July 31-in-31: Boston Bruins

Mike Drover


Mike Drover

Many were calling the 2017 NHL Draft particularly thin and it appears the Bruins bought into that idea coming to the draft table this June. The Bruins traded picks or moved down the board a couple of times this season and were left with only a first, a second, a fourth, a sixth and two in the seventh. The Bruins came into this draft with a desire to bolster their defensive prospect pool and the picks they made this season clearly show a focus on that side of the ice.

Let’s break down the Bruins selections:

Urho Vaakanainen: 1st round, 18th overall

Vaakanainen was considered by many to be the most complete defensive defenseman coming into the draft. Playing last season for Jyvaskala of Liiga, Vaakanainen established himself as an elite stay-at-home defender for his age group. He’s got the great hockey sense and plays to his strengths, doesn’t take a lot of chances with the puck but plays a strong defensive game that is well beyond his years. Vaakanainen excels on the penalty kill, the ability to shut down the rush play, and is generally not a liability with the puck. While Vaakanainen hasn’t shown elite offensive skill at this point in his career, scoring only two goals and nine assists in 55 total games played last season, he possesses a hard shot from the point and very accurate passing. The lack of production from Vaakanainen this year is likely attributed to the fact that he was a sixteen year old playing against men in Liiga, and it should be noted that he was much more successful while playing against players around his own age. Vaakanainen is a perfect complimentary pick for the Bruins who already have two great, young offensive defenders in Torey Krug and Charlie McAvoy.

Jack Studnicka: 2nd round, 53rd overall

Studnicka was a safe pick at 53rd overall. Not as high on the risk-reward scale as some players left on the board, Studnicka projects as a strong two way player and his skill set makes him more suitable for a role as a mid-line center rather than a top-line forward. Scouts were all over the place on Studnicka this year rating him as high as #42 and as low as #120. Much of this variance likely came from the mediocre season he had with the Oshawa Generals posting only 52 points in 64 regular season games to go with a ho-hum minus-six rating. Studnicka followed that up however with a fantastic playoff performance where he notched 15 points in just 11 games helping to solidify a reputation as a big game player. Jack has good speed and great defensive awareness for a forward at his age, however, at 6’1” and only 174 pounds he needs to fill out a bit before he can make a run at the big leagues. He’ll spend some more time in Junior before making his way to the Providence Bruins.

Jeremy Swayman: 4th round, 111 overall

Swayman was rated 12th overall goaltender by NHL Central Scouting and was the 12th goaltender off the board at #111 overall. At 6-2 the Bruins picked up a goaltender here with good size and room to fill out even further. Swayman has good tools; he’s quick for his size and tries to use his large frame to his advantage. Swayman considers himself an aggressive goaltender and likes to challenge the shooter whenever possible, and while this is generally a good trait to have his risk-taking style has led hi