A quick reminder that all top 10 candidates must be no more than 25 years old as of October 7, 2015. The lists consider all skaters in that age group who have played in fewer than 40 NHL regular season games, with 25 games being the cut-off among netminders.
The Boston Bruins might not have a high-end prospect in their system but they show some good depth at each position. It could have been better had they not gone way off the board with their three consecutive 2015 first round selections to choose Jakub Zboril, Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn. While picking Zboril made some sense, the other two, particularly the selection of Senyshyn at 15th overall, were fairly astonishing the speedy winger was not projected anywhere close to 15.
With Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg’s retirement on the horizon the Bruins need to find a way to replace the two veterans. This is probably one of the reasons why they have selected a second defender in Brandon Carlo with one of their earlier picks. Boston is somewhere between re-building and competing for the Stanley Cup and also their new GM Don Sweeney failed to make a clear statement as to the direction of the organization for the coming years. This is somewhat reflected in their prospect system and as they don’t have a high-end prospect, a re-build is not really an option for Sweeney.
- Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John (QMJHL) 6-1”, 185. 13th overall, 2015
- Malcolm Subban, G, Providence (AHL) 6-1”, 195. 24th overall, 2012
- Seth Griffith, RW, Providence (AHL) 5-10”, 185. 131st overall, 2012
- Jake DeBrusk, LW, Swift Current (WHL) 6-0”, 179. 14th overall, 2015
- Brandon Carlo, D, Tri-City (WHL) 6-5”, 196. 37th overall, 2015
- Alexander Khokhlachev, C, Providence (AHL) 5-11”, 184. 40th overall, 2011
- Zachary Senyshyn, RW, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 6-1”, 194 15th overall, 2015
- Zane McIntyre, G, North Dakota (NCHC) 6-2”, 204. 165th overall, 2010
- Zach Trotman, D, Providence (AHL) 6-3”, 219. 210th overall, 2010
- Peter Cehlarik, LW, Lulea (SHL) 6-2”, 192. 90th overall, 2013
Players likely to lose eligibility
- Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C, Omaha (USHL) 6-1”, 190. 45th overall, 2015
- Matthew Grzelcyk, D, Boston College (Hockey East) 5-9”, 171. 85th overall, 2012
- Daniel Vladar, G, Kladno (Czech Jr.) 6-5”, 185. 75th overall, 2015
Jakub Zboril is believed to be the future leader of the blueline one day and should fill the gap left by Zdeno Chara within a few years. Zboril had a good first season with the Saint John Sea Dogs and scored 33 points in 44 games. The young Czech from Brno already shows decent size and strength and isn’t afraid to get involved physically. He plays a very effective two-way game and will be able to quarterback the Bruins powerplay unit in his peak. With Chara and Seidenberg aging quickly, it is Zboril who is most likely to take over a dominant role in the Bruins defence. He is going to spend more time in Saint John but his game is already matured and he seems to be ready to jump into the NHL sooner than later. He fits the Bruins mentality perfectly while showing good work ethic, a physical edge and the willingness to do the small things right.
Tuukka Rask will be the Bruins starter for a long time to come and so there is not an urgent need for goalie depth. In spite of their strength at the top level, the Bruins are the rare team with two goaltenders within the organizational top ten in Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre. The former, an athletic netminder with excellent lateral agility, was the team’s number one selection from 2012 and should start the season backing up Rask, but he will be challenged by McIntyre, who is coming off a fantastic season with great numbers for the University of North Dakota and was awarded by NCAA with the Mike Richter Award last year, which is given to the best collegiate goaltender. McIntyre (formerly known as Zane Gothberg) is also a very agile goaltender who is rather fearless in coming out to meet the shooter and cut down on the angles.
Seth Griffith benefited from injuries in the NHL club and managed to play in 30 games for the Bruins last season, some of which were on the Bruins top line. He scored 10 points and is likely to lose his prospect eligibility next season. He is rather smallish, listed at only 5-10”, but he is a fast skater and brings speed into the Bruins line up. It will be interesting to see how he would do in a bottom six forward role and if he can be as effective as last year when he played with some elite players.
Jake DeBrusk and Zachary Senyshyn both fit well into the Bruins organization as both players have skills which the Bruins are looking for. DeBrusk shows natural goal scoring ability, something the Bruins currently lack. He is a very agile and fast skater and the offensive side of the game is where he really excels. His impressive 42 goals last season with the Swift Current Broncos was evidence enough to convince the Bruins to pick him earlier than most rankings expected. Senyshyn, the Bruins 15th overall selection, was the shocker of the first round as most draft lists had him pegged as a mid-late second rounder. Like DeBrusk, Senyshyn is a very fast skater and literally flies over the ice with the puck. He has natural goal scoring skills and his work ethic is exactly what the Bruins like in him. He would do anything needed to score a goal and is not shy to take a beating if it results in a goal for him. However, the Bruins selection of Senyshyn that early in the draft was a courageous decision especially as they had three second round picks one of which could possibly have been used on the winger.
Brandon Carlo and Zach Trotman join Zboril as top ten blueliners. Carlo was selected this year with Boston’s 37th overall pick. He is a big, hard hitting defensive defender, one that just fits perfectly into the organization. His physical game is already far developed and is ready for the next step. AS the CHL-NHL agreement will keep him in the WHL for the time being, he will be afforded plenty of time to work on other aspects of his game. Trotman, another towering defender, has already played in 27 NHL games last season and is projected to earn more NHL time next season. He lacks much in the way of offensive skills, but his defensive game would fit a low-minutes, bottom pairing role without the need more AHL development. He will battle for a roster spot with Matt Irwin and others, but could jump in if injuries occur.
European players Alex Khokhlachev and Peter Cehlarik will try to make some noise next season. Cehlarik has one year left with Lulea of Sweden and will try to impress Bruins scouts by excelling in the SHL against men. While he has always put up good numbers in the junior ranks as well as in the lower divisions in Sweden, the Slovakian has yet to break out in Sweden’s top men’s league. He is lauded for his vision and hands, but skating remains somewhat of a concern. Khokhlachev has good puckhandling skills and should be ready for the NHL soon, but there are some concerns if he ever will make it as a top six player in NHL and if his game is adjustable to North America. So far he played in only four NHL games. More concerning is the drop in offensive production he experienced in his second full season in the AHL. At his best, he is a solid offensive presence, but is the type of player who needs to put up points to contribute to his team.
Not in the top 10 but worth keeping an eye on is big Czech goaltender Daniel Vladar, who has crossed the pond to join the Chicago Steel for the coming season. He has excellent size and played really well last year in the second highest Czech league. He gets down very well and is athletic for his size.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, a highly intelligent center, has spent the last two years with the Omaha Lancers in the USHL and is committed to play hockey for the Boston University. Known for his two-way play, JFK is also a clever passer with middle-six upside. Matt Grzelcyk is an undersized offensive defenseman who will remind some of current Bruin point man Torey Krug. He has a weapon for a shot and plays tough for his size, but the latter point will always lead to questions about his ability to excel at the highest level, until he does.
The Bruins system goes far deeper than this list can contain, but as with most of the players profiled here, most of the Bruins’ more intriguing prospects do not profile as more than NHL roster depth. Inevitably, one or two of those players will exceed expectations. For now, based on projections only, the system sits in the bottom third of the league.