91, 119, 183, 200, and 215. Sweeney was brought back as GM on June 27 after agreeing to a multi-year contract extension and will oversee his eighth draft for the Bruins. Drafting has not done a strong suit of Sweeney’s, with no need to look further than the 2015 Draft, his first in charge on Causeway Street.
As the Bruins enter the 2022 offseason with so many questions, one thing is almost certain, either this upcoming season or one in the not-too-distant future, there is going to be a need for a rebuild with Boston’s aging core almost ready to hang it up. Not blessed with a deep prospect pool, to begin with, the 2022 Draft is one that needs to be about as successful as it can be for both Sweeney and the Bruins. Here are three keys to a successful draft in Montreal.
Draft Best Available Center at No. 54
There is no doubt whatsoever that the number one need at the draft is a center or even two. Not piking until No. 54, the Bruins will have a little more time to watch and see which centers come off the board in the previous picks. Currently, the Bruins’ top center prospect Jack Studnicka is a restricted free agent (RFA), but it’s extremely difficult to watch Boston let him leave this summer.
After Studnicka, the pickings for prospects up the middle are thin. John Beecher signed his entry-level contract following his junior season at the University of Michigan and will benefit from a whole season with the Providence Bruins in the American Hockey League (AHL) and Brett Harrison is a promising prospect after having a very strong season with the Oshawa Generals in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). After that, it’s hard to find a name to get excited about looking toward the future at center in Boston.
Some names to keep an eye on as the draft unfolds and works its way down to the 54th pick for the Bruins are Jack Hughes of Northeastern University, Rieger Lorenz of the Okotoks Oilers (AJHL), Hunter Haight of the Barrie Colts (OHL), Logan Morrison of the Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) and Jordan Gustafson of the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL). There are other names that could be available, but picking the best available center when they’re on the clock would be a win for Sweeney.
Bruins Leave Montreal With a Left Wing or Two
If there is a position after center that could get some attention it’s left-wing. Brad Marchand is not getting any younger, Taylor Hall will not be around forever. Jake DeBrusk, however, reportedly rescinded his trade request and appears to be a big part of the Black and Gold going forward. Adding some depth to the prospect pool would be a wise decision by Sweeney.
There are going to be some choices that will be available later in the draft for the Bruins, it’s just a matter of identifying which players could be worth picking. Right now, the left-wing prospects in the prospect pool for Boston includes Oskar Jellvik and Trevor Kuntar (Boston College), Cameron Hughes and Samuel Asselin (Providence Bruins), and Jake Schmaltz who will be a sophomore at the University of North Dakota in the fall. Schmaltz also played center as a freshman. There is a long way to go for some of these names to make an impact in Boston, however, you can never have too much prospect depth.
Sweeney Leaves Draft With a Deeper Prospect Pool
With six picks, Sweeney has his work cut out for him, but it’s almost imperative that when he makes his final selection at No. 215, he feels that it was a successful draft. Not having a first-round pick and having a late second-round one is going to make it tough, but hey, there has been success in the second through seventh rounds of the draft by Sweeney.
Goalie Jeremy Swayman was selected 111th overall in the fourth round of the 2017 Draft and Schmaltz was a seventh-round pick in 2019 at No. 192. Studnicka was picked 53rd in 2017 in the second round, Harrison was picked in the third round in 2021 at No. 85, and highly touted defensive prospect Mason Lohrei was picked 58th overall in the second round in 2020.
Finding success in this week’s draft is almost a must for Sweeney. Adding to a pool that is already not that deep will be beneficial when they enter rebuild mold and go with the kids. If there was ever a draft that Sweeney needs to feel like it was very successful, it’s the 2022 Draft.
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.